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URSA Mini "on the cheap"?

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Is a pity the initial assumptions about the leak of the URSA Mini was wrong with $3k for 4.6K and 15 stops of DR, as it is actually $3k for the old sensor. While the fully kitted out 4.6K version goes for nearly the same as a Sony FS7!!! And then you add on CFast media, which further jacks up the total cost sky high.

And while I don't really want the old sensor (the BMPC4K had rather little appeal to me at its price, because I've got a wonderful BMPCC), perhaps a decent case can be made for the cheaper URSA Mini option with a 4K sensor? Because I am giving serious consideration to the URSA Mini 4K plus BMD Video Assist plus 1x CFast card (only one, because those cards are bloody expensive!).

Thus, I'll then be able to do a little bit of 4K or raw or slow motion (does the URSA Mini 4K do FHD 160fps too?) when I need it. But the rest of the time I'll have the internal card doing ProRes Proxy (as merely a worst case back up option) and the BMD VA recording ProRes HQ for me. (which simply uses my existing fast SD cards I already have for my BMPCC)

Thus for approximately $3k (because I'll be getting the BMD VA no matter if I go for the URSA Mini or not) I'll be getting a great 1080 ProRes HQ camera, seems like a great deal to me! With the bonus of a cheap "upgrade" to 4K and raw shooting once CFast prices have tumbled down.

If only it had ND filters, Micro Four Thirds mount, and a little better high ISO (such as GH3 level) then it would be the AF200 successor which I want! I'd even do something I've never done before.... pre-order an item! 

Heck, even if it only had two out of those three things I'd still go for it at US$3K. 

As the lack of m4/3 mount is a big bummer. As if it had a m4/3 mount I could use my Nikon F mount lenses with an adapter which has built in ND filters, and thus fixing their terrible error of leaving it out of the URSA body.

Ditto, when it is lowlight instead of bright scenes, I can swap the ND filter adapter for a focal reducer, and thus help overcome the 4K sensor's weakness in lowlight.

But as it is now... hmmm..... sitting on the fence. I suppose once reviews come out it will be clearer if this is a worthwhile idea for me. 

What are others' thoughts on this approach to the URSA Mini and are very budget constrained?

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I'm thinking about going with the Micro Cinema Camera for this reason. 1080p, 13 stops, global shutter option, MFT mount. $1000 and will swap out nicely with the support gear I have for a GH4. I'll pull the trigger on a 4.6k EF mount URSA Mini later this year.

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Low-light ability is fuel for a low-budget production. We absolutely must learn the low-light capabilities of the Ursa Mini before jumping in. But, to me, it's worth paying the extra $2k for the 4.6k sensor, no matter what. That regular-old 4k sensor isn't worth the trouble. That said, the one sample video didn't look that bad in the couple of darker scenes.

Not as worried about the ND thing -- they would have been a huge bonus, of course -- but if you're shooting with a matte box you can always drop in filters. And if you're shooting without a rig and not swapping lenses too much then use vari-ND filters. I have a couple 77mm ones and use step-up rings in case they don't fit whatever lens I'm using at the moment. It does slow you down to unscrew and screw them on to different lenses, but it's not a deal-breaker. 

CFast media is a real bummer, though I suspect prices will come down soon enough.

 

 

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CFast media is a real bummer, though I suspect prices will come down soon enough.​

 
Yup, that is one of my points. :-D Maybe instead of viewing the URSA Mini as an investment on the same scale as a Sony FS7 would be... :-o
 
I can instead view it as a fantastic high quality 1080 camera at an affordable price, via the pairing of URSA-M4K + BMD VA.
 
Use the Blackmagic Design Video Assist for the waaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper media!! That way I could record to SD cards which I already own for my BMPCC.
 
vs spending thousands and thousands on CFast cards. I'd only get merely *ONE* CFast card (or maybe two... perhaps a 128gig card, and a 64gig card as a backup card kept in the gear bag). Which would simply be used for back up ProRes LT recording in camera (or maybe even merely last resort ProRes Proxy recording :-P ). While the BMD VA does ProRes HQ.
 
Then in a year or two onwards I get a great "upgrade" to the camera when I get a few CFast cards on the cheap after they've become popular and dropped their price.
 
As right now, I could live without the 4K and only the 1080 from the BMD VA. But in a year or two, getting 4K too would be handy.

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I can see their logic however, for the longer term CFast would make sense. As they're better, and with time prices will come down. 

