Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

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James Alexander Barnett

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Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 7:51 am

Just a quick thought on all of the camera announcements this week, make no mistake I am and have been very happy with my UM 4.6k since I have had it, however with Canon's announcement of the C200 and Panasonic's announcement of the EVA 1, it got me thinking BM really need to look at increasing the sensitivity of their sensors, or introducing some noise reduction at higher ISO's as this is the only caveat I have with their cameras.

I gather the RAW recording in the BM cameras would obviously be better however for me RAW is just overkill for most things and the amount of data just isn't manageable on the type of projects I work on.

Would be great to hear peoples thoughts.
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Wayne Steven

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 9:00 am

Lol! Anybody in the know, knows the 4k mini was outdated the day it came out, and even the 4.6k. The lumbering consumer giants of the industry tend not to give the best at the lower end, so keeping up with that is being outdated. Sony sensor technology is far ahead, many companies use it. The Panasonic technology was such that they used a Sony sensor in the GH5. The organic sensor is coming. Upper end Sony sensor technology is more on the level of Red helium, but they also have so much more (look at starvis, starlight low light). They have been working on 16k+ holographic, 100mp+ sensors, three color layers like x3 has.

Its not about where the competition is, its about where the competition will be. The 4.6k performance needs to come down to micro/pocket, and the next top end sensor, now, be on par with helium or dragon, even on the low end, all with extremely much better lower light.

Now, let's be real, the workflow and hand ability of a camera is most things, so BM needs to feature up firmware wise to match the eng functionality, and prosumer.
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Stefan Gofferje

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 10:57 am

I think, that's a question of your target market segment. I believe, BMD is realistic enough to know that they can't compete with Red or Arri in the high end segment just because that segment is fairly small and it goes a lot on reputation (which BMD doesn't have (yet?)), so why waste time and money on developing monster cameras for a market they can't get in and which wouldn't bring as much money?

Focusing on the midrange and low end market is a smart move because indies are used to pain and hassle, which comes with the low/no budget territory - and are more willing to cope with little quirks if they get an otherwise affordable and - for the market segment - awesome camera. And the BMD cameras are awesome compared to what you otherwise get for the same money.

Pixel aren't everything, especially not in ENG. Many TV stations in Europe haven't even arrived in the HD age yet, let alone at UHD. So, as an ENG guy I don't necessarily want to shoot 4K for a long time coming. Maybe not even HD, because conversion costs time which means, while I am converting, the other ENG guy who only shoots SD can beat me to the chase on that hot story. Then I'm sitting there with my great camera, pondering how to get my ROI.

Yes, more ISO would be great! And autofocus... But now we're back to the quirks... BMD tries to make a product which fits as many as possible needs. As a result, the camera itself, not only the market, is quite literally midrange. It has something for everybody but lots of compromises had to be made so it's also lacking something for everybody.

Me as an ENG and documentary guy would love higher ISO and a good autofocus but I wouldn't need 4.6k in the next 5-10 years and raw, even ProRes are a hassle for me because my clients want mostly h.264. The next guy, who does mostly scripted stuff, couldn't care less about autofocus but wants pixels, LOTS of pixels and the raw while he wouldn't touch h.264 with a pole.
For either of us, the "perfect" camera would be at least twice as expensive as the UMP4.6k but we're indies and don't have the cash, so we buy the UMP4.6k and deal with the quirks.

And BMD is happy, because they sold 2 copies of the same camera instead of having to develop 2 more specialized camera models.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 1:28 pm

I was holding my breath with the Canon and Panasonic announcements, however the UMPro is holding its own against them...except for the higher ISO capability, which we really need! BMD internal recording still specs ahead of the other $7495-9995 cams that need either external recorders (c200 will need one to get basic HD422) or extensions (FS7 for ProRes or RAW) to achieve the same thing that comes in a $5995 UMPro body.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 3:33 pm

Chris Clifton wrote:I was holding my breath with the Canon and Panasonic announcements, however the UMPro is holding its own against them...except for the higher ISO capability, which we really need! BMD internal recording still specs ahead of the other $7495-9995 cams that need either external recorders (c200 will need one to get basic HD422) or extensions (FS7 for ProRes or RAW) to achieve the same thing that comes in a $5995 UMPro body.


