Tag Archives: camera

Review: Blackmagic’s Ursa Mini 4.6K camera

By David Hurd

I have already tested two of Blackmagic’s cameras, and I found both of them to be a great value for the money. This left me with great expectations for the Ursa Mini 4.6K camera.

The Ursa Mini 4.6K feels like a very solid, well-built camera. I spent 15 years on broadcast sports trucks, and this camera has that rock-solid feel to it, and for only a fraction of the price.

This camera has had some software updates since it was first released. The magenta cast issues with the sensor, which required additional color correction in the first run of cameras is gone, and everything looks great in the camera that I’ve been testing. Even without a global shutter, the rolling shutter on the camera looks great compared to DSLRs and delivers a usable shutter and smooth motion when I tweaked it in FCPX.

David with the Ursa Mini.

I used the flip-out screen outdoors in fairly bright sunlight in a park with some tree cover, and it worked fine for framing and focus. Since you need the screen to control the camera settings, you might want to consider a sun hood if you are in extremely bright locations. This will make the screen non-collapsible, but you really do need to see what you’re doing.

Blackmagic sent me the Ursa Mini 4.6K, EVF (Electric View Finder), along with the follow focus and shoulder pad kits. I used my set of Rokinon prime lenses and my Petroff matte box, rods and follow focus. The Ursa Mini 4.6K, with its solid magnesium body, is manageable for even us older guys. I like the weight and the feel of the camera without the matte box and follow focus for extended hand-held shoots. If I’m using a tripod or a slider, it’s nice to have a matte box and follow focus.

There’s really a lot of stuff going on with this little camera. The shoulder mount works better on tripods with small camera plates. My Miller plate digs into my shoulder a bit, but it’s easy to fix by simply unscrewing my tripod plate while doing handheld.

The rotatable side handle is really nicely done, and it’s easy to adjust it to fit your body. If you’re used to making your own rig, with parts hanging everywhere, the side handle and shoulder pad will give you a welcome feeling of tight control. It also has iris control and LANC control for stop/start.

On the backside of the LCD screen there are several handy controls. In addition to Record, Iris, Focus, and Playback controls, there are two programmable function buttons. These come in very handy and are easy to reach when the LCD screen is closed and you’re using the viewfinder.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Ursa Mini 4.6K is a compact wonder. It’s small, yet easy to adjust for comfortable viewing. The HD display not only looks great but has a zoom and programmable function buttons on the top the unit, which come in very handy. I like to use the zoom and the peak buttons to check focus with my left hand, while my right hand is on the handle grip. It’s really easy to do without looking.

With my old BMD MFT Cinema camera, a T1.5 Rokinon lens and a Meta-bones speed adapter, I could practically shoot in the dark at 1600 ISO. The Ursa Mini 4.6K is not a great low-light camera; its native 800 ISO can be pushed to 1600 without too much noise in the image, but it really likes stop or two of light.

The Ursa Mini 4.6K has two XLR inputs mounted directly behind the handle on the top of the camera. These two channels of audio can use the onboard mics for scratch audio, or you can plug a microphone into the XLRs.

The nice thing about this camera is that it has phantom power to power your shotgun mics. I recorded a violin performance outdoors with a Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic plugged right into the camera. I used a blimp and dead cat to control the wind noise, and ended up with amazing audio. This camera has the best audio of any BMD camera that I’ve tested.

The controls for the audio levels are under the LCD monitor panel, which makes it kind of hard to adjust when you’re using the viewfinder and the LCD panel is closed, but since the menu, power buttons and media slots are under there as well, you get used to it.

Media Cards
So let’s talk a bit about media. Since my other two Blackmagic cameras use SSD media, I have a HighPoint Rocketstor 5212 Thunderbolt drive dock already installed on my Mac.

After doing some research, I decided to use the 256GB Lexar 3500x CFast cards and their Workflow CR2 Thunderbolt/USB3.0 CFast card reader. They are very reliable cards with a good reputation, which is everything when you’re talking data storage. The upside to these cards is that they are located safely inside the camera and are very small in size. The downside is how often you would have to change them when shooting full-blown 4.6K footage.

