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Ursa Mini 4.6k First Time User


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#1 Nicholas Lorini

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 02:32 PM

I'll be working on picture starting up in March and I've just been informed they already purchased the Ursa Mini 4.6k. I usually shoot on a Canon C100. I understand there are some differences between the two systems and I've done some research of my own (I'm aware of the necessity for expensive CFast cards and an OLPF) but I'd like to put the question to the community here:

 

As an Ursa Mini user what are the advantages and disadvantages? Are there any peculiar nuances I should be privy to? How much of a learning curve do you think it will be moving from the C100 to the Ursa Mini?

 

Thanks, 

 

Nick


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 02:55 PM

The URSA 4.6k is FAR easier to use then the Canon C100, which is a garbled mess. You may find yourself re-thinking your entire strategy on how you use the camera due to it's ease of use. Having shot with the C100 and C300MKII, I can attest to how horrible the menu's and controls are. The URSA's exposure tools are also MUCH BETTER and easier to use then the C100.

There really isn't any comparison between the two cameras either. The C100 is an 8 bit 4:2:0 MPEG 2 camera, the URSA Mini 4.6k is a 14 bit RAW camera that can also shoot 12 bit 4:4:4 Pro Res XQ as well.

The big problem with the URSA's in general is their lack of an Optical Low Pass filter. This is a HUGE PROBLEM, but there are solutions. Running any filtration in front of the lens helps considerably. Softer cinema glass will also help with the issue. Google search moire issues and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Truthfully, I'm a pretty big fan of the URSA 4.6k, the only reason I don't own one is the OLPF issue, but I've been playing with it for a while now and I think it's a great camera. It captures colors the way I like to grade in the coloring bay. Mind you, the C100 does as well, I think the C100 has a good looking imager. It's just matched to a poor processor, which even prohibits capturing a decent signal externally. With the full kit (viewfinder, shoulder kit, V mount batteries) it makes a powerful weapon. It's biggest issues are the lack of direct menu controls without opening up the display. I'd also say it's a bit on the heavy side, which kinda sucks if you're shooting shoulder all day long. It also has a few configuration issues, timecode input rarely works, the XLR's on top is bogus, the power button being behind the display sucks as well. But meh... I'd rather have good menu's and a great looking image anyway.
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#3 Jay Young

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 03:32 PM

I am personally a Big Daddy URSA user myself, and Tyler said most of what needed to be said - while I do not have recent experience with the new 4.6k sensor, I can say if they purchased the camera then they should look into having Mosaic Engineering build a OLPF/AA filter for the URSA-Mini.  While I have seen very nice results from Black Pro-Mist filters, which sometimes can cost about the same, the OLPF does not give the same effect as it is a behind the lens filter that replaces the one built into the camera.  Give them a call, its sure to save headaches! 

 

The 4K, 2.5K, and HD 16mm sensors all needed about 1/3 to 1/2 overexposure to get really great results for me personally.  However, again I have not used the new 4.6K sensor which may be more true to the meter. 

 

They're great cameras! 


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#4 Haroun Al-Shaater

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 10:09 AM

 the only reason I don't own one is the OLPF issue, but I've been playing with it for a while now and I think it's a great camera. 

 

Have you seen there's now the mosaic OLPF? http://store.mosaicengineering.com/

I'll be saving up to get one if they ship to the U.K. Would appreciate any review from anyone who already has tried it!


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#5 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 09:30 PM

Does the 4.6k still have that Magenta issue?

 

Frankly, I think I'd avoid Blackmagic all together. Their Pocket camera was a nice concept and works fairly well (for a 1080p, tiny-sensor camera - the RAW workflow is really not even relevent to most people, who will instead shoot with the 10-bit Prores codec), but pretty much everything else has had problems of some sort that they refuse to fix or try to provide 'workarounds' to rather than address the problem. The original cinema camera had the weird sized sensor that wasn't native to any lenses, the Production 4K and the 4K URSA had fixed-noise pattern that was never fully addressed, and the 4.6k has (or at least had last time I looked) a magenta hue issue. Blackmagic pushes these issues under the table.

 

If you're in the range of the URSA PRO or some such, I'd consider the Red Raven instead, or if you're renting, it's not that much more to procure a Red Epic. 

 

Sorry, but in several instances, Blackmagic has left a bad taste in my mouth - from a software (Resolve is not even stable on my computer any longer), hardware (The mini-monitor is a purposefully crippled card incapable of displaying anything other than standard TV aspect ratios), and camera standpoint. I appreciate what they are trying to do, but they always seem to miss the mark by a notch each time. As the old adage goes though, you really do get what you pay for.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 05 September 2017 - 09:35 PM.

