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Oliver Daniel

I broke my rules and pre-ordered the URSA Mini 4.6k

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They are affiliated with or paid by Blackmagic. I've never read a negative thing about any BM cameras from them. 

Or maybe they just like their products? 

Seriously, why are people acting like BM cameras are so unstable? They have some quirks, but as sensors in boxes, they deliver. Not to mention that they have led the charge on providing features via firmware--features which were never promised and they had no obligation to provide. They don't crash like Magic Lantern, the more aggressive GH2 hacks, or even the newer RED cameras. And overheating? Their cameras have some of the best internal cooling of any camera out there. 


In terms of low-light, I'm not sure why people have so much trouble. I can easily push the BMPCC two stops (to 3200) without objectionable noise, and the Ursa Mini is reported to have a stop more latitude in the lows. Combine that with a downsample to 2K from 4.6K and you should be able to get a decent 6400 out of it. If you need more than ISO 6400 and an F/2 lens, your light probably sucks anyway.

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Sad to hear BMD Video Assist is going to be the most delayed :-(

Maybe I just shouldn't wait, and get a Video Devices PIX-E5 now. 

I believe someone on Provideocoalition pointed out the source of the input on the BMD video assist was wrong and that is why the quality of the video would not be as good as it should be. Maybe that pushed their dates further. They do have a slight problem with times schedules in general, though, I guess. So, it is safe to say that atleast 3 months is a given. 

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I've owned a total of 8 BM cameras. Zero issues. No hiccups. Worked every time. 

And not only have they worked like advertised, they have been improved via Firmware. And I dont mean bug fixes, I mean real useful features added.

So if I wanted or needed an Ursa Mini I would have no problems pre-ordering. Also Im having a realy tough time not jumping on the brand new URSA 4k in an unbroken box that goes for $3200 on a classified here :)

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Ok some words on it all: 

I have found myself thinking a lot about power, rep said that bm ursa mini draws like 40-50V, but how long can it go on a small 90V V-mout battery?

I am not sure about the image of the bm cameras, hooks test on the ursa 4.6k looks awesome, but I remembered I thougt that john brawleys image for the bmcc looked awesome back then. Then I used the bmcc on a short and It came up short.. On like the emotional side of the image.. the best image comes from film, (I have worked on S16mm) but the best digital camera is the alexa, or the Amira, but its like the same sensor. Second best is the 5D, third maybe the GH4 but I dont seem to get great results with that honestly :(

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I'm not saying their bad, I'm saying they are more expensive than what it seems like the 16mm film cameras on Ebay.

I don't think price is an issue for what you get with the URSA Mini. Some people are complaining about the price and forget that you get a 4.6k sensor, high frame rates, 15 stops DR, internal raw, ProRes codecs, strong ergonomic body, large 1080p screen, 1080p OLED viewfinder and other things. (all above and beyond in features to other systems in this price range). 

Then consider the Mini doesn't use proprietary media and accessories. Invest into RED or the F55 and you are stuck with the £££$$$€€€€ spent on those items, like REDMags and SxS cards. That's a worthy benefit too. 

Also consider the full version of Resolve 12 you get for free, which does have some significant benefits over the free downloaded version. 

Blackmagic have nothing on the history and reliability of Canon, Sony, Panasonic. But to achieve what they have done in just 3 years is fantastic for this industry. 

 

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I'll pay for a CFast 2.0 camera when there is a CFast 2.0 card that is 1 terrabyte with the cost of $200-$1000

my advice is to never buy such a card. If it fails on you the whole day is gone.

30min is about maximum I want on any media. Spread the eggs.

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I try every camera before I buy and throw it straight into the thick of it. Away from all the usual (mostly boring) tests, this is the best test you can do! But i broke my rules for the first time and pre-ordered the camera (all bells and whistles) along with the BM Micro Camera and the Video Assist.

Why? Because I love the Blackmagic image (Cinema Camera) but never bought it because of the terrible ergonomics and lack of HFR. I like the FS7 but I absolutely can't stand the sloppy menu system and the lack of monitoring a LUT over Slog S+Q compositions. 

