A reporter being filmed by the URSA Broadcast

At Blackmagic Design's product release yesterday, they put HD and UHD affordability at the utmost forefront and unveiled the URSA Broadcast camcorder. For a significantly low $3,395, the URSA Broadcast is a professional 4K camera begging to be the camera of choice for both live and studio productions.

Flexibility

One of the big key features the Blackmagic highlighted for the URSA Broadcast is its overall flexibility. For instance, the camera is compatible with older B4 HD lenses and even inexpensive photo lenses. Broadcasters will likely appreciate that the camera is flexible to their needs, allowing them to keep the lenses that they like and are used to if they want.

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And whether you’re out in the field shooting a live news broadcast or broadcasting from a studio, Blackmagic says that the URSA Broadcast has got you covered because of its compact, tough design along with its built-in color grading capabilities and overal image quality.

“Whether you’re in the studio or out in the field, URSA Broadcast will give you incredible image quality, accurate skin tones and vibrant colors that are far superior to cameras costing ten times more,” Blackmagic says.

What about the sensor?

As said before, the URSA Broadcast uses a 4K image sensor that’s designed to capture images with a wide depth of field in both HD and 4K UHD.

“The image sensor is designed for both HD and Ultra HD so you get amazing texture and detail, accurate skin tones, vibrant color and high dynamic range video, all without the need for post production,” says Blackmagic.

ND Filters

If you find yourself shooting on a very sunny day that’s leaving your image blown out, the URSA Broadcast has neutral density filters to decrease the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor, making proper exposure easier.

https://youtu.be/bmWpjOosgN4

The filters include 1/4, 1/16th and 1/64th stop filters and you can switch them pretty quickly when having the filter dial turned on.

Design

The camera’s been designed with a “super strong, lightweight” magnesium alloy body that’s should be easy to hold and carry out in the field. It features externally mounted mechanical switches and controls, like traditional broadcast cameras

There’s as a 4-inch fold out touchscreen for monitoring and controlling the camera.

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Slow-mo

The URSA Broadcast captures full resolution Ultra HD at up to 60 fps. When shooting slow motion, the URSA Broadcasts records at higher frame rates and then later plays back at more standard frame rates, allowing you to then setup the high speed frame rate and switch between standard sync speed and off speed frame rates.

Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Key Features

  • 4K sensor, extended video dynamic range, traditional external controls and buttons, built in optical ND filters, dual CFast and dual SD card recorders,
  • Advanced HD and Ultra HD broadcast camera with ?” B4 mount.
  • New extended video mode with better dynamic range and color fidelity producing images with amazing texture and detail, accurate skin tones, vibrant color and high dynamic range.
  • Full electronic B4 lens control support for adjusting focus, iris and zoom using the camera’s controls, or remotely from an ATEM switcher or ATEM Camera Control Panel.
  • Built in dual SD/UHS-II and CFast card recorders allow unlimited duration recording in high quality.
  • Records 1080i or 2160p video into standard .mov files using DNx145, DNx220X or ProRes for compatibility with existing broadcast systems and workflows. Standard .mxf will be added in future updates.
  • Support for DNxHD 220X, DNxHD 145, Apple ProRes 4444 XQ QuickTime, ProRes 4444 QuickTime, ProRes 422 HQ QuickTime, ProRes 422 QuickTime, ProRes 422 LT QuickTime and ProRes 422 Proxy QuickTime, CinemaDNG RAW, CinemaDNG RAW 3:1, CinemaDNG RAW 4:1.
  • High quality clear, 1/4, 1/16th and 1/64th stop neutral density (ND) filters with IR compensation designed to specifically match the colorimetry and color science of URSA Broadcast.
  • Fully redundant controls including external broadcast controls which allow direct access to the most important camera settings such as external power switch, ND filter wheel, ISO, shutter, white balance, record button, audio gain controls, lens and transport control, high frame rate button and more.
  • Interchangeable lens mount with B4 mount included as standard. Optional EF, PL and F mount available separately.
  • Status display for quickly checking timecode, shutter and lens settings, battery, recording status, and audio levels.
  • Features all standard connections, including dual XLR mic/line audio inputs with phantom power, 12G?SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay and separate XLR 4 pin power output for viewfinder power, headphone jack, LANC remote control and standard 4 pin 12V DC power connection.
  • Built in high quality stereo microphones for recording sound.
  • 4 inch foldout touchscreen for on-set monitoring and menu settings.
  • Blackmagic SDI Control Protocol for external control or iPad control via Bluetooth®, 2 x 2.5mm LANC for lens and record control.

Pricing and Availability

The URSA Broadcast is available now for just  $3,395, which is a price point closer to a DSLR than a interchangeable-lens studio or live production camera. You can learn more at blackmagicdesign.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Blackmagic Ursa Broadcast is not a news camera despite being advertised as both news and studio camera.


