Thread: Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G2 first thoughts and footage

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  1. #1 Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G2 first thoughts and footage 
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    Hello guys, I've filmed a couple of things with the new G2 and currently preparing for a big project next month. I wanted to give some quick feedback here for the ones that are considering the update.

    First the footage:

    This is a video I created to test the slow motion and low-light of the camera. Slow motion is at 4.6K 120fps and 2K 300fps as well as Anamorphic 3K at 150fps. All shots use some level of the internal NDs except the night shots at the end.


    This is a video I shot during a fashion shoot. The main shoot was on the Pocket4K but I had just received the G2 so I brought it along to capture some quick shots. In the beginning of the video I'm doing some 360 follows and quick pans while following the model in order to get a first taste of the motion of the camera. The rest are high dynamic range 120/300fps shots.

    Both videos are filmed using Contax Zeiss MM lenses, more specifically the 35/1.4, 50/1.4 and 85/1.4. The anamorphic shots are with the ISCO Ultrastar RED cinemascope.


    Here is a quick summary of what I think of highlights:
    - I will mention it first because I believe it's the biggest and most significant point. Although it's hard to advertise something that can't be boasted with numbers (for example "8K resolution!") the motion is different from camera to camera. Some people call it motion "cadence", others simply the "feel" or "look" of the motion. It's one of those things that you can't really pixel-peep and you need moving objects and/or camera movement in a full clip to perceive. It is interconnected of course with the sensor readout speed and the shutter speed. The G2, with 120fps at full sensor readout, is one of the few cameras that can provide this fast readout. With 7.6ms it's only 1ms slower than the Alexa (but at higher resolution so it's faster at Alexa's equal resolution) and faster than the RED Gemini (which does 96fps at full sensor) it approaches to film level (estimated at around 5ms). For comparison the first UMP and Pocket4K have 14~16ms at full sensor - which is still highly and very well regarded. These are just numbers but how do they change things in practise? The easy thing to talk about it's the lack of rolling shutter artifacts, which is great but never had any problems with it on the first UMP anyways. It's good that it's much better now of course. What had a very big impact to my eyes though was the motion. It's something very hard to describe with words and can only be seen in the footage or better "felt" in the footage. It just look more "right", "sweeter" or more "professional". The equivalent mental feeling is like when you've been using a slow computer for years and you are used to that speed and waiting times then you one day upgrade and everything seems faster and more "right". That's how the motion in G2 feels. For my work, which is usually music videos that involve fast camera movements and choreography this is a game changer but it's something that positively affects every single thing you are filming from talking heads to commercials. It's in my opinion, the biggest thing that has happened to a BM camera in terms of image improvement since the 15 stops of dynamic range in the 4.6K sensor and Blackmagic RAW.

    - There is something great going on with the color and "clarity" of the pixels coming out of the camera. It looks subtle at first but after reviewing the total of the footage I feel that compared to the first UMP there the sensor just performs better in this aspect. "Feel" is not exactly an accurate measurement but I'm pretty sure somebody with both cameras can give a test on this later on. JB mentioned the improved color filter array (bayer filter) on the camera and I believe it's what brings this improvement.

    - While the USB-C recording might seem a little unprofessional or inconvenient to some compared to other options, it's a great addition that allows for cheap fast media options without any hustle. From velro-ing a T5 or Wise SSD somehere on the body (my favorite place is on top of XLR ports) to using a Pocket4K SSD holder on a full rig, it's a great solution. Coupled with a short and flexible USB-C cable and a 90 degrees USB-C angle its signature it's very small. The SSD recorder unit is great but it takes space, adds weight and consumes the rear SDI. The Cfast/SD cards are also great depending on what you are recording and if you are offloading. Personally, I love using the USB-C as I already have 5 drives from my Pocket4K and it's really nice to just record all day and go back home to offload without the need to bother about it during shooting.


    - After filming and inspecting my night shots, I can definitely say the image is a little cleaner than the first UMP. Perhaps in the same way the Micro has benefited compared to the Pocket, the G2 benefits from the improved electronics or the tweaked sensor. Or perhaps it's just the improved black shading and sensor calibration. Whatever it is, I don't feel the ISO1600 is that far from Pocket4K's ISO1600 - even when that falls into the "Dual ISO" spec - and I'm very confident filming anything with the G2.

    - Do mind the G2 has pixel remapping included in the black shading feature. So you can stop worrying forever about getting some pixel stuck while travelling etc.

    - The higher frame rates is probably the most advertised feature of the camera and doesn't need much explanation. It just does it. Mind of course, the incredible data rates of high frame rate recording and no matter the media you will have to settle down to a higher compression ratio for the highest frame rates.