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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 02:38 AM

Have you seen there's now the mosaic OLPF? http://store.mosaicengineering.com/
I'll be saving up to get one if they ship to the U.K. Would appreciate any review from anyone who already has tried it!


yes yes! It literally just hit the market few weeks ago. This supposedly also acts as an IR inhibiter as well, getting rid of the magenta issues. It's a win-win for the camera package and until I see otherwise, it SHOULD fix all the major issues with it.
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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 03:32 AM

Does the 4.6k still have that Magenta issue?


umm... it's no worse then the Red Dragon, which is an $18,000 camera.

Frankly, I think I'd avoid Blackmagic all together. Their Pocket camera was a nice concept and works fairly well (for a 1080p, tiny-sensor camera - the RAW workflow is really not even relevent to most people, who will instead shoot with the 10-bit Prores codec), but pretty much everything else has had problems of some sort that they refuse to fix or try to provide 'workarounds' to rather than address the problem. The original cinema camera had the weird sized sensor that wasn't native to any lenses, the Production 4K and the 4K URSA had fixed-noise pattern that was never fully addressed, and the 4.6k has (or at least had last time I looked) a magenta hue issue. Blackmagic pushes these issues under the table.


Umm... this is 2017, Blackmagic have solved many of their issues. If you look at the Dragon VS Ursa 4.6k tests which are all over youtube, you'd see the URSA 4.6k holds up quite nicely for a camera that's 1/3rd the cost.

Having used the Dragon, Alexa XT, Sony FS7, F5, F55 and C300MKII, I still prefer the Blackmagic cameras because they're so damn easy to use and they just work. The URSA Mini Pro 4.6k solves about 60% of the issues the original camera had, including using STANDARD FUCKING SD MEDIA!!! Built-in filter wheel is also pretty dope, the 12 channel AES audio input is also sweet and the camera's ability to use the full imager and scale to different formats IN CAMERA is a huge benefit.

Also... the URSA Mini 4.6k imager is 25.34mm x 14.25mm, making it a little bigger than the 3-perf Super35 frame size of: 24.90 mm × 13.90 mm. Thus, a perfect companion to someone whose use to working with film cameras.

I'd consider the Red Raven instead, or if you're renting, it's not that much more to procure a Red Epic.


Little history lesson for ya. The Red Epic uses a very noisy MX imager, it's pretty much poop compared to the Ursa 4.6k imager. The Epic destroys batteries, gets super hot/loud when in use, it's super heavy, uses proprietary media that's very expensive, only records in "red code" which is nearly impossible for anything else but high-power GPU's to decode in real-time. Plus... Red accessories are super expensive and frankly, not very well made. I use the Epic and Dragon all the time, I've stripped out all sorts of shit and broken monitors, handles, battery mounts, cables, you name it... honestly, they aren't really robust at all.

The Raven is a $12k + camera, no matter how you configure it and what deal you can get. I don't believe for a second, it's a "better" camera then the URSA Pro 4.6k. It may have a more "cinematic" image due to it's slightly higher dynamic range at base ISO, but the imager will fall apart in the blacks just like the URSA 4.6k if pushed. It doesn't record Pro Res XQ 4444 which is the only codec that makes a difference with pro res. Modern Red Code works really good these days, it's super lightweight (small) compared to Pro Res anyway when dealing with 4k media especailly.

Plus... have you ever dealt with Red support? It's kinda non-existent. If you got a problem, you're paying for a new camera to get it fixed. I kid you not, we've had multiple software failures at school and Red said, sorry... $7k each to fix. We told Blackmagic, they gave us two URSA Mini 4.6k's to replace those two Epic's and said, if another one fails, we'd get an URSA Mini Pro.

The URSA 4.6k Pro with PL body, EVF, shoulder kit, rod kit, V mount adaptor, 2 lithium batteries+charger and two 512GB C-Fast cards+reader is around $9k + tax. There isn't a single camera on the market that even gets close to touching that deal.

Sorry, but in several instances, Blackmagic has left a bad taste in my mouth - from a software (Resolve is not even stable on my computer any longer)


Don't run Beta's... 14 isn't a full/released version yet.

hardware (The mini-monitor is a purposefully crippled card incapable of displaying anything other than standard TV aspect ratios)


The mini-monitor is probably the cheapest thing they make, designed for consumer level UHD formats. It's like complaining to Apple that their "freebee" headphones aren't the same quality as Grado's.

