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

    Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G2 hands-on

    “The hardware is great, but Blackmagic RAW is a game-changer for indie and small-budget productions.”

    Blackmagic RAW codec

    120 fps 4.6K

    Approachable person interface

    Built-in ND filters

    Awkward iris dial placement

    Some nickel-and-diming for equipment

    “Bear” is a becoming title for the beast that’s Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G2, the corporate’s flagship cinema digicam. But it’s a well-trained bear. Where different such machines seem terrifying of their complexity, the Ursa is docile. I’ve by no means been so dumbfounded by how simple a digicam makes professional-caliber pictures.
    It looks like dishonest, actually. Turn it on, level it at one thing, press report, and out comes a shot prepared for the massive display. If you know the way to make use of a DSLR, you’ll be able to work out the Ursa in minutes.
    Well, OK, it takes just a little extra work than that. You need to first resolve which report button to press — there are, like, 4 of them. But when you’ve settled in your favourite, there’s nothing else in the way of life out your directorial desires. From a technical standpoint, anyway.
    Despite my techno-lust, the Ursa stays out of my league — and but, not outlandishly past my finances. At a fiver underneath $6,000, I received’t be shopping for one anytime quickly, but it surely’s a heck of much more reasonably priced than comparable cinema cameras from different producers.
    I’m undecided what makes a Red or Arri, the cameras of selection in Hollywood, value tens of 1000’s extra. But as somebody who shoots video on a hybrid mirrorless digicam, I can see the worth in transferring as much as the Ursa. Six grand is some huge cash. Yet right here, with the Ursa, it looks like a discount.
    Design and person interface
    The authentic Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K was Blackmagic’s first digicam that felt completed. After a number of years of placing and weird designs, Blackmagic landed on a well-recognized form that straddles the hole between cinema digicam 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 digicam that places my aging-but-trusty Fujifilm X-T2 to disgrace, however the perfect worth within the cinema world, interval.
    Blackmagic hits a low worth by promoting you a bare-bones digicam. A viewfinder, battery, and deal with are all add-ons that may add tons of or 1000’s to the value. That could make cameras like Canon’s C200, at $6,500 with viewfinder and battery included, extra reasonably priced. But 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.
    Although not new, a key function of the Ursa — and lots of devoted video cameras — is the built-in impartial density filter management. You can choose 0, 2, 4, or 6 stops of density by turning a dial, that means you by no means need to fuss with a screw-on lens filters. Think sun shades on your digicam. ND filters cut back mild and let you preserve a slower shutter velocity for clean movement and/or a wider aperture for a shallow depth of area when capturing in brilliant settings.
    While the viewfinder might not come normal, a touchscreen monitor does, and it’s probably the most approachable person interface you may get on a digicam. Blackmagic made some extent to unify its UI throughout digicam fashions, so should you personal a Pocket Cinema Camera, you’ll really feel at dwelling with the Ursa. The interface is simple to study should you haven’t used a Blackmagic digicam earlier than.
    The Ursa has loads of bodily buttons and toggle switches for accessing commonly-used features like ISO, shutter angle/velocity, and white steadiness. One grievance? The iris dial is troublesome to achieve when the monitor is open, a design flaw that Blackmagic might need ignored 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, nevertheless, should not good — follow handbook focus.)
    For this evaluate, Sigma loaned me its 18-35mm and 50-100mm f/1.8 lenses, a pair of zooms that make a powerful case for being the one lenses you want. They’re value about $1,900 collectively. Sure, 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.)
    What’s extra, the Ursa Mini Pro has swappable lens mounts. In addition to the energetic Canon EF mount, you’ll be able to go together with PL (the cinema digicam 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 many years. I’ve a small assortment of film-era Nikon glass I’d have liked to check on the Ursa. Next time.

