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Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Professional 4.6K G2 Fingers-on Overview

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G2 Hands-on Review

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Professional 4.6K G2 hands-on

“The {hardware} is nice, however Blackmagic RAW is a game-changer for indie and small-budget productions.”

  • Blackmagic RAW codec
  • 120 fps 4.6K
  • Approachable consumer interface
  • Constructed-in ND filters
  • Awkward iris dial placement
  • Some nickel-and-diming for equipment

“Bear” is a becoming identify for the beast that’s Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Mini Professional 4.6K G2, the corporate’s flagship cinema digital camera. However it’s a well-trained bear. The place different such machines seem terrifying of their complexity, the Ursa is docile. I’ve by no means been so dumbfounded by how straightforward a digital camera makes professional-caliber photographs.

It appears like dishonest, actually. Flip it on, level it at one thing, press file, and out comes a shot prepared for the massive display. If you know the way to make use of a DSLR, you possibly can work out the Ursa in minutes.

Properly, OK, it takes a bit of extra work than that. It’s a must to first resolve which file button to press — there are, like, 4 of them. However when you’ve settled in your favourite, there’s nothing else in the way of life out your directorial goals. From a technical standpoint, anyway.

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Regardless of my techno-lust, the Ursa stays out of my league — and but, not outlandishly past my funds. At a fiver below $6,000, I gained’t be shopping for one anytime quickly, but it surely’s a heck of much more reasonably priced than related cinema cameras from different producers.

I’m unsure what makes a Crimson or Arri, the cameras of selection in Hollywood, price tens of hundreds extra. However as somebody who shoots video on a hybrid mirrorless digital camera, I can see the worth in transferring as much as the Ursa. Six grand is some huge cash. But right here, with the Ursa, it appears like a discount.

Design and consumer interface

The unique Ursa Mini Professional 4.6K was Blackmagic’s first digital camera that felt completed. After just a few years of putting and weird designs, Blackmagic landed on a well-known form that straddles the hole between cinema digital camera and ENG camcorder.

The G2 refines the components with small however essential enhancements to the electronics, with out altering what already labored. The consequence shouldn’t be solely a pro-level video digital camera that places my aging-but-trusty Fujifilm X-T2 to disgrace, however the most effective worth within the cinema world, interval.

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Blackmagic hits a low value by promoting you a bare-bones digital camera. A viewfinder, battery, and deal with are all add-ons that may add lots of or hundreds to the worth. That may make cameras like Canon’s C200, at $6,500 with viewfinder and battery included, extra reasonably priced. However the Ursa has a {hardware} edge, with 15 stops of marketed dynamic vary in comparison with the Canon’s 13, greater body charges, and a extra versatile RAW format.

Though not new, a key function of the Ursa — and plenty of devoted video cameras — is the built-in impartial density filter management. You’ll be able to choose 0, 2, 4, or 6 stops of density by turning a dial, which means you by no means must fuss with a screw-on lens filters. Suppose sun shades on your digital camera. ND filters scale back gentle and can help you preserve a slower shutter pace for easy movement and/or a wider aperture for a shallow depth of subject when capturing in brilliant settings.

Whereas the viewfinder might not come normal, a touchscreen monitor does, and it’s essentially the most approachable consumer interface you will get on a digital camera. Blackmagic made some extent to unify its UI throughout digital camera fashions, so in the event you personal a Pocket Cinema Digicam, you’ll really feel at residence with the Ursa. The interface is simple to study in the event you haven’t used a Blackmagic digital camera earlier than.

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The Ursa has loads of bodily buttons and toggle switches for accessing commonly-used capabilities like ISO, shutter angle/pace, and white stability. One grievance? The iris dial is troublesome to succeed in when the monitor is open, a design flaw that Blackmagic might need neglected as a result of cinematographers utilizing precise cinema lenses will use the iris ring on the lens.

Not me. I used to be utilizing normal photographic lenses within the Canon EF mount. Quirky iris management apart, I like this in regards to the Ursa. Photographic lenses are rather more reasonably priced than their cinema counterparts, however usually of no much less optical high quality. (The Ursa’s autofocus capabilities, nonetheless, usually are not good — keep on with handbook focus.)

For this assessment, Sigma loaned me its 18-35mm and 50-100mm f/1.Eight lenses, a pair of zooms that make a robust case for being the one lenses you want. They’re price about $1,900 collectively. Certain, that’s a piece of change, but it surely’s a far cry from the $8,000 required for the cinema variations of these lenses. (In reality, that’s nonetheless fairly reasonably priced within the realm of cinema glass.)

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What’s extra, the Ursa Mini Professional has swappable lens mounts. Along with the energetic Canon EF mount, you possibly can go along with PL (the cinema digital camera normal), B4 for broadcast lenses, or perhaps a passive Nikon F mount. That final one opens the Ursa as much as a legacy of photographic lenses going again a long time. I’ve a small assortment of film-era Nikon glass I might have liked to check on the Ursa. Subsequent time.

