May 27, 2015 at 9:10PM, Edited May 27, 9:12PM

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Black magic URSA Mini?

Recently, I posted a question in the forum about the pros and cons of getting a non-Canon DSLR or DSLM.

i've found myself spending FAR too much time in the past few weeks doing research, and agonizing over which camera I should buy. I'm looking into transitioning into doing photo/video work professionally over the next few years. I understand it's fairly pointless to spend heaps of money on a camera considering how quickly one model is replaced with another, scheduled obsolescence (especially from Nikon and Canon, grrrr...), depreciation, etc... and that long term, the best money is invested in lenses. However, I also don't want to be limited by a piece of kit because some key feature is missing from my camera, or there is something about it that causes me a lot of frustration every time I go out to shoot. Anyways, I had my choices narrowed down to: Canon 5D m3, Canon C100, Sony a7s, and the Panasonic GH4. Then, after all this, I discover the soon-to-be-released Blackmagic URSA Mini: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicursamini
It does all that and has a pre-order price at B&H of $2995 USD.
How did I miss this with all my resarch? Of course, it's not out yet, so there aren't any reviews, but, let's imagine that even though it lacks internal ND filters, and it may not perform in low light as well as the Canon 5D m3, C100 or the Sony a7s... is there any reason why I wouldn't get this above all other contenders? Do the other ones even rate as contenders at all if the Blackmagic is as good as the specs would make it seem?

By the way, I'll be applying to a graduate visual anthropology program starting in the fall of 2016. The program focuses on doing studies and presenting findings in the form of ethnographic documentary film (and possibly photo too, but I have the stills camera well covered). But I'd be using the camera for all sorts of other things as well, music, narrative, etc.

Thoughts?

17 Comments

The URSA MINi be delay one year for sure... With BM always happen the same.

May 28, 2015 at 6:09AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7733

They have had and will continue to have delays, yes, but a year? That doesn't seem probable. Aside from past delays, (none having reached a year from what I recall) what reason have you to believe there will be a delay on the URSA mini release?

Alex Pope

May 29, 2015 at 2:34PM

The 5D Mark III I wouldn't recommend to anyone. Yes, if you own one already then congratulations, you can shoot RAW 1080p by hacking it - but don't buy it because you want a video camera.
The GH4 and A7s are great, but still in that DSLR form factor and need to be kit'ed out to be production ready. Get the GH4 if you really want 4K on a budget, or the A7s if you really want the extreme low light capabilities.

The Canon C100 is a great camera and definitely sounds like the one you'd be the most satisfied with. It's really the only 'true' video camera, aside from the to-be-released Ursa Mini; Which as Ragüel pointed out, you'll probably have to wait quite a while on. You'll find a lot more professional video content being shot on the C100 than any of the other cameras mentioned. It's the one I'd go with for sure.

May 28, 2015 at 4:42PM, Edited May 28, 4:44PM

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Tobias N
Director of Photography
1313

It sounds like you're not in any desperate rush to own a new camera right now, so I would wait until the Ursa Mini is shipping and there are lots of reviews about it on the web. Right now the Ursa looks fantastic on paper, and hopefully will live up to the high expectations once it actually ships.

May 28, 2015 at 4:54PM, Edited May 28, 5:00PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31871

Thanks for the insight and opinions everyone.

If I bought the camera, I had planned on buying the top handle/shoulder rig as well as the URSA viewfinder, which would raise the cost of the camera up to about $4900.

I was planning on selling my D800 plus a bit of gear and lenses to subsidize the purchase. I was ideally hoping for the purchase to result in no more than a $3000 deficit when it was all said and done.

However, as I read more about the camera, I understand that it takes CFast cards (only one of among about four or five other cameras that use them so far?) which are really spendy at the moment. This plus the camera takes V mount batteries, which I do not have any of, and are also pretty expensive since they're the industry standard. This might add another $1-2k to the cost. To be honest, I know far far far more about still photo than video, and with video, I'm still an amateur, and I have a lot to learn yet. I'm just wondering what else I'm missing when considering getting this camera. What should I expect to spend, all in, for a setup?

May 29, 2015 at 2:51AM, Edited May 29, 2:53AM

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Eric Jason Hall
Cinematographer/Producer
86

One thing you oughtn't forget is that the battery is not required to be V-mount. There are more battery solutions to the URSA mini than I've yet to see on a camera. As for CFast 2.0: that's gonna be a pain in the pocket for a few years until they're a bit more an industry standard. All-in-all, the URSA Mini plus all accessories, due to its versatility, can cost you anywhere from $5k to $10k. It's built to be anywhere from a run and gun to a full on cinema camera that's supposed to be able to hold its own against beasts like the RED EPIC, ARRI, etc... Now how true it is that it actually will hold its own is to be determined until I get my hands on mine.
Source: part of my job is researching prospective cameras for a production company so it's accurate info but I AM just a stranger on the internet so take my words with a grain of salt.

