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Review: Blackmagic URSA Broadcast and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

In this tutorial I'll look at two new cameras from Blackmagic Design: the URSA Broadcast, a 4K camera; and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, which is an update to the previous URSA Mini 4.6K.

In this tutorial I’ll look at two new cameras from Blackmagic Design: the URSA Broadcast, a 4K camera (Figure 1, below); and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, which is an update to the previous URSA Mini 4.6K (Figure 2, below Figure 1). These cameras are very similar but there are several key differences, and I want to show you both and then point out those differences so you can know which one would be the best for your work.

Figure 1. Blackmagic URSA Broadcast

Figure 2. Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K

URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

Let's start by looking at the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K. The first thing you'll notice about these two cameras is how similar they are and, in fact, without accessories, the bodies themselves would be identical in appearance. The URSA Mini Pro comes with an EF mount by default, which holds Canon lenses, but you can get several other lens mount options if you need that as well. It’s designed to be a cinema-style camera, so it doesn't have a lot of features that would be typical for video cameras, because it's expecting you to do things like second-system audio, for example. It does have a built-in mic on top, but most pros would use an on-camera mic mainly just for syncing up other audio later with an app, something like PluralEyes.

On the front, of course, is the lens mount, and if you take off the lens you can see inside to the 4.6K sensor that's behind it. One of the most noticeable changes on the front of the camera over the previous generation of the URSA Mini is the addition of the rotating wheel shown in Figure 3 (below). It’s a physical ND filter with four stages numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. (Actually, the 1 setting is no ND filter, so it might have made more sense to call that 0 and number the others 1,2, and 3. The dial goes all the way around, so if you get to 4--the darkest ND setting--and keep going, it goes all the way back to no ND at all.

Figure 3. The ND filter dial goes from 1 (no ND filter) to 4. Click the image to see it at full size.

On the right side of the camera (Figure 4, below), there’s an SDI out and there's a 12v out. The SDI out is typically going to be used for the viewfinder, like we have on the Broadcast, and the 12v also would provide the power for that viewfinder. Below that, there's an LANC controller for lenses that have that option and then a separate lens controller here. The rosette that's built in here is designed for the control handle that comes with all of the cameras.

Figure 4. SDI out, 12v out, and LANC controller on the right side of the URSA Mini Pro. Click the image to see it at full size.

On the back side (Figure 5, below), we have SDI out, which is a 12G-SDI, SDI in, reference or timecode in, and then a 12v 4-pin adapter here as well. In Figure 5, you'll see that I've kind of modified my version a little bit by putting some Velcro on it, because I was using an atypical power source for this, but typically this would be a VLock battery mount. The Pro that was shipped to me had an SSD recorder on the back and the VLock battery mount was on the back of that. I've removed that so I could put my battery directly on the back. Normally there's a cover plate that would cover that opening, but this is where you would connect in with the other accessories that go on the back of the camera.

Figure 5. Back of the URSA Mini Pro. Click the image to see it at full size.

On the left side of the camera (Figure 6, below) is where most of your controls are, because most operators stand to the left side of the camera. Another major change Blackmagic has made on this generation of the URSA Mini versus the previous generation is the addition of lots of controls outside of the LCD screen.

Figure 6. Controls on the left side of the camera. Click the image to see it at full size.

The LCD screen that flips out on the left side (Figure 7, below) used to have a lot of controls behind it or on it through the menu system that you would have to access just for some basic operation of the camera, but they've improved on that by adding a lot of physical dials and a display on the outside that now shows you many of those common functions. So we have two physical wheels to control audio volume. There are some basic functions here, which will all show on the screen including your timecode, whether it's constant running timecode or timecode that only starts when you do your recording.

Figure 7. Controls behind the LCD screen. Click the image to see it at full size.