Even though many of you might consider this type of comparison videos to be somewhat irrelevant and outdated in 2016, it’s still interesting to see how far the Blackmagic Design’s camera technology has come, especially in regards to image quality and colour science. And, what a better way to put things into perspective by comparing the URSA Mini 4.6K to the golden digital standard – the almighty Arri Alexa XT.
The Australian based cinematographer John Brawley, one of the prominent and close collaborators of Blackmagic Design throughout the recent years, decided to put the latest URSA Mini 4.6K and the Arri Alexa XT to the test. The video comparison was shot using Cooke S4 lenses and both cameras were exposed for ISO 800. Brawley set up a 3200K Tungsten balanced studio lighting setup and then shot the Ursa Mini 4.6K in RAW. He did the same with the Alexa XT by shooting ARRI Raw.
You can see the results in the video comparison below. If possible, watch it in 4K for best viewing experience.
As John Brawley states, besides the small amount of IR contamination in the blacks of the URSA Mini 4.6 footage, the camera stacks up indeed very well against the ALEXA when shooting RAW. As we can see from the video above, intercutting between those two cameras can be done seamlessly and flawlessly in post. It’s also worth noting that John Brawley utilised a Mitomo True ND6 filter on both cameras. According to the cinematographer, it’s possible that these artefacts in the URSA Mini footage could be a result of the utilised ND’s.
Whatever the case, we should admit that the URSA Mini 4.6K produces very high-quality film-like images, with decent highlight rolloff and color fidelity. Considering the price of the BM flagship camera, it seems to be a viable option for many independent filmmakers working on a shoestring budget. With it’s Super 35mm CMOS sensor, excessive dynamic range, compressed Raw recording along with the ready-to-edit ProRes support and its handheld friendly form factor, the URSA Mini 4.6K can be used for many different styles of filmmaking.
Ultimately, with an effective resolution of 4608 x 2592, the sensor housed inside the URSA Mini can capture motion pictures that have greater resolution than Arri Alexa. Plus, its wide exposure latitude allows for greater control in post, enabling highlight recovery while keeping the shadows clean from noise artifacts. If you’d like the see the exact lighting setup scheme of the shootout as well as more details regarding the video test, head over to John Brawley’s blog here.