Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Key features of the Blackmagic URSA Mini, part of Shooting with Blackmagic Cameras.
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- The URSA Mini is an evolution of the Blackmagic URSA camera. Now I found the initial URSA to be quite heavy. But this version has essentially been miniaturized, and it's much more lightweight. Blackmagic is relying upon a magnesium body which creates a very solid platform to shoot from but it minimizes the weight, which is great. There are currently four models of the URSA Mini. You have a choice between EF-Mounts which tend to be Canon lenses. And the more traditional cinematic mounts which are PL lenses, which is what I have on this one here.
You'll also find that it is available in a option to record 4K or 4.6K, which is an unusual size. Both of those rely upon a Super 35 image sensor, which is about 24 to 25 millimeters by about 14 and a quarter millimeter. Now that's referred to as Super 35. If you're using the 4.6K model, it has the ability to record up to 15 stops of dynamic range. This is most beneficial when you're recording in film mode or better yet even raw mode.
If you're using the more affordable 4K version, well, that only provides 12 stops of information. Now the camera is a bit unique, it actually offers built in refrigeration to keep it cool. Blackmagic cameras have been susceptible to noise in the past and this camera is designed to be better at managing its heat. You'll also find a lot of vents and other things around it that helped with heat dispersion. And it's really designed to be run for long periods of time, such as on the television set. Now, what's going to happen here is you'll get the maximum dynamic range with that 4.6 version of the camera.
But even 12 stops of dynamic range is more than acceptable for many shooting formats. What this means is that you'll get a lot of detail in both the dark areas and the highlights Now the 4K model only has 12 stops, but it's still quite reasonable. It doesn't really matter, you can test both out if you want to try renting these from a rental shop first and decide which one is a better match. Personally, I recommend if you can afford the small extra cost, step up to the 4.6K version. If you are using the 4K version of the camera this can be a standard UHD size or a regular 4K size.
The 4.6K version actually gives you a little bit of overshoot. This means that you can crop or reframe the image during post-production. You'll find for example that that 4.6K image sensor can capture up to 4608 by 2592. Now that's actually bigger than the DCI standard for 4K, so it gives you extra information. The camera sensor provides a global shutter which is a higher quality option at up to 30 frames a second. If you need to go into the higher frame rates of 60 frames per second.
Well, that means that you're going to be going back to the more traditional rolling shutter. Now the URSA Mini is capable of higher frame rate recording if you're using the 4.6K camera, it can go up to 60 frames per second. Same with the 4K camera, if you dropped the camera down to 1080, HD resolution, well, then the frame rate doubles and you can get up to a 120 frames per second. So, pretty straightforward. Now what I like about the camera is it's highly customizable. You've got all sorts of options for lenses. The PL lens mount is very standard and this means all sorts of cinema style lenses.
The EF lense mount is also good for a lot of folks who started on Canon cameras, maybe the 5D Mark II and graduated on to additional performance. What's also nice is that the camera supports all sorts of traditional production equipment here. Let me just spin this around a little. You'll note for example that with the camera plate here it's easy to use a rail type system. We've got standards like rosettes here that make it very easy to attach accessories. For example, on this side we've attached the arm. But you can use Matteboxes and all sorts of other things.
It also comes with additional options that you can add on. Including things like the quick release plate, so you can get it on and off the tripod. You've got a high quality viewfinder, which is optional. Remember, you have a standard integrated viewfinder. But that you also have the option here for really nice high quality viewfinder that actually gives you an HD resolution OLED display which is really cool. True glass optics, which I like. And in order to really preserve the screen life there's actually a sensor in here which has the capacity to turn on or off depending upon when you actually look in the viewfinder.
This is going to actually extend the life and make sure that this is going to last a bit longer. This viewfinder is highly adjustable, which is nice. You'll notice here for example that I can easily angle this for comfort. It can be switched from right to left eye, so this gives you a lot of flexibility. It actually has a true diopter here, making it very easy to adjust if needed. If you for example, have a low prescription, eyeglass prescription, you want to adjust slightly, this is gonna make it easier. And there's actually internally some focusing tools there so you know that the diopter is properly configured.
It's very nicely done. It can also be removed or easily adjusted and moved forward and back here with this top unit with the handle as well. So this gives you some pretty cool options. Now a lot of things like the arm here for control, the handle, the viewfinder, these are all options that you can add on. Typically, like most Blackmagic things, they have the base model price extremely affordably, and then you can start to really trick the camera out with additional accessories. Now, let's take a look at some of the overall ports. On the back of the camera here are some of the standards that you would expect.
For example, we have 12G-SDI in and out. This is very useful because it means that you can do 4K at up to 30 frames a second going output. We also have a reference in here which can used for time code. Quite useful if this is going to be put into a multi-camera situation. We've got a power port here for 12 volt power, which makes it very easy to feed things in. And then we have some other connections there for headphones. Now on the front side here we have a couple of additional ports that are quite useful. We've got the broadcast lens controller here.
We also have a LANC controller, which in this case is actually tethered to our handle here for start and stop which could be quite cool. This gives us the ability to actually trigger the camera and operate. Now this handle is movable. We've got it currently on the optional arm which makes it useful for shoulder mount. Or it can actually be moved from the front here back up to here, and you see that there's a standard rosette. These standard mounting points make it easy to configure the handle for either side of operation. You'll find this that we have a handle rosette point here and on this side, which makes the handle quite useful.
Obviously, we can also mount the handle here. The other side is the viewfinder, so it can't go there. Plus, two additional ports here that are working with the viewfinder. This is giving us the output here of the SDI signal, as well as power to drive the viewfinder. The viewfinder has additional controls on top. For example, we can turn on a zoom to punch in. We can take a look at overlays. We can actually turn on peaking. So it's nice that the buttons are here while you're operating and looking in the camera, you can actually make adjustments quite readily.
This really is a full quality, full option production style camera. We've got all of the type of options we expect. We've got standard mounting plates here for batteries. In this case we're using an Anton Bauer, sort of an industry standard. And all sorts of other things that just feel right. The camera is well configured and you're going to find all the standard things you would need for most production situations. We'll talk about where it fits in on set in just a little bit.
- Examining the camera bodies
- Attaching and using lenses
- Extending battery life
- Preparing SD cards for recording
- Navigating menus
- Recording audio
- Adjusting camera settings
- Monitoring and recording
- Transferring footage
- Working with DaVinci Resolve
- Keeping the camera up to date