Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K Review

What we like

12K video
Loads of media format choices
 15+ stops of dynamic range

What we don’t like

Camera only captures in Blackmagic     RAW
Not all media captures high bit-rate     or framrate
16-bit Poor low light performance

The bottom line

The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K has the longest name for a camera ever, however it’s fantastic. It’s $10,000… yeah, that takes the breath away. While you recover from the sticker shock, let us tell you that it has no resolution competition, not even at double the cost. We really liked this camera. Its image looks great, it has all the functions you need, but 12K… do you need 12K? 


All the details

The URSA Mini Pro 12K features internal captured 12-bit RAW with a bit rate up to 578 MB/s. It shoots up to 240 frames per second (fps) in 4K, but has an additional crop to super 16. Without a crop to the super 35 sensor, it captures up to 120fps in 8K and 60fps in 12K. 

Most notable features

12K is nuts

Let’s face it, the 12K video is awesome. Even if you don’t need all of the resolutions, it functions in many different ways. When you downscale the image, it looks even sharper, any noise minimizes. 12K is 4 times larger than 4K, which means you can do a 4x punch-in when finishing in 4K. That’s enough to give you a medium-wide shot, medium shot and close up all in one. 

Blackmagic RAW

A drawback to the innovation from this camera is it only captures in Blackmagic BRAW for all resolutions and framerates. However, because of this, the files are 12K in 12-bit RAW. With the release of Davinci Resolve 17 and Blackmagic RAW viewer, we opened and manipulated the footage in Premiere as well. We wanted to see a lower bit-depth option in the form of ProRes or H.264. As nice as it is to have all the data when you have the time to grade the footage, it’s not always needed. This would also give a working proxy for those that need to edit dailies without adding the time to grade. 

Media format choices

The camera also shoots to SD, CFast 2.0 or to SSD. When it comes to SSD, it works with an external USB drive or the Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder. Also, the Mini Recorder connects via USB. The Mini Recorder lets you use 2.5″ SSD cards. This — by the way — is the most cost-effective and best-performing option at $400. Additionally, not all media captures high bit-rate and or framerate. Because media proves costly when shooting at high data rates — like what’s possible with the URSA Mini Pro 12K — make sure you have the right media. Blackmagic has a list of supported media for the camera. 

Ergonomics

Weight and size

The body of the URSA Mini Pro 12K is no larger in dimensions than the URSA Mini Pro 4.6k G2 or the one before that. It is, however, slightly heavier at 5.62lbs. That is nothing compared to the original URSA at a whopping 16lbs, but it’s heavier than most. It’s not too awkward when adorned with the optional shoulder kit and EVF, but it gets the job done. 

Button location

The camera has all of the controls you want right at your fingertips. From audio control to ISO, Shutter speed and white balance. This is no different than the URSA Mini Pro G2 that came before it. It’s nice having all of the key controls ready when you need them instead of digging into a menu to find them. The switches, knobs and dials feel hefty and function well. We found the ND control to be the most used and functions as you’d expect. 

Use of screen

The articulation of the screen is limited — the monitor is not fully articulating. It has no less or more articulation than the previous URSA Mini. With that said, however, we wish it rotated to flip the monitor for the subject to see themselves, or to be tucked back to its resting place but with the monitor facing outward. Like the rest of the camera, the monitor is stout and has a very satisfying click when closing. 

Brightness of screen

Because this camera shoots HDR, its monitor is 1000nit bright for real HDR preview. 1000nit is the entry brightness for HDR. When shooting with the sun at our back the brightness helped. If it wasn’t that bright, the limited articulation of the monitor leaves you wanting. When that is the issue, use an external monitor.  

Menu

Blackmagic offers the best menu function of all cameras. It has the same format as every other Blackmagic camera. It’s easy to use. It’s not complex, yet still has all the controls needed. All of the functions are touch-activated. The organization of the menu is intuitive. One of the best features is the heads up display overlay options. If you want peeking on, it’s on one page with all of the other shoot assists. 

Shoot assists

There is no shortage of shoot assists with the URSA Mini Pro 12K. More than just the assists you need, you can route them to the monitor, EVF or out the SDI, be it the one in the rear or front of the camera. Want clean output to the rear 12-G SDI but need guides or something else in the front SDI port? It’s no problem, easy to do and not hard to find on the menu. Of course, the camera offers focus peaking, zebras, audio meters and histogram. On top of that, it also has false color, a safe area grid or just a grid for composition.

