In a youtube live streamed press conference Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty displayed a few new items. Yet, this was not just a show-and-tell style press conference. This time around Grant Petty took viewers on a tour of Blackmagic’s two new DaVinci Resolve control panels and the new URSA Mini Pro. You can check out the entire presentation below if you so desire. Otherwise, I am going to break down the announcements.
URSA Mini Pro
The URSA Mini Pro takes the best from the URSA Mini and adds much-needed broadcast features. Think every button, switch, and wheel users have been pining to be in the URSA and URSA Mini. We are talking a traditional ND Filter Wheel, Iris adjustment wheel, dedicated Auto White Balance button on the front, and interchangeable lens mounts. In many ways, the new URSA Mini Pro feels like the camera we may have wanted the URSA Mini to be when we are talking about usability. Do all these features equal a more expensive URSA Mini Pro? The price for the camera is $5,995 and is shipping now.
Shooters still get the great 15 stops of dynamic range, 60fps and 4.6K raw cinema dng / ProRes recording found in the original URSA Mini, but with more ways to access and change settings. Specifically, the URSA Mini Pro was designed for “Blind” use. Think about “Blind” use as those times when a camera is on your shoulder and you cannot take our eye away from the EVF. To make the URSA Mini Pro work during these situations they put all the switches on the left side of the camera and this is exactly where they should be for run and gun work. The detail I like, they mixed in real switches on the camera with the soft to the touch buttons. The ND in the ND Filter wheel? According to Grant Petty, the neutral density filters do not cause any strange color shifts. Blackmagic also claims there will be no IR light pollution from using the heaviest neutral density filter.
Interchangeable Lens Mount System
One of my favorite features is Blackmagic’s new interchangeable lens mount. By removing four torque screws the URSA Mini Pro can be adapted to Canon EF Mount, B4, PL, and to a yet to be released manual Nikon lens mount. To show how simple the change can be, Grant Petty took time during the press conference to change an URSA Mini Pro’s lens mount from a Canon EF mount to a broadcast lens friendly B4 mount. The change only took a couple of minutes. Though Grant did say he would forgo accurately shimming the lens to speed up the process. The URSA Mini Pro also has a lens connector on the front right of the camera to power FIZ controllers found on B4 lenses. Adding Nikon to the lens mix is a first for Blackmagic. The challenge was how to get
Adding Nikon to the lens mix is a first for Blackmagic. The challenge was how to get Nikon’s manual aperture to turn on the camera. Blackmagic’s solution is simple. Just like many Nikon F adapters on the market, the adapter has an aperture ring to change the aperture. The difference? Blackmagic’s Nikon adapter mounts straight to the camera body.
4 Media Slots
Blackmagic has added two SD card slots to the URSA Mini Pro. This means the camera has two Cfast 2.0 slots and two SD Card slots. Inside the LCD screen, there is a switch where a user can change from recording to Cfast 2.0 to SD and vice versa. This feature seems to be an either/or setting. I do not think you can record proxies on the SD and 4.6K to the Cfast 2.0 cards. What good is having SD slots on the camera? If recording HD then you can use less expensive SD cards than the more expensive Cfast 2.0 cards. Both sets of media have continuous recording and are hot swappable.
For the times when the other four card slots are not enough media. The SSD Recorder attaches between the camera and the battery. The unit holds one single SSD and communicates with the camera from the inside battery connection. On the side are two 12G-SDI cables which hook into the SDI output on the URSA Mini Pro. This recorder should help shooters capture longer record times onto less expensive SSDs. The SSD Recorder currently only works on the URSA Mini Pro.
One of the things that bothered me on the URSA is the record buttons were only on the 10-inch screen. If the screen was damaged or tore off you could not continue to record with a separate LANC recorder. The URSA Mini Pro has learned from this lesson. The features accessed by buttons on the operator side of the camera can also be accessed the head’s up display on the LCD screen. There is now two ways to turn on the camera, and if you destroy the EF mount that comes with the camera you can purchase a new one to replace it. One of the issues older broadcasters have with Blackmagic is reliability. By giving shooters more than one option on the camera means a shooter can keep shooting even if their camera become damaged.
This new URSA Mini Pro looks like Blackmagic, has been listening to URSA Mini users. I see a lot of answered feature requests on the left side of the camera. The ND Filter Wheel was the biggest request I heard. Coming in second was an Iris wheel. If Blackmagic had only added those two features many shooters may have been pleased. Instead, we now see a more broadcast-friendly URSA Mini Pro which is a great thing because the camera retains all of the original cinematic found in the original.
*** URSA UPGRADE ***
If you are an URSA owner, I am talking about the big camera now, Blackmagic now gives you the option to upgrade to the URSA Mini Pro instead of the 4.6K sensor for the URSA. I think this is the real upgrade for URSA shooters. 1. you get to keep your original URSA to go with your URSA Mini Pro. 2. You get an interchangeable lens camera, which the 4.6K URSA is but the change also includes a yet to ship sensor, is more expensive, and only has two mount options. 3. Blackmagic stated they’re having trouble with the URSA 4.6K sensors. 4. I think this is a signal from Blackmagic that the URSA is going out to pasture. By giving URSA owners the URSA Mini Pro upgrade path, even if it is more expensive, they are fulfilling their original obligation to provide an upgrade path to URSA owners. The original URSA 4.6K upgrade cost $1,995 for the EF mount. To upgrade to the interchangeable lens mount URSA Mini Pro the cost will be $3,495. Yes, it is more expensive, but I think the broadcast features may be worth the extra cash.
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro Key Features
- Digital film camera with15 stops of dynamic range.
- Super 35mm 4.6K sensor with third generation Blackmagic Design color science processing of raw sensor data.
- Interchangeable lens mount with EF mount included as standard. Optional PL and B4 lens mount available separately.
- High quality 2, 4 and 6 stop neutral density (ND) filters with IR compensation designed to specifically match the colorimetry and color science of URSA Mini Pro.
- Fully redundant controls including ergonomically designed tactile controls which allow direct access to the most important camera settings such as external power switch, ND filter wheel, ISO, shutter, white balance, record button, audio gain controls, lens and transport control, high frame rate button and more.
- Built in dual C-Fast 2.0 recorders and dual SD/UHS-II card recorders allow unlimited duration recording in high quality.
- Lightweight and durable magnesium alloy body.
- LCD status display for quickly checking timecode, shutter and lens settings, battery, recording status, and audio levels.
- Support for CinemaDNG 4.6K RAW files and ProRes 4444 XQ, ProRes 4444, ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, ProRes 422 Proxy recording at Ultra HD and HD resolutions.
- Supports up to 60 fps 4.6K resolution capture in RAW.
- Features all standard connections, including dual XLR mic/line audio inputs with phantom power, 12G-SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay and separate XLR 4 pin power output for viewfinder power, headphone jack, LANC remote control and standard 4 pin 12V DC power connection.
- Built-in high-quality stereo microphones for recording sound.
- 4-inch fold out touchscreen for on-set monitoring and menu settings.
- Includes a full copy of DaVinci Resolve software color grading and editing software.