A bit of info on announcements...  I've spoken to a bunch of retailers in the UK about the Blackmagic products, including the new URSA Mini. They said they will only know the release date 48 hours before they actually get stock. Some said they think it's a marketing thing (can't get my head round that). 

They said the Video Assist will likely be the latest, with earliest release date expected 30/09/2015...but don't be surprised if it comes at Christmas. They have no idea regarding the other products. So I guess I've joined the waiting army..... 

I love the Blackmagic image as well and the URSA Mini 4.6K looks extremely good so far.

I can't get my head around why they keep announcing stuff at NAB instead of closer to when they are actually read to ship.

Somebody move NAB closer to the Blackmagic release dates because visa versa is clearly never going to happen!!

Video Assist is just a cheap monitor... good one at that... but why does it take them until October to get them out of the door? Summer is peak shooting time!!

I don't think price is an issue for what you get with the URSA Mini. Some people are complaining about the price and forget that you get a 4.6k sensor, high frame rates, 15 stops DR, internal raw, ProRes codecs, strong ergonomic body, large 1080p screen, 1080p OLED viewfinder and other things. (all above and beyond in features to other systems in this price range). 

Yep the price is good however Blackmagic seem to have more firmly defined their market as professional.

With the initial cameras they had more of a cross over appeal and Blackmagic seemed to encourage it and get them into consumer high street photography stores as well. Can't see that happening with the URSAs.

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Yep the price is good however Blackmagic seem to have more firmly defined their market as professional.

With the initial cameras they had more of a cross over appeal and Blackmagic seemed to encourage it and get them into consumer high street photography stores as well. Can't see that happening with the URSAs.

Agreed and I think this is a good thing. Once you break that $2k-$3k mark you start losing consumers and weekend warriors and getting into a group of filmmakers that are obviously more serious. I think they'll sell a bunch of mini's, but your casual filmmaker neighbor won't have one and that's good I think.

On another note, Blackmagic seems to be doing what Red promised to do years ago, and then never delivered. I think there were tons of filmmakers who bought into Red's promises and then were greatly disappointed by Red's finally released Scarlet and pricing. In my opinion that was a big mistake for Red and BM is cashing in on it. There's no doubt in my mind Red could deliver a camera closer to the specs and price of URSA mini. Once in a Red package, wouldn't it be natural for filmmakers to upgrade to other Red products? Big mistake. I like what BM is doing. Looking forward to seeing the mini in more filmmakers hands. 

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I love the Blackmagic image as well and the URSA Mini 4.6K looks extremely good so far.

I can't get my head around why they keep announcing stuff at NAB instead of closer to when they are actually read to ship.

Somebody move NAB closer to the Blackmagic release dates because visa versa is clearly never going to happen!!

Video Assist is just a cheap monitor... good one at that... but why does it take them until October to get them out of the door? Summer is peak shooting time!!

Yep the price is good however Blackmagic seem to have more firmly defined their market as professional.

With the initial cameras they had more of a cross over appeal and Blackmagic seemed to encourage it and get them into consumer high street photography stores as well. Can't see that happening with the URSAs.

Yep, you're right. 

The URSA series is definitely not targeted at your high street consumers. People were attracted to original BMCC as it was an industry bombshell, but it's going to be strictly pro's with the new ones. 

Its frustrating they have to treat announcements this way. Why can't they just tell us? Is there any marketing reasons to be so cryptic? Does it make us talk more?

They also want buyers of the original cameras to upgrade to these new URSAs, and they will keep going from there. 

I think Blackmagic will return with another model below the URSA and above the Micro. Perhaps "Blackmagic Cinema Shooter"... Sort of a hybrid between the BMPCC and BMCC with a Super 16 sensor, but 4k, 1080 60p, global shutter, a bottom handle and an articulated 1080p screen. It's due for sure, but probably not how we expect! 