If you want higher ISO you can do it in post, as the BMD cameras do not use analog gain and in-camera denosing anyway. You can easily boost 3 stops (ISO1600 to ISO 12800) with some post-denoising.
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Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 3:47 pm

Always good to add features that other manufacturers offer as long as the features fit within BMD's target market. But I don't expect a significant change to the performance of the BMD sensors until they release their next sensor design with a next generation technology, perhaps within two years. Perhaps next year they may put the 4.6K sensor technology in a smaller package; perhaps they'll finally offer user-selectable global and rolling shutter. But their strength is delivering their concept of a Cinema camera (and I don't mean run-and-gun from an exterior shot of a landscape through a doorway into a dark room for a closeup on our sleeping hero in a continuous shot à la Cinema Verité). Let there be light and with that well-known restriction, they already have a camera that offers more image than any other camera under $10,000 and that's not changing with these new announcements. The URSA Mini 4.6K cameras are not for everyone, but they're still on top in terms of value and image quality when used as designed.

While I watched the live Panasonic reveal, I think someone had guessed it was going to be a $3,000 camera. I thought that might shake BMD, but when the actual price was described as under $8,000, I went back to a peaceful sleep. I know the Canon and Panasonic offerings look great in terms of the features, but in the end, I'm still most concerned with the image. Canon thinks they are doing great things offering raw at 1 Gbps VBR and Panasonic was effusive about their camera offering up to 400 Mbps data rates. 'Good,' even 'better,' but when buyers see the actual footage and work with it in post, I believe they'll find it's far from 'best' in that sub $10,000 market.


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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 7:46 pm

Kinda funny...

a few years ago, when they had, consumer and ENG cameras, everybody wanted a S35 cinema camera, that shoots raw internally soooo bad.

BM delivered it, and all they want now, is a ENG camera, with consumer features :roll:
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 8:16 pm

I buy tools for what they do today. I don't buy on a promise of future upgrades or features, but similarly, when I DO buy something, I buy it to do what it does.

And then, it continues to do what it does. It doesnt become obsolete, not until I need a tool that does other things.

I often continue with aged technology and it still does what it ever did. And I also invest in new technology when the tool does something I need it to do.

Chasing features around is never ending. Sometime in the future I will buy a new camera to replace my Ursa Mini 4.6, but not simply because it has a built in ND or 5.7k pixels.
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Pavel Lavrov

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSat Jun 03, 2017 9:39 pm

Kyle Gordon wrote: ...but not simply because it has a built in ND or 5.7k pixels.

I should add dual native ISO to that...

Images speak for themselves, will see how Panny pull it off.


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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 7:43 am

Stefan and Frank.

The main market was always eng and prosumer, not nitch cinema. Cinema was just a dream. What was always needed was better eng cameras that could do cinema.

Now Stefan. From a purely shooting point of view, many eng features are just firmware upgrades and buttons nobs and switches, all very cheap to add.

Panasonic and the industry really missed an opportunity to undermine Red (not very big on quality till dragon and helium) and BM. BM also really missed an opportunity to undermine the industry.

The existing sensor technology should be able to be twice as good as the initial batch. The sensor technology a certain supply has is a lot better than their generic sensors. 4.6k is only the start.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 9:42 am

Wayne, I totally agree with you on that with the exception of autofocus. A really good autofocus isn't that easy to make apparently. Canon's dual pixel AF is pretty much the best I know...