    This is a studio camera.


    But before I continue let me introduce myself. I work in the UK and have shot news for networks from the USA, Latin America, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Finland and Middle East countries. Being a freelancer for most of my career, I’ve worked with anything between 50 and 100 different reporters, some of them for several years.

    I’ve worked with tape based cameras and have been working only with card based cameras since the last ten years or so. I’ve worked with Sony, Panasonic, JVC and Ikegami cameras. I’ve also used Samsung and iPhone to shoot news in some specific situations. I edit on Final Cut X since 2013 and edited on Final Cut 6 and 7 before that. I also edited, many years ago, on linear machines Sony BVE 600, 900 and 2000.


    Going back to the Blackmagic camera, To shoot on interlaced mode is essential when you are doing news. The Ursa has only one option to shoot on interlaced mode : Avid’s DNx which Apple stopped supporting last year.
If you have Mac with Final Cut X you will not be able to edit news footage on interlaced mode. In other words, you won’t be able to edit news. Period.

    
Even if you have Avid or Adobe on your Mac it will be a very bumpy road to edit news footage shot with the Ursa broadcast . That is, if you manage to edit against a deadline at all.


    I have a five minutes interview shot with a camera which has H264 codec. I used the very best option for H264. The file is 1.7 GB. A 5 min test shot with the Ursa using DNx is 7 GB! And it took me ten minutes to convert it but even then I could not import the file to Final Cut X.


    It seems that Catalina will reintroduce DNx in Macs but that won’t make for any revolutionary change as it is just too impractical to edit news with a codec such as DNx because of its size.
Blackmagic mentioned the addition of mxf but that was back in February last year and nothing happened so far. They have no plans to add a proper news codec such as H264 or H265.


    The top handle of the camera is not suitable for news work, a job where the cameraman or camerawoman has quite often to walk long distances during a day of work and needs to hold the camera by its top handle with a firm grip, which is not possible with the Ursa Broadcast unless you are left handed.

    If you are right handed, like most camera crew, you won’t be able to hold the camera using your right hand because the mic mount is very obtrusive, will hurt your fingers and makes the useable area of the top handle shorter than it is already.
And I am talking about normal sized hands. A cameraman with big hands won’t even be able to hold the camera at all with his right hand!
 He won’t have this problem with news cameras from Sony, Panasonic or JVC.

    Actually, I have the mic mount box right here. It is for Ursa Mini, not for the Ursa Broadcast. Blackmagic didn’t design a proper top handle compatible with news work. They just used the one they had already. No need to change the name on the box.


    They were thinking studio when they designed the Ursa broadcast.

    They didn’t think that whilst cameras such as the Mini ( used for studio, commercial, films etc) do not need a shot gun mic a news camera must have a shotgun.
There is not a single functioning news camera in the planet that doesn’t have a shotgun mic. You need a shotgun mic the same way you need a top light to shoot news.

    Both top light and shotgun placements are awkward on the Ursa. And so are the XLR inputs, which are placed on the top of the camera! Again, they were thinking studio, not news

    .
The top handle is important in order to walk with the camera ( many prefer shoulder straps but the Ursa doesn’t have a place for them anyway) but it is also important because news cameramen and camerawomen shoot with the camera on a tripod, on the shoulder and also holding the camera either by its body or the top handle ( I would say mainly the top handle).
You can’t shoot with the Ursa holding it by the top handle unless you are left handed. Even then it won’t be as comfortable as it is with just about every other news camera I worked with (Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Ikegami) because the arm for the top light is a little obtrusive and stays a bit in the way of the left hand .


    The camera is too power hungry. IDX told me that the Ursa needs 10A batteries. So, be ready to carry an extra bag just with batteries if you will be shooting out there the whole day long as it happens many times in news shooting.
Of course, batteries are not a problem in a studio, where the Ursa broadcast belongs to.


    On the affordability of the camera: It will cost $9,368 without body armour or rain cover at a well known shop in New York. Shipping and taxes not included.
if you want to add a Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converter then you will need to add $2,995 to the $9, 368, making for $12,363 USD. I would like to know where is this magic place that is selling a fully outfitted Ursa broadcast camera with fiber converter for less than $10,000 as Blackmagic US claims.

    
You will need to spend about $400 on a body armour, which is also essential because it has a raincover. A raincover will cost less but you can’t have it on the camera all the time.
I am assuming that you already have a tripod head with a payload of 12 kg . If yours is 8kg, for example, you will need to buy another tripod because a complete Ursa with battery plus the tripod plate and raincover will weigh 10 kg and the legs for a head with a payload of 12 kg (100 mm bowl) are different from the legs for a head with a payload of 8 or 10 kg (75 mm bowl).


  2. The URSA Broadcast is available now for just $3,395.
    This is very misleading. A complete camera with lens, viewfinder, raincover etc will cost $10,000

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