Alex Pope

May 29, 2015 at 2:45PM

And, I forgot to mention, if I do decide the extra expense of batteries, CFast cards, and whatever other necessary pieces of kit might be lurking unknown in the darkness is worth the expense, if Blackmagic doesn't release the camera before the middle of August, then it's all moot because I don't want to wait longer than that. If there is a big delay in releasng the camera, I think I'll go with the C100 as Tobias suggests. Though, I really don't want to give money to Canon. I'm really hoping innovative companies like Blackmagic pummel Canon in the future. Companies like Canon (and Nikon) are just irritating when they slowly roll out new models whose new features could be enabled in older models through firmware updates just to get people to spend thousands on upgrading.

May 29, 2015 at 4:03AM, Edited May 29, 4:40AM

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Eric Jason Hall
Cinematographer/Producer
86

Theres a kickstarter that lets you use SSD instead of Cfast cards. Much cheaper option!

Charles C.

May 29, 2015 at 8:37PM

Charles C.

May 29, 2015 at 8:37PM, Edited May 29, 8:37PM

I turned down my pre-order of the FS7 today in order to be wait to see how the Ursa Mini will be.

Thinking of maybe buying something else inbetween like the C100 or C300.

I will probably go mad before I actually take the leap and by a new camera.

May 29, 2015 at 11:46AM

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Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1015

Personally as a Red user I would grab the Ursa Mini as a cheap B cam that is as close to the Red look compared to the other competitors you've mention. We've shot interview with a Red Epic and a Blackmagic Pocket for a side angle and I swear about 3 out of 5 times people always thing the side angle is the Red when its actually the Pocket.

All that to say if a $500 to $1000 camera that only shoots 1080p can compare to a Red Epic shooting 6k and with what I've seen with footage people have shot with the original Ursa I'm highly convince thats the route you should go.

May 29, 2015 at 8:25PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
1048

Mixing up is not the same as comparing ;-)

Interesting observation, though.

WalterBrokx

May 30, 2015 at 6:53AM

This is a film shot on an Ursa by Daniel Peters he used to own an epic before it was stolen. He says he's liking it: https://vimeo.com/124223097

May 29, 2015 at 8:28PM, Edited May 29, 8:28PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
1048

The ursa mini looks great but if you only discover filmmaking it might not be the easiest choice. You need a lot of storage, a very powerful computer and color grading knowledge if you want to get the best out of it, otherwise it will be just a painful experience. I think the a7s and can give you more satisfaction as you can achieve easily very good looking footage and if you are lost you can always rely on it's automatic mode that works quite well. Otherwise your nikon d800 is still a solid choice for video.

May 30, 2015 at 10:08PM

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AvdS
1288

As Tobias said the A7s and GH4 are photo cameras and the form factor is not ideal for most people, the URSA Mini does look like a great camera on paper however it does require you to buy CFast cards (granted most of us have these but this camera requires specific speeds) which are more expensive than SD card or even SSD drives (Such as with the BMPCC 4K). Plus the additional cost of v-mount batteries. It must also be noting that this is not exactly a small camera which is a minor gripe for myself. There is another camera worth considering which is the JVC GY-LS300. It is a little more expensive initially than the URSA Mini however it may work out cheaper in the long run. I myself am currently contending with the choice of the URSA Mini and the LS300. The URSA and C100 are great options for colour correction work, while the size and practicality of the JVC are very strong selling points. The JVC is more along the lines of a broadcast standard camera best suited for documentary films due to it's codec. The Blackmagic as with all their cameras are not exactly run and gun, however the URSA mini can output RAW and Prores 4444 which are great for heavy colour correction and grading. Conversely the JVC on paper can easily be converted into a colour grading monster with the inclusion of an external recorder as it outputs a 4K signal directly from the sensor. I myself am still considering my options. I think an important note that should be made is with higher end cameras it is often subjective, what works for one person does not work for another and you must also consider your work flow and how you specifically want to you this camera day to day.

May 31, 2015 at 2:51PM

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which one did you end up getting? i am torn between the jvc and ursa mini 4k. if i get the ursa i will look more professional and might get more jobs when i advertise what gear i have. but i read many horror stories of banding problems...

bryan james

April 12, 2016 at 5:49PM

Thanks everyone. I think I've got what I need to make a decision. I live in Tokyo, but am going back to the States this summer. When I'm there, *if* the Blackmagic is available, I might go for that depending on how much money I have and how impulsive I am. But probably, it'd be more reasonable for me to buy a used C100 since I notice that you can get one for not too much more than $2500. If I find a great deal on eBay before I go back, I might just go with that. I do understand some people have suggested the GH4 and the a7s, and I've considered these, I think it's important for me to use a professional level camera so I can start adopting a more professional minded workflow. Thanks again everyone for the input.

June 2, 2015 at 10:57PM, Edited June 2, 10:57PM

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Eric Jason Hall
Cinematographer/Producer
86

I got to see the URSA Mini at Cinegear in Los Angeles over the weekend; very cool camera. The gentlemen at the booth said late July or late August. Probably will be even a tad later. I am going to wait 'til more footage comes out, but what that camera does for the price is kind of insane. The screen on it looked very amazing, focus was great, good size. Obviously I couldn't test the camera out in-depth while there, but what I saw I definitely liked...nothing out of the ordinary from what you'd expect.
Then again, I also got to peek at a C100 mii - and that really impressed me, too.

June 8, 2015 at 1:42PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
1042

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