April 8, 2014

Get an In-Depth Overview of the New 4K Blackmagic URSA Camera

Blackmagic are stirring things up again with new developments and over a dozen new products at this year's NAB. Perhaps the biggest announcement from yesterday was the Blackmagic URSA, and our team on the floor in Vegas caught up with BMD president Dan May to talk about the new camera. Hit the jump to watch our video.

[Update]: Audio was not working for some people after the intro. That has been corrected:

What you can't tell in the video is that the camera is heavier than most cameras you may already be familiar with, clocking in at 16.5 lbs (without a lens), but the weight is mostly balanced, so it's a bit like using an ENG camera or an ALEXA. As we mentioned in the video, the expensive CFast cards that this camera requires really does bump it into a high price bracket for ownership than it might seem at first glance. At ~$1,200/120gb, that's nearly 10x the price of SSD media at ~$1.00/gig. Definitely worth noting for those of us out there drooling over the initial specs.

What are you thoughts on Blackmagic's URSA offering? Share in the comments below.

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Your Comment

79 Comments

6 min RAW for 1,200.....

April 8, 2014

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Vick

Haha, best first response ever.

April 8, 2014

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Ben Corwin

My jaw literally dropped when I heard that.

If you shoot RAW.....Nail > Coffin

April 8, 2014

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sean

Who is this camera appealing to?

I feel Blackmagic should have stuck to the Pocket camera line. The consumer market still needs a small camera such as the pocket with a few improvements!

April 8, 2014

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matt

There's room for everyone and everything.

April 8, 2014

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Mr.Floppy

Not with the screen in my face and the sound guy stuck to the side of the camera and some random stranger F%$king with the left side screen while I'm shoulder mounted... hah. I got excited about this when i saw it the first day but now I'm thinking that the Studio camera they made was the best idea. I own the ATEM production switchers and Hyperdecks and a cost effective cam for B C D cams will be great. Still worried about BM cameras and low light tho. And have BM created a control room controlled iris and white balance setup yet.. i can't remember.

April 8, 2014

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The cards will get MUCH cheaper in the years to come, but it is a huge factor right now.

April 8, 2014

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years to come... They release totally new cameras recording to different media every year at NAB

April 9, 2014

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matt

Professionals that use the tool to make a living, like myself. I am a Steadicam operator and the 16.5 weight is perfect for flying on my steadi rig. Many other reasons as well, but all in all it comes down to having a system that is upgradable. The Ursa is liquid cooled. 4K generates a lot of heat and that heat is intensified by shooting higher frame rates. The size is perfect and will be a great tool for industry professionals.

August 2, 2014

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Tyson

Same Sensor as the current 4K production model, hmm heard it was pretty bad plus still had black orbs.Pass.

April 8, 2014

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Shaun Fontaine

True they need to update firmware on the 4k to address the black super-highlights.. but dismissing the sensor based on what you've 'heard' vs. what you've experienced first hand is silly. My 4k produces a beautiful image.

April 8, 2014

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Will Vincent

I saw some bad stuff going on with the 4K cinema camera. Apparently they're having some issues with the batteries. I saw something like 3 months ago of a guy who was shooting with the 4K and the camera exploded, some misfunction with the batteries, and let me tell you... it made consider a lot of buying blackmagic

April 8, 2014

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Winblee

That happens to every single peace of electronic equipped with a lithium battery. Ive seen examples from DSLRs, laptops, iPhones, RC-Cars (very common during races) etc etc.
So unless your camera is all mechanical its just as likely to happen to you.

April 8, 2014

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Mr L

Firstly, it was just a few weeks ago.
Secondly, That's the 2.5k MFT camera that came out 3 years ago that failed not the Production camera. the electronics failed and shorted in a Cinema camera. Still not even certain it was the battery.
Thirdly, there have been no issues with any other BMD camera batteries.
Fourthly, the Production 4k camera has been suffering a bunch of other issues. Including Vertical banding (FPN), Black hole sun (clipped super highlights) and still no RAW.

