Cinematography : Blackmagic ursa by Simon King

Simon King

Blackmagic ursa

I have read all/most of the threads and posts about the "lower-end" Blackmagic cameras bodies but have seen nothing about their high-end URSA model. Anyone have any comments/experience with this model?

Brian C. Harnick

As far as I know it has not even been released yet. I have seen the test film that was released and it is shot well and graded well. My issue is that they won't release the sensor specs, but by all accounts it is the same sensor from their BMD 4k camera. This is disappointing if true since the sensor on that camera is native 400 ISO/ASA/EI, putting it at about the same sensitivity as the highest ISO film stock. For a number of years now, productions have relied on cameras that shoot between 640-2000ISO, and it has become the standard. I recently purchased the Sony A7S and it has a native sensitivity of 3200ISO. Basically, you are talking about 2.5 stops of light difference in native sensitivity. In certain situations, this is very limiting and also will increase your lighting budget tremendously, not to mention create havoc keeping things in focus at wide open apertures. I've also been told that the BMD sensor does not respond well to turning the ISO up. Ergonomically, I think the URSA has a lot of strong points, and the high bitrate is a huge plus for color grading, but I won't be selecting one for any shoots that aren't in broad daylight until they release the upgraded sensor (whenever that may be?).

Louise Camish

I have no idea, but I know I want one!

Matthew MacLean

A buddy I work with on ocassion tried one out at NAB and said he hated it. Said the three lcd's are terrible and counter-intuitive and that the dynamic range of the image was crap...but that was just his take on it

Royce Allen Dudley

Ergonomic design is poor at best. Cameras being made by companies who have no history or staff or connection to working camera operators are generally cameras to avoid. Not to say that it can't take a good picture, but it may be a pain in the ass to shoot with ... making image quality moot. Also, funny to see $6000 referred to as " high end". It's not. It's the most expensive camera in their line to date, but it's not a pro camera.

Simon King

Thanks! Agreed that this is not high end when put up against Arri, Sony, and even RED but is is THEIR top of the line. The more I hear the less interested I become...

Andrew Sobkovich

The Ursa is not yet a finished product that is available for sale to the public. All of the ones that have been seen, including the ones that I’ve held, are prototypes. The images you’ve seen say nothing, the specs mean nothing when we do not know what will actually be released. The physical layout is probably close, which is a good thing as it moves away from the cumbersome DSLR inspired form factor. Looking at a camera at a trade show and judging dynamic range from screens you know nothing about is kinda pointless. I’ve shot launch videos for 2 cameras, neither video was shot with the camera being launched. Be patient. The camera will become available and then it can be tested by actual people. Blackmagic as a company has been around for awhile, I know they have at least one actual real DP consulting on the products in some way( listened to may not be the case), they have a reputation that is know in the professional world. Look at the track record of the cameras they have launched to date. These provide some background for what they do and how they do it. The critical thing with any new camera is that you only deal with a released product, and that you absolutely do your own testing. Trust only yourself or people you know. And I mean actually know, not some internet BS you read in some self serving post on some forum. Do your tests, form an opinion of what it does well and not so well and see if it fits into your world. But the camera has to be a real released product you can buy before you can do or learn anything relevant.

Louise Camish

With how easy it seems to upgrade, when it is released I am sure they will spend time ironing any kinks out of it that the users find. Whilst I have only read a few articles about the camera, it seems that the main point is that you won't have to buy new camera bodies for updated kit, which means however great they make it for when it is released, it won't be as good as it will be a year, 5 or ten years from then. If/when they get it right, it will be amazing.

Simon King

Words of wisdom Andrew. Thanks!

Royce Allen Dudley

Louise- That was the claim when the original RED ONE was offered up- NO OBSOLESCENCE EVER AGAIN. Then when the RED EPIC was introduced, owners scrambled to dump their obsolete ONES... you cannot get paid use of a RED ONE today, people would laugh you off the set. It has been exactly 7 years since the first REDS shipped, and several years since a ONE was viable. That said, a rather big issue, the URSA has a giant monitor where your head needs to be. That alone renders the camera an oddity at best. Andrew, that's what I am referencing specifically. It's a horrific design for handheld, for a jib, for ... I do not need to wait for hardware to ship to know the hardware as designed is threaded the wrong direction - I know my nuts and bolts. And I completely trust myself- as do those who know and hire me ;)

Andrew Sobkovich

The RED was going to be upgradeable forever. They said so, or was it the bleeding-edge ninja fan-boys doing the viral marketing, or is there a difference? Like “4K”, “forever” seems to be subject to interpretation and propaganda. “Liars” was the term that came to mind for many. The Ursa fold out monitor is big, but it can be closed and an aftermarket EVF attached. Not a huge problem but the monitor does define the physical size of the camera. I do wonder how many of those fold out monitors will not last the first week of shooting? Of course the EVF is not included, a stupid trend that started with which manufacturer? To play with the hardware analogy in this case is there is a nut and bolt laying on the garage floor, ½”, 13mm, or ¼” Whitworth? Things are not always easily discernible until being used. I’m looking forward to seeing what both the Ursa and the Cion and the 4K Varicam will actually do.

Louise Camish

Well I would never get a new camera until it had been available a while and there were plenty of user reviews. Then I would hire one before buying. So i'll just have to wait and see. That said, no camera is perfect.

Matthew MacLean

The whole thing of not being able to get paid shooting on the RED One anymore isn't true. I know many people who prefer the look of the RED One MX and many old school film guys prefer it's body.

Royce Allen Dudley

As a certified old school film guy ( shot over two million feet of film since the 90's ), I assure you the One was an ill conceived pig of a camera and it's the rare pro who embraced it... notable fans proving the rule. Having shot hundreds of days on film with no form factor issues on anything ( except Bolexes ) - even handheld with huge cameras like Arri BL4s - never have I had the neck strain and tendinitis caused by a few days hefting a RED one - a RED One updated with the best Element Tecnica kit and Bomb finder; a cinderblock of a camera nonetheless. The Epic and Scarlet form factor are much more adaptable to proper kit and use. I merely expect a camera to work and have proper form. I don't love any modern cameras but I sure do hate some of them. There's not a lot to re-design or discover in digital; film gear worked very well and if you missed the chance to use it it's a shame... Can someone make money with a RED ONE ? Obviously. WIll producers ask for it or accept it over a newer RED ? Rarely. I will stop now; RED fanboys ( and proud owners of RED ONES ) will not, I am sure :) ( Disclaimer: in my profile photo, I have a RED ONE , shooting pre-release tests of Unique Optics primes several years ago. Image and marketing... people wanted RED, you give it to them. )

Simon King

I am getting closer and closer to keeping with the practice of renting known quantities!

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