I really have high praise for this company. A big reason why "I broke my rules" and pre-ordered the URSA Mini is because I've always wanted to shoot on Blackmagic. The image is incredible. And now they have delivered on ergonomics and HFR, it's too hard to resist. I expect it to be an interesting ride, and hopefully a camera I will learn to love and put to some great use. :) 

Agreed and I think this is a good thing. Once you break that $2k-$3k mark you start losing consumers and weekend warriors and getting into a group of filmmakers that are obviously more serious. I think they'll sell a bunch of mini's, but your casual filmmaker neighbor won't have one and that's good I think.

On another note, Blackmagic seems to be doing what Red promised to do years ago, and then never delivered. I think there were tons of filmmakers who bought into Red's promises and then were greatly disappointed by Red's finally released Scarlet and pricing. In my opinion that was a big mistake for Red and BM is cashing in on it. There's no doubt in my mind Red could deliver a camera closer to the specs and price of URSA mini. Once in a Red package, wouldn't it be natural for filmmakers to upgrade to other Red products? Big mistake. I like what BM is doing. Looking forward to seeing the mini in more filmmakers hands. 

I really think Arri and RED could potentially shake up the market if they offered a solution in FS7/URSA territory. But they won't. 

RED footage files are really juicy and deep. Alexa is buttery smooth and incredibly organic. I don't think the URSA Mini 4.6k will be far behind.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Yes if Red or Arri introduced a consumer version with their name on it, at 5K-ish with the same image quality/DNA, they'd probably lose more money from the Top-end feature cinema market than gain money from the consumer video market. It's about brand image, Rolls Royce cannot make a 20K compact car, it would hurt their image. Arri and Red, now are Rolls Royce, they are the luxury of the motion picture industry and therefore are the only cameras chosen by people who want the best, big features, huge documentaries, Oscar-winning dramas, it's their market and business and they are doing well in it. I applaud them. 

What I applaud more is Blackmagic who are trying to catch that market, it's an open market and an opportunity for huge successful profits. Remember how they started, when we were shooting 720p h.264 video on the 5D MKII with tons of aliasing and tons of artefacts they came up and gave us a cinema camera for the same price, something unheard of at the time, they attacked the market, a 2.5K RAW and ProRes HQ SSD camera with 13 stops of DR, large sensor, incredibly filmic images, 

But as a side effect of being completely new, these cameras had major ''small yet vital'' design flaws that greatly hurt their image and stopped them for establishing what they intended too, coupled with the subsequent (yet quite later) attack of the Sony and Panasonic companies. 

If Blackmagic hadn't taken that HUGE time to fix their issues they would have been 10 times as successful. 

This is percisely where it went wrong, bringing new cameras (percisely the Production camera and Big URSA) that took all their resources before fixing their existing issues. What proves that, the moment they finished shipping the new cameras, they started assembling a team and fixed practically all their issues. That should have been prioritized way ahead of making the new model. 

Thankfully for us, this is the past, no matter what mistakes they did in the past and how long it took them to fix it (and how much the affected their success today) the issues HAVE been fixed and the cameras are now working as they should. I trust their new URSA and URSA mini, they are in the era of the mature Blackmagic. 

Just compared to the competition I expect power, lowlight, media cost downsides vs the others, and it's fine, it's been clear for a while now Blackmagic cameras are more oriented towards behaving as film camera with adequate power supply on set, adequate DIT, adequate lighting, Mattebox on rails, it's where they mostly shine vs the other s35 documentary-style cameras that now have clean 10.000 ISO and even great Autofocus and internal ENG NDs. 

The URSA mini I expect will be the closest from BM to act as a documentary/non-film camera but still not as close as the rivals. It's an interesting beast sitting in-between film and doc styles but still more oriented towards film shooting style which will make it criticized by people who simply don't work that way, which is not fair. 

Blackmagic are going for that film replacing affordable market, the mini Red/Arri area rather than the large sensor ENG camcorder market. We need both. I prefer the later for my work, the fast easy workflow and demands but I am sure as always the Blackmagic will produce better results than those in a film environment. The image is closest to 35mm film you can get right now south of Alexa, all their cameras including the pocket, and I don't expect that to be different on the new 4.6K sensor, just better. 

