Blackmagic Design has released the URSA Mini digital film camera for $3,000. It is a compact, handheld camcorder, but it isn’t built for home movies or outings. It is built for professional use to shoot cinema-quality movies, commercials, among other things. The URSA Mini is a more compact version of the original URSA, which is a modular production camera competing with the likes of the highly acclaimed $20,000+ Red Scarlet, and Canon C100.
‘Blackmagic URSA Mini is designed to be used on feature films, television shows, commercials, indies, documentaries, music videos and more. The stunning quality of its 4.6K sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range lets customers capture epic cinematic shots, while its compact size is perfect for solo shoots or smaller crews.’
Before I get your hopes up for this incredibly low-priced cinema-quality camera any further, i’ll let you down first: The Blackmagic URSA models use C-Fast memory cards. Unfortunately, C-Fast cards cost an arm and a leg. For example: a 64GB Atmos C-Fast card costs $160. C-Fast cards are terribly expensive compared to the removable SSDs (Solid State Drives) that the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) and Blackmagic Production Camera (BMPC) use. $95 could easily fetch you a 250GB SSD.
Fortunately, every cloud has a silver lining: According to the press release, the URSA Mini has two C-Fast memory card slots which enable you to swap out one card without interrupting your recording. This is especially useful for press conferences, which can only be shot in one take. Now to let you down one more time: Faymusmedia commented that a 60GB C-Fast card can only store an 8-minute ProRes recording (and 4 minutes of RAW) if using the bigger 4K Blackmagic URSA.
Now let’s get back to the good news. Some of the Blackmagic URSA Mini models can record in 4.6K (4608 x 2592 pixels) at 60 FPS (Frames Per Second), which is well above the 25 FPS that most cameras can do. Even the 5″ viewfinder is 1080p HD (192 x 1080). The URSA Mini 4K has dual ProRes and RAW recorders, and a copy of the DaVinci Resolve video editor (it’s worth noting that DaVinci Resolve can run on Linux). Decent video editors are very hard to come by on Linux.
While all of Blackmagic Design’s cameras come with unusually low price tags, and some with exceptionally small bodies (like the pocket cinema camera) they aren’t too good to be true. It doesn’t appear that they compromised durability. The URSA Mini’s magnesium alloy construction shouldn’t crystallize or crack any time soon. Magnesium is a lightweight, but strong metal. Like all metals, magnesium can constructed in such a way that makes it brittle. While this is unlikely, it is something to watch out for.
There are four Blackmagic URSA Mini camera models to choose from: The $2,995 URSA Mini 4K EF, the $3,495 4K PL, the $4,995 4.6K EF, and the $5,495 4.6K PL. It is very clear which models are economically better for the short term, but if you must be on the cutting edge of technology and can afford them, the 4.6K models are on their way, and you will still pay far less than you would for their competition. All Blackmagic URSA Mini cameras will go on sale in July.