April 10, 2015

New Blackmagic URSA Firmware Adds 150fps Recording & Support for New 4K Sensor

Blackmagic Design just released a firmware update for their URSA cinema camera tonight that may hint at what they're planning for NAB next week.

The 2.3 update includes a few new features for the URSA, including support for 150fps recording in full HD (although it is not the full sensor, looks like around a 2X crop) and support for a brand new sensor (they're upgradeable in the URSA) that can supposedly record 4K RAW at 120fps. Here's the full list of changes in the 2.3 update:

Blackmagic URSA 2.3 Firmware Update

Blackmagic URSA

  • Adds support for windowed 1920 x 1080 recording up to 150 fps
  • Adds support for Apple ProRes 444 XQ recording in HD and 4K
  • Adds support for new V2 4K sensor for recording up to 120 fps RAW at 4K
  • New installer layout which displays current software installed in camera
  • Improved menu option for selecting recording format

Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K

  • 12G-SDI performance improvements

The most interesting part of this update is the support for the URSA V2 4K sensor. While we haven't heard anything up to this point about the sensor upgrade path for the URSA, it's safe to assume that this update means that an interesting upgrade to the camera is likely coming from Blackmagic at next week's NAB show in Vegas. Whether that's one (or more) brand new sensor options for the URSA, or something else entirely, it seems like a safe bet to say that Blackmagic will find a way to make a splash and steal the show again.

You can download the new update on Blackmagic's support page    

Your Comment

28 Comments

Now time for Argument which camera is better URSA vs C300 mk2 vs FS7 vs Upcoming speculations(!!) instead of making something!!

April 10, 2015 at 3:42AM

9
Reply
avatar
Rayhanur kabir
Director, DP
196

For me, I judge based on my preference for color science.
Blackmagic comes in first. I love it's drab filmmic color and texture in raw.
Canon would be second. Nice image but their colors are too punchy and vibrant.
Sony last, because I've never cared for the look any of their cameras.

April 10, 2015 at 5:50AM

0
Reply
avatar
Vincent Gortho
none
948

Cool... But it still weights a tonne. Truly has to be held to be believed.

April 10, 2015 at 3:45AM

0
Reply
avatar
Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
575

I agree to big but great features... Wish they made these specs in the production 4k camera. That would be dope.

April 10, 2015 at 12:29PM

0
Reply
avatar
Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
1041

Yeah that would be cool, but even the 4K has annoying form factor issues. I was so gutted when I tried out the Ursa, it's almost unusable due to it's weight for anything other than on a robust tripod.

Just wish black magic would get their act together and make a camera that feels good when you hold it. It really can't be that hard, other manufactures get the same specs out of cameras half the weight.

April 10, 2015 at 1:03PM

0
Reply
avatar
Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
575

Hi, just to be clear we describe the sensor as user upgradeable, not interchangeable. :)

April 10, 2015 at 4:01AM, Edited April 10, 4:01AM

9
Reply
CaptainHook
Frequency Wrangler
161

I just hope has 14 stops of dynamic range and actual 4k DCI...plus why does nobody else ask for 3K, would better for a 2K finish after stabilization while still keeping the data and storage lower than going full 4K/UHD

April 10, 2015 at 6:06AM

0
Reply
Edwin Mathenge
Cinematographer,Editor,Sound Editor,Director
136

That's why the 2.5K BMCC produces such gorgeous 1080!

April 10, 2015 at 3:48PM

0
Reply
avatar
seanmclennan
Story Teller
963

Please blackmagic, have a new lighter camera on the horizon for this coming NAB.

April 10, 2015 at 5:47AM

12
Reply
avatar
Vincent Gortho
none
948

60fps for the Pocket pleaaaase! just in ProRes 422 or LT at least! That will make the perfect complete low budget film camera.

April 10, 2015 at 10:49AM

6
Reply
avatar
Julian Cortizo
Director / Post-Producer / Composer
155

Everybody complains about form factor and how DSLR is so difficult to use for cinema. These camera companies create actual ergonomic, rugged cameras which actually help you shoot (since weight and balance play a major factor) smoothly and we want them smaller. I've used all of the black magic cameras and they are most impressive when you shoot RAW but lack the dynamic range IMO.

Canon still has the most filmic image out of the box IMO and although the colors way be vibrant, that's what film looks like actually and since film is basically 16 bit color, not many digital cameras can keep up besides Arri, sometimes the Dragon and Canon C series with a good codec. It's why hollywood movies use these cameras and why DP's/Directors choose them because of the skin tone rendition. We stare at humans and faces throughout a film so it's very important.

April 10, 2015 at 12:19PM

0
Reply
avatar
Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
369

I'm in no way saying you can't get a filmic image out of specific cameras but it's much more harder unless you have a budget and an actual colorist with calibrated monitors. At the end of the day you can tell stories with all of these cameras and some may not work for all situations but it will still look 10x better then what we had available years ago and the average viewer won't notice most of the small technical flaws we see.

April 10, 2015 at 12:22PM

0
Reply
avatar
Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
369

Except Canon has yet to learn the importance of offering a high-quality codec. Their continued use of interframe-compressed, color-decimating codecs in "cinema" cameras is ridiculous.

April 11, 2015 at 10:08PM

0
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1900

Dang. Hm. Interesting. I feel at some point, the features and price of this camera will trump the weight. Just not sure if it is there yet. cFast cards are expensive, and the mainly available 128gb ones out there do not hold much quality 4K footage on them.
But if this new sensor greatly improves low-light noise and maybe increases the DR a bit...this beast is shaping up to be a very solid production camera.