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Blackmagic are going for that film replacing affordable market, the mini Red/Arri area rather than the large sensor ENG camcorder market. We need both. I prefer the later for my work, the fast easy workflow and demands but I am sure as always the Blackmagic will produce better results than those in a film environment. The image is closest to 35mm film you can get right now south of Alexa, all their cameras including the pocket, and I don't expect that to be different on the new 4.6K sensor, just better. 

True - and that's why I have gone with it. 

I've been using the FS7 regularly and I was very excited about the camera when it was announced. It is excellent - I can barely notice the difference side by side the F55 (F55 seems to have very very very slightly more pleasing color). But I don't love the feel of the image, it lacks something in soul I can't quite put my finger on. I just love Blackmagic images though. They have that something. 

I don't tend to shoot above 800ISO, so sensitivity doesn't bother me. All cameras produce their best images in decent lighting, hence why I have quite a lot of it! This really is the difference. 

On another note, I had no idea the Varicam 35 was £17.5k http://cvp.com/index.php?t=product/panasonic_varicam_35_video_camera&gclid=CPDTycDKnMcCFQXnwgodBWoL-A, I had the impression it was just beneath Alexa pricing. Doesn't seem very popular - looks like a bazooka all kitted out! But again, Blackmagic are competing with this for around 1/4 of the price! 

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Yes if Red or Arri introduced a consumer version with their name on it, at 5K-ish with the same image quality/DNA, they'd probably lose more money from the Top-end feature cinema market than gain money from the consumer video market. It's about brand image, Rolls Royce cannot make a 20K compact car, it would hurt their image. Arri and Red, now are Rolls Royce, they are the luxury of the motion picture industry and therefore are the only cameras chosen by people who want the best, big features, huge documentaries, Oscar-winning dramas, it's their market and business and they are doing well in it. I applaud them. 

What I applaud more is Blackmagic who are trying to catch that market, it's an open market and an opportunity for huge successful profits. Remember how they started, when we were shooting 720p h.264 video on the 5D MKII with tons of aliasing and tons of artefacts they came up and gave us a cinema camera for the same price, something unheard of at the time, they attacked the market, a 2.5K RAW and ProRes HQ SSD camera with 13 stops of DR, large sensor, incredibly filmic images, 

But as a side effect of being completely new, these cameras had major ''small yet vital'' design flaws that greatly hurt their image and stopped them for establishing what they intended too, coupled with the subsequent (yet quite later) attack of the Sony and Panasonic companies. 

If Blackmagic hadn't taken that HUGE time to fix their issues they would have been 10 times as successful. 

This is percisely where it went wrong, bringing new cameras (percisely the Production camera and Big URSA) that took all their resources before fixing their existing issues. What proves that, the moment they finished shipping the new cameras, they started assembling a team and fixed practically all their issues. That should have been prioritized way ahead of making the new model. 

Thankfully for us, this is the past, no matter what mistakes they did in the past and how long it took them to fix it (and how much the affected their success today) the issues HAVE been fixed and the cameras are now working as they should. I trust their new URSA and URSA mini, they are in the era of the mature Blackmagic. 

Just compared to the competition I expect power, lowlight, media cost downsides vs the others, and it's fine, it's been clear for a while now Blackmagic cameras are more oriented towards behaving as film camera with adequate power supply on set, adequate DIT, adequate lighting, Mattebox on rails, it's where they mostly shine vs the other s35 documentary-style cameras that now have clean 10.000 ISO and even great Autofocus and internal ENG NDs. 

The URSA mini I expect will be the closest from BM to act as a documentary/non-film camera but still not as close as the rivals. It's an interesting beast sitting in-between film and doc styles but still more oriented towards film shooting style which will make it criticized by people who simply don't work that way, which is not fair. 

