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Ursa mini 4.6k - my girl with new features

Let me just let that hang here - It's not the camera that matters but what you put in front of it. But a cool camera rig is always nice to have, right.

Now... let me tell you something about a little camera that is getting some reasonable interest. This post is not my review or in depth technical breakdown of all of the pitfalls and heights of this camera system but purely the personal opinion of a cinematographer about it.

Well lets start with whats in the box. I know that this is not the best layout of the box but shush ... that is not whats important at the moment.

Well top handle, shoulder pad, rods, side handle with trigger, viewfinder, PL mount, V mount, SDI outputs, jackpot my little nephew (you have to buy all of those individually cause art is business). The build of this camera really feels home - shape, placement of the ports and the ability to customize your camera setup as the project needs is real pressure relieve cause now you are not locked down to just the one but you can customize your workflow. And that is whats all about right?

The setting up of this camera is super easy and straight and when you have it ready to go you have pretty much everything you need form a cinema camera right there with you. The first problem I have is the screen it is swivel but not really. You can't have it open out and put back in the camera or face you in front of it. Its like BMD couldn't make their mind what exactly to do with it but after a while you stop paying attention to it but - THE POWER BUTTON. This magical hardware that turns the camera on is behind the screen which means that you can't turn it on without opening the screen. Why is it hidden? Why is this happening? Why the most important .... Never mind. I'm cool now.

To be honest after using the camera for a while now I don't really mind any of that anymore. I usually end up dialing my settings in the camera and sort of forget about it. I operate with a mixture of a viewfinder and opened up screen which is kinda cool for all of those weird shots where you start looking through the viewfinder but end up framing the end of the take through the screen. Which is cool with me.

Now the extension arm for the trigger handle. That is a piece that I just don't understand or can't find the right way to use it. I had a project that I had to shoot handheld on the shoulder. I don't have my own handles at the moment and ended up using that weird thing and my god that is horrendous - the arm is short and puts so much stress on your wrist and forearm that you end up shaking like crazy. Fortunately the director wanted that crazy camera shake happening so we end up using even external shake to the camera but I was in pain under that camera. So if you are looking for some shoulder/handheld work... find some moose bars or some other handles to come and help cause it will be a struggle.

I love that we have so many ports to play with and the placement is rather nice on the camera body being put in the back of the camera. But one time I had a problem with that. I had two different battery manufactures and one was a touch wider and when changing battery I had to split the front SDI so I can have a viewfinder feed and a line for a directors monitor. But the fix to that is - don't rent more of those batteries and all will be fine, right.

The viewfinder - super cool. But why did you made it so camera specific, dudes? What if you magically created a great viewfinder that I would love to use on a ALEXA or an AMIRA or something? I heard that there is a way that you can upgrade and fix this issue but that is not that troubling. The overview of the EVF is that it is amazing. I love the size, the optics, the information that is being send to it, the programmable buttons... Amazing stuff.

Two more things that I have a problem with and than I will stop being an ass - the media slots and the sound knobs. I little cover or a small teeny tiny door over the place where you put all of the media would have being greatly appreciated. And those knobs for the sounds level - really? you guys can do better than this.

Now tree hours before writing this post I updated the software of the camera to the new Blackmagic Design Ursa mini 4.6k firmware 4.0 and will not say even a word about that terrible, old, outdated, clunky and slow workflow firmware before that. But yea... not even a word. My first reaction when i updated the software was -"Fucking hell .... that was fast." Updating the firmware didn't take anymore than like 10 minutes to get it all ready to go. And boy does it make a difference. Now everything that I need accessed is easy to get to and everything that I want to controlled can be controlled (I am looking at you white balance and FPS). I will not get in all of the features of the new firmware cause you can go on the blackmagic web site and read them for yourself.

I don't want to talk about the picture qualities of the camera here as I haven't run proper tests with the new firmware and I hear that some issues have being fixed and many have being addressed. But this system and sensor definitely has a unique look. When you are looking Ursa mini footage you can tell almost all of the time that it is indeed the Ursa mini. Some of the problems that I have seen my self are - magenta cast especially in the mids and shadows, IR pollution (super visible when stopping with like 4-6 stops with NDs), purple fringing here and there on super reflective hot spots and one time I had a strange case (I still have no idea what happen) I had it shooting 120fps window on a 24 xeen outdoor with .6ND and the picture looked like I had a fog filter on, just that one take and we still have no idea what happen. Never used the shot but really strange, here is a picture.

So just to wrap it up cause a man has to go do other things: This is an amazing little camera. Light, super friendly to ideas and could be rigged in whatever you want, huge dynamic range that allows you space to touch yourself in post, fast workflow and some really great pictures. But at the end its not about the camera but what you put in front of it. So sleep with that little friend. Here a couple of pictures a camera and board.

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