April 10, 2015 at 1:59PM

1
Reply
avatar
Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1124

What I think is funny about 'the weight' issue, is that until just a month or two ago (Alexa mini) it weighed the same as everyone's favorite camera, Alexa. I realize the URSA has some other goofy quirks, but to me those quirks are the charm. If you have not seen one in person (I got to play with it at NAB last year) you may not realize how cool it actually is. That big monitor is actually awesome. I would LOVE to look into that thing while I'm shooting. The other programmable monitors are really great too, as well as the big LEDs. The cFast cards are definitely an issue. The lower DR is a bummer too. The swappable sensor feature is pretty cool, and I think that has really been the plan all along. This was a long term project, not a short one.

What I think is cool about their current line up is that you have another, much smaller, camera with the same sensor in it. Camera A and B. One for a tripod. One for a gimbal/drone. I bet they are going to continue with that plan. Whatever new sensor shows up in URSA, I bet there will be a similar version in a smaller body, probably with fewer frame rates.

I'm a fan of BM. They're not perfect, but they are improving. Keep it up Blackmagic!!!

April 11, 2015 at 3:16PM

0
Reply
avatar
Jonesy Jones
Storymaker
726

Not sure they're improving. Going to an overpriced, obscure storage medium (CFast) is a big step backward from the standard SSDs we can use with the BMPC 4K. And to do this on a relatively giant camera is even more galling.

Upgradeable sensor is cool if it pans out. The DR needs work.

April 11, 2015 at 10:11PM

0
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1900

They launch a camera, and then significantly improve upon it via firmware updates... with every camera they've produced = improvement.

As I said, URSA was a long term project. CFast cards were, and are (Canon C300 II), a bet on the future.

April 12, 2015 at 9:56AM

3
Reply
avatar
Jonesy Jones
Storymaker
726

I am covering NAB & CinemaCon for my CineTechGeek video blog.. So on site now..
First thing.. Resolve 12, huge poster on front of building.. So we can expect some massive improvements to Resolve. This is not a point releease..
Expected.. integration with fusion most likely. (this is how they will bring Fusion to Mac)

Second, the new sensor for URSA.. My guess is that it is highly likely to be more then 4K. WHY? Because of the telecine. The Telecine has been demoed using a 4K sensor, but this is a problem as... The way ot works, it takes a wider then image capture, including the sprocket holes as to allow it to use a real time alighnment system. This is how it is so smooth and fast.
However, this makes it NOT 4k, And 4K is a major tone of the show. Everything is doing 4K now, so releasing a non-4K telecine is a no-no. So. using a 5K/6K sensor for a 4K finish on the telecine is likely.
If your using a sensor like that in the Telecine, why not use it in the URSA too..

One a few days to go.. Well be an interesting press conference Monday morning.

James

April 10, 2015 at 9:00PM, Edited April 10, 9:00PM

0
Reply
James Gardiner
CineTechGeek
56

I wish they had a Nikon mount. I have tons of amazing, fast Nikkor lenses that are itching for this camera.

April 10, 2015 at 10:21PM

0
Reply
avatar
treykaiza@gmail.com
Cat Herder
248

Nikon to canon adapter?

April 10, 2015 at 10:39PM

3
Reply

Too bad Nikons focus in the wrong direction. I have some old manual Nikkor-O lenses and an adapter that works fine on the BM, but the backward focusing (compared to all other brands) is annoying.

April 11, 2015 at 10:13PM

6
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1900

If they're releasing firmware paths for upgraded sensors, then that means those sensors are already out there. Anyone know which one they might have in mind?

April 11, 2015 at 7:42PM

1
Reply
avatar
Ben Howling
Writer / Director
593

It'd be nice to see at least 48 FPS for the BMPC 4K.

April 11, 2015 at 10:14PM

0
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1900

I wonder if the Ursa is meeting much success, so far everyone I talk with about the camera dislikes the weight intensely.
Good camera but it's interesting how a couple of things like screen placement and weight can be an instant deal breaker.

April 12, 2015 at 3:11AM

12
Reply

I realize that this is an old comment, but the folks that I know who've used one (my Ursa specifically) absolutely LOVE it. Here's someone else's take on the Ursa, after having a year to use one.

http://www.onerivermedia.com/blog/?p=1342

October 1, 2015 at 12:39PM

1
Reply

awesome cam

April 12, 2015 at 5:15PM

7
Reply

I need to shoot for almost two hours continuously in verying lighting conditions on handheld. Does anyone know if the URSA mini or Panasonic GH4 be better for the job? My budget is $4000 for the camera and lenses.

July 2, 2015 at 2:21AM, Edited July 2, 2:21AM

7
Reply
avatar
Don Palathara
Director/Writer
88

If your budget is $4000 for camera and lenses, the Ursa Mini is going to be out of your budget. A lot of people fail to realize the add on costs required to get the camera up and running.

For instance, CFast cards are currently $300+ for 128gb - you'll need two of those. Batteries and a charger? That's another $1000 for 2 small batteries and a charger. There's more you'll need too, but those are the biggies people don't often consider.

Find yourself a nice used FS100 and grab a set of Rokinon Cine Prime lenses. Unless you have clients demanding 4K, you don't need it.

October 1, 2015 at 12:45PM

7
Reply