    In general, I think this is a great camera to have at this time and it will certainly last for a while. It's easy to get on the hype train with 8K and Large Format cameras but I will remind everybody that all those 8K large format cameras have slower readouts (closer to the first UMP) losing any of the motion benefits I talked above and of course retain those readout times on everything non-windowed. Which is another whole topic that many users struggle with 6K-8K cameras: the fact that when they just want lower resolution they have to crop-in. Nobody knows what/if/when BM is cooking but my conclusion is that the G2 is one of the most advanced cameras out there for this generation and I dare to include some brands "up there" into that statement. Perhaps the "next-gen" cameras will be at 8K, large format and who knows perhaps an analog gain circuit for every ISO jump (multi-native-ISO)? The sure thing is that in the process they will lose some of the benefits of this camera. If you want a current gen 4K cinema camera now, this is certainly the best value. If you already own the UMP for a while and thinking about switching, you won't be dissapointed with the G2. Besides, you can easily sell the G1 right now for $4000 or more (keeping all your accessories). Then with $2000 extra you got your upgrade.
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  2. #2  
    Thanks for the great review and sharing your thoughts. It has given me much to consider as I plan my next camera upgrade.
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  3. #3  
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    Thanks Pidulgi. Is that the Hedbox NPF plate? How do you find the battery life and performance with this set-up?
    Do you need both batteries, or can you hot swap?
    Last edited by Ben; 05-11-2019 at 09:12 AM.
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  4. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    Thanks Pidulgi. Is that the Hedbox NPF plate? How do you find the battery life and performance with this set-up?
    Do you need both batteries, or can you hot swap?
    Hello Ben. Hedbox, Baxxtar and other so-called "branded" NP-F plates are all the same non-branded $13 plate with an extra brand sticker on, priced 4~5 times higher for no particular reason. I've been using this plate with success and no problems. I always bring an extra on the set "just in case" but never had any kind of problems and the male "V" locks well in every female V-lock. Also the D-TAP out is nice, especially when I'm using this to power the Pocket4K or the G2 on a gimbal.

    For the Ursa Mini cameras you will need 14.4V I'm afraid so using two of these batteries simultaneously is a must. If you remove one it will shut down. I got 16 "62.6Wh" NP-Fs all bought from here for $60 per 4 batteries including shipping. I've put the Wh in quotes because as you can imagine these cheap batteries tend to over advertise their capacity but they still seem to deliver around 40~50Wh which is incredible for the price. UMP/G2 consume around 35~50Wh. So doing the calculations and from actual experience (and battery tests) I'm getting about 2 hours per pair or one hour per battery. I have them all labelled in pairs and they go to the camera/charger together. Good thing, I can power the Pocket4K for about 2 hours with a single one of those via a dummy battery and can also power many of my lights.
    Considering I have 16hours of running time on the G2 and 32hours of running time on the Pocket4K with $240 worth of batteries, it's pretty great. Charging time with the fastest chargers you can get is about 5~6 hours per battery. This time doubles when you are using dual chargers so it's important to have a few.

    Weight of the batteries is also great, about 300gr each. So couple of them that give you two hours, are similar, if not lighter than a 95Wh Vmount battery.

    Except 1 (out of 16) being a bit unstable for some reason and having the camera shutdown when it moves, the other 15 have been brilliant and consistent. I mentioned it to the seller and got a partial refund no questions asked. I must be at the 20~25th re-charge cycle currently and didn't have any run time drops nor any other problems whatsoever.

    I went with this solution because I already had a few of those and I wasn't ready to get a V-mount set at the moment.
    For high stake projects of course, I would still go branded v-mount, but a nice set for good rotation and fast charging could easily get you into the $1000+ area.
    Last edited by pidulgi; 05-11-2019 at 10:43 PM.
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  5. #5  
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    Great, thanks for the details
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  6. #6  
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    So i received my camera yesterday. Will do tests this week but have one question. When I have the lens cap on and change ISO to 3200 I see really bad horizantal lines. I let it sit for 10 min then did a sensor calibration with the body cap on and still when the body cap is on at 3200 I see them. Is this normal for the ursas or is my unit defective?
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter917 View Post
    So i received my camera yesterday. Will do tests this week but have one question. When I have the lens cap on and change ISO to 3200 I see really bad horizantal lines. I let it sit for 10 min then did a sensor calibration with the body cap on and still when the body cap is on at 3200 I see them. Is this normal for the ursas or is my unit defective?
    Did you see the lines at 800 or 1600 ISO?
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hundo View Post
    Did you see the lines at 800 or 1600 ISO?
    Not from what I could tell, just 3200. I only tested with the body cap on.
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  9. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter917 View Post
    So i received my camera yesterday. Will do tests this week but have one question. When I have the lens cap on and change ISO to 3200 I see really bad horizantal lines. I let it sit for 10 min then did a sensor calibration with the body cap on and still when the body cap is on at 3200 I see them. Is this normal for the ursas or is my unit defective?
    Your unit is not defective.
    The camera's sensor has a single true sensitivity; ISO800 gives you the best compromise and it's recommended for shooting. Any other ISO just takes that signal and manipulates the mid-value the same way you can do it in post. The signal can be boosted to some extend and depending on the image and where that data was recorded (lower noisy parts of the sensor or non-noisy midtone and up) you can reach up to ISO6400(+3 stops) and still not see significant noise. Of course this is the worst way of making the image brighter. Adjusting iris/lights and exposing correctly at ISO800 and adjusting up and down is the best way. Exposing correctly for higher ISOs is also acceptable but that's not for bringing extra light in but rather for correctly monitoring purposely underexposed images (which is what raising the ISO is doing). Cap on at ISO3200 is not exposing properly at all and therefore you are seeing those boosted artifacts that are hiding in the darkest parts of the sensor.
    I have made a video explaining all of this perhaps it's helpful.

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  10. #10  
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    A lens cap test does not tell you anything, despite many people do think it does.
    The problem is you are letting the sensor starve of light. When there are no photons to detect the whole sensor electronics does not work as intended.
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