And yes, I know, the scripted and cinema guys don't want, even don't like autofocus, but in ENG it's a pretty important thing to have. Also in corporate and wedding, I'd imagine...
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 4:17 pm

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Last edited by Wayne Steven on Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 4:18 pm

I'd rather have at least push to focus, then pace distance with some adjustment. But really great continuous auto focus I'm not so in need of. If they build it into the sensor it might be great, bit till then we can start out with something simpler.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 5:59 pm

Push to focusmis not new, been around quite a while. The AF100 has it, as does the BM Pocket camera, and all the digital DSLRs. Continuous AF is the hard one to get right, especially for video, where the subject is moving, you need a tracking Focus system, most of which today are hit and miss. The best I have seen was on the Nikon 1 system, V3 camera, very fast focus and tracking did work up to a point.
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James Alexander Barnett

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 9:38 pm

Robert Niessner wrote:
Chris Clifton wrote:I was holding my breath with the Canon and Panasonic announcements, however the UMPro is holding its own against them...except for the higher ISO capability, which we really need! BMD internal recording still specs ahead of the other $7495-9995 cams that need either external recorders (c200 will need one to get basic HD422) or extensions (FS7 for ProRes or RAW) to achieve the same thing that comes in a $5995 UMPro body.


If you want higher ISO you can do it in post, as the BMD cameras do not use analog gain and in-camera denosing anyway. You can easily boost 3 stops (ISO1600 to ISO 12800) with some post-denoising.


I agree Robert, Neat video gets great results for me, however if you re handing off the rushes to editors on productions it doesn't look great in this day an age when you can't shoot clean images even at 1600 ISO, I guess BM price their cameras at self shooter types and as I say overall I love the camera and the colours.

I do still however have problems with crosshatching on my unit when shooting over 2k even after black shading in low light situations even at 800 ISO, it's fine if you don't scale the image at odd increments in post however it really shouldn't happen at all, but I have given up on BM support and I just work around the problem.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 9:59 pm

The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 10:32 pm

John Brawley wrote:The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB



Shots look great John I am not in disagreement on the sensor being great, however with all these new options on the horizon higher ISO's or a selectable in camera noise reduction is the only thing I feel they will need to add in future cameras.

Would be great to see the original ungraded shots and how you expose those shots on set, shooting wide open on you on the limit in terms of exposure or are you pushing the lighting a little and bringing down in post a bit?

Shot in 4k I would have problems in that scenario for sure if I was scaling the footage in post in other than 25% increments.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 11:14 pm

John, your stuff looks great, as always.

I'm starting to think that maybe the person using the camera has a lot to do with the results? LOL

Anyway, I think the UM4.6k has enough in the specs and IQ department to be relevant for a good while to come yet.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 11:26 pm

Look at the Alexa. It has no where near the specs of these cameras but is still the number one camera used on the market in the high end world. It's not about specs. Besides. The c200 is a joke. They want you to look at the 4k raw but let's be honest. Most people aren't going to shoot that on a day to day basis. Their codec outside of raw is so crippling. That 4k raw marketing is what they want you to buy into. I will say the EVA1 looks great but let's see what the image looks like.


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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 11:49 pm

James Alexander Barnett wrote:
John Brawley wrote:The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB



Shots look great John I am not in disagreement on the sensor being great, however with all these new options on the horizon higher ISO's or a selectable in camera noise reduction is the only thing I feel they will need to add in future cameras.

Would be great to see the original ungraded shots and how you expose those shots on set, shooting wide open on you on the limit in terms of exposure or are you pushing the lighting a little and bringing down in post a bit?

Shot in 4k I would have problems in that scenario for sure if I was scaling the footage in post in other than 25% increments.


Really ?

You think these shots wouldn't have worked in 4k ? That they'd suddenly be too noisy to use ? That there wouldn't be enough image to work with to make an emotionally compelling image ?

The lighting was AMBIENT street lighting with a single battery operated matchstick lit from OUTSIDE the car. It was dimmed to maybe 50% and had extra gel on front.

It's been graded using a LUT and a simple contrast / sat / lift. We haven't even gone to the grade yet.

No NR has been applied to these. You know every Canon / Sony camera bakes in NR to every one of their compressed codecs right ?

The numbers are bogus. I've shot Varicam. At 5000 ISO. It's not that big a leg up. Not as much as the number makes you think. It's HOW you handle the footage. I could have put the cameranto 1600, but there was no need.

I don't know what to say. You want a spec. Not a camera.