    Of course, Cinema lenses have some benefits — principally, they make you seem like a badass — however Blackmagic’s willingness to allow you to natively mount any previous DSLR lens is a big plus for the indie and pupil filmmaking crowds. From information gathering to movie manufacturing, the Ursa Mini Pro might be configured to fill quite a lot of roles. Digital Trends’ video workforce even used it on the ground at CES 2020.
    Performance and picture high quality
    The up to date electronics within the Ursa Mini Pro G2 are all about velocity. Most notably, this implies new excessive body price (HFR) choices for sluggish movement. 4.6K footage might be recorded as much as 120 frames per second, whereas 1080p can hit 300 fps. The 4.6K/120 footage is recorded from the total width of the sensor and robotically performs again in sluggish movement (as much as 5X when capturing 24p).
    It seems to be completely attractive. I additionally appreciated how the digicam data audio in HFR mode, one thing many lesser cameras don’t do. This permits you to both sluggish the audio down in put up 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 velocity and use it more-or-less like a daily clip, if you must.
    The up to date electronics push the utmost ISO up a cease to 3,200. That’s nothing in comparison with fashionable nonetheless cameras, with ISOs within the tons of of 1000’s, but it surely makes the Ursa usable in indoor areas. Importantly, that prime ISO is useful when capturing HFR footage, which necessitates a quicker shutter velocity and requires you to compensate by both opening the iris or elevating the ISO.
    Footage shot at ISO 3,200 can look grainy, particularly should you attempt to raise the shadows in put up, however at no level did I believe it seemed unhealthy. It is what it’s, and you need to attempt to follow decrease ISOs when potential, however I appreciated having that additional cease after I wanted it.
    Faster processing means sensor read-out time is decreased, serving to management the “jello cam” impact of the digital rolling shutter. In apply, 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 suppleness
    When I examined the first-gen Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K, it was earlier than Blackmagic had launched its RAW video format. It may 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 is a RAW video format for the remainder of us. With selectable ranges of compression as much as 12:1, .braw clips might be recorded to plain SD playing cards. In truth, 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 need a quick V90 card to be secure, however you not need to be an expert studio or have an enormous finances to work with RAW video. That’s superior.

    Sample footage shot on the Ursa Mini Pro G2 Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsI shot all of my check footage in .braw at 12:1 compression, and it seemed attractive. I edited and coloured the clips in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 16 on my eight-year-old iMac and, effectively, it labored. Performance was troublesome after including greater than probably the most primary coloration adjustment, however the truth it labored in any respect is spectacular.
    If you’re apprehensive about enhancing efficiency, the Ursa can report proxy information alongside RAW footage, saving you the difficulty of getting to create proxies throughout import.
    I’m certainly not an professional colorist, or perhaps a proficient DaVinci Resolve person, however coming from the world of nonetheless images — 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 coloration correction is utilized.
    By distinction, Blackmagic RAW footage is usable proper out of the digicam. It’s additionally versatile. Even at 12:1 compression, I used to be amazed by how a lot element I may pull out of the shadows.
    Not everyone wants RAW video, however as Blackmagic defined it to me, Blackmagic RAW provides the perfect quality-to-file-size ratio at each stage of compression in comparison with any non-RAW format. There’s no motive to not use it. Well, except you need to import straight into Final Cut Pro X, which at the moment doesn’t have a plugin to assist .braw information. (A plugin does exist for Adobe Premiere Pro.)
    The Ursa Mini Pro G2 is proof we dwell in an unbelievable time for picture and video gear. I’m envious of at present’s movie college students who might need entry to it. They can produce big-screen-caliber motion pictures of their dorm rooms, and by no means know the ache of capturing and enhancing normal definition footage on MiniDV tapes.
    Of course, for many people, $6,000 might as effectively be $60,000. If it’s out of your finances, it’s out of your finances. But a number of the Ursa’s key options — like Blackmagic RAW — can be found within the extra reasonably priced Pocket Cinema Camera sequence. The Ursa Mini Pro should be an aspirational product for individuals like me, however not like a Red or an Arri, it’s not a dream. I can a minimum of afford to lease it.

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