August 7, 2014

First Blackmagic URSA 4K Cameras Are Out in the Wild

Blackmagic's newest camera, the URSA 4K, was announced at NAB 2014, and is quite a departure from their previous offerings. Though it currently shares the same sensor as the one used in the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, it has the ability to change sensors, which means that if a better one comes out, you can plop it right in your camera. While all of that sounds great, for people to take advantage of that feature, the cameras actually have to be shipping to people, and it looks like at least one (likely more) have made it outside of the Blackmagic labs and into the hands of actual shooters.

John Brawley, an Australian cinematographer who has worked closely with Blackmagic to help develop some of their cameras, has been tweeting pictures of what looks like the final production camera -- this being the PL version (it will also be shipping in EF mount):

This is showing 4K 60fps, the camera should also feature higher frame rates sometime this year according to CEO Grant Petty:

Now, this doesn't mean that they are shipping thousands of them out right now, but a full production box with a production camera means that they are at least coming off the line, and some numbers should be heading to resellers soon if they haven't already. If you recall Blackmagic's original shipping date was July, but in a roundabout way, they technically fulfill that if a camera leaves their factory sometime in July. Here's what is still on their website in regards to the URSA ship date:

 

We know delays have been a real problem for the company, with almost none of their cameras being delivered in significant numbers by the date they were originally scheduled to (and often the significant numbers have come months after the expected ship date). It should be noted that some of these issues have come from outside parts manufacturers, but in the end, if you make a product, and can't deliver, expectations of delivering on-time in the future should not be very high.

Though the two cameras do share the same sensor, the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K has had quite a few cameras exhibit excessive noise, which was greatly reduced or eliminated for many people in the recent 1.9 firmware update. The greater processing power of the URSA should mean that the fixed pattern noise removal (that happens in all CMOS cameras) could be more advanced to better deal with the significant variation between the 4K sensors the company has been getting. With this being their most expensive camera yet, people would likely be a bit more unhappy if it experienced issues anywhere near as bad as the 4K camera.

We'll just have to wait and see how many are actually getting into people's hands and we start getting some footage, but this is the first positive sign that cameras are at least going out the door.

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47 Comments

Certainly looks interesting. As a BMPC4K owner who hadn't even received the damn thing before they went and announced this. Still, if they're shipping now (and not a year delayed again) then this can only signal progress.

Keep the updates rolling Blackmagic!

August 7, 2014 at 8:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Well, this time they missed the original release date just by a few days.
This is getting better :P

August 7, 2014 at 10:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr.Floppy

The broadcast camera shipped on time even!

August 7, 2014 at 11:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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alex

That's true :P
I forgot about that.

August 7, 2014 at 12:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr.Floppy

They had a few of the new production cameras filming the Pitchfork music fest in Chicago last month

August 7, 2014 at 6:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sorry, I meant broadcast cameras

August 7, 2014 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'll pass. Good price but the cameras underwhelm.

August 7, 2014 at 11:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rich

grant petty will cry if he know you are passing it up...

August 7, 2014 at 12:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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gult

Maybe that's you. I'm pretty happy with mine.

August 7, 2014 at 12:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr.Floppy

Any fixed pattern noise?

August 7, 2014 at 1:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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VinceGortho

+1

Wake me up when the AJA CION is out in the wild, but still is good to see blackmagic making strives, i just hope that they finally clear up those sensor issues (black sun/ fixed noise pattern).

August 7, 2014 at 4:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cjay

Has there been any news on that since NAB? It seemed to set the web on fire when it was announced, but I haven't heard a peep about it since.

August 7, 2014 at 4:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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CoolHandLuque

It's been shown around and the image is presumably excellent but it's the same sensor as the BMCPC4K and URSA, so the AJA engineers are allegedly working out the same FPN problems as BMD's.
.
Short video from Broadcast Asia [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k3ggXoGTWA ]

August 7, 2014 at 5:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

URSA video ... not Cion ... sorry ...

August 7, 2014 at 5:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Marco Solorio from One River Media has written a book about CION and URSA...I asked him about the sensor, and he said they are NOT using same sensor....

August 7, 2014 at 10:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jesuan

They guy in the URSA video said you can use it to record uncompressed raw from the Mark III. I haven't heard of any other external recorders that can to that. However, it's kind of ball and chain to lug around with you.

August 8, 2014 at 7:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Derek

Ummm All HDMI external recorders can record from any mark III with clean output. What exactly are you saying. Cion records 12bit 4444, pretty much making it a $9000 arri Amira. And as they said as SSD's get faster they will be blue to record 120fps internally. In that case , Maybe, they should have gone with cfast . Shrug. I'm getting a Cion over the URSA because of the feature set, weight, connections, flexibility.

August 9, 2014 at 5:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nigel

The last I heard it's set to release at the end of the summer... no set date as of yet.

August 8, 2014 at 12:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Zelo

Nice to see manufacturers are starting to go back to designs that lend themselves to handheld shooting when need be. Having the weight on your shoulder ENG style, instead of 8 inches in front of it, and all the strain that comes with it, gets my vote over the BMPC4K.

August 7, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adrian

But 16 pounds on your shoulder is quite a lot when compared to the 3 pounds of the BMPC

August 7, 2014 at 12:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gareth

Ouch!

