What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

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Jason R. Johnston

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What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 4:16 am

It seems to me that FPN on the Ursa Mini Pro isn’t really an issue. It seems that it’s operator error a lot: people under exposing and then lifting the shadows and seeing what wouldn’t be ther is the image were properly exposed to begin with. And if the user actually got a camera whose insides are messed up and it needs to be RMA’d, then they say so on the forums and it sounds like there is a huge issue but really its only a few people with a few bad cameras. The other thousands of cameras going out are just fine...otherwise thered be thousands of people complaining about the same thing instead of a few dozen, right?

It just sounds like noise and fpn complaints are really just operator error 98% of the time to me. The other 2%? Real issue with actually broken cameras. Maybe it’s 20%. It just seems that, though its possible to get a bad camera, the odds are actually small despite what tthe energy in a SUPPORT forum where youre supposed to air your issues, might have some people believe.

And I say this because I own a BMCC and have used the Pocket and lots of other digital cameras, and if I underwxpose I see FPN too...but that was my fault underexposing, not the camera’s fault...FPN-ing a correctly exposed image. Noise is fine. I like noise, esp in BMCC...it seems more like analog grain...and i like that texture. FPN? Only if i severly raise the noise floor because i screwed up exposure, or had to because low light docu stuff. But dealing with FPN seems way better than dealing with overexposed higlights. There’s nothing there to fix. Ha.

Anyway, this whole FPN thing seems mostly ridiculous. And from what I understand abot UMP and v4.X, it’s been mostly dealt with. Thoughts?
Jason R. Johnston
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Robert Niessner

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 6:00 am

I tend to agree with your thoughts. I think it was worse in the beginning with the BMCC until BMD had ironed out the quirks of the production process and got better with every new camera model iteration.
When I received my UM46k I was pretty nervous about its production quality and used it on lots of test shoots for two months. Only after that I had enough confidence into the camera for using it on payed jobs and even then I brought a second camera with me - just in case.
But so far my UM46k and my BMCC never have let me down.

Neither my BMCC nor my UM46k show strong FPN, I can pull the shadows quite hard.
It is not a Sony A7sII night owl, but I didn't expect it to be in the first place. No regrets, the UM46k is my power work horse.

I think that some people with FPN just accidentally had activated the in-camera sharpening, and some just had unrealistic expectations of the camera's lowlight capabilities. And then there are those with a faulty camera.
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 6:45 am

I appreciate your thoughts, Robert.

I am purchasing a cinema camera system upgrade from my BMCC 2.5k and am stuck between UMP and EVA1, so I’m glancing between them but keep coming back to UMP. I like the 4.6K sensor and I like the Pro body so UMP looks like the way to go, so i’m trying to understand its quirks on paper before I hold it in my hands.

Like you said, “some people with FPN just accidentally had activated the in-camera sharpening, and some just had unrealistic expectations of the camera's lowlight capabilities. And then there are those with a faulty camera.” This seems to be my understanding, as well. It makes sense as there are whole studios buying five or six cameras, or DP’s like John Brawley hiring 4 of them to shoot episodic TV shows. It seems the people who know what they’re doing aren’t having issues. Then here are the newbs, then there are those who got a bad camera.

Anyway, I love my BMCC’s footage and I hadn’t been excited like that again until the 4.6K sensor...but the UMP system is pretty much what I need. Same handsome sensor, plus buttons and ND. EVA1 looks pretty good for a lot of reasons, but I like not being limited to EF and I like the 4.6K’s image better.
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Robert Niessner

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 8:20 am

The only "let-down" of the UMP is the LCD which is not as good as the one from the UM46k. But that is a small price to pay for an otherwise great camera with a great usability. I guess you will add the BMD viewfinder or a brighter display anyway.

I have recently shot with a Sony FS7 and hated it's menu system and button layout (I have shot with Sonys of all sizes but I've never liked their way of designing menus and camera parts).

BMD'S firmware 4.0 was a huge step in usability and they have done a fine job. Most of the time the camera's software get's out of my way so I can concentrate on getting the shot done. It feels so natural using it.

I don't want talk bad about Panasonics EVA1 because I have no first hand experience and from what I have read about it and seen online, it looks like a great camera, too.
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Denny Smith

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 5:48 pm

I have been sitting on the fence to between the UMP and the EVA1,but what pushes me in the UMP direction is the interchangeable lens mount, allowing me to add a PL mount and use a 2K window with my S16 lenses. :)

The EVA1is EF mount only :(
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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 6:26 pm

Jason R. Johnston wrote:...people under exposing and then lifting the shadows and seeing what wouldn’t be ther is the image were properly exposed to begin with.

I pretty much came to that same conclusion myself when I got my UM4K this year. The BMD cameras work in a range that exposes the natural traits of a CMOS sensor which most newcomers aren't used to seeing. These traits are there in every CMOS sensor, but most prosumer and ENG style cameras hide them with compressed signals, aggressive noise reduction, and/or a limited dynamic range.

The BMD image handling is more, "here you go; clean it up yourself," which is exactly why I chose to go this route. I'm in control and don't have to fight all the "corrections" I may not want.
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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 8:23 pm

I must admit my first shoot with BM cameras the guy I was hiring it from gave me dire warnings of FPN and even set up a massively under exposed shot to show me how bad it could be... and all I could think was who the hell would set up a shot like that in real life? I mean if I drove everywhere in first gear I wouldn't be on my car makers forum bitching about the horrible noise it made a 100kph. :)
"A cameraman with out a camera is just a man"
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostTue Oct 10, 2017 11:35 pm

Denny, Earl, Stephen: great points. Stephen, that’s hilarious. Whyyyy?! Exactly right.