What I wish is if they'd instead replaced one CFast slot with a SSD slot? Then you could use the SSD one as a cheap back up recording, or as your main recording if you're a broke as cameraman....

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Look at it this way, remember the Black Magic 4K Production camera that was 2995 a couple of days ago? It shares the same sensor in the Full URSA amd the same sensor in the Cion. Do you like the image out of the prpduction camera and URSA and Cion? 

What Blaclmagic did this NAB is, for the same money as the Production 4K camera, you get en entirely new ergonomic body and even better performanve from the sensor as in eliminating FPN and getting higher frame rates. The body has a better swivle 5" screen, takes big cheap batteries, has great audio and XLRs with seperate physical dials, has a great handgrip that's rotatable and detachable, higher frame rates, more buttons and customizability, waveforms, false colour, HDSDI outputs, Genlock and timecode, you get all that amazing body upgrade for the same prive as the production camera but the same sensor. If you liked the footage (which in my opinion is very filmic 4K images with stable global shutter) and you don't need more than 800 ISO, it's a perfect 2995 camera. 

 

Now if you hated the production camera sensor, want great lowlight performance, then look somewhere else. 

This issue BM solved with the new 2000$ sensor if you need it. 

 

If you have a 2995$ budget for a camera and don't need 4K, the C100 mkI is exactly the same price, I've always preffered the C100 sensor over the prpductipn camera sensor. It's also 4K but scaled down internally to 1080p so insanely sharp, and has MUCH better lowlight performance. It's a more versatile ''video'' camera so to speak with small battery, SD cards, straight good looking 1080p files and NDs. With the BM videoassist you can record ProRes at 4:2:2 and hifh bitrate shall you need it plus have an extra 5" monitor on top. 

 

Just another option for you budget I thought worth mentioning.

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Low-light ability is fuel for a low-budget production. We absolutely must learn the low-light capabilities of the Ursa Mini before jumping in. But, to me, it's worth paying the extra $2k for the 4.6k sensor, no matter what. That regular-old 4k sensor isn't worth the trouble. That said, the one sample video didn't look that bad in the couple of darker scenes.

Not as worried about the ND thing -- they would have been a huge bonus, of course -- but if you're shooting with a matte box you can always drop in filters. And if you're shooting without a rig and not swapping lenses too much then use vari-ND filters. I have a couple 77mm ones and use step-up rings in case they don't fit whatever lens I'm using at the moment. It does slow you down to unscrew and screw them on to different lenses, but it's not a deal-breaker. 

CFast media is a real bummer, though I suspect prices will come down soon enough.

 

 

If low light is such an issue for low budget production - shouldn't more people actually consider buying a decent set of lights before upgrading to yet another camera body? Lights last for over a decade, camera body 2-3 years. I don't find low light much of an issue as I'm covered on all bases. Something a lot of the camera nerdy community forget is that lighting is No.1 for creating images (in aspects of tools). 

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...shouldn't more people actually consider buying a decent set of lights before upgrading to yet another camera body?

​I own a small set of lights, but I'm speaking more from the perspective of an indie filmmaker than as someone doing gigs for clients. With most jobs, you budget to rent or use lights (and depending on the budget, a nicer camera, lenses, etc.). Pass it on to the client. Your task is to create a buttery-smooth corporate image, and that often requires a higher level of ordnance than most of us have in our kits.  But with an indie film you're up to your own devices and there's more incentive to bring the total cost of production down because there's even less of a backstop financially. Doing a 300 ft. cable run to light up the facade of some building in the deep background of your shot vs being able to crank the ISO and only light your foreground subjects is a huge financial (gear + time + manpower!) advantage. I never suggested that we would work completely without lights, but the promise of low-light capability is that you can do less lighting, and less of the most costly type of lighting.

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​I own a small set of lights, but I'm speaking more from the perspective of an indie filmmaker than as someone doing gigs for clients. With most jobs, you budget to rent or use lights (and depending on the budget, a nicer camera, lenses, etc.). Pass it on to the client. Your task is to create a buttery-smooth corporate image, and that often requires a higher level of ordnance than most of us have in our kits.  But with an indie film you're up to your own devices and there's more incentive to bring the total cost of production down because there's even less of a backstop financially. Doing a 300 ft. cable run to light up the facade of some building in the deep background of your shot vs being able to crank the ISO and only light your foreground subjects is a huge financial (gear + time + manpower!) advantage. I never suggested that we would work completely without lights, but the promise of low-light capability is that you can do less lighting, and less of the most costly type of lighting.