I shoot a lot of 4K ProRes HQ footage, which doesn’t create too large of a file; one 256GB card will record about 26 minutes of footage. If you have a DIT on set, it’s no problem, but if you’re a one-man band, you will need a bunch of cards. I’m sure the cards will continue to come down in price over time, making them more attractive cost wise.

There is another solution however, and it’s called the Atoch C2S. It mounts on a short arm and has two slots for SSDs. It has two short cables, which plug into your two CFast slots, and a power cable, which plugs into the base of your battery mount at the back of your camera.

Summing Up
The Ursa Mini 4.6K is as solid as a rock, and it really feels like a serious camera. There is a lot of information available on the LCD monitor, and the touchscreen feature let’s you change settings via touch rather than scrolling through a menu. It’s an outstanding value for the money.


David Hurd is a 40-year industry veteran. He owns David Hurd Productions in Tampa, Florida.

JVC GY-LS300CH camera offering 4K 4:2:2 recording, 60p output

JVC has announced version 4.0 of the firmware for its GY-LS300CH 4KCAM Super 35 handheld camcorder. The new firmware increases color resolution to 4:2:2 (8-bit) for 4K recording at 24/25/30p onboard to SDXC media cards. In addition, the IP remote function now allows remote control and image viewing in 4K. When using 4K 4:2:2 recording mode, the video output from the HDMI/SDI terminals is HD.

The GY-LS300CH also now has the ability to output Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) video at 60/50p via its HDMI 2.0b port. Through JVC’s partnership with Atomos, the GY-LS300CH integrates with the new Ninja Inferno and Shogun Inferno monitor recorders, triggering recording from the camera’s start/stop operation. Plus, when the camera is set to J-Log1 gamma recording mode, the Atomos units will record the HDR footage and display it on their integrated, 7-inch monitors.

“The upgrades included in our Version 4.0 firmware provide performance enhancements for high raster recording and IP remote capability in 4K, adding even more content creation flexibility to the GY-LS300CH,” says Craig Yanagi, product marketing manager at JVC. “Seamless integration with the new Ninja Inferno will help deliver 60p to our customers and allow them to produce outstanding footage for a variety of 4K and UHD productions.”

Designed for cinematographers, documentarians and broadcast production departments, the GY-LS300CH features JVC’s 4K Super 35 CMOS sensor and a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount. With its “Variable Scan Mapping” technology, the GY-LS300CH adjusts the sensor to provide native support for MFT, PL, EF and other lenses, which connect to the camera via third-party adapters. Other features include Prime Zoom, which allows shooters using fixed-focal (prime) lenses to zoom in and out without loss of resolution or depth, and a built-in HD streaming engine with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity for live HD transmission directly to hardware decoders as well as JVCVideocloud, Facebook Live and other CDNs.

The Version 4.0 firmware upgrade is free of charge for all current GY-LS300CH owners and will be available in late May.

Lytro camera allows capture of massive light field data on all frames

Imagine if your camera could capture the entire light field of a scene in 3D, turning every frame into a three-dimensional model? That is the idea behind the Lytro Cinema system, which uses Light Field technology to capture massive amounts of information per frame, allowing you to control the depth of field, hence, creating more flexibility in post. Oh, and it captures 300 frames per second, adding a level of speed control, including adjustable motion blur, that was previously limited to the live-action process.

In a video released by the company, Brendan Bevensee, lead engineer for Light Field Cideo/Lytro, said Light Field cinematography allows “the ability to capture everything about a scene — from different perspectives,different focal planes and different apertures. Every pixel now has color properties and directional properties, as well as exact placement in 3D space. Essentially we have a virtual camera that can be controlled in post production.”

Lytro says their capture system enables “the complete virtualization of the live-action camera —transforming creative camera controls from fixed, on-set decisions to computational post processes.”