My Mac Pro Tower has a 4k Ultra Decklink card with a dual link 12G 12 bit 444 I/O interface for full dynamic range presentations onto my 4k grading monitor. It works every day, 12hrs a day, flawlessly in any format, but it actually costs money and takes up 2 PCI slots.

I appreciate what they are trying to do, but they always seem to miss the mark by a notch each time. As the old adage goes though, you really do get what you pay for.


There aren't any alternatives... If you want base compatibility with the rest of the world, nobody else really does it for the price point of Blackmagic. I was a huge AJA supporter, to the point of knowing many of their staff by name and even going to events with them at NAB every year. However, they were stagnant on their driver support and they became more and more buggy with Avid and didn't work at all with DaVinci, which is again... the industry standard grading tool. So I started working with Blackmagic and honestly... I haven't need to call a support person ONCE! I had over 45 cards in service daily at my last shop and none of them had a single problem. No fans going bad making noise, no huge break-out cables mucking up the bay's, no issues with deck control drivers a huge issue with AJA in the past... no, the blackmagic boards have been flawless. They do get hot so you do need a computer with a fan in the PCI slot area, but Macs always had that from day one, so no issues.

In terms of cameras... please tell me, I'm all ears... what ENG style cameras record either 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC-I 4k or Pro Res HQ 4k native in a sub $10k price bracket. There are two; FS7 and URSA Mini. All the other cameras are more expensive, record Long GOP MPEG nastiness or aren't ENG style. Lets face it, $10k is a lot of money to spend on A single camera. Most people wouldn't dream of spending that, so it's absolutely at the high end of things. The question is, if you spend $10k more for a Red Dragon, do you get $10k more camera? If you aren't making TWICE the money with the Dragon, then the additional cost isn't worth it.

Now I agree, Blackmagic does have a huge problem... they do miss the mark on ALL of their products. There is always something "amiss" about them, but honestly that's with every camera and all beta software/cheap hardware. The difference is that the Blackmagic issues are generally more forefront like chewing up batteries on the Pocket camera or the lack of optical low pass filtering on the Ursa's, etc. These are huge red flags, but you can get around all of them with simple, inexpensive fixes. Blackmagic has focused on giving you an entire package to work from and that's why I like them. Their philosophy is one that I understand, they are an R&D company releasing products before they're ready for primetime, so they can fund the next big project which is a lot better. What other camera company gives you a substantial rebate on your "old" camera to trade it in and get a NEW camera? Nobody does that man and that's super awesome/nice of them to do, plus you get to keep the old camera! Honestly, I think they're doing great right now and all I see in their future are huge gains, even though we both agree they ain't perfect. I'm proud to use their equipment because I support their effort fully.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 04:28 AM

Must say I tend toward Tyler's point of view on this.

 

Also at least some of the "magenta issue" I've seen looks like lens telecentrism issues, not IR.


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#9 Haroun Al-Shaater

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 05:22 AM

Lot of wisdom Tyler. I gotta say so far I'm loving my URSA 4.6k. For me it seemed the only viable option as I'm not at the level to invest in something +£10k.  I've only used it on a couple of jobs to date - but will keep you informed with any issues. External IR cut filter just arrived so I will play around with and without.

 

As an intermediate it's encouraged me to learn a lot more that's improving my craft - using false colour, understanding the range of codecs, grading RAW.  It's a whole different experience from the C100 i was using previously.


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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 12:57 PM

As an intermediate it's encouraged me to learn a lot more that's improving my craft - using false colour, understanding the range of codecs, grading RAW.  It's a whole different experience from the C100 i was using previously.

I whole heartedly agree, having the camera teaches you so much about lighting and grading properly. If you can make the URSA 4.6k look good, you can make the Red and Alexa look even better. So it's all about owning a camera that improves your craft and taking advantage of the cost savings. The only digital cameras I own are Blackmagic Pocket cameras and they've have literally been around the globe on dozens of documentary shoots, stuff seen on national broadcast television in the US. I've graded over 2 dozen finished shows shot with my cameras and if they're lensed properly, they look pretty darn good for what the camera actually is. 

 

Where I do appreciate the complexity of the Red Code format and how with a decent graphics card, even 6k Red Media will debayer in real time, which is nice... I still prefer to shoot in LOG with Pro Res, it just fits my workflow so nicely and keeps me editing without the delays that sometimes come up when using RAW media of any kind. Honestly, I've only used Cinema DNG raw on ONE little music video and frankly, I didn't like the way it came out. The camera looks very different in RAW and I haven't studied it enough to compensate. 

 

This is a LOG Pro Res HQ sample in 1080p

 

https://www.dropbox....12-120.mov?dl=0


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