August 7, 2014 at 12:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adrian

I've never seen a 3 lb. BMPC on someones shoulder before. I'd like buy that rig.

August 7, 2014 at 1:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gareth for a professional studio production camera 16pounds is lighter then if you were shooting on film I know some camera ops who shoot with 20pounds minimum on shoulder

August 7, 2014 at 4:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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sean

I agree that some people do like lots of weight, but Adrian did mention ENG, so for news and doc work, it could be a bit too much. But for studio work it wouldn't work against you. Once everything is added on, it would almost certainly exceed 20 pounds.

August 7, 2014 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gareth

Yeah, weight = smoothness and stability. And less fatigue than tiny cameras on a shoehorned rig, really...

August 7, 2014 at 8:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jon

16lbs is more stable on your shoulder than 3lbs.

August 8, 2014 at 1:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pat

With the way everyone rigs out their 3 lb cameras, they often end up at 16 lbs. If a camera is going to be 16 lbs, it better be an Alexa.

August 8, 2014 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene Sung (Non-...

I'm very interested in this camera but I wish they would sell a version without built in monitors.

August 7, 2014 at 12:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bob

Are you kidding me?
ALL other cameras in the world don't have a 10" monitor, WHY you choose this camera? Why want to take out this monitor?
Don't make sense.

August 7, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Theuer

One of the biggest complaints people have with the Blackmagic cameras is the built in monitors. Why did they make a camera with 2 built in monitors?

August 7, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sam

And from what you can read on other forums people who have seen the camera are shaking their head over the placement, handling and use of these monitors.

August 8, 2014 at 2:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Torben

It has Three monitors, not two.
I use the regular Blackmagic monitors all the time, they work great.

August 8, 2014 at 3:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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MrL

Complaints are about the impossibility to flip the monitor on BMPCC and BMCC (You can get annoying reflections in some conditions) and about their size. URSA has a 10" flipping display, that means you don't need an additional monitor and an arm.

August 18, 2014 at 2:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Fab

You could probably just break them off.

August 7, 2014 at 4:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Like red does with their cameras

August 7, 2014 at 12:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bob

So will this be the only camera they focus on? Or will they slap new sensors in the old bodies to sell if you want a smaller camera?

August 7, 2014 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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VinceGortho

John Brawley is such an amazing talent. Looking forward to seeing his footage with this camera.

August 7, 2014 at 7:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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james

My opinion is the opposite. Everything I've seen from John Brawley is subpar and boring.

August 14, 2014 at 11:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Razor

Ha! Please post a few links to your work so I can have the mind blowing experience of seeing non boring, non sub par work. I'm really excited.

August 14, 2014 at 7:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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james

Looks like a great camera; I have 2 remarks. 1. what will the iSO values be? WHEN A COMPANNY DOESN'T MENTIONED IT, IS MUST BE SO SO.
2. AN OTHER THING IS COMPLETE STrange and that is almost stupid to use cflash media. What is wrong with the relative cheap ssd medium. It makes the camera extra operation costs much too steep. And for what purpose? is BM going to rip us off with the cards just like Sony and Panasonic tried to? my advise would be make an ssd version and you will have much more success with the camera

August 7, 2014 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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kenneth gooswit

I think the CFast card is coming because of the wildly inconsistent results from SSDs. They released the 4K RAW on the BMPC4K and when I recently shot with the camera the RAW was basically un-usable because the San Disk Extreme SSDs we rented couldn't handle the data rate. These are the SSDs recommended for the camera - and yet they would drop frames because the camera can't handle the processing with the drives properly. Apparently the CFast cards are more reliable speed wise.

August 7, 2014 at 11:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Yes i hate to say RAW is pretty much unusable in the two 2.5k cameras I use because of dropped frames, using the sandisk ssd

August 10, 2014 at 4:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter

If you think of it in the terms Blackmagic wants you to, a "future-proof" camera, it makes sense. CFast are very new, as far as I know, and will likely drop in price as time goes on. So it does make a little sense to go with a currently new, reliable media regardless of the present prices, to keep the camera body relevant for as long as possible. And given that more than just BM are adopting it, it looks likely to become a common format.

August 8, 2014 at 12:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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What I'm eager to see is 4K 60p footage downconverted to 1080p Twixtored slow motion!

August 8, 2014 at 10:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JP Belanger

I have to say, film makers to me have become an absolute bunch of idiots. Your stupid arguments have for me, lose all respect for what you do. It's like your penis size is connected to how much you can bag out a particular camera manufacturer or their "colour science" or something ridiculous like that. I always came to NoFilmSchool to get information. But every time I scroll down to the comments, it's like a bunch of 10 year olds without respect for anyone else just inflating their ego. Grow up please, you wouldn't talk the way you do face to face with someone - so why do it here?

August 9, 2014 at 8:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Who are you even replying to? The most disrespectful comment in this page so far is yours. Your first sentence and your last sentence show the glaring contradiction within your own rant.

August 9, 2014 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex

Totally agree Anon. Wouldn't you think a company would have good reasons to do what they do? Have thought carefully about their product. Apparently though, most blog commenters know better...

August 10, 2014 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Steve