Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Professional four.6K G2 hands-on evaluate
Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Professional four.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 four.6K
Approachable person 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 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 seems like dishonest, actually. Flip it on, level it at one thing, press report, and out comes a shot prepared for the massive display. If you understand how to make use of a DSLR, you’ll be able to work out the Ursa in minutes.
Effectively, OK, it takes just a little extra work than that. You must first determine which report 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.
Regardless of my techno-lust, the Ursa stays out of my league — and but, not outlandishly past my finances. At a fiver below $6,000, I received’t be shopping for one anytime quickly, but it surely’s a heck of much more inexpensive than related cinema cameras from different producers.
I’m unsure what makes a Crimson or Arri, the cameras of alternative in Hollywood, price tens of 1000’s 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 seems like a discount.
Design and person interface
The unique Ursa Mini Professional four.6K was Blackmagic’s first digital camera that felt completed. After just a few years of hanging 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 outcome is just not solely a pro-level video digital camera that places my aging-but-trusty Fujifilm X-T2 to disgrace, however the very best worth within the cinema world, interval.
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 tons of or 1000’s to the worth. That may make cameras like Canon’s C200, at $6,500 with viewfinder and battery included, extra inexpensive. However the Ursa has a hardware edge, with 15 stops of marketed dynamic vary in comparison with the Canon’s 13, increased 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 may choose zero, 2, four, 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 to your digital camera. ND filters cut back gentle and assist you to keep a slower shutter velocity for easy movement and/or a wider aperture for a shallow depth of discipline when capturing in vivid settings.
Whereas the viewfinder might not come commonplace, a touchscreen monitor does, and it’s essentially the most approachable person interface you may get on a digital camera. Blackmagic made a degree to unify its UI throughout digital camera fashions, so in case you personal a Pocket Cinema Digicam, you’ll really feel at residence with the Ursa. The interface is simple to study in case you haven’t used a Blackmagic digital camera earlier than.
The Ursa has loads of bodily buttons and toggle switches for accessing commonly-used features like ISO, shutter angle/velocity, 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 commonplace photographic lenses within the Canon EF mount. Quirky iris management apart, I like this in regards to the Ursa. Photographic lenses are rather more inexpensive than their cinema counterparts, however usually of no much less optical high quality. (The Ursa’s autofocus capabilities, nevertheless, usually are not good — keep on with guide focus.)
For this evaluate, 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 $eight,000 required for the cinema variations of these lenses. (In fact, that’s nonetheless fairly inexpensive within the realm of cinema glass.)
What’s extra, the Ursa Mini Professional has swappable lens mounts. Along with the lively Canon EF mount, you’ll be able to go along with PL (the cinema digital camera commonplace), 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 beloved to check on the Ursa. Subsequent time.
After all, Cinema lenses have some benefits — largely, they make you appear to be a badass — however Blackmagic’s willingness to allow you to natively mount any outdated DSLR lens is a large plus for the indie and pupil filmmaking crowds. From information gathering to movie manufacturing, the Ursa Mini Professional might be configured to fill a wide range of roles. Digital Traits’ video group 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 velocity. Most notably, this implies new excessive body fee (HFR) choices for gradual movement. four.6K footage might be recorded as much as 120 frames per second, whereas 1080p can hit 300 fps. The four.6K/120 footage is recorded from the total 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 information audio in HFR mode, one thing many lesser cameras don’t do. This lets you both gradual 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 an everyday clip, if you might want to.
The up to date electronics push the utmost ISO up a cease to three,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 places. Importantly, that top ISO turns out to be useful when capturing HFR footage, which necessitates a sooner shutter velocity and requires you to compensate by both opening the iris or elevating the ISO.
Footage shot at ISO three,200 can look grainy, particularly in case you attempt to elevate the shadows in put up, however at no level did I believe it regarded unhealthy. It’s what it’s, and you need to attempt to persist with decrease ISOs when potential, however I appreciated having that further cease after I wanted it.
Sooner 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 searching for it.
File high quality and adaptability
After I examined the first-gen Ursa Mini Professional four.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 cupboard space 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 in need of 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 might be recorded to straightforward SD playing cards. Actually, 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 now not must be knowledgeable studio or have an enormous finances to work with RAW video. That’s superior.
Pattern footage shot on the Ursa Mini Professional G2 Daven Mathies/Digital Traits
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, properly, it labored. Efficiency was troublesome after including greater than essentially the most fundamental colour adjustment, however the truth it labored in any respect is spectacular.
In the event you’re nervous about enhancing efficiency, the Ursa can report proxy recordsdata alongside RAW footage, saving you the difficulty of getting to create proxies throughout import.
I’m not at all an skilled colorist, or perhaps a proficient DaVinci Resolve person, however coming from the world of nonetheless images — the place RAW recordsdata have been frequent 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 colour 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 may pull out of the shadows.
Not all people wants RAW video, however as Blackmagic defined it to me, Blackmagic RAW affords the very best quality-to-file-size ratio at each stage of compression in comparison with any non-RAW format. There’s no purpose to not use it. Effectively, except you wish to import straight into Last Reduce Professional X, which at present doesn’t have a plugin to help .braw recordsdata. (A plugin does exist for Adobe Premiere Professional.)
The Ursa Mini Professional G2 is proof we reside in an unimaginable time for photograph and video gear. I’m envious of right now’s movie college students who might need entry to it. They will produce big-screen-caliber motion pictures of their dorm rooms, and by no means know the ache of capturing and enhancing commonplace definition footage on MiniDV tapes.
After all, for many people, $6,000 might as properly be $60,000. If it’s out of your finances, it’s out of your finances. However among the Ursa’s key options — like Blackmagic RAW — can be found within the extra inexpensive Pocket Cinema Digicam sequence. The Ursa Mini Professional should be an aspirational product for folks like me, however not like a Crimson or an Arri, it’s not a dream. I can not less than afford to lease it.