When testing any camera it’s good to see where it stands in real life situations, so I’ve been putting the 4.6k URSA mini through its paces.
I love taking time on shoots, but let’s face it: sometimes you don’t have the luxury of time to source amazing locations or set up lights, flags, diffusion etc.
So I’ve been doing my best to test the camera in natural light on sunny days, then head straight back out again to the same location when the weather is awful – because in all honesty, any camera (including iPhone) can look great in controlled lighting situations or with the sunny weather in California.
I think that’s why there has been so much confusion with which URSA Mini to choose, the 4k or 4.6k mini… in the right hands both of those cameras look great. But to be clear, the 4.6k version is a MASSIVE step up in colour, dynamic range and low light performance.
As Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty has now confirmed, global shutter hasn’t and won’t be activated on the 4.6K model, so the 4.6k has rolling and the 4k has global.
No issue for me as the rolling shutter is still an improvement over the Sony a7S cameras … and it’s better/equal to how the RED Epic looks.
Regarding slow motion footage (not UHD 60fps but the window cropped 1080p 120fps footage), I’ve been up-scaling the footage to UHD to blend with UHD 24p and 60p to see if it holds up and have been very surprised by the results so far (I wouldn’t necessarily do this often, or rely on it). It can also do 120fps windowed at 2k.
Exposing the camera has been awkward. You can really over expose and get a nice image but I find that if I expose just up to the 2nd battery bar indicator (see pic), trying not to push the highlights past that, my grades or LUTs that I make give me a perfect look each time. When viewing in video gamma mode (instead of bmdfilm) it would be nice to have a few more options, almost like how RED cameras have options to view in different gammas and colour spaces. How you expose is a personal choice, just like ISO settings.
The camera is native 800, so you will need to add neutral density (ND) filters. I find the Tiffen Vari-ND works great from f2.2 and up. If you want to shoot at faster apertures then I’d recommend straight ND’s like the Format Hi-tech Firecrest, which is also an IR cut filter.
As I don’t like to use ND for interior shots I’d opted to set my ISO lower and keep a nicer shallow depth of field rather than higher f stops or with ND; so I use 400 indoors. However, some shooters have been testing, and using, 1600 outside when it’s not low light…so as with RED and ARRI Alexa I recommend seeing what hits your sweet spots for nice images.
Lowlight with the camera is very clean and so far I haven’t experienced any fixed pattern noise. With the JD Gyms piece, as the spin rooms are very dark, I had to shoot at 800 and 1600 and got away with it just fine: the resulting images were nice and clean. With no light, 1600 will obviously have a bit of noise but 800 is super clean.
For power I recommend the IDX Duo 150 batteries. I use two and they last me all day.
When I come to rig the camera up I’m not really a fan of the BMD top handle; I like to move fast between set ups. So I instead use the small thread bolt from the shoulder kit and mount the EVF straight on top of the camera like that. As for the handle, I use the Smallrig NATO handle with the Smallrig 46mm safety rail. This allows me to quickly mount and take away the handle and EVF when needed, without the need for any tools.
The only thing that would make using the 4.6k camera even better would be if Adobe allowed Premiere Pro to use and abuse the RAW settings, rather than just exposure etc. I would love if we had the same RED RAW options in Premiere; Davinci Resolve is obviously great for that but I prefer sticking to one program. So Adobe, come on…allow us to use full RAW abilities for the 4.6k camera. For now … I’ve mainly been shooting in UHD Prores.