Blackmagic are going for that film replacing affordable market, the mini Red/Arri area rather than the large sensor ENG camcorder market. We need both. I prefer the later for my work, the fast easy workflow and demands but I am sure as always the Blackmagic will produce better results than those in a film environment. The image is closest to 35mm film you can get right now south of Alexa, all their cameras including the pocket, and I don't expect that to be different on the new 4.6K sensor, just better. 

I don't know if I would put Red and Arri in the same category.  The Red Dragon had quite a few issues and still does - having to pick between a optical filter that allows for highlight handing but effectively makes it a 320 ASA camera without seeing noise in the shadows or a low-light camer at 1000 ASA with very similar limited highlight control and orbing issues is something that in the states made many people turn away from using the camera on shoots.  Plus of course the awkward HD-sdi placement, fan noise, etc - and pretty much all of the world is shooting high-end digital on Arri camera.

But with that said, I own two red one mx - and I love the image I get out of them.  It's so good, in fact, I never replaced them with red epic mx cameras.  I'm very happy with them.

I think no one should preorder and BMC does release sometimes too early - I really believe in waiting a year or two to jump and then you can get a camera at 50% off, and in the meatime, first just rent it out and test it.

The Sony F3 seems to be a much better value than the a7r II based on Andrew's review and right now they are selling new for $4k - or used for $2k - less moire, rolling shutter.  And still has s log and nice color and skintones.

I really don't quite get the rush to have cameras that don't exist yet.

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On another note, I had no idea the Varicam 35 was £17.5k http://cvp.com/index.php?t=product/panasonic_varicam_35_video_camera&gclid=CPDTycDKnMcCFQXnwgodBWoL-A, I had the impression it was just beneath Alexa pricing. Doesn't seem very popular - looks like a bazooka all kitted out! But again, Blackmagic are competing with this for around 1/4 of the price! 

That is just one half of the camera, this is the other half:
http://cvp.com/index.php?t=product/panasonic_au-vrec1g_module

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

That is just one half of the camera, this is the other half:
http://cvp.com/index.php?t=product/panasonic_au-vrec1g_module

Lol true. It's sold in two pieces, each has around the same price. Front piece includes the sensor block, and the rear piece includes the recording, LCD, Audio, outputs, etc. The reason they went that way, is because there are two different models of the front piece, one with a s35mm sensor (which seems to produce enormously lovely images, alexa-league) and another one for the same price with a 2/3" sensor, with B4 mount and 200-300 fps, so made for sports and documentary. You can buy the rear piece and change the sensor block with whatever sensor block in second, they integrate as a one camera solution firmly.

It's like the Blackmagic URSA interchangeable sensor/lens mount and separate camera module/recorder that takes them all approach. But different and the sensor block is huge. 

I would love to see more images from the Varicam with the 35mm sensor, the images I've seen so far, mindblowing. Kodak 35mm film in flesh. Very similar to Alexa and has that Blackmagic mojo too. That sensor has a neat new design where the camera has two base ISOs, so 800 ISO has the exact same image and noise and colour as 5000 ISO, which is incredible in cinema world having 5000 ISO with no penalty, It should be tested against the C300II/FS7 5000 ISO to see if the new technology is worth it than just applying gain Canon way. 

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That is just one half of the camera, this is the other half:
http://cvp.com/index.php?t=product/panasonic_au-vrec1g_module

Yes, it's a bazooka!

I think no one should preorder and BMC does release sometimes too early - I really believe in waiting a year or two to jump and then you can get a camera at 50% off, and in the meatime, first just rent it out and test it.

The Sony F3 seems to be a much better value than the a7r II based on Andrew's review and right now they are selling new for $4k - or used for $2k - less moire, rolling shutter.  And still has s log and nice color and skintones.

I really don't quite get the rush to have cameras that don't exist yet.

I completely agree with you. 

If I'm honest, I haven't bought a new camera for 3 years. The last one I bought was a Panasonic GH3. I bought a load of old FD and M42 lenses for it. I never loved the camera, but I was happy with the work I was producing. Business still going well. I'm still using it now and rent the FS7 when required.  I never jumped on the 4k bandwagon - I want more than just a jump in resolution.

