I’ve had countless comments, e-mails, and tweets from readers asking about Blackmagic’s URSA Mini 4.6K since I started posting test footage with it about a month ago. Many of you have been waiting on pre-orders to come through and have been eagerly waiting for the cameras to ship.
As of yesterday, it was announced that the 4.6K URSA Mini is finally shipping, so for those of you that have been waiting on pre-orders, they should be on their way soon!
Along with the announcement, Blackmagic released this statement:
For the past 6 months, Blackmagic Design engineers have been working extremely had to resolve the issues. As the performance of the global shutter is not up to the high quality level that Blackmagic Design strives to give it’s customers, Blackmagic Design have decided to ship both of the cameras without the global shutter feature.
The prime reason for this decision is that over the last few months, professional cinematographers and DOP’s who have been beta testing the cameras on all types of different projects have reported incredible results. Their feedback is that the cameras should not be delayed for this feature as the main benefits of the cameras are the wide dynamic range, and that this dynamic range is only available when running without global shutter. The beta testers working in high end digital film and television production are urgently wanting to use cameras such as URSA Mini 4.6K to obtain the advantage of the 15 stops of wide dynamic range and high frame rate capabilities of the rolling shutter.
With the release of URSA Mini 4.6K, customers will be able to choose between two very different models of URSA Mini. Originally URSA Mini 4K was intended to be the entry level model and the URSA Mini 4.6K to be the higher end model with more features. However, now these two cameras are targeted for different kinds of work as customers can choose between URSA Mini 4K if they want global shutter for fast action sports and URSA Mini 4.6K if they want wide dynamic range for high end digital film work.
When the camera was first announced, the plan was to allow users to switch between global shutter mode and rolling shutter mode, but as this statement explains – executing on that plan wasn’t possible without sacrificing a significant amount of quality. Personally speaking, I don’t think this should be a deal breaker for the vast majority of shooters for a number of reasons.
Having shot with this camera many times now in many different types of shooting scenarios, I couldn’t imagine ever not wanting to shoot in rolling shutter mode. The image quality with rolling shutter is so fantastic, that I would personally be hard pressed to find any reason to switch out of that mode, if it were even possible.
As most of you know, even if the camera were capable of switching to global shutter mode, the dynamic range would be significantly reduced (likely by about 3 stops), and a huge part of what makes the 4.6K such an amazing camera is it’s 15 stops of DR.
Not to mention, the rolling shutter on the URSA Mini 4.6K is quite good, and in my opinion is on par with what you might expect from a RED, or other high end cinema cameras. Many people forget that RED and Arri both make cameras with rolling shutters, but because they have been implemented so well and the rolling shutter artifacts are kept to a minimum, generally filmmakers don’t have an issue with them on real world shoots. This is the case with the URSA Mini 4.6K, which may have a rolling shutter, but will not interfere with your ability to get the shots you want.
If a camera like the URSA Mini 4.6K suffered from the same level of rolling shutter artifacts that you might find on a Sony A7S II, then the global shutter mode would be more of a necessity. But given how well the sensor handles fast motion, whip pans, and other challenging shooting scenarios, there is almost never a need to adjust your shots to compensate for the rolling shutter.
With that said, I’m sure there are some users with very specific needs that might need a global shutter camera. If that’s the case, the URSA Mini 4K is always an option… But for the vast majority of shooters, the 4.6K model is still going to be the way to go as it’s image quality is simply astounding.
You can view some video footage that Blackmagic Design just released yesterday, including a short film shot by acclaimed cinematographer John Brawley and a behind the scenes piece on the production, by visiting this link.
I will be working with the URSA Mini 4.6K on a number of shoots in the near future, and will continue to share my thoughts and feedback when possible.
Let me know what you think 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!