Considering the flood of camera announcements this year it should come as no surprise that there is a near endless stream of side-by-side comparisons taking the new system and putting them up against the classics. In this case it is Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro 12K, a seriously impressive release, against the much-loved ARRI ALEXA Classic. Two similar cameras that couldn’t be more different in specs.
Jae, of JSFILMZ, is one of the content creators interested in this comparison and was able to put them in the same scenarios to see the differences. We are talking many years separating these two cameras, so it’ll be very interesting to see how things have both changed and not changed over time.
The best part of this comparison is that Jae provided a download link for the actual footage. That means you can enjoy footage free of YouTube’s terrible compression.
Even with the compression and editing, Jae points out that he only does basic primary corrections. Going too far gets into grading territory and at that point the changes are so dramatic it becomes much harder to judge the footage against one another.
Lens choice for this comparison is simple, just a Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 with a Firecrest 1.2 IRND Filter on the front. Then he set things up for a simple and straightforward shot of a model. There are some trees and detail in the background to help with the comparison as well as a couple color charts.
For the color conversions, the ARRI footage was set to ARRI Rec.709 and the URSA 12K was set to Extended Video Dynamic Range. And, just on first glance, it’s just ridiculous to think that an ALEXA Classic can hold up so well against a brand-new 12K release. ARRI still shines when it comes to their colors and highlight roll off. Granted, Blackmagic has been improving here but it hasn’t exactly been their strength.
As Jae points out, Blackmagic seems to struggle with lots of greens, such as with trees and grass. He does still likes the URSA Mini Pro 12K as it is still very, very good.
They are improving so much. Plus, a decent colorist can probably match the URSA to the ALEXA. If you weren’t putting the footage side-by-side with an ALEXA you might not even notice it all that much. ARRI has their reputation for a reason.
If you look deeper at the comparison, you will see a lot of extra detail in the Blackmagic footage. It makes sense considering you are comparing a 2.8K image from an ALEXA to a 12K image from the URSA.
But it also shows how much resolution doesn’t matter depending on your target. Keep in mind, plenty of films were shot on an original ALEXA and they hold up just fine today. Things like dynamic range and color make a big difference.
Still, it’s worth considering that an URSA 12K comes in way cheaper than an ALEXA Classic did when it came out. It’s great to see more powerful equipment in reach of more filmmakers today. And, if you want to see more JSFILMZ is planning a few more tests.
Did you have any of your own thoughts on the comparison? Anything you would add or like to see more of?
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