The Image (sensor stuff)

The image from this camera is breathtaking. More than just resolution, it produces a fantastic image. Its Super 35 image sensor is nearly 80 megapixels (MP), which is insane. The amount of detail in a 4K finish is significant. Because 12K is 4 times the resolution of 4K, if the final product is 4K, any noise reduces in size by 4 times. This benefits when shooting chroma keying or anything else where the additional detail would benefit. 

Sensor Crop

The crop factor of a super 35 image sensor is 1.5x, double that to 3x for super 16. That means that in super 16, the image sensor area used is smaller than micro four thirds. Because the sensor is so high resolution, this isn’t much of a big deal, outside of needing to consider it for lens selection. For example, a 3x crop to a 50mm makes it an effective 150mm. 

Blackmagic RAW

The camera only shoots in Blackmagic RAW. This allows for 12-bit RAW and it’s quite efficient. Although still a staggering amount of data, when shooting at the highest data rate the camera shoots 578 megabytes per second (MB/s). The camera captures either a constant bitrate or constant quality. The camera captures in 5:1, 8:1, 12:1 and 18:1 Blackmagic RAW with constant bitrate. This gives each ratio more or less compression. The other type of BRAW compression is Constant Quality. It offers a variable bitrate with minimum to moderate quantization to make sure the quality is constant, hence the name. 

Gamma Curve

There are three gamma choices to choose from, just like Blackmagic cameras in the past, it has Film, Extended Video and Video. Film offers the most dynamic range giving the most work needed to the image in post-production. Extended Video gets closer to being ready right out of the camera, but keeps some of the benefits from the Film curve. Lastly, Video is ready right out of the camera and will allow for only minor corrections needed during post. 

ISO Noise and Low Light performance

The camera‘s ISO range is not great at ISO 200 to ISO 3200. Although this is nothing when pitting it against the rest of the camera world, it’s more than some other Blackmagic cameras. ISO 200, 400 and 800 are noise-free, we would not hesitate to bounce between the three. Blackmagic lists 800 as the native ISO for this camera. By ISO 1600 noise enters the image, but not enough that we wouldn’t use ISO 1600. However, it is enough that we wouldn’t shoot any higher than 800 with 1600 there for edge cases. Although the camera offers ISO 3200 we would not use it. The noise chroma shifts at this point and the image are significantly impacted by it. 

Dynamic Range

Blackmagic advertises 14 stops of dynamic range with the URSA Mini Pro 12K. To test this, we shot the DSC Labs Xyla 21 dynamic range chart. Each light in the chart is one stop of dynamic range excluding the first one as its set at 100 ire. We were impressed because we saw 15+ stops of dynamic range, and appreciate the surprise over the disappointment of less. 

Rolling Shutter

The camera has a rolling shutter, so it has some adverse effects. The big question is, how adverse is this effect? The rolling shutter is not the worst we have seen, but you see it in horizontal lines when panning the camera or when filming a fast-moving object. 

Other considerations

As of right now, the URSA Mini Pro 12K currently has no rivals. 12K is only available with this camera. With that said, there are other Cinema cameras that one might consider either for similar features or nearly as high resolution. We compared the similarities and differences between this camera and the Canon EOS R5, Z CAM E2-F8 Full-Frame 8K Cinema Camera, RED KOMODO and the Sony FX9. 

Canon EOS R5

The first camera we considered is the furthest from the URSA Mini Pro 12K, the Canon EOS R5. at $3,900 it’s much less money, however is not a cinema camera. What it does have going for it is high resolution. Its 45MP Full-frame sensor can capture up to 8K RAW. 

Z CAM E2-F8 Full-Frame 8K Cinema Camera

Secondly, we have the Z CAM E2-F8 Full-Frame 8K Cinema Camera. The E2-F8 is a full-frame camera that captures 8K 12-bit ZRAW internally to Cfast 2.0 media. Though the design of the E2-F8 is for cinema, it’s a modular camera. With a modular camera, you add on what you need for your specific need. So there are no built-in ND, the buttons and form factor make it awkward at best without some serious investment in rigging. The E2-F8 also offers external capture out of its USB port. 