April 8, 2014

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O'Ryan

The weight is a deal breaker there. That's super super heavy.

April 8, 2014

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Good point - on a tripod it would remain stable and resistant to wind and vibration....oh wait. Its 16lbs isn't so bad after all.

April 8, 2014

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BlueRain

That weight isn't the worst thing in the world but you have to consider the rig around the camera. This weight basically ensures no tripod under $3000, 19mm rails will be a plus, and you'll probably have to get a beefier shoulder rig as well.

Hell, I remember using a Scarlet with a zacuto 15mm system and it felt like it could fall apart at any minute. This camera weighs more than twice as much.

April 12, 2014

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Oscar

Yes, I remember about 7 years ago I bought an Eclair ACL Super 16mm and it weighed about 18 lbs or so, body only. Not fun at all unless you have a several person crew. I do not miss heavy cameras at all. In fact, I like that my FS700 + 7Q (Body + Monitor) is right around 5 lbs, and even then I wish it were lighter sometimes.

April 8, 2014

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Gene Sung (non-...

Still can't format cards in camera, wow!

April 8, 2014

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I recently bought a hyperdeck studio SSD recorder from Blackmagic and found out it also cannot format the media. That is really weird, I never had a device that wasn't able to format its own recording media. Don't know what their problem with such a simple function is. I mean every still camera for a hundred bucks can format its own SD cards...

April 10, 2014

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Heiko

Those massive audio meters make me chuckle. Look what we added! smh

April 8, 2014

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Nynex

They are a little bit funny looking, like huge toy buttons. Not very subtle.

April 8, 2014

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Shaun Fontaine

Well, that could be useful for a sound guy standing a few meters away. I mean even when you are recording through a sound devices or similar mixer, it is still advisable to sometimes check the in-camera levels in case someone bumped them up or down accidentally. With these large meters, you don't have to walk over to the camera because you can see the levels from five meters away!

April 10, 2014

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Heiko

URSA means FEMALE BEAR in portuguese so, me being from Portugal, I couldn't think of a better name for this camera... It's ridiculous in every way.

April 8, 2014

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how dare you insult bears that way!!

April 8, 2014

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sean

i bet you wouldn't disrespect a female bear to her face.

April 8, 2014

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Juan Lindo

What is so ridiculous about a female bear? Seriously, I don't get it...

April 10, 2014

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Heiko

What do you mean by erasing data from the camera is not as important as who knows what?

I say the URSA is the future camera. You will be able to change the sensor, wait for the CFast cards to drop their prices, and take some stones out from the body.

Still, that screen is calling my attention.

April 8, 2014

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edgar

You want to try lugging around a 17lb camera on your next shoot? Have fun!

April 8, 2014

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Ok we get it. You are a wimp and don't like the weight. Get over it and buy something else. Stop trolling.

April 8, 2014

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BlueRain

Blue Rain - this is my last message to you - I'm not trolling - I'm bringing up a fact that will help people make a conscious decision on the gear. Weight is a very important factor in a camera - for handheld, tripod size - for all types of rigs.

Trolling is when a person harasses someone unfairly on a message board.

Also my name and website is there with my comments and I believe a troll is an anonymous person.

April 8, 2014

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So now weight is a problem for the URSA but not for the ALEXA? Sure.

April 8, 2014

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Mr.Floppy

You posted 4 comments about the weight in this thread and others.

Get over it.

April 8, 2014

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BlueRain

Says the guy with the profile pic with a huge camera rig.....

April 9, 2014

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Joey

Ursa was the name of a highly popular telecine made by cintel, the company was bought by black magic. Investigate first before making judgment on a name...

April 8, 2014

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mariano

This is the most informative stuff I've read or heard about this camera yet. Joe, thanks for asking the critical questions that no other blog seems to want to ask them—why expensive media, formatting cards in-camera, ship dates, etc.

April 8, 2014

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16 lbs is NOT super, super heavy. It might be relatively heavy in comparison to camcorders or DSLRs, but in relation to a traditional 16mm or 35mm production rig, its certainly in the ballpark.

