I recently made a purchase on the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini camera, after falling in love with the image of the original URSA. I bought it from Videoguys here in Melbourne, Australia. After extensive reading & researching in whether to get the URSA 4.6k or 4k, I decided on the 4k. A large part of this was to do with affordability in the current time, but also one of the stronger features of the URSA Mini 4k – global shutter at 60p.
For me this feature is crucial as a lot of the time I’m doing things on my own, so its useful to have the option to stabilise my footage without the ‘jello’ effect for example. I also make use of a monopod all the time, and tend to do fake sliding shots on it. This is where you use your whole body weight and move the monopod forwards by leaning, then tilting the head upwards so that it stays level. Sometimes you get wobbly, so being able to straighten the shot is useful too. These are just some examples (also the fact that I shoot at lot of 60p too).
Anyway, onto the test! I went out with my Japanese buddies here in Melbourne. Yuta works at a coffee shop out in South Melbourne called Clement Coffee. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend checking it out! I wanted to experiment with some indoor shots with available natural & indoor lighting. It also had a wonderful colour palette inside the coffee shop, so it had a nice aesthetic too.
I was shooting hand held, to simulate the type of work that I do on a weekly basis. My trusty FS100 is slightly lighter than the URSA, but thats due to the Magnesium build of the URSA I would think. The URSA is light in my hands, but I think the addition of a top handle would be really desirable, as it does strain your wrists after a while of holding the camera from the side grip when on standby. I think I’d be able to shoot a day with it hand held, but it’s going to need to be put down for sure. It’s light, but not as light as a feather.
I shot this coffee scene only on a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens. Didn’t need any more range considering it was quite tight for room in the shop. While shooting this, I did notice the skin-tones have a ‘thickness’ to it, like how Daniel Peter’s described it on Dan Chung’s podcast last week. It’s a breath of fresh air after using Sony cameras for so long. Whilst Sony cameras are really great for certain work, the URSA sensor is just far more superior in it’s colour science. Something I’ve been missing for quite some time!
The screen is really quite handy, however I think I’ll invest in some kind of EVF in the future. When shooting outdoors in full sun light, it was sometimes hard to judge the exposure, especially if you don’t make use of the histogram as an example. So some shots in a later film I will release seemed to be a little over exposed. Nevertheless, for indoor application the screen is perfect. It’s a great size to look at, you can accurately judge focus especially with the great peaking system that is built into the URSA Mini.
The one thing I noticed, which has been an issue with many Blackmagic Design cameras is the fixed pattern noise. If you download the original file, you will be able to see that in some parts, the dark areas have the presence of the FPN. It’s not as bad as it was in the past, but it’s still there. Hopefully this can be eradicated soon enough through firmware updates, and perhaps on the 4.6k sensor it’ll be gone all together!
I used 2 Lexar 128gb CFAST 2.0 cards, which both had about 10 minutes each of ProRes HQ recording at 3840×2160. I would definitely recommend buying more of these babies if you are thinking of recording for a long period of time. In the battery department, I used a spare Globalmediapro 95w V-lock battery that I had lying around. It worked perfectly fine, and was only down to about 75% after a few hours. I was of course turning the camera on & off in this time, so it will be a different story if it were on constantly. I think it’s important to note that not all V-lock batteries will read a percentage to the camera (like mine). There is a compatibility list on the Blackmagic website somewhere, so if your battery doesn’t read a percentage, it will show 3 bars instead.
Enough of me rambling on anyway, have a watch and see what you think. Will post another test film sometime in the near future!