In the aforementioned video, the head of Light Field Video/Lytro Jon Karafin said, “Lytro Cinema offers an infinite ability to focus anywhere in your scene. You have the infinite ability to focus and create any aperture or any depth of field. You can shift your camera to the left or to the right, as if you made that exact decision on set. It can even move your camera in and out. Automated camera tracking removes that tedious task of integration and matching. It has all of the volume, all of that depth information that easily allows you to composite and matte your CG objects. With Depth Screen it’s as if you have a greenscreen for every object, but it’s not limited to any one object, it’s anywhere in space.”

The rich dataset captured by the system produces a Light Field master that can be rendered in any format in post, allowing for a range of creative possibilities. The Light Field Master enables creators to render content in multiple formats —including IMAX, RealD and traditional cinema and broadcast at variable frame rates and shutter angles.

“Lytro has always been a company thinking about what the future of imaging will be,” said Ted Schilowitz, futurist at Fox Studios. “There are a lot of companies that have been applying new technologies and finding better ways to create cinematic content, and they are all looking for better ways and better tools to achieve live-action, highly immersive content. Lytro is focusing on getting a much bigger, better and more sophisticated cinematography-level dataset that can then flow through the VFX pipeline and modernize that world.”

Lytro Cinema offers:
— A sensor that offers 755 RAW megapixels at up to 300fps.
—Up to 16 stops of dynamic range and wide color gamut.
—Integrated high-resolution active scanning.

The Lytro Cinema package includes a camera, a server array for storage and processing — which can also be done in the cloud — and software to edit Light Field data. The entire system integrates into existing production and post workflows, working in tandem with popular industry standard tools.

Life the first short produced with Lytro Cinema in association with The Virtual Reality Company (VRC) will premiere at NAB on April 19 at 4pm PST in Room S222. Life was directed by Academy Award-winner Robert Stromberg, CCO at VRC (The Virtual Reality Company), and shot by David Stump, ASC, chief imaging scientist at VRC.

Senior finishing artist at Light Iron New York Katie Hinsen sees the possibilities. “The coolest thing about Lytro’s tech is that it captures the whole light field coming in to it, rather than a flat representation of the scene. So you can change focus in post, where you could pull stuff out that isn’t there. Basically, once you take a picture it’s still alive. Imagine you take a photo (or a video, now), and it’s got issues. With Lytro you’re capturing all the light information of the scene, not the image. So it’s all there and you can change it.”

Lytro Cinema will be available for production in Q3 of 2016 to exclusive partners on a subscription basis.

Arri updating Amira software to include 4K UHD, MPEG-2 MXF recording

Arri has released Software Update Packet (SUP) 2.0 for its Amira cameras, and announced the subsequent release of SUP 3.0, which is scheduled for release in mid-2015. The former unlocks 4K UHD recording for high-resolution pipelines, while the latter enables MPEG-2 MXF recording for streamlined, broadcast-friendly workflows.

The Amira targets productions ranging from documentaries, news reporting and corporate films to TV and low-budget movies. These two major software updates respond specifically to customer requests and industry trends.

The key new feature of Amira SUP 3.0 is the ability to record MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper. This XDCAM-compatible MPEG-2 recording format allows television productions to take advantage of Amira’s image quality and ergonomics, while using a low-bandwidth codec that can easily be integrated into typical broadcast environments and workflows.

Recording MPEG-2 MXF with Amira ensures 100 percent compatibility with the format already used by many low-budget or time-pressured television productions, for which a streamlined workflow through ingest, editing and post is key. This cost-efficient format minimizes the number of memory cards needed on set, but also reduces post and archiving costs through reduced data rates and seamless integration with standard tools.

To help further integration of Amira into television production environments, a new audio accessory will be released. Taking the form of an extension to the back of the camera body, it will equip Amira with a slot for a portable audio tuner/receiver. This will allow signals to be received wirelessly from either the sound recordist’s mixer or straight from radio microphones, accommodating the needs of ENG-style productions that capture audio directly in-camera, but value the most cable-free configuration possible.

