URSA mini 4.6K footage test drive

Intro Top

This past month marks exactly three years since the Sony F55 first started shipping and was available worldwide. I’ve been a pretty proud owner of the F55 and aside from some of it’s quirks that still exist, it’s a camera that has come a long way with periodic firmware updates unlocking new or improved functionality for FREE that wasn’t previously available before. If other manufacturers follow suit, it could be an interesting era ahead with surprise future releases unlocking functionality you weren’t aware of?

Lately I’ve been in love with the old $250,000 Sony F35 that you can now scoop up for around $8000 USD on ebay. The images to me are superior to any new CineAlta camera and as the saying goes, they definitely don’t make them like the use to. The F35 produces some of the most film-like images out of the box unlike no other camera except perhaps those from well known cinematic camera guru ARRI.

Tempted to pull the trigger on a Sony F35 over the last few weeks, recently I came across clips and frames from the BlackMagic Design URSA mini 4.6K digital camera and reconsidering my decision and love affair for a Sony F35.

John Brawley who’s known for his work on various TV series in Australia recently shot a short film with the URSA mini 4.6K camera and Blackmagic Design has made most of the footage available for download on their website in the RAW format un-touched and un-changed from what was originally shot by John.

For those who don’t know the $4999 URSA mini 4.6K features a new generation 4.6K super 35mm sized sensor and can record RAW in three various compression schemes and all flavours of ProRes. It boasts 15 stops of dynamic range and it’s native sensitivity seems to be 800 ISO. After finding out these clips were made available online I was very keen on test driving some of the footage in my Davinci Resolve colouring suite with my AVID Artist Color surface panel and Dell Ultrasharp 27″ monitor. (not a real grading monitor but close!)

Bringing the images into Davinci Resolve the first thing I did was change all the clips to BMD film instead of the default REC709. Instantly the image goes into what most would recognize as a log looking image. (flat and washed out). With the spin of my primary wheels I was instantly in a place reminiscent of playing around with RAW files from RED camera’s which I work on colouring for a few of my clients.

The images feel rich, organic, and thick yet imperfect in a way that makes each frame seem very special on it’s own and doesn’t turn me off. While I’m unaware of any benchmark tests of this camera’s actual dynamic range, I can tell from pushing and pulling the image around that there is definitely a lot of range in this camera. Any noise if you find it is natural, or filmic. The bright setting sun in the images captured by John can be reduced down to where you can actually create a very detailed image of the sun without any blowouts, it leaves you with any possibility in post on how you want to depict that sunset with absolute delight and ease.

Image below Captured by John Brawley, Color Graded by Dennis Hingsberg

Image below Captured by John Brawley, Color Graded by Dennis Hingsberg

Here’s a quick video of the first grade I performed on John’s clip. This one was done with 5-6 nodes and a power window to isolate the skyline and sun from the interior and balcony – but a power window is not necessarily required depending on how much you prefer to balance the contrasting interior and exterior to your taste.

Below are some more images from the BlackMagic URSA mini 4.6K that I graded in Davinci Resolve, these images are by Brandon Cooper from Abstrak Media.

Original image captured by Brandon Cooper from Abstrak Media, Color Graded by Dennis Hingsberg


Grade I

Grade II

I am very keen to get my hands on a demo unit and do more of a side-by-side with the Sony F55 RAW but it appears that units have only started shipping in limited quantities and Canadian dealers have advised it may be up to two months before they see any stock. I will sit tight until then but this is an exciting time if you are looking for a cost effective image pleasing RAW capable digital camera with a super35mm sensor!


About the author

Dennis Hingsberg is an award winning cinematographer and award winning producer based out of Toronto Canada, and founder of StarCentral Inc. – a video and film production company specializing in 35mm film production and film related post production services. Dennis also works as a paid consultant and resource on managing post production workflows for TV and film related projects.

Leave a Reply