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REVIEW 4.6K BLACKMAGIC URSA MINI - RUN & GUN - UHD & BEYOND Ben Sherriff The yeti finally arrived earlier this year – I call it so, because for almost twelve months until BVE 2016 we’d only seen it in pictures! So getting my hands on one in a real word environment was an absolute no brainer, when Simon Tillyer dropped me a line offering the opportunity to review the camera for KitPlus. I’ll cut right to the chase with the review. Many reviews of the camera are available online and for the most part they are very positive. Instead of filming pretty pictures in my local park with the camera I opted to really try the camera out against a big gun in the 4k world and two cameras I shoot with a lot. And so it was deployed on several jobs alongside three Sony FS7s for a finance conference and then alongside a Sony F55 for an online commercial. ERGONOMICS. CINEMATIC DOF LOW LIGHT STEADICAM Ursa is a stellar name indeed, a Latin word meaning ‘bear’ that conjures images of the Great Bear constellation Ursa Major. So is this camera a new star? Is it indeed universal? It seems that a good place to start is with the ergonomics. As an operator, this is not just how does it feel in the hand or on the shoulder, but how simple is it to operate, where the key functions are etc. Immediately you are faced with a problem. In order to power the camera on, you have to flip out the LCD screen – this is the first shortcoming with the camera. The second is that the LCD screen does not rotate all the way around. If you could flip it (like you can on an Arri Amira viewfinder) you would be able to access the menu on the touchscreen and amend settings as desired, or better still; if you could detach it so an AC can adjust settings and so forth that would be amazing (as you can with the Panasonic Varicam). The addition of the handgrip is very useful, deployed as well by other manufacturers since the Sony FS7 came to market, and there are no doubt other third party solutions that I dare say will improve on the Blackmagic style and function. There’s a good variety of configurations that you could run the camera with, and a tonne 60 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 119 NOVEMBER 2016 of mounting options. For the most part on my first shoot, I moved between shoulder rig and Steadicam using a VCT plate. I just removed the top handle and EVF to go on the Steadi. Perhaps a little harshly, I previously described the camera as looking like it was designed in 1970s Russia, maybe this isn’t a bad thing? It feels robust enough and pretty well made. The V-plate feels a bit plastic and brittle, and I wish they had put plastic caps to protect the SDI ports on the camera, small but in my opinion important details. Unlike the Sony FS7 you do at least get TC IN as standard on the camera body (no need to purchase an extension back). I found the XLR audio inputs to be a little awkwardly located, and the fact that you can’t dial the input levels up or down whilst shooting a vox pop was a problem for me (they are located behind the LCD). Save for some of the basic shortcomings, an Ursa plus is the fact that you really do have all the connections you would want on a professional camera really, so hats off to Blackmagic there. ON THE JOB TESTING The initial couple of days I did without updating the firmware to the new 4.2beta. I honestly wasn’t enamoured with the lack of options in the menu system, the level of customisation available. That said with the Samyang primes that Blackmagic Design supplied for the review the images were lovely. I shot Pro Res UHD 3840 x 2160 25p. Mainly because of the need to turn around the images quickly. At this stage I wished I was able to load in custom LUTS and shoot off frame rates but after filming a load of GVS of the venue and people arriving the day gave way to a tirade of quick fire interviews. The EVF was for me a critical part of the setup, I always use a viewfinder and want something I can trust. The EVF is okay, the image is pretty decent for critical focus and works well enough once you have it set right. It took me a few interviews and tweaking settings to be happy