JB
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PaulDelVecchio

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 11:59 pm

Honestly, who cares about the latest and greatest specs on paper? I mean, the new Panasonic EVA1 seems promising, sure... and other companies have great specs on paper. The Ursa Mini 4.6k's images are killer. I argue better than most of what's out there.

You know why it doesn't matter much? Because it's all about the lighting and production design as far as how good something looks.

Oh and with all the cheap LED lighting that's available, I think it's safe to say that the UM 4.6k is def "good enough." When I can slap a battery on a light and get something like 220 FC at 7', I'm not worried if ISO 800 is going to be enough.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 12:55 am

John Brawley wrote:The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB


these screen grabs look sooo good ... wow ... these cameras are ridiculous * and you are a great image maker
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 5:50 am

JB: Amen.

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 6:52 am

Yeah, what Paul said.

I never needed more than 800 ISO on my UM46. Most of the time, I have to use NDs anyway.
Baked in noise reduction is the last thing I need - I want full control over my image in post.

Also high ISO doesn't mean you don't need lights - why would I rob my self, from the best creative tool I have in my toolbox? That thinking is ridiculous - look up the word "Photography" in a dictionary.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 8:01 am

People are presuming a lot of things from me on this thread, I started this thread as a discussion and it seems like people are presuming that I am bashing the UM.

I invested around £7,000 in BM gear late last year so lets set the record straight I rate these cameras otherwise I would of gone with a different brand, all I am trying to say is that moving forward I feel BM need to introduce sensors with better sensitivity maybe with switchable noise reduction, which I am sure they will do anyway.

I work for lots of different production companies and a lot of them are a little ignorant when it comes to Blackmagic cameras, they naturally default to Sony, Canon or Arri, being an owner operator I feel that the UM performs on par if not better than most of these brands, if I am working with the footage I know I can just add a little noise reduction in post, however with the attitude of said companies, if they look in the edit and see noisy footage some of them would just say "ohh I don't want to use that camera again, I get much cleaner results with a Sony" for example, which is a uneducated view but unfortunately it happens.

I understand you should pick the right tool for the specific job, however as an owner operator, you ideally want to use your own kit so you can start to repay your investment back, I understand people use an Arri as a comparison for ISO performance but my argument would be if your on set with an Arri you no-doubtedly will have more budget for lighting and arguably more time on set to spend on the lighting to get the best from it.

I don't want any other camera, as previously stated I am very pleased with my UM and I will continue to buy BM products, I just find it interesting with all of these new high ISO cameras hitting the market with strong codecs at affordable prices it can only be a good thing to keep BM on their toes, BM themselves are blurring the lines between broadcast & cinema cameras with the UMP so I don't see it as a bad thing if their next models have switchable noise reduction to make their cameras more appealing to a broader market, which is arguably what they are trying to do already with their new designs.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 8:05 am

John Brawley wrote:
James Alexander Barnett wrote:
John Brawley wrote:The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB



Shots look great John I am not in disagreement on the sensor being great, however with all these new options on the horizon higher ISO's or a selectable in camera noise reduction is the only thing I feel they will need to add in future cameras.

Would be great to see the original ungraded shots and how you expose those shots on set, shooting wide open on you on the limit in terms of exposure or are you pushing the lighting a little and bringing down in post a bit?

Shot in 4k I would have problems in that scenario for sure if I was scaling the footage in post in other than 25% increments.


Really ?

You think these shots wouldn't have worked in 4k ? That they'd suddenly be too noisy to use ? That there wouldn't be enough image to work with to make an emotionally compelling image ?

The lighting was AMBIENT street lighting with a single battery operated matchstick lit from OUTSIDE the car. It was dimmed to maybe 50% and had extra gel on front.

It's been graded using a LUT and a simple contrast / sat / lift. We haven't even gone to the grade yet.

No NR has been applied to these. You know every Canon / Sony camera bakes in NR to every one of their compressed codecs right ?

The numbers are bogus. I've shot Varicam. At 5000 ISO. It's not that big a leg up. Not as much as the number makes you think. It's HOW you handle the footage. I could have put the cameranto 1600, but there was no need.

I don't know what to say. You want a spec. Not a camera.

