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Warning issues for the BM URSA mini 4.6k?


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#1 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 11:45 PM

So, I was considering renting an URSA mini 4.6k next weekend to test it for my major project shooting this fall. I was going to just use my GH4, but our budget has went up a lot and other camera's are now in the market - looking at several different RAW models, including possibly the Red Raven. Only interested in purchasing, so something like an Epic or Alexa is out of the question. 

 

In any case, I'm very much a try-before-you-buy type, so I mosied over over to lensrentals.com to see about renting it for a weekend... Everything was great until this fine little announcement at the bottom of the page:

 

 

WARNING:

We cannot recommend this product for professional work. We reached this decision after repeated failures in the field, experienced both first-hand by LR-folks and second-hand via rental clients. Though it might work much of the time, it is our opinion that this product’s performance is too unpredictable to be trusted on high-value projects. Use for casual testing or try-before-you-buy purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact us. support@lensrentals.com | 901-754-9100

 

Now, having owned a Black Magic Pocket and experiencing some major issues with the camera in the field, I'm already sorta sketchy with Blackmagic and their cameras... Now this little warning sends up sparks in my mind.

 

Has anyone here used the URSA mini 4.6k? Any opinions on Blackmagic in general?


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 12:42 AM

I haven't had a lick of "failure" related issues with the pocket OR my friends URSA Mini 4.6k that I've been messing with. The tripod mount on the pocket can unscrew internally, but it's easy to fix. Also, the battery situation kinda sucks, but it's fixable by understanding the issue and working around it.

Since NAB, the URSA Mini issues have been resolved and the cameras are fine.

Unfortunately, until you put something into actual production, it's hard to see it's weaknesses. Your complains from the little bit of use you've had on the pocket, are the same one's every reviewer has. Yet none of them have actually produced a single, watchable product with the camera. Just test footage, mostly garbage still-life nonsense.

My pocket cameras (I own two) and Rokinon lenses are CONSTANTLY in production, non stop in fact. I'm two weeks in on a feature, shooting BTS. Prior, the cameras were in Colorado on a feature and I was using them to shoot other stuff before that, all in the last two months.

Blackmagic has done a great job updating software to keep the ol' pocket "relevant" and are constantly making changes to the URSA 4.6k. There are still functions missing, like the global shutter. However, those functions should be on later software revisions.

I don't think there is another camera on the market as capable as the 4.6k URSA mini for the same price point. Every other camera has a small problem, which pushes it aside. You can get a complete URSA Mini 4.6k package BRAND NEW with batteries/charger/viewfinder/shoulder mount for $8500 bux. None of the competitors in that price range offer RAW recording or Pro Res XQ. Plus, they all need to be accessorized in order to work, so the net result is even a higher price for not a better camera. It's true the Sony and RED counterparts offer some intriguing possibilities including ultra low light capability and high frame rates.

Blackmagic did make some bugaboo's on the URSA Mini, but they're small and easy to fix in a future revision or with software patches.
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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:50 AM

I think Blackmagic has about the same company philosophy than RED had couple of years ago: they don't care about customer protection and reputation that much so it's natural for them to ship out a bad product and fix it afterwards. remember the Red One days when you had to carry two camera bodies all the time just in case the main camera decides to have a sudden firmware error and does not boot up? Black magic is in the same phase with their cameras now. Of course the low budget guys don't care as long as the product is dirt cheap...  maybe their software division is only one person who is most of the time working with Resolve updates so they have no time to make usable firmwares for cameras even when they always ship their cameras late because of "Sensor Issues"? 

 

don't get me wrong, I love Blackmagic products, I just hope they were much more reliable out of the box without waiting for delayed camera releases and AFTER THAT hassling 2 years with constant firmware updates to get them working correctly.

 

I suggest purchasing two Ursa Minis so you'll have a backup body WHEN everything goes wrong in the middle of production  :lol:


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 02:33 AM

I have to say I don't recognise the problems that are being described here. I've had a 4K for months and a 4.6 briefly and never had a moment's pause with either of them.


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#5 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 01:39 AM

The 4.6k has a unique set of issues specific it its new sensor and color science. In particular SOME sensors are shipping with bad magenta tint in the corners of the frame that show up mostly with wide angle lenses. It has something to do with the angle the light is hitting the sensor at or some sort of sciency thing.  It seems to be really hit or miss between cameras. Some have it, some don't.  Otherwise from everything i've read its a beautiful camera with amazing DR and ergonomics.  

 

I would def rent one, and if you decide to buy you just need to carefully test it once you receive it and be ready to RMA if it has any of the bad Magenta or FPN issues (though the FPN issues are only ever an issue if you have no idea how to shoot/grade/light and show up in cases of pushed blacks which happen with any camera sub 20k)


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:11 AM

That sounds amazingly like people are putting lenses on it that are not image-space telecentric. Many digital cameras, both still and moving image, can suffer tinted vignetting in that situation. I have some old Pentax lenses that cause an EOS-400D stills camera to vignette green.

 

I haven't seen the error, so all of this is speculation, but I wouldn't put it past the internet echo chamber to make something that simple into "a problem with the sensor."