The weight appears to be related to the cooling required for the resolution and frame-rate.

Anyway, its not like you are trying to schlep a Vistavision or 3 Strip Technicolor camera around...

April 8, 2014

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Frank

x100

April 8, 2014

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BlueRain

Too heavy for a MoVI though. Cion seems like a way better camera overall. Having 444 internal and 120 fps as an external option are big selling points. Not to mention, when you add the cost of the fast cf cards compared to the Aja SSD's they start to come out kind of even, with the Cion being a little more expensive. I will definitely be renting the Aja before I do the Ursa. Black Magic has a bad track record, great image but awful usability and almost no firmware updates.

April 8, 2014

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I bet someone will come up with a monopod'ish type rig that would let the operator remove the unit off his shoulders quickly. Otherwise, one should probably use body supports like EasyRig or Atlas.

April 9, 2014

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DLD

Shouldn't 12 SDI out allow for external recording?

April 8, 2014

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DLD

THey are offering a new kind of trade off not seen lately: Price + specs VS weight. I think I would pay 3,000.00 more for the AJA Cion (all things being equal) just for the weight saving. But I have the money to burn and back problems.

April 8, 2014

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matt

Forgot to change the battery on the mic? It happens...

April 8, 2014

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IvI

Haha was thinking the same thing.

April 8, 2014

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Jordan Oliver

Yeah, that is definitely not the sound from the rode mic he's holding right there. However the mic looks like a dynamic mic which usually doesn't need batteries, sooooo.... either they forgot to connect the cable, or the input was set to another channel, or it was set to "line" input.

There's so many things that can go wrong... but they wouldn't if somebody had been wearing headphones... duh!

April 10, 2014

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Heiko

Can you not use the huge screen while on handheld and use another monitor? I feel like it's gonna cover my entire face.

April 8, 2014

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JJ

You can. There are SDI outs for an EVF/monitor and I think that there are HDMI outs.

April 8, 2014

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Dominik

Again if the screen is closed you cannot access the touch screen inside so cannot control the menu. There are 6 hard buttons on the operators side. I can only hope its up down, left right, and enter or else we screwed :(

April 8, 2014

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No HDMI on this camera as far as I've seen.

April 8, 2014

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Grant

I am curious about that sound panel, will that be useful and comforable for a sound guy to work with?

April 8, 2014

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For the kinda shoot he's talking about i wouldn't expect my sound guy to be crowding the camera. Usually its a one time adjust at the start of the day and his mixer does the rest. Looks like a big waste of battery to me.

April 8, 2014

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Well, it doesn't hurt to check the camera levels once in a while. I mean of course you set the levels in the morning and in a perfect world nobody ever accidentally bumps them up or down, but... there is no perfect world!

April 10, 2014

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Heiko

What I took from this as far as the bmcc and the bmpcc are concerned, is that they will be upgrading the hardware before the software. Does that mean another camera upgrade? Am I missing something or did anyone else catch that?

April 8, 2014

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Tod

A 4k raw update with no mention of a fix for the majority of BMPC 4k users with fixed pattern noise problems. What is going on over there! Your current 4k is leaving giant lines in the footage, even at the native iso!

April 8, 2014

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PatrickD

water cooled? seriously?

April 8, 2014

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Brian

Heavy camera. Even heavier than the Red MX which weights10lbs body only.

April 8, 2014

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alex mand

It should come with wheels

April 8, 2014

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Anthony Marino

Ridicules in anyway! So ugly alien look! Are they yet trying to go back to handy cams era or war! Why BM doesn like eve?

April 8, 2014

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Mohsen

Am I the only one that feels that this camera lacks of ergonomics? Isn't that giant screen in the middle between the operator and the lens? How can I operate with that windscreen flapped out Just on my face? I cannot imagine that on shoulder. Why they didn't make a good viewfinder instead? (To sell it to you later as extra). How do they pretend to operate that way? Maybe the monitor could be detachable. The keys a bit smaller. The audio levels less intrusive. The shoulder Pad could be included as standard. The top handle seems too tight. And it could be a little bit smaller. Beside the price factor I prefer the ergonomics of the aja cion, big for big...

