First footage of the Blackmagic URSA at 80fps in 4K

Thanks to Norbert Bielan in New York for this test footage. You can read his thoughts on shooting with the URSA below.

Blackmagic’s latest unified firmware release is mainly about the URSA and what an update it is. The new firmware bumps the maximum frame rate up to 80fps in 4K and adds a new 3:1 compression setting for raw recording, fitting more material onto CFast cards.

The URSA also makes an interesting back-end for your existing 4K HDMI camera such as the Sony A7S. Has anybody actually tried this combination yet?

First of all here’s Grant Petty to take us through the new firmware update –

Blackmagic have really focussed on rolling out some fantastic firmware updates in recent months, now their unified firmware is up and running.

It’s great to see swiftly added major features to existing products.

The URSA shares a similar sensor to the one in the Blackmagic Production Camera (and likely AJA CION too), but the implementation of it is more advanced than the BMPC.

The sensor is actually capable of 4K at 120fps and it is possible the URSA will ramp up to that speed with future firmware updates.

As it is 80fps makes for a welcome increase of drama in slow-mo shots compared to the 60fps of before.

The footage looks great and it’s a wonderful image in decent light, just don’t take it into a dimly lit situation at ISO 1600 as like the Production Camera, the sensor has a lot of front-side global shutter circuitry which reduces the area available for light gathering.

I’d love to see Blackmagic change the form factor of their 2.5K Cinema Camera next and reduce power consumption for longer run-times on a smaller, less bulky battery. Something in-between the Pocket and Cinema cameras at 2.5K would be great. 2.5K raw is a welcome bump up from plain old 1080p and doesn’t compare too badly to 4K when you upscale it.

Here are Norbert’s views on shooting with the URSA –

I think what Blackmagic Design is doing is absolutely amazing. The image quality that you are getting for the price is truly a wonder. I have the Pocket, the 2.5K, the 4K and now the URSA. The URSA is my favorite camera of the bunch and probably my favorite camera of all time.

At first, I was intimated by the weight (20+ lbs with lens and battery) as I always preferred smaller DSLRs where I can run around quicker and attract less attention to myself, but I fell in love with the 10″ screen and quickly forgot about how heavy it is. Some people knock this screen, but it has completely changed the way I shoot. I always used 5″ or 7″ small monitors for my other cameras, but this 10″ screen brings a new life to filming. Beautiful and bright…you can see everything.

Anyone who knows BM cameras will feel very comfortable using the URSA as the menus are the same except you get certain features in this camera that the others don’t have. Mainly slow-motion. I’ve been using the camera for a few weeks and it’s performance is perfect. There are some minor bugs that they are working out with it, but overall it’s been a great experience.

Positives:
– 10″ screen
– 4K 80FPS (new firmware)
– Focus Peaking is great (especially @ISO 200)
– In-camera formatting (new firmware)
– Option of various frame guides (new firmware)
– Phantom Power (new firmware)
– The touchscreen menu and interface…so simple and beautiful.

Negatives:
– Weight
– Black sun spot still there (it’s frustrating, but I’ve heard removing it may affect dynamic range)
– Highlights clip a little too easily
– Sometimes a very thin line from the right edge of the frame gets recorded to the left edge of the frame making it look like a corrupt clip (BM acknowledged this and are working on a fix)…I just zoom in 102% in the edit and it’s gone.
– Huge file sizes (8 minutes of 4K/60P ProRes HQ on a 120GB card)

Everyone knows that BM look and the URSA has the best one so far. I personally think the quality is better than the BMPC (same sensor) because maybe the cooling system has something to do with it, but I can’t confirm that. Overall, I love this camera.