After a rousing debut at NAB 2014 back in April, Blackmagic Design’s $6,000 powerhouse, the URSA, is now giving filmmakers some footage to analyze, examine, and – if Vimeo compression is ignored – drool over.
Blackmagic Design's URSA is a major departure from other Blackmagic Cameras, with two 5-inch touchscreens for menus and a 10.1 flip out display for monitoring what’s being shot. Think of a full sized iPad Air swinging out to greet you while you shoot.
While the specs and features look promising, with cameras, the proof is in the footage.
The first available URSA footage, shot by the same cinematographer who brought us the first Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera footage, John Brawley, shows lots of low light scenes featuring plenty of water, mist, waves, and minimal light. From a shooter’s perspective it is basically a perfect storm for a camera to run out of talent, and the URSA doesn’t seem to at all. Shot at 60 frames per second in glorious 4K for all but one shot, and captured on several 128GB SanDisk CFast 2.0 cards, the footage ranges from fantastic to incredible. Colors are beautiful, and the detail picked up by the URSA is truly worth seeing.
To keep things in perspective, the peripherals were slightly above consumer grade.
Brawley shot the footage using a Cooke 25-250 MK3 T3.7 zoom lens, which is a high end cinema lens (think deciding between a Toyota Camry or a lens). Fortunately, shooters aren't locked in to PL mount cinema lenses.
This is where the URSA goes from interesting to downright fascinating.
Aside from all of the screens, the URSA has a user upgradeable Super 35 global shutter 4K image sensor, 12G-SDI and internal dual RAW and ProRes recorders. Because the sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed, it’s possible to choose EF or PL lens mounts, or a broadcast video sensor with B4 mount. This means that the URSA can be upgraded in the future while hanging onto the investment of the camera body.
Anyways. Enough talk. Check out the video.