April 8, 2014

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ginuz

@ginuz - You are going off on an unnecessary tangent. You can use an EVF if you want to.

April 8, 2014

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Razor

If i use an eve then i don't have access to the touchscreen that controls the camera behind the massive monitor .

April 8, 2014

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that's the point. If I want/need to use a EVF how can I access settings, commands and other stuff without opening the big window? I personally think that this should be a problem. And the display isn't flippable and touch and don't substitute the others so when it's closed it blocks some functions. Maybe the main features are on the other side but I feel it unpractical.

April 9, 2014

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ginuz

SanDisk 120GB Extreme Pro CFast Card (450MB/s) = $1,200 = 20 min. of ProRes or 6 min. of RAW

April 8, 2014

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Razor

Or you could run 12G SDI to Atomos Shogun and record ProRes on their SSD's ... of course, then you get a fourth screen ... (there's got to be some pure 4K recorders out there soon, right?)

April 9, 2014

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DLD

Ummm.. If i have it on my shoulder... how do i change settings in the camera... :(. If i don't want to open the screen.. how to i use the menu... :( . If i want to have the screen fold back on the body... how do ... :( Big screen looks cool.. but its supposed to be a camera right, not a telly.. why can't i remove it :(

April 8, 2014

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I think a screen this size is completely necessary for focussing in 4k, if you are worried about seeing past the screen, put the camera a little higher or a little lower. If you are worried about controlling your lenses, this cam has Lanc remote support.. which i think is much better than taking your eyes off the screen.
I think this is an excellent camera, looks like an indie's dream. Upgradable sensor/mount... WOW!!

April 9, 2014

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Not a sound Guy...

Lanc control on my shoulder :S. You know a 30 inch display would be great to focus in HD , or a 19 inch, or , but its a camera. I use an EVF for critical focus and the new Zacuto eve is going to be fantastic. The complaint with the screen comes from people who would want to shoulder mount the camera. Its a shame that they didn't make a tiny tweak to allow single operator use. Perhaps some smartypants will be able to make some kind of smart grip with menu buttons on it. Maybe its the right camera for you but I'm the kinda person that thinks the C100 and C300 are fantastic cameras for most situations. If black magic were going to make a camera that didn't need to be all rigged up but still have the features and functions of a studio / eng camera I thought they could have done a bit better than this. Its a bit of a Toy.

April 9, 2014

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I love that it's user user upgradeable. It incorporates a lot of features people were asking for (integrated accessories and no need to rig, traditional form factor...) and people still complain.

Yeah, too bad they're not updating their former firmware, but this camera it's not less awesome and cheap because of that.

Still, I prefer the Cinema Cameras form factor, ssds... Those cameras are still pretty relevant.
So I guess this is not a camera for me, but a GREAT piece of hardware anyways.

April 8, 2014

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Mr.Floppy

wait- so the most popular digital cinema camera in the history of film, the Alexa, weighs in at 15lbs, and people are saying this camera is a no go at 16lbs? yeah that makes sense.

i'm sure if blackmagic was selling the camera at 50K, they could've afforded to make the camera a little lighter. What I love about this camera is that you're buying into an upgradeable body. Remember how RED sold thousands of suckers on that idea, then came out with their first sensor upgrade that cost more then a new Cion camera? Here is a camera company that is handing people that upgradeable solution, for a camera that costs $6,500.

Will the camera need some work with getting the sensor right. Sure. Did people jump down RED's throat when they had their engineers changing out sensors in their clean room in the middle of NAB a year ago, then took an entire year to deliver?

I get the current 4K owners are pissed- the upgrades are coming slower then you wanted. But that's what you get with a 3k camera. you get a company that didn't charge you enough to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into teams of engineers to get it fixed. would you rather the camera cost 6K and worked perfectly? RED just recalled all their Dragon cameras- after people paid $50,000 for the titanium RED Dragon cameras months ago. Imagine that.

