CAMERA



Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

The URSA Mini Pro, successor to the URSA Mini, brings DigitalCinema quality in a shape similar to classic broadcast cameras.

The URSA Mini Pro, successor to the URSA Mini, brings DigitalCinema quality in a shape similar to classic broadcast cameras.

The URSA Mini Pro comes with built-in ND filters (with IR compensation), a removable lens mount, a flip-flop LCD monitor, a 12G SDI connector, Dual Recorder for CFast and SD cards, XLR jacks.

The camera housing is made of a robust aluminium alloy and the controls are arranged on  the  housing - similar to classic broadcast cameras – so easy adjustment is possible without having to delve into menus. The fold-out 4-inch display of the camera feels mechanically solid and tough. The display must be unfolded for any menu operations, which is less practical when shooting from the shoulder. On the plus side the menu is presented logically and all menu items are quick and easy to access. 

The URSA Mini Pro has a status indicator which is easy to read even in bright conditions.

It comes with an EF lens mount as standard, but can also be equipped with optional adapters with F, PL or B4 mount – the latter two serviced by the matching 12-pin Hirose-connector. The B4 mount allows the use of 2/3-inch broadcast lenses and corrects for chromatic aberrations. It also enlarges the image by a factor of 1.1 to cover the entire HD area of the sensor in crop-mode. According to the manufacturer the loss of light through the adapter is much less than 1 stop.

The adapters are mounted with a set of screws which means that changes of lens types requires some time.

A handle is included with the body and can be used in conjunction with the optional shoulder mount kit as an extension arm. Unfortunately the extension bar is very short and does limit the usefulness of the handle somewhat.

The 4.6-K sensor of the Ursa Mini Pro (CMOS with rolling shutter) is 25.34 x 14.25 mm slightly larger than most other S35 sensors.

At full resolution of 4,606 x 2,592 pixels, the camera can record up to 60 fps. In HD, 80 fps are possible if the sensor is used in windowed mode (slightly larger than 2/3-inch image window) and recorded in ProRes 444. For all other built-in ProRes versions, 120 fps in 4: 2: 2 is possible.

In HD the user can use the full sensor (top) or work in windowed mode (bottom). The latter equates to just a bit more than 2/3 inch of sensor area.

The contrast range has up to 15 f-stops and is therefore suitable for HDR projects (high dynamic range). Both the color space Rec709 and Rec2020 are available for recording.

The Mini Pro saves to CFast 2.0 or SD memory cards, but for recording in the maximum resolution level of 2K in ProRes HQ this is limited to just the SD card option.

In addition to all popular ProRes codecs in 10-bit and 24-bit and 24-bit audio, raw recording uses the 12-bit CinemaDNG format, which is natively recognized by Davinci Resolve and Premiere Pro.

In terms of connectivity the Ursa Mini Pro offers everything you expect from a professional camcorder. So the camera can have I / Os for 12G SDI. In addition, material can be transferred in UHD resolution with frame rates of up to 60p.

The Ursa Mini Pro is also equipped with timecode-in, 12- to 30V power, viewfinder connections, a 3.5mm headphone jack and even two Lanc jacks which can be controlled from the handle on the extension arm connection. There is also a 12 V power output via 4-pin XLR and two XLR audio-in jacks are located under a flap in the upper rear of the camera.

The camera has a fairly large ventilation slot at the top of the device. Therefore it is sensitive to outdoor use even in light rain.

The Ursa Mini Pro can be operated like a classic shoulder camcorder.

On the left side of the camera - on the back of the fold-out screen – there is a black and white display for the main functions such as level meter, time code, white balance etc. The control wheels located below the display allow for quick adjustments of audio levels. The wheels feel good to use but can accidentally turned when using the camera on the shoulder.

Above the dip-switches is another control wheel to adjust viewfinder settings. The dip-switches do not enact presets but function as up/down keys for Shutter-, ISO- and White-Balance-ranges.

This is useful for setting ISO and Shutter speed, but setting the white balance is a bit cumbersome due to needing to work your way through 50 Kelvin steps. Although you can do a white balance with the Auto-WB button, you can not save this setting.

The shutter is adjustable by shutter angle or shutter speed. For the ISO values, the dip-switch is useful, as only set values of  200, 400, 800 and 1600 can be selected.

Changing frame rates does not require restarting the camera and even switching between Raw and ProRes recording only take a couple of seconds.

The optionally available viewfinder is sharp enough even without activated peaking. In addition it has  great contrast range. Cleverly, the viewfinder only becomes active when you look into the viewfinder. It then automatically goes off again if look away.

The display is also impressive. It is relatively bright and can used for outdoor shots. However, the 4 inch display size isn’t really adequate to judge sharpness in 4k shooting.

Help such as zebra, cropping and peaking can be set separately for viewfinder and display. The peaking of the Ursa Mini Pro is called "Colored Lines" and has three levels to choose from.

The histogram helps to keep track of the brightness distribution in the image.  A sad miss from this camera is the lack of waveform monitor and function key. The three buttons on the viewfinder also allow the user to access the assistance functions at any time without constantly having to see an image overlaid with zebra and / or colored lines.

The magnification zoom function allows the display to zoom in two steps up to a ratio of 2:1.

Shooting with an EF lens with an electronic shutter, and with manually pulling the shutter during a recording may be problematic. The wheel is so small and unwieldy that it is almost impossible to adjust the shutter evenly. With the screen unfolded and titled slightly the wheel can be completely blocked.

Where the Ursa Mini Pro does score well is its image quality - especially in controlled lighting situations where the ISO range can be kept between 200 and 800. Depending on the format, even up to ISO 1600, the picture noise remains acceptable.

That gives it an edge over many classic 2/3-inch cameras. However, the URSA Mini Pro does not perform as well as competitors like the Sony FS7 in low-light.

If you have time for the slightly more intensive post-processing, recording in movie mode is the best option. The Ursa Mini Pro offers a standard 3D LUT for the sensor and can load additional 3D LUTs in cube format (from DaVinci Resolve). The LUTs cannot be embedded in the recording but can of course be manually applied to monitors or external recorders.

When it comes to sounds the Ursa Mini Pro offers the basic equipment one would expect for professional recording: Two XLR inputs with options for line mic signals or phantom power. Behind the fold-out display are dip switches for both channels. On the other hand it would not be unreasonable to expect 4-channel input from a shoulder-mount camcorder. The lack of limiters on either audio channel suggests that external signal-processing is required as the clipping past 0dBFS is immediate.

Frustratingly, even the internal headphone output has an audible delay. In addition, the internal microphone is of limited use even for the recording of ambient sound. This is due to the very high noise floor, the fan noise of the camera and the audible operation of the switching elements on the housing. The XLR inputs on the other hand offer a good and low-noise signal both in passive mode and when supplying phantom power.

It supports recordings in CinemaDNG 4.6K RAW, ProRes 4444 XQ, ProRes 4444, ProRes 422HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, ProRes 422 Proxy in Ultra HD and HD

Blackmagic Camera Control App

Users who have downladed the Camera Control app can remotely control a range of functions on the camera via Bluetooth from up to 10m away. These include the ability to turn the camera on and off, adjust and trigger metadata and change a range of setting.

The update 4.4 activates the Bluetooth function of the camera and is therefore a prerequisite for using the app.


Downloads:
Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro_eng

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