I pre-ordered the URSA Mini as I love the Blackmagic image. Also I put down a small deposit (not the full fee) so I could monitor the progress of the camera up until it's eventual release. I can cancel whenever, but it's likely I won't. 

Most of my clients ask for cinematic imagery, high frame rates and high resolution images - features that many other (sort of) affordable cameras don't have. The URSA Mini does - so in the scheme of things, this could be a blossoming relationship with the new dude on the block. 

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I really don't quite get the rush to have cameras that don't exist yet.

Because when you are one of the first to actually receive the camera you can make a 'short film' with random shots of cool buildings and old broken down cars and leaves blowing in the wind and flowers and sweet rack focusses with super shallow depth of field and slider shots and pro status money gimbal shots and then you'll get like a thousand extra views on Vimeo and then the world is your oyster. That's why.

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Because when you are one of the first to actually receive the camera you can make a 'short film' with random shots of cool buildings and old broken down cars and leaves blowing in the wind and flowers and sweet rack focusses and slider shots and pro status money gimbal shots and then you'll get like a thousand extra views on Vimeo and then the world is your oyster. That's why.

Yes I was playing that game till recently.  I have had a change of heart.  Making short films with old gear that you pretend is new gear also can get you that amount of views.  I did that with my werner herzog review of the ursa mini 4.6k and had a great run.

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Yes I was playing that game till recently.  I have had a change of heart.  Making short films with old gear that you pretend is new gear also can get you that amount of views.  I did that with my werner herzog review of the ursa mini 4.6k and had a great run.

Lol. 

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Lol true. It's sold in two pieces, each has around the same price. Front piece includes the sensor block, and the rear piece includes the recording, LCD, Audio, outputs, etc. The reason they went that way, is because there are two different models of the front piece, one with a s35mm sensor (which seems to produce enormously lovely images, alexa-league) and another one for the same price with a 2/3" sensor, with B4 mount and 200-300 fps, so made for sports and documentary. You can buy the rear piece and change the sensor block with whatever sensor block in second, they integrate as a one camera solution firmly.

There is also another reason why they made it in two blocks, blocks can be separated with proprietary extension cable, so it is possible to mount just the sensor block on a crane or gimbal etc. and have the recording module on the ground.

I know that Panasonic is maybe a little late to the party with Varicam, but from what I read they really made this camera ready for almost every scenario in a high level professional workflow. Some tests vs other cameras here: http://www.cinematography.net/CML-UWE-tech.htm

 

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Just as a reminder it may cost somewhere around $50,000 to $115,000 to do 4.6k recording for 24 hours. For film.... $101,000 However you can do another 24 hours of recording after you get those CFast cards filled and move the files, but then you would have to pay for the storage of those files on external hard drives or perhaps some cloud service which will land you around another $5,000 for storing like 30 terrabytes. But I will say storing film is more expensive and having it on digital will cost another $100,000. I will say that Cfast cards are worth it, but it will be expensive I'd say almost a quarter to half of the cost of film.

 

Christ if this was an 6k camera using CFast card I think maybe to get 24 hours of footage stored and used would cost exactly like that of 35mm film, except for having another 24 hours of footage shot when all of that footage is deleted, but what if you are shooting a movie in a desert and camp out there. Would you really sit down and go through 24 hours of footage in one sitting? I got to say thank god Kinefinity Kinemax has SSD because SSDs are now in Terrabyte and have gone down in price. Ironically Film still does have higher resolution. I read from Fotokem that 65mm film can go up to 11k when scanned. But to film 65mm film and have it scanned you would have to be millionaire.

Don't be so ridiculous! I reckon absolutely nobody will ever be recording 24hrs straight with the URSA Mini in 4.6K

Either they can do lightweight ProRes flavours, or it will be stop/start for 24hrs, or they'll be offloading and cycling cards along the way.

Which thus then makes the URSA Mini waaaaaaaaaaay cheaper vs film.

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