All this bellyaching is laughable. Because of companies like BlackMagic- were getting close to being able to shoot cinematic movies with an upgradeable camera for less then $9,000 A camera company that said a new sensor would be in the $1,500 range.

No the camera isn't perfect-- as upgrades come out, firmware / hardware- the camera will get better and better. Or you can spend $70,000 for the new 4K Alexa later this year, and not have to deal with any problems at all. That's a good option too, albeit expensive.

You're getting a camera that may

April 8, 2014

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steve d

+∞

April 8, 2014

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Mr.Floppy

While I can agree with you when people are complaining about new features they want or think they should have had, The majority of the cameras BMD shipped out are practically unusable in their current state.

I have one of the early 4k units and have already returned it a few times because of the Vertical Fixed Pattern Noise that evenly covers the entire image.

The problem I have is that even with everyone reporting this to blackmagic, their support still claims its a rare issue and they are silent about any fix that may or may not be in the works 'soon.'

The BMCC has been waiting for a fix for the blackhole sun issue for 3 years now. When asked about the issue, they always say "We have a firmware update ready to go and it will be out soon."

The fix for these issues seems to be a new camera...

April 8, 2014

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O'Ryan

I own one and use another for work. Both are far from unusable. There are certainly issues and much room for improvement, but lemons they ain't. They've allowed me to shoot a lot of things I would never have had a chance to at a quality to budget ratio that would have been inconceivable without them.

April 9, 2014

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Colin

It seems to me that the sensor is upgradable because they are going to release this new sensor soon:

http://www.eoshd.com/content/12053/successor-blackmagic-cinema-camera-cm...

April 9, 2014

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Yeah, then it will have problems that will be ignored and they will just build a new one. As long as they make it just,, cheap,, enough... they can keep selling them out.

April 9, 2014

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Wanna spend 55k on the ARRI and/or RED? Go right aheda.

Ya love it that much, you'vve got the coin to produce a feature for an easy million.

I don't.

But with BLACKMAGIC cams; much time spent doing tests in pre production, and take trhat same 50 k to spend on 3 BLACKMAGIC cameras; helluva sound recording system and edit station...and still have coin left over!

I can do my indie feature with a a smalll cast-crew on wkds; while other complaining experts here never get their own feature off the ground. Guess it does pay to go through UCLA's graduate film school program.

April 9, 2014

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MARK11

The choice to go to CFast was a poor one. At first glance, I was completely on board for making the URSA my next camera. However, after learning about the new capture media and reading the lame excuses given by BM on their decision, BM has lost me once again as a potential buyer.

April 10, 2014

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Too bad no audio from hand mic until 3:36. Good ambient sound from the floor though.

April 10, 2014

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ronn

Water cooling system. What will happen in below freezing temperatures???

April 21, 2014

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Very interesting offering with only one snag. Maybe two, or three. They claim the camera is a shoulder mount camera but if you are a single operator, once you open that huge monitor you will have it right in front of your face as it seems to close to the shoulder plate. And if you close it, than it obstructs the side controls. Unless of course the monitor snaps off and can be mounted a bit further away from the operator, but I didn't read anything stating that.

My second thought is that the sensor with the global shutter will be less sensitive to light, maybe around the 500 ISO mark, add to that memory cards at a very high price-point, you will be spending a considerable amount more. Still, it's a very affordable camera with many, many plus points. I must confess that being the owner of a Red Scarlet for the last two years, new camera after camera release, I still haven't found an affordable match to all the features the Scarlet still offers. Yes it was pricey for me, making the jump from the DSLR world of the Canon 5D Mk2, but pretty solid in terms of quality and workflow. I can edit stuff on a laptop with the right plug-ins and it's a simple as that. I am shooting 4K RAW at an affordable price and with far less hard drive space required (if you compare the memory space required to shoot 4K DNG). These are the conundrums BMD will still have to figure out. But very promising stuff.

April 22, 2014

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