Earl: that’s the right attitude. The tool doesn’t clean itself up for you. It is what it is so make it work. That’s agood way of looking at it. No training wheels...that’s what i liked about the BMCC 2.5K image I’ve loved all these years: no excuses. If the shot sucks it’s my fault. Lol

Denny, another thing that I like about UMP over EVA1 is it feels less like a frankenrig and more like a modular camera system, even with third-party modules, like Wooden Camera’s D-Box, for example. Also, though it may be the more expensive ecosystem, UMP’s 4.6K sensor is extremely Arri Alexa-like in that it’s product has the cadence of analog film. Varicam’s (and, therefore, EVA1’s) image is, though quite good, a little too much on the video-looking side of cadence. It looks great...but that Ursa Mini 4.6K image is...just magical. It’s old school.
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John Brawley

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 2:01 am

I think a lot of FPN complainers are often somewhat new to LOG based images and tend to look at the LOG files on a computer screen.

As soon as apply a simple grade, usually making the blacks actually sit on black then the FPN tends to go away.

Now, I know "loggy" looking grades are the thing, or more like, low contrast, whoops forgot to apply s LUT in the edit and now I'm used to the log look grades are the rage, once you take a simple idea like...the blacks sit at black....it's amazing how things change.

Lifting the blacks of something that's MEANT to be black doesn't make sense, yet I see it all the time in "problematic" images.

JB
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Taylor Cahill

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 6:58 am

It would be awesome if we could get an explanation of the noise present on the LCD but not in the final footage on UMP. Bueller? Anyone? :)
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John Brawley

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 7:48 am

Taylor Cahill wrote:It would be awesome if we could get an explanation of the noise present on the LCD but not in the final footage on UMP. Bueller? Anyone? :)



Same as my post above.

The UMP has a screen that’s not as good as the UM4.6K. It’s also lifted. The blacks aren’t as solid. Again, look at the image in LOG and it looks terrible. Or you THINK it will.

JB
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 8:46 am

I know what you mean about “loggy” footage, John. I’ve had that conversations with directors more than once. Usually once I get the terms “log” and “low contrast” clarified, they’re on board...and I always jokingly say “don’t go by THAT monitor!” if it’s only showing a log image. “Yes, but remmber, we’re lightijg it for THIS,” etc etc. They (the inexperienced directors, or sometimes the client if they haven’t seen log before) always get a bit scared...at first, even after the meetings. But I have no monitors for the village that will overlay LUTs. They always come around, especially once they see the spot. I think Ursa Mini Pro will help with that on set.

That reminds me, John: now that you’ve finished The Warriors, how good was it working on that show with Ursa Mini 4.6K as A Cam? Now that the Pro version is out, if you could go back in time, would you have chosen the Pro version for the show instead?
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John Brawley

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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 10:35 am

Jason R. Johnston wrote:I know what you mean about “loggy” footage, John. I’ve had that conversations with directors more than once. Usually once I get the terms “log” and “low contrast” clarified, they’re on board...and I always jokingly say “don’t go by THAT monitor!”


In the same way that people fall in love with temp music, I think when you spend a few days looking at footage you always grow used to seeing that.

Jason R. Johnston wrote:That reminds me, John: now that you’ve finished The Warriors, how good was it working on that show with Ursa Mini 4.6K as A Cam? Now that the Pro version is out, if you could go back in time, would you have chosen the Pro version for the show instead?


Firstly, the UM4.6K worked great. It was reliable and solid especially once we added accessories like the D box and and the EVF mod.

I had a crew that were initially very wary of having to work with "toy" camera gear, but by the end they were trying to convince the DP of the next show (netflix) they went onto to choose it over the RED gear that was mandated.

I'm about to choose it again as the A camera for a FOX series coming up in the new year.

I prefer the UM4.6K to the pro generally, only because I don't like the screen in the Pro at all. I operate a lot off the screen if I'm not using the EVF. The extra buttons aren't necessary for me either. I like the convenience of the ND's, but I'm also used to ND filters in front.

JB

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rick.lang

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What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 5:09 pm

I posted video on this forum recently with footage up to five stops underexposed without FPN on my URSA Mini 4.6K. Don’t forget to do the Black Shading Calibration occasionally.


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Last edited by rick.lang on Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What’s really going on with FPN on UMP?

PostWed Oct 11, 2017 5:41 pm

So many good points raised in this discussion.
Denny Smith wrote:The EVA1is EF mount only

Yep. And when recording in camera on the EVA1, the overcrank is only to 8bit 4:2:0 LongGOP at 150Mbps
Yuck.

When I first got my 4.6K Ursa Mini I was all stoked on shooting 4.6K raw. Yet over time I've found that the files are absolutely lovely when I record plain old 2K/HD (downscaled from the full sensor) to ProRes 444. The result is lovely robust files that don't fill up my cards too fast, are easy to run direct into post on any machine, and with their 12 bit color depth and 444 sampling they grade beautifully. Perfect for the documentaries I make. With its ease of use and quality of results, I wouldn't trade my Ursa Mini 4.6K for anything... well, maybe for an Ursa Mini Pro ;)
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