As a longtime fan of Blackmagic, my ears popped right up this morning when I heard the news of their brand new camera – The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2. While it’s still fresh, I thought I would share some of my first impressions here on the blog.
I’ll keep this short and sweet, as this is day one and I have not yet shot with the camera. I always like to use any camera in the field before I do any sort of official review, but for now I’ll outline some of the specs & highlights, and my take on them.
What immediately struck me about the Ursa Mini Pro G2 (Generation 2) is that it’s essentially an internal update… And a big one, at that. The camera body itself appears to be nearly identical to the previous URSA Mini Pro, but the electronics and sensor are completely new, and therefore offer a different user experience.
Here’s an excerpt from Blackmagic’s announcement –
Today we released Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2, a next generation digital film camera that features fully redesigned electronics and a new Super 35mm 4.6K HDR image sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range for shooting at up to 300 frames per second!
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 features a whole new design that lets you shoot crystal clear slow motion footage! You can record full sensor 4.6K images up to 120 frames per second, windowed DCI 4K at up to 150 frames per second, and regular windowed 1080 HD at an amazing 300 frames per second. That makes Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 ideal for capturing stylized fast action documentary work and nature photography!
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 features dual CFast card recorders and dual SD card recorders. It even has an innovative USB-C expansion port so you can record directly onto external drives! You also get built in ND filters, an interchangeable EF lens mount that can be swapped for optional PL, B4 and F mounts, a massive number of external controls, a high visibility backlit status display, foldout 4” touchscreen monitor, professional audio recording and more!
Right off the bat, I’m happy to see that this wasn’t another body update. I’ve been shooting with the URSA Mini Pro for a couple of years now, and have really grown to enjoy it’s build quality, functionality, and ergonomics. I have to imagine that leaving the body design as-is allowed BMD to focus their full attention on the functionality of the camera, which is ultimately what really counts… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
As stated in the press release, the new Super 35mm sensor supposedly produces images with 15 stops of dynamic range at up to 300 fps. This is undoubtably the biggest takeaway from the announcement, and the new sensor will certainly appeal to filmmakers who shoot sports, music videos, events, or other content that calls for high DR / high frame rate capture.
I’m curious to see how well the previous URSA Mini Pro’s sensor matches up to the new sensor on the G2. While both tout a similar amount of dynamic range (15 stops on paper), the new sensor uses different technology and therefore should produce a different color palette.
Given the price-point of Blackmagic’s cameras, many filmmakers own more than one (particularly if they do multi-cam or event work). With that in mind, I hope the new and improved sensor can still be easily matched in post to that of the previous generation.
I’m also very curious to see how this camera handles lowlight, and if the new sensor offers any improvement on that front. One of the only real drawbacks for some filmmakers considering Blackmagic in the past, has been their lack of lowlight performance.
For me, it has never been a huge issue as I tend to shoot a lot of narrative and commercial content. Since almost everything is scripted and planned, I rarely (if ever) need to shoot above ISO 800, so the lack of lowlight performance on the URSA Mini Pro has never been an issue.
That said, I know many filmmakers who shoot primarily low light material in run-and-gun/unscripted environments, and up until now have had to rely on cameras from other manufacturers – like Sony – who specialize in high ISO. Many of these filmmakers love Blackmagic as a company, and are excited by their cameras, but just haven’t been able to take full advantage of them because of the noise issues that exist above ISO 1600.
If this new sensor is able to deliver cleaner images at ISO 1600 and 3200, that will be huge. I don’t expect the camera to compete with full frame sensors from Canon or Sony in terms high ISO performance, but if it can even get us halfway there, that will certainly shake things up a lot in the camera market.
In any case, the camera is offering a tremendous amount of value at the extremely competitive price tag of $5995. I don’t doubt they will find their way into the hands of countless filmmakers across the globe, just as the previous versions have.
Once I get a chance to actually shoot with the G2 (and compare it to the existing URSA Mini Pro 4.6K), I’ll be sure to do a follow up post. In the mean time, let me know your thoughts on the camera in the comments below!
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!