NAB: AJA’s Bryce Button talks about the new Cion 4K camera

Las Vegas — At NAB, AJA turned heads with the introduction of its new camera. That’s right, an AJA camera: the Cion. While there were some rumblings prior to AJA’s announcement just before the show opened, it was still a kick to hear president Nick Rasby describe the shoulder-mount 4K/UHD/2K/HD offering. And when they announced the price ($8,995) there was an audible gasp in the room… a room filled with your typically cynical journalists. The camera will be available for purchase this summer.

Cion, which is based on the Apple ProRes family of codecs — including 12-bit 444 — comes with Thunderbolt connectivity and allows for PL Mount glass. According to the company, they opted for ProRes codecs because they are well established in many post workflows and offer wide compatibility with editing, color correction and finishing apps. Continue reading

Arri Amira camera shipping in April, new software update for Alexa

Las Vegas —  Arri is at NAB this year with its new documentary-style camera, the Amira. It ships this month and will be available in a range of upgradeable packages. In other Arri news the Alexa is getting a free software update packet, the SUP 10.0.

First let’s dig into Amira news. The camera offers high-quality images and CFast 2.0 workflows with a design optimized for single-operator use and extended shoulder-mounted operation. Amira features in-camera grading with preloaded 3D LUTs, as well as 200fps slow motion. It is suitable for a variety of productions, from reporting and corporate films to TV drama and low-budget films.

The 3D LUTs are designed to help productions get into post more quickly. These 3D LUT-based looks that can be applied on set during the shoot. Alternatively, productions can Continue reading

GoPro intros Hero3+, smaller, lighter, more battery

SAN MATEO, CA – GoPro (www.gopro.com) is offering a new line of cameras called the Hero3+ that  feature a 20 percent smaller and lighter design and 30 smaller better battery life than previous models. Upgrades include an improved lens and new easier to use video capture modes.

GoPro is also offering new mounting accessories that will allow users to capture footage in even more immersive environments, during activity.

The HERO3+ Black Edition offers:
New housing yields a 20% smaller and lighter overall package when camera is installed in housing (waterproof to 40m)
• 30% longer battery life
• 4x faster Wi-Fi for quicker transfer and playback of photos and videos from your Hero3+ camera to your mobile device when using the GoPro App
• SuperView is a new video mode that captures the world’s most immersive wide-angle perspective
• Auto Low Light mode intelligently adjusts frame rate for varying lighting conditions
• A new lens for sharper video and improved image quality

The HERO3+ Black Edition camera has a suggested retail price of $399.99.

The HERO3+ Silver Edition –
• 2x faster image processor than the Hero3: Silver Edition
• Enables 1080p60 and 720p120 fps video
• Innovative new housing yields a 20% smaller and lighter overall package when camera is installed in housing (waterproof to 40m)
• 4x faster Wi-Fi for quicker transfer and playback of photos and videos from your Hero3+ camera to your mobile device when using the GoPro App.

The Hero3+ Silver Edition camera has a suggested retail price of $299.99.

New mounts include:

• Jaws Flex Clamp Mount – A quick way to clamp your GoPro camera to a variety of objects. Use the optional opposable neck to achieve a wide range of camera positioning and adjustability. Jaws securely grips irregular shapes and super slim objects thanks to its innovative design.

• Junior Chest Harness – A smaller version of our adult-sized Chest Harness. Perfect for kids ages 3+, the Junior Chest Harness is great for capturing immersive footage of a child’s world from their perspective—from skiing and skateboarding to slides and swings.

• Headstrap and QuickClip – The QuickClip is a new accessory that now comes bundled with GoPro’s Headstrap. The QuickClip enables ultra-compact, low-profile mounting to baseball hats, belts and other objects ranging in thickness from 3mm to 10mm.

Studio 2.0 for edits and sharing is a simple to use storyboard-based video editing software for Windows or Mac. It allows for manually creating a video with transitions, titles, and soundtrack. Studio 2.0 is available for free download on GoPro.com