Thread: Ursa Mini 4K vs. Sony A7s ii vs. waiting...

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  1. #1 Ursa Mini 4K vs. Sony A7s ii vs. waiting... 
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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm a writer/director with a background in post-production. Looking to purchase my own camera due to frequency of shoots and building my own knowledge of lighting/camera work, etc. without having to go out and rent gear every single time.

    My focus will be on mostly narrative work, but in that there's a lot of small, micro budget aspects that sometimes push you into the guerrilla filmmaking zone, limited resources, etc.

    I originally wanted to go for the Ursa Mini Pro 4.6k, but after adding up all the accessories, lenses, and so forth, I was getting a number out of my budget. Frankly, I feel it's too much for what I'm doing to start. Instead my focus shifted to the Sony A7S ii. I've used it before and even matched some of its footage to a RED Epic (shooting in log space) so I feel comfortable with its video performance if handled correctly (though the 8-bit is not ideal in the least).

    I do keep hearing rumors of the A7S iii... which wasn't announced at CES this year. Still, some people insist they will have it this year due to Panasonic's GH5s being released (possibly NAB). What attracts me to the A7S ii, is its performance in low light, size and price. Although if the iii came out, I'd hope for 10 bit 4:2:2 instead of the 8 bit 4:2:0. But a lot of those same rumors don't necessarily mention an increase in bit depth... but who knows!

    Then I looked into the URSA MINI 4K, which isn't a bad price and within my budget.

    I do have a couple Q's though:

    Does anyone have any feedback about the Ursa Mini 4K in general? I've heard mixed results, with a lot of people blaming the critics lack of lighting skills and unrealistic expectations for their dissatisfaction with the Ursa Mini 4K.

    I'm attracted to it because of its shooting options including RAW, Prores 444 and 422. I'm definitely familiar with appropriate lighting so I understand how cinema cameras differ from the mirrorless and DSLRs out there in terms of lighting vs run and gun. I would love to be able to start out with a camera such as this since it will force me to grow in lighting/production due to its requirements. But I didn't want to get into a camera that was just flat-out faulty as some reviewers describe the Ursa Mini.

    Thoughts?

    Thank you!
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  2. #2  
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    The probability that an A7S III would record 10-bit is quite small, as the A7R III doesn't.

    I can understand the attraction to the low light performance of that camera, but in controlled narrative work that should play an unimportant role. When going guerrilla filmmaking that is a different thing and good low light performance is great to have.
    On the other hand I always found those examples shot in very low light looking very artificial and unpleasant because of the mixed lighting and restricted color spectrum.

    You have to consider that most of those so-called low-light performers do heavy in camera noise reduction, which - afaik - can't be turned off in Sony Alphas.
    Blackmagic does no noise reduction in camera, but I was able to push ISO1600 footage from my Ursa Mini 4.6k for several stops by using noise reduction in post.

    If you wanna get the Blackmagic route then save up for the Mini 4.6k - it is definitely worth the additional costs over the Mini 4k. Don't forget you have to by IRND filters for the Mini 4k, while those are already built-in with the Mini Pro. And you could start without a compendium with the Mini Pro, while you need one for the filters for the Mini 4k (unless you buy screw-on filter).

    Regarding the Sony Alpha: I've heard from friends that they were not happy with the handling of functions and menu structure.
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  3. #3  
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    I agree about the NR. Another reason to purchase a BM camera and have access to the full Resolve with NR capability.

    I've used the Sony A7s ii before, and the menu structure is a mess. Not user friendly at all.

    I would of course love to grab the Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K.. it's just way out of my budget. And saving would place me in that position of not shooting a lot of content I want to get going on for a while. I was viewing this as more of an opportunity to learn with a solid camera, and possibly purchase some nice glass that I would be able to use down the road when I do upgrade to the more recent models with improved sensors and camera options.

    That being said I totally understand where you're coming from, but probably need to find a happy medium without having to go all in on the Pro 4.6K.

    Is the Mini 4K a bad camera in your experience? And not worth the decreased price tag?
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  4. #4  
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    Don't you thinking about getting Micro Cinema Camera? With proper rigging, some add-ons, OLPF filter and Color Checker Chart it is very usable and produce really perfect colors and look. All kit will be around $2K-$2.5K but it is cheaper than Sony cameras or any other similar setups.
    Another nice option is Canon C200

    A lot of rig examples collected here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z4ly1jdtp...Q7kHwmkOa?dl=0


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  5. #5  
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    No offense but it's perfectly useable without a color checker chart or OLPF.
    We have a pair of Micros in our kit, producing commercial work, broadcast and web, that have nothing more than a Small Rig cage and 3.5" VF and loupe...no rods or extra power or remotes.
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  6. #6  
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    Yeah I was looking at those as well.. but those are just 1080p correct? So an external recorder for 4k... Hmmm.. I guess I'll check into it more.. see everything I could get for it and what the peak level of performance would be (technically speaking).

    So would you guys vote for this over the Mini 4K? If so, why?
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member shijan's Avatar
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    Everything is usable. Color checker just makes color correction starting point simpler and OLPF allow to shoot RAW without crazy accident rainbow aliasing artifacts.

    There was a thread where someone was disappointed with hard aliasing patterns even on UM4.6K during furniture shoot in studio.




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  8. #8  
    Haha, damnit Shijan! Quit showing off your amazing BMMCC kit! It's giving me ideas...
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  9. #9  
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    Wow - what a difference. I think regardless of whether I go for the Mini 4K or Micro Cinema, I'm going to get that OLPF. Just watched their video tests on Vimeo.
    Last edited by sohara24; 01-17-2018 at 05:59 PM.
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  10. #10 Gh5s? 
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    Was the Panasonic GH5s (with speedbooserb) out of the question?
    There is also the potential Nikon mirrorless offering coming in a few months.
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