After all, Cinema lenses have some benefits — principally, they make you appear to be a badass — however Blackmagic’s willingness to allow you to natively mount any previous DSLR lens is a big plus for the indie and scholar filmmaking crowds. From information gathering to movie manufacturing, the Ursa Mini Professional could be configured to fill a wide range of roles. Digital Tendencies’ video crew even used it on the ground at CES 2020.

Efficiency and picture high quality

The up to date electronics within the Ursa Mini Professional G2 are all about pace. Most notably, this implies new excessive body charge (HFR) choices for gradual movement. 4.6K footage could be recorded as much as 120 frames per second, whereas 1080p can hit 300 fps. The 4.6K/120 footage is recorded from the complete width of the sensor and mechanically performs again in gradual movement (as much as 5X when capturing 24p).

It seems to be completely attractive. I additionally appreciated how the digital camera data audio in HFR mode, one thing many lesser cameras don’t do. This lets you both gradual the audio down in publish to match the footage (consider the dramatic “Noooooo!” being yelled by a personality approaching sure doom) or ramp the footage again as much as real-time pace and use it more-or-less like an everyday clip, if that you must.

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The up to date electronics push the utmost ISO up a cease to three,200. That’s nothing in comparison with trendy nonetheless cameras, with ISOs within the lots of of hundreds, but it surely makes the Ursa usable in indoor areas. Importantly, that top ISO is useful when capturing HFR footage, which necessitates a quicker shutter pace and requires you to compensate by both opening the iris or elevating the ISO.

Footage shot at ISO 3,200 can look grainy, particularly in the event you attempt to raise the shadows in publish, however at no level did I believe it regarded dangerous. It’s what it’s, and it’s best to attempt to follow decrease ISOs when potential, however I appreciated having that additional cease after I wanted it.

Quicker processing means sensor read-out time is decreased, serving to management the “jello cam” impact of the digital rolling shutter. In follow, I didn’t discover it in any respect, besides in very fast pans the place I used to be purposefully on the lookout for it.

File high quality and adaptability

Once I examined the first-gen Ursa Mini Professional 4.6K, it was earlier than Blackmagic had launched its RAW video format. It might shoot Cinema DNG, an open RAW format by Adobe, however I didn’t have the space for storing or processing energy to deal with it. With the G2, I lastly received to expertise the ability of Blackmagic RAW first hand, and it’s nothing wanting revolutionary.

This can be a RAW video format for the remainder of us. With selectable ranges of compression as much as 12:1, .braw clips could be recorded to straightforward SD playing cards. In reality, at 12:1 compression, the bitrate is decrease than the 400 megabit-per-second non-RAW codecs in cameras just like the Panasonic Lumix GH5s and Fujifilm X-T3. You’ll nonetheless desire a quick V90 card to be protected, however you now not must be knowledgeable studio or have an enormous funds to work with RAW video. That’s superior.

Pattern footage shot on the Ursa Mini Professional G2 Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

I shot all of my check footage in .braw at 12:1 compression, and it regarded attractive. I edited and coloured the clips in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 16 on my eight-year-old iMac and, effectively, it labored. Efficiency was troublesome after including greater than essentially the most primary shade adjustment, however the truth it labored in any respect is spectacular.

If you happen to’re nervous about modifying efficiency, the Ursa can file proxy information alongside RAW footage, saving you the difficulty of getting to create proxies throughout import.

I’m in no way an skilled colorist, or perhaps a proficient DaVinci Resolve consumer, however coming from the world of nonetheless pictures — the place RAW information have been widespread for a few years — working with RAW video feels acquainted. In some methods, it’s simpler than working with different codecs, like h.264 and even ProRes, which is commonly recorded utilizing a flat, logarithmic tone curve to protect dynamic vary, and appears like rubbish earlier than shade correction is utilized.

Against this, Blackmagic RAW footage is usable proper out of the digital camera. It’s additionally versatile. Even at 12:1 compression, I used to be amazed by how a lot element I might pull out of the shadows.

Not everyone wants RAW video, however as Blackmagic defined it to me, Blackmagic RAW presents the most effective quality-to-file-size ratio at each stage of compression in comparison with any non-RAW format. There’s no cause to not use it. Properly, until you wish to import straight into Closing Lower Professional X, which presently doesn’t have a plugin to help .braw information. (A plugin does exist for Adobe Premiere Professional.)

Conclusion

The Ursa Mini Professional G2 is proof we reside in an unimaginable time for picture and video gear. I’m envious of in the present day’s movie college students who might need entry to it. They’ll produce big-screen-caliber motion pictures of their dorm rooms, and by no means know the ache of capturing and modifying normal definition footage on MiniDV tapes.

After all, for many people, $6,000 might as effectively be $60,000. If it’s out of your funds, it’s out of your funds. However a number of the Ursa’s key options — like Blackmagic RAW — can be found within the extra reasonably priced Pocket Cinema Digicam sequence. The Ursa Mini Professional should still be an aspirational product for individuals like me, however in contrast to a Crimson or an Arri, it’s not a dream. I can a minimum of afford to lease it.

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