JB


Its not noise that would be introduced at 4k its the scaling crosshatch pattern that has been previously discussed, its fine if I am using the footage in post as I know how to work with it, but if I'm handing footage off and I don't know who is working with it its potentially a problem if they scale it incorrectly.

I shot some stuff last week in both 2k & 4k so I will try and upload some examples.

I'm not trying to argue John its simply a discussion and I was trying to highlight the limitations I have run into using this camera.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 10:08 am

I totally understand your point James. And I agree that sometimes it would be nice to have the option of user selected noise reduction in camera. The question is what kind of NR can be implemented in BMD cameras. Canon for example had a problem with their last firmware update which enabled temporal NR in Clog3 in the C300 MKII leading to very visible temporal artifacts in areas of shallow depth of field. Their solution was another FW update with the option for the user to really set NR to OFF, because NR set to 0 was NOT OFF.

And spatial NR alone doesn't cut it - most of the time it just blurs the details too much.

I have also dealt with those technical un-savvy guys in post and after I explained them what's going on and showed them how noisy FS700 raw looks (compared to the compressed format) they started to understand the whole thing better.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 12:58 pm

John Brawley wrote:The sensor is just fine in my view.

Here's some frame grabs of some very low light shots.

ISO 800 and shot ProRes 444 1920.

Lighting is a matchstick, dimmed DOWN and some cyan 15, plus natural street ambience.

Shot LUT applied and a CDL grade (very basic) no NR, no windows etc.

You could lift a lot more if you wanted to.

JB


Excellent images John. But they are demosaiced downscaled to 1920, all which should make noise a lot better. I would be happy if the camera could produce such images with no noise and ambient only lighting. But you can still see a lot of problems there, multi spectral noise, cross hatching like lines coming through (we faced this on hybrid pocket cameras, because they were being pushed too much and the firmware patch was to turn down gain). But basically, it reminds a bit of the JVC HD1 and HD10 on moderately dim light. If only they could have done this in that scene, I would have been very happy around 15 years ago. Is this a 4.6k mini or 4k? When I saw 4k mini samples, it was obvious that beyond iso 800 it wasn't going to to it.

I prefer as high iso as practical. When shooting real life, it can get very dark, and ultra low light is handy. In scripted, you can choose how to light. We are talking about cameras doing hundreds of thousands, even millions iso now. Those scenes could be done pretty clear these days. I definitely want to do clear by moonlight one day.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 1:08 pm

Wayne Steven wrote: We are talking about cameras doing hundreds of thousands, even millions iso now. Those scenes could be done pretty clear these days. I definitely want to do clear by moonlight one day.


Nobody in his right mind would shoot night for day anyway :roll:

What's the frigging point of not lighting a scene?
It's a disgrace to your actors, cause you are denying them the chance to look their best,
it's a disservice to the script, your crew, set design (ah, wait, you probably ditched that too), and a waste of time and money.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 3:13 pm

I suspect that the majority of the people who own 4.6K UM cameras and are worried about the Panasonic and Canon announcements are just jealous because they're relying on the camera to make the image rather then learning how to get the most out of their BMD cameras.

In reality the price tags of the new cameras from Panasonic and Canon just launched reflect how competitive the 4.6K UM's are, IMO.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 3:49 pm

I don't think Ursa Mini or even the Pocket Cinema is showing its today.

Sure, on paper, these new cameras (C200 and the Panasonic one) has awesome features and make any BMD camera 'basic' in comparison. I guess I'm lucky that the 'limitations' of the Ursa Mini doesn't bother me in my projects.

If anything, I would like some integration with wireless equipment like Arri's WCU-4 and the likes. But these can be easily fixed with additional accessories through rental or purchase (wish i could haha).



Here's a tip, stop thinking of it as something it isn't and start acknowledging what's it for. You woud not use an Alexa for ENG wouldn't you?


Rakesh Malik wrote:In reality the price tags of the new cameras from Panasonic and Canon just launched reflect how competitive the 4.6K UM's are, IMO.


EXACTLY. :)
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 4:04 pm

Wayne Steven wrote: But you can still see a lot of problems there, multi spectral noise, cross hatching like lines coming through


Huh ?


Wayne Steven wrote:
I prefer as high iso as practical. When shooting real life, it can get very dark, and ultra low light is handy. In scripted, you can choose how to light. We are talking about cameras doing hundreds of thousands, even millions iso now. Those scenes could be done pretty clear these days. I definitely want to do clear by moonlight one day.


You're lazy if you think a magical high ISO will create better images for your work.

If you're shooting the kind of work that actually needs to shoot at those kinds of light levels then I doubt you'll be much happier with a Varicam or Cxx camera either.

That's my point. ISO 800 on an Alexa or Ursa mini isn't that different to ISO3200 or ISO 6400 on another camera. It's not a magic bullet.

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 4:28 pm

John Brawley wrote:You're lazy if you think a magical high ISO will create better images for your work.


That's a kind way of putting it, IMO.

I've been shooting almost exclusively at ISO 800 when I'm shooting RAW and I have more need of diffusion and NDs than more light. Evidence shows that most people complaining about the ISO range of the UM 4.6K are relying on the camera to light the scene for them, and should just get A7sii cameras instead... not that that will improve their lighting any.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 4:30 pm

Rakesh Malik wrote:
John Brawley wrote:You're lazy if you think a magical high ISO will create better images for your work.


That's a kind way of putting it, IMO.

I've been shooting almost exclusively at ISO 800


I've shot hundreds of hours of drama for the last 6 months on Alexa and Ursa Mini 4,6K and it's never changed from ISO 800.

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 5:00 pm

Ditto, my Micro Cinema camera is also "glued" to ISO 800 for most of my shooting with it. Since BM does not use analog gain in cameras like Panny and Sony does, changing the ISO does not increase the sensor's sensitivity, or amplify the signal to look brighter.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 5:21 pm

John Brawley wrote:I've shot hundreds of hours of drama for the last 6 months on Alexa and Ursa Mini 4,6K and it's never changed from ISO 800.


For filmmaking, that should do nicely the vast majority of the time. I guess people are just getting used to having ISO 800 cameras, kind of like they're getting used to having 13+ stops of dynamic range, and are taking it for granted... then getting greed for features that other cameras offer.

Red has 8K... so BMD should have an 8K sensor! Sigh. Silliness.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 8:24 pm

I get great results at ISO 800 on the Mini Pro in low light as well, especially with concert/event lighting at F2 - 2.8.

For stills I use the Nikon D750 and stick to below ISO 640, the chart I posted below seems to be true. The images for me at lower ISOs in low light are more solid and natural to my eye than jumping up to a high ISO.

ZA7M2DR1-L.PNG
ZA7M2DR1-L.PNG (25.34 KiB) Viewed 10279 times


I also still use a Leica CL from the 1970s and Nikon F6 with Provia and Velvia ISO 100 film in low light or city street night conditions with great results. I think there is really only 8-9 stops in either of those too.

Kodak 500T is really nice exposed at ISO 6400 and the dynamic range falls off too but it still feels really natural and the color stays great. The 4.6K sensor really feels the most like Kodak film vs the canon/panasonic/sony when using ISO 800 in camera and then changing it to 1600-3200 in resolve.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 8:51 pm

Also, the new season of Queen of the South looks dope, the pics above are making me even more interested to watch it. I watched the video of John Brawley's lens tests on Vimeo and was wondering how you worked that out with respect to 16mm lenses. Or even how the micro camera was integrated into the workflow since both the ursa mini and alexa have the crop modes to get the super 16 look.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostMon Jun 05, 2017 9:37 pm

Hi! First time posting here.

What I have found after some testing, is that you really could push underexposed Ursa footage really high if you wanted. There will be noise, yes, more so than with other cameras with NR and weaker codecs. But you can still go even as high as 6400 with quite acceptable noise and color. Much like with Alexa which gets just as noisy really fast when pushing underexposed footage.

The reason why this really can't be done of course is the FPN. Vertical lines run across everything bellow about 10 IRE.

Yes, I know, you shouldn't push your footage like this. It's not what the camera is meant for. My point is, if the fpn wasn't this severe, this COULD be done. It would be really handy in a documentary shoot for example where adding light isn't always an option.

At 800 and bellow, properly exposed, the image is of course gorgeous. The highlight rendition and color are top notch. I really, really, really hope the FPN can be dealt with an firmware update and sensor calibration.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostTue Jun 06, 2017 5:59 am

Frank Glencairn wrote:
Wayne Steven wrote: We are talking about cameras doing hundreds of thousands, even millions iso now. Those scenes could be done pretty clear these days. I definitely want to do clear by moonlight one day.


Nobody in his right mind would shoot night for day anyway :roll:

What's the frigging point of not lighting a scene?
It's a disgrace to your actors, cause you are denying them the chance to look their best,
it's a disservice to the script, your crew, set design (ah, wait, you probably ditched that too), and a waste of time and money.


Frank, what are you on about?? I never said night for day. I talked about live film making where lights interfere with the subjects, not just scripted.
Last edited by Wayne Steven on Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostTue Jun 06, 2017 6:13 am

John Brawley wrote:
Wayne Steven wrote: But you can still see a lot of problems there, multi spectral noise, cross hatching like lines coming through


Huh ?


Wayne Steven wrote:
I prefer as high iso as practical. When shooting real life, it can get very dark, and ultra low light is handy. In scripted, you can choose how to light. We are talking about cameras doing hundreds of thousands, even millions iso now. Those scenes could be done pretty clear these days. I definitely want to do clear by moonlight one day.


You're lazy if you think a magical high ISO will create better images for your work.

If you're shooting the kind of work that actually needs to shoot at those kinds of light levels then I doubt you'll be much happier with a Varicam or Cxx camera either.

That's my point. ISO 800 on an Alexa or Ursa mini isn't that different to ISO3200 or ISO 6400 on another camera. It's not a magic bullet.

JB


With respect. A proper high iso is going to reduce noise at 800 or 6400. I suggest looking for 1 million iso images, and seeing what 6400 iso samples are like on those cameras. But for doco surveillance extra high iso grain and all is still important to peer into the darkest night. The technology to film clear color pictures in very dark rooms has been around for years, it is just not common, maybe at all, on our end.

Still, John were those samples from a 4k or 4.6k mini?
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostTue Jun 06, 2017 3:14 pm

Last year I was working on a corporate promo for a company that makes strobe lights for pest control. The lights themselves blink 90 times per minute and are used in dark attics where squirrels and raccoons might make a nest. Some of the people interviewed had squirrels for over 30 years, every year pest control would trap the animals, then fix the holes in their roof and the following year the squirrels would come back and do it again.

We wanted to get a shot of a squirrel eating into someones home at dusk and were looking at surveillance cameras and remote low light cameras like the Canon ME20F-SH, which is a $1,000 per week to rent. Since the scenes were not pitch black and they didn't have to look like daytime I used the Micro cinema camera mounted to a wall with a 25' hdmi cable going to an atomos ninja with a 1tb ssd. I could get 24 hours of surveillance footage with ProRes 422 LT. It ran for 8 hours before recording the squirrel chew through an aluminum vent in about seven minutes.

I also built the micro camera up with a cage and rods for a 16mm handheld attic camera following the pest control guy around. The micro camera's rolling shutter doesn't look bad with handheld shots and a v mount battery added balance. At times I used a small LED to light his work area and get some dirty sweat filled closeups. He also had a gopro on him and a flashlight hat. The attic was 115 degrees and the micro camera and video assist didn't overheat, although the fan noise was loud.

The editor was fine using the micro footage, with some added noise, alongside the URSA 4K interview shots that were scaled to 1080. The extra noise on the micro with the added dynamic range and better color is a little more pleasing to me than the noise reduction applied to the A7s II. Skin tones on the A7s II and Panasonic GH cameras are not great at high iso. Would it be fair to say that there are noise reduction artifacts there? It looks strange and random to me and the micro's noise feels more natural. I pick the blackmagic cameras for documentary more