RED DIGITAL CINEMA KOMODO 6K

The RED DIGITAL CINEMA KOMODO 6K is up next. With a price of $6K, the Komodo is a fraction of the price of the rest of RED’s cameras. At half the resolution of the URSA Mini Pro 12K, the Komodo is like the E2-F8 and is modular. As to a modular design, you need additional investment to get the camera fully functional and with proper rigging. The Komodo has a super35 image sensor and offers RedCode RAW (R3D), the pinnacle of RAW available. With R3D ISO and white balance are just metadata that change without any degradation of the image. The Komodo also offers a global shutter and more advertised stops of dynamic range. 

Sony FX9

Lastly, we have the camera that offers the best comparison in function, the Sony FX9. It has all of the exterior controls and inputs to be ready to shoot out of the box, just like the URSA Mini Pro 12K. The Sony doesn’t capture internal RAW at all, but outputs it up to 16-bit, only in 4K. There is no way to capture that yet with what is in the external recorders market. 

Final thoughts

In conclusion, Blackmagic created a truly innovative camera, as its almost 80MP sensor captures the image to the Blackmagic RAW captures. The camera offers all of the bells and whistles you need on a camera. The image is stunning and its media offerings are plentiful. Was the world clambering for a 12K camera from Blackmagic? Maybe? Maybe not. However, if high-resolution video is what you need, then it’s your only option — but it’s a good one at that. The camera should be considered a specialty cinema camera, but Blackmagic didn’t disappoint. With a solid build, innovative capture and specs, the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is a beast. 


Specs

Image sensor size27.03 x 14.25 mm (Super35)
Image sensor typeCMOS
ResolutionEffective: 79.6 Megapixel (12,288 x 6480)
Native ISOISO 800
Advertised dynamic range14 stops
Lens MountPL Mount included. Interchangeable with optional EF and F lens mounts
Built-in ND filterMechanical Filter Wheel with Clear, 2 Stop (1/4), 4 Stop (1/16), 6 Stop (1/64) ND Filters
Built-in microphone typeStereo
Media/Memory card slot2 x CFast 2.0 card slots, 2 x SD UHS-II card slots, 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 expansion port with power delivery for recording to external media
Frame rates12K: Up to 60 fps
12K Anamorphic: Up to 60 fps
8K: Up to 120 fps
DCI 4K: Up to 120 fps
8K Anamorphic: Up to 120 fps
4K Anamorphic: Up to 120 fps
6K (Windowed): Up to 120 fps
DCI 4K (Windowed): Up to 240 fps
Raw recording12288 x 6480 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps (72 to 578 MB/s) 
11520 x 648 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
12288 x 5112 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
7680 x 6408 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
8192 x 4320 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps (32 to 258 MB/s) 
7680 x 4320 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60/120 fps 
8192 x 3408 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60/120 fps 
5120 x 4272 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60/120 fps 
6144 x 3240 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60/120 fps (18 to 145 MB/s) 
4096 x 2160 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps (8 to 65 MB/s) 
4096 x 2160 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
3840 x 2160 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
4096 x 1704 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/59.94/60 fps 
2560 x 2136 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps 
Audio Recording2-Channel 24-Bit 48 kHz
Video Connectors1 x BNC (12G-SDI) Input
1 x BNC (12G-SDI) Output
1 x BNC (3G-SDI) Monitor Output
Audio connectors2 x 3-Pin XLR Mic/Line Level and AES audio(+48 V Phantom Power) Output
1 x 3.5mm headphone jack, supports iPhone microphone for talkback
Other I/O1 x USB Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2
1 x USB Type-C Data Input
Display TypeArticulating Touchscreen LCD
Size4.0″
Power Connectors1 x 4-Pin XLR Input
1 x 12-Pin Molex Input/Output
1 x 4-Pin XLR (12 VDC) Output
Accessory Mount4 x 1/4″-20 Female
1 x ARRI/Hirth Rosette
Dimensions9.2 x 5.92 x 5.87″ / 23.37 x 15.04 x 14.91 cm
Weight5.62 lb / 2.55 kg

Did you find this content helpful?