New Review of the Blackmagic URSA 4K Camera

After seeing some fantastic slow-motion 4K footage that came out of the URSA camera and an excellent short experimental film called “Petit Bateau” that we recently covered on the blog, finally, we have a full featured review of the camera to share with you as well. On 4K Shooters, we’ve already discussed many of the 4K URSA features, however, it is always good to have a different point of view and another source of information to catch up with.

This video review presented by Corey from Faymus Media is not a scientific one by any means, however, it provides a ton of useful information and definitely deserves a closer look. In his review, Corey captured some great images in the heart of NYC, while testing out the features and playing around with the brand new EF URSA he shares his extensive thoughts about the camera in an improvised interview in the middle of Time Square.

Once again, as many other shooters, who already had the chance to test the camera, Corey included, confirmed that the 10 inch screen of the URSA has some undeniable qualities. The camera features possibly the best real 1080p display in terms of resolution and colour rendition one could ever see on a professional camera. Corey claims that the URSA’s 10″ LCD screen even outperforms the superb display of the Canon C300.

Regardless of the bulky weight of the camera body, the Blackmagic URSA can provide simultaneously video feed and additional information about the key settings of the camera such as live histogram, audio waveform, exposure settings, frame rates, white balance, and recording format on the 3 LCD displays while operating.

For instance, you can monitor your framing on the main screen, while checking your histogram, audio waveform and other settings on the smaller 5″ touch screens on both sides of the camera in real-time. On the audio side, the camera provides two industry standard XLR inputs with a Phantom power and superb audio preamps. The quality of the latter can be easily noticed as the Corey’s voice has been recorded in-camera in different parts of the review.

In terms of resolution, the URSA provides a sharper and cleaner image compared to Red Scarlet in 4K. No to mention that the URSA is an excellent slow motion camera, something the Red Scarlet couldn’t do in 4K with the older Mysterium-X sensor. If you want to shoot slow motion in 4K with the Red Scarlet you should purchase the Red Dragon Scarlet that will cost you at least $16,000 for the brain and an EF Mount.


Again, a brief look at the URSA specs:

  • 4 Versions – PL, EF, B4 and HDMI out (no sensor, basically a 4K recorder)
  • 3840 x 2160p Global Shutter CMOS Sensor
  • Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
  • 4K UHD up to 60fps
  • 12 Stops of Dynamic Range 
  • 10 inch 1080p Flip-Out LCD Screen
  • Dual 5″ Touchscreens for Menu Access
  • Records CinemaDNG RAW and Pro Res 422 HQ (plus LT/422/Proxy – via firmware update 1.9)
  • 12G-SDI Output for 10-Bit 4:2:2 4K
  • XLR Inputs (2 x) with Phantom Power
  • Dual CFast 2.0 Card Slots

The user-upgradable sensor is one of the other great assets of the URSA. After a year or two, for instance, when Blackmagic Design release a new better sensor option for the camera (most probably a third party one),  the URSA owners will have the option to switch to the newer technology by only taking out four screws on the front of the camera. It will take about 5 minutes and will be as easy as that.

Corey is pretty convinced that Blackmagic Design are planning to release a better low-light and higher resolution sensor than the current one shortly. Otherwise, why they did provide this feature? Further, the camera performs decently in low light situations and the best part is it has a global shutter which eliminates the dreaded rolling shutter effect or otherwise known as “the jello effect”.

According to Corey, the biggest downside of the URSA camera is its weight of more than 20 pounds with the accessories attached. Besides that, the camera is the perfect solution for many independent production houses and small film companies and freelance videographers who plan to shoot corporate gigs, music videos, live events, short or even feature films and almost anything else you can think of.

It’s too early for major predictions and reliable conclusions, however, considering the popularity of the current Blackmagic Design cameras and the attractive price point, it is safe to say that with a list price of $5,995 with EF mount, 4K (UHD), a global shutter, industry-standard and robust ProRes codecs, with onboard 4K RAW included, the URSA will harden the success of its predecessors and could even surpass it.


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One Response

  1. Justin Litton November 14, 2014

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