 

P


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#7 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 01:56 PM

 It seems to be really hit or miss between cameras.

 

Yes, this seems to be a problem with all Blackmagic cameras... It seems that when problems arise, it's a gamble on what cameras might be involved. I think it has a lot to do with a lack of quality control, being that they don't have an assembly line like someone like Sony or Panasonic or JVC has. These bigger companies are able achieve better consistency between camera's due to their assembly process. I feel that if Blackmagic would work on building a better assembly process they would have less issues that arise in some camera's and not others.

 

 

I think Blackmagic has about the same company philosophy than RED had couple of years ago: they don't care about customer protection and reputation that much so it's natural for them to ship out a bad product and fix it afterwards.

 

Yes, this is pretty apparent. It's one of the reasons I sold my Pocket and bought a GH4. The problems I had with pocket might well have just been an issue with that one camera, or something I was not doing correctly with it... But every time I tried to contact support I'd always hit a blank wall. I really hope they can step up their game. 

 

Not that I really know if Panasonic has any better support, mind you... But then I have never had to use it.

 

 

My pocket cameras (I own two) and Rokinon lenses are CONSTANTLY in production, non stop in fact. I'm two weeks in on a feature, shooting BTS. Prior, the cameras were in Colorado on a feature and I was using them to shoot other stuff before that, all in the last two months.

 

Which is one of the reasons I'm considering giving Blackmagic another go this time around. I'm under the possible impression that the issues I had with the pocket where with that camera and possibly not others. Since I now have an infusion of money, I'd really like to get a camera that can shoot RAW, do to the fact that a lot of the stuff I'll be shooting in green screen, and RAW handles that much better than color-sub-sampled codecs. Not that I have ever had any trouble with my GH4 in keying mind you, but I mainly settled on the GH4 and Pocket because of budget issues. 


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 02:42 PM

Blackmagic is a small company, like RED was when they first started. They're also NOT an American company, so it's challenging to get support. I haven't needed support, but I know the support people well and they say things are better here in the states today, then they have been in the last few years.

I don't believe Sony and Panasonic has much support for consumer products anymore. They use to, but today it's all pushed to the reseller, which most people don't have any connection to. Canon has actual support, which is very nice. I've dealt with them many times and they've been very helpful, but I think that's more related to top people using their cameras for still's, rather then the video market.

I don't think everything Blackmagic makes is ready for prime time yet, but they're WAY closer then RED was when they first launched. The RED ONE was a train wreck when it first came out, the first shows had upwards of 9 camera bodies they'd cycle through scene by scene, just to keep them working. Blackmagic doesn't have those issues what so ever. You can buy a camera and it will work if it's not defective. I own two pockets and have borrowed/rented other one's for bigger shoots, never once had an issue with any of them. Same goes for the cinema camera that everyone bitches/complains about, my experiences have been nothing but positive. The URSA Mini, same deal, just a flat-out nice camera, that works great. Not a fan of the BIG URSA, it's a worthless camera thanks to the Mini, but I have yet to experience all the issues people talk about. So either people are doing something odd with their use of the camera, or they're just defective from the factory. Talk about JVC and Canon, I've had more issues with those two brands then any others. Dead pixels, over-heating cameras, bad recording heads, bad logic on the menu systems, horrible shifting on the glass when trying to focus, audio distortion no matter what you do, phantom power blowing up mic's, loose cabling inside cameras, etc... AND worst off, those were borrowed/rental cameras! I can't imagine owning either brands products for video production. For stills, not such a big deal because you can easily fix dead pixels in photoshop, much harder to do on a video camera. So for me constantly abusing the black magic cameras the way I do, including shooting in a pool last weekend with water splashing the camera and of course, salt water on the ocean shoots, heat of the desert, cold of the snow capped mountains. I mean, my pockets have been through A LOT and been fine. But I understand if you power them with an external source, they will overheat, so I don't do that. I mean, how difficult is that?
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:28 PM

Eh, how to approach this. Okay, let's try this:

 

One thing I've become horribly aware of recently is how terribly unreliable the internet is as a means of distributing information about, and diagnosing, faults.

 

A particularly keen example is the fuss that was made about the FS5, and the changes that were made to its noise reduction and compression configuration. Read about it on the internet, and you'd be forgiven for assuming that Sony had deliberately crippled the camera in order to prevent it from competing with the FS7, with which it would otherwise have been identical, and that the resulting pictures were unusable. The facts were that this was not a fault - it was a choice, and a completely reasonable engineering compromise, between noise reduction and the artifacts caused by noise reduction, and between loss of detail and visible macroblocking. The pictures were not unusable, they were fine, with the fault invisible except at extreme gain settings. The pictures from the FS5 were never going to be identical to the FS7, despite the identical sensor, because the electronics are different, and no, none of this was deliberate. Sony rushed out a modification in very quick order and we now suffer slightly more visible noise and slightly lower sharpness in return for fewer artifacts. The pictures are still fundamentally fine.