 

Totally get your drift, but others don't. Some people out there think a low light camera means you don't need lighting, which is a very bizarre way of thinking when shooting. (Excluding the spontaneous and some documentary stuff). 

There are many "tests" on Vimeo where opinions are based on cameras where substantial lighting hasn't been used. How can a cameras image quality be tested when it hasn't been given the ingredients it needs? (Excluding low light tests). The A7S for example, creates by far it's best image under decent lighting at a low ISO. 

I've historically made loads of my projects with very little money to nothing. Lighting never gets thrown aside. Last year I made a zombie music video in a complete blacked out lunatic asylum. I lit the entire thing with just 2 small LED lights and a reflector. Sure, I had the Sony FS700 (decent low light) but if I didn't bother moulding the light then the video would of been a waste of time. 

A lot of us camera nerds are so obsessed with cameras that we spent all our money on cameras and not the juice that feeds the image. Low light is a fantastic feature to get more information and clean images - but knowing how to mould that light, in whichever form or source with decent composition is the key to amazing images. It's what sets you apart. (And your ideas of course!)

So when this brings me back to the URSA Mini and what it's intended for,  it seems perfectly fine. I'll always have some form of light kit, even if it's a bit of foil on a piece of cardboard and a little torch to shine on it. ;) 

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If low light is such an issue for low budget production - shouldn't more people actually consider buying a decent set of lights before upgrading to yet another camera body? Lights last for over a decade, camera body 2-3 years. I don't find low light much of an issue as I'm covered on all bases. Something a lot of the camera nerdy community forget is that lighting is No.1 for creating images (in aspects of tools). 


I agree, but...   "low budget" doesn't always just mean cash. It can also mean time poor, or short on manpower.  Often you might need to do a whole shoot in just a day, or even half a day, or sometimes simply just got an hour to do it. So if you can do it with a simple set up with just something you yourself can juggle at the same time, then that is a great bonus. 

 

Look at it this way, remember the Black Magic 4K Production camera that was 2995 a couple of days ago? It shares the same sensor in the Full URSA amd the same sensor in the Cion. Do you like the image out of the prpduction camera and URSA and Cion? 

It is a nice comparison with the BMPC4K for many people it will make that decision easier, as it is essentially the BMPC4K and improved in nearly every way (except for in a few areas such as the recording media is now better, but hugely more expensive than it is for the BMPC4K. It is also over half a kilo heavier, before counting the accessories, although I imagine the rigged up BMPC4K ways far more)

However that arguments doesn't really appeal to me, as I prefer my BMPCC over a BMPC4K. 

What Blaclmagic did this NAB is, for the same money as the Production 4K camera, you get en entirely new ergonomic body and even better performanve from the sensor as in eliminating FPN and getting higher frame rates. The body has a better swivle 5" screen, takes big cheap batteries, has great audio and XLRs with seperate physical dials, has a great handgrip that's rotatable and detachable, higher frame rates, more buttons and customizability, waveforms, false colour, HDSDI outputs, Genlock and timecode, you get all that amazing body upgrade for the same prive as the production camera but the same sensor. If you liked the footage (which in my opinion is very filmic 4K images with stable global shutter) and you don't need more than 800 ISO, it's a perfect 2995 camera. 

Waveforms?? Be awesome if it does, but I thought it didn't. (well, it has audio waveforms, but that isn't what mainly interests me)

Now if you hated the production camera sensor, want great lowlight performance, then look somewhere else. 

This issue BM solved with the new 2000$ sensor if you need it. 

It is said lowlight is much better, but have you seen anywhere by how much? Merely old 5Dmk2  performance (hope not), or newer 5Dmk3 level ability (hope so!), or C300 performance in the dark? (doubt it!)

 

If you have a 2995$ budget for a camera and don't need 4K, the C100 mkI is exactly the same price, I've always preffered the C100 sensor over the prpductipn camera sensor. It's also 4K but scaled down internally to 1080p so insanely sharp, and has MUCH better lowlight performance. It's a more versatile ''video'' camera so to speak with small battery, SD cards, straight good looking 1080p files and NDs. With the BM videoassist you can record ProRes at 4:2:2 and hifh bitrate shall you need it plus have an extra 5" monitor on top. 

Just another option for you budget I thought worth mentioning.

​Heh, I'll admit (as I'm generally mildly anti Canon) if I could find a used one for half the price they're going for new, then I'd seriously consider it in combo with a BMD VA. 

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But as it is now... hmmm..... sitting on the fence. I suppose once reviews come out it will be clearer if this is a worthwhile idea for me.

​Exactly. Gives me time to save some money.  And being a BMPCC owner myself, I already know I could handle this camera, which in many respects is much more ergonomic, despite the missing ND filters.

But, to me, it's worth paying the extra $2k for the 4.6k sensor, no matter what. That regular-old 4k sensor isn't worth the trouble. That said, the one sample video didn't look that bad in the couple of darker scenes.

​What sample video are you talking about? The Cpt. Hook clip with the 4,6k sensor in Ursa on the BM page? Why, couldn't be better, could it? No comparison to an FS7, which doesn't have raw or ProRes ootb, which doesn't have a global shutter and I'm sure no 14, sth. stops of DR. See what Hook wrote about it on BM forum:

With DR, so far in my experience i think it's safe to say that whatever you rate the Pocket Camera to be, add roughly 2 stops. 1 stop in the highlights, and another stop in the shadows. I can't wait for people to get this and go shoot some incredible footage with it!

I'd say according to the specs and what we saw in the NAB videos, I want the 4,6k version from the start, with the BM EVF. It's still much less than a fully equipped FS7. People forget that speedbooster or optionally very expensive (and usually slow) Sony lenses are needed then. Whereas most already have access to some good EF lenses or can figure out in advance which are best.

Look at it this way, remember the Black Magic 4K Production camera that was 2995 a couple of days ago? It shares the same sensor in the Full URSA amd the same sensor in the Cion. Do you like the image out of the prpduction camera and URSA and Cion? 

(...)

 If you liked the footage (which in my opinion is very filmic 4K images with stable global shutter) and you don't need more than 800 ISO, it's a perfect 2995 camera. 

​Yeah. As others wrote, we have to compare the better DR and the better lowlight. 

If low light is such an issue for low budget production - shouldn't more people actually consider buying a decent set of lights before upgrading to yet another camera body? Lights last for over a decade, camera body 2-3 years. I don't find low light much of an issue as I'm covered on all bases. Something a lot of the camera nerdy community forget is that lighting is No.1 for creating images (in aspects of tools). 

​I see that with my Pocket. My older cameras or my D3300 have better lowlight, but are we talking about cinema cameras here? 

Of the two advantages, better DR and better lowlight, I'd choose the DR at once. That's why I want the 4,6k (resolution is overestimated, as I often wrote).

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​I see that with my Pocket. My older cameras or my D3300 have better lowlight, but are we talking about cinema cameras here? 

Of the two advantages, better DR and better lowlight, I'd choose the DR at once. That's why I want the 4,6k (resolution is overestimated, as I often wrote).

 

Yes I would think we are talking about cinema cameras, as the URSA Mini seems specced for that purpose.

Dynamic range is more important to me, but I do find it very useful if my camera can perform well under low light - it helps when you can use lights with less power (more portable, like LEDs) and be able to get a detailed, clean image. It's true that some shoots can be difficult when you have a tiny crew and a load of Arri Fresnels to rig up. 

My point in being is that many enthusiasts want the next best image quality, and will keep on buying camera after camera like they are chasing the dragon. When will the said enthusiast wake up and realise that moulding the light is the key to maximum image performance? An A7S won't do it for you. If I relied on low light capabilities then a lot of my images would be horrible. 

Those who are documentary/run&gun/shot grabbers/spontaneous - this might not apply to you. ;) 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

For me DR can reach a poimt where it is enough, where I can shoot a bright sky along whith trees and cars. C300/C100/Pocket/BMCC2.5k are all enough for me. GH4, 5D, 60D, ax100, are not enough for me. i just cant get a flat rich image in most situations. 

But lowlight performance, there isn't a point that's enough, the higher you give me the better I will use it. Imagine if our cameras shot at 102400 ISO the image wualitt of 200-400 ISO quality and noise. How VASTLY helpful will that be in filming a scene in the dark night streets, or using an Ipad screen as a key light illuminating a portrait, or shooting a wide vista video in real time with every star in the shot clearlt seen. 

i think after a decent stops of DR, say 14 (equivalent to the highest end Kodak film DR), and after great resolution of somewhere around perfect 1080p or higher, then they should convert all their technology in making super sensitive sensors and tweaking colour science. It's the most fascinating aspect of image quality in cameras personally, lowlight performanve and colour science, sadly the camera that has the former best on the market has a terrible latter ;)

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