 

The internet echo chamber has a tendency to take even the slightest complaint and makes absurd villains of everyone and everything, and that's an example based on an actual characteristic of a camera that was identifiable and modifiable.

 

Add into the mix the fact that the subject of these ridiculous online witch-hunts are quite often cheaper, mass-market cameras which are quite likely to be used by cheapskate idiots and the problem is compounded. I have no idea what, if any, problems exist with the Ursa Mini 4.6, except to say that coloured tints in the corners sounds exactly like vignetting caused by people putting old lenses that aren't image-space telecentric on modern digital cameras. From the stills people are posting, that's what it looks like too.

 

Phrases like "it seems worse sometimes than others" and "not all cameras have the problem" beckon the conclusion that it's not the cameras at all. I have no idea. I have no interest in defending Blackmagic. But really.

 

P


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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 08:04 PM

"Since I now have an infusion of money, I'd really like to get a camera that can shoot RAW, do to the fact that a lot of the stuff I'll be shooting in green screen, and RAW handles that much better than color-sub-sampled codecs. Not that I have ever had any trouble with my GH4 in keying mind you, but I mainly settled on the GH4 and Pocket because of budget issues. "

 

Landon.. have you thought of a second hand F5..there is a new RAW recorder now for the F5/55 the R7,so there are also going to be alot of second hand R5 RAW recorders hitting the market.. this would be a the cheapest V,s quality route I believe.. 16 bit RAW.. PL mount,/EZ..or any adaptor you want.. a camera with all the input/out puts,bells and whistles of top end unit..  


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#11 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 07:42 PM

I'll look into the F5, although it's probably out of my price range even used. Ideally, I'd like to stick around $5,000 for the body. Another option I'm looking at is a used FS700r with either the ASXR recorder or to trade up my Shogun for an Inferno that does 4K RAW... Don't know if the Atomos and the 700 would work together that way or not. 

 

Since I just completed the purchase of a Red 18-50t3 lens, I'll likely want to stick super 35/ PL mount, and work on building some more PL primes, starting with a longer lens like an 85.


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#12 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 09:54 PM

Yeah don't know if used F5 is only $5,000.. but you never know.. check the Sony forums .. they quite regularly come up these days..would seem perfect// RAW and PL.. etc


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#13 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 10:44 PM

The Sony F5 is a lot of camera. It's also very rare to find a complete F5 package (Sony Viewfinder, batteries, cards) for much under $15k. 

 

The FS7 is actually a better deal in the long run if Sony is considered an option (which it's not in my book). You can find used FS7's for in that 5 - 7k bracket if you look hard enough. 

 

Unfortunately, the URSA 4.6k fully decked out brand new is STILL less money then a USED COMPLETE FS7 package. Plus, the URSA already has PL mount, RAW, Pro Res and all the bells and whistles necessary for a great looking image. 

 

On a side note, been shooting a lot recently with the C300MKII and it still amazes me how Canon can cripple their cameras so much. It's covered in "features" which is nice, but some of the most basic things I want like a histogram and RAW/Pro Res recording, aren't available. Plus, the camera makes noise like a RED does, which is just silly if you ask me. If you can't cool your camera with a heat sync, you've gotta come up with a different solution. 


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#14 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 11:31 PM

Yes Fs7 is cheaper but Im not sure about its RAW capabilities .. pretty sure its 12 bit not 16.. and would need the extention unit I believe.. there is at least one decent PL adaptor too.. 

 

I read the C300 II has the very handy centre crop.. but only as a way of recording high speed.. ! not in sync mode !!! why Canon.. when all the competition have been implementing this function .. recently the Fs7 and Amira.. firm ware up dates..  there is just no way they are taking on board any input from actual users ..  


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#15 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 04:52 PM

Decided to rent TWO cameras... a AJA CION. From the specs it sounds like a good camera, internal 12-bit 444 prores, super-35 sensor, Cinema 4k/UHD/2k/1080etc. It's also perfectly within my body budget range of around $5,000. Also rented the URSA mini 4.6k. I'll be testing them over this weekend and will report back the results next week.

 

Thanks for the advice and tips!


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 04:55 PM

Wouldn't touch the Cion with a bargepole. 


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#17 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 05:14 PM

I second that opinion on the Cion. I never got a single frame I liked out of it after a week of testing. Shame, really, but the low ISO and crazy gamma curve is a deal breaker. 


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 07:17 PM

AJA Cion is the worst disaster to come from anyone in recent years.

It has a severe dynamic range issue, which makes it almost impossible to shoot decent looking images with. Plus it won't deliver LOG footage like most of the other cameras, so you can't correct issues when they occur.

Sure it has Pro Res XQ which is great, but the electronics suck.

I hope their next iteration is good because the concept and pricing isn't bad, but it's otherwise a failure.
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#19 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 10:38 PM

I knew going into the bad press AJA has received on the camera... However, this camera has the new firmware release - and I want to give it a go, since it offers a lot in the package for the price.


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#20 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 10:51 PM

Let us know how it is on the new 1.3 I can't find much on it aside from "improved highlight handling"

 

Hell I wonder if you could shoot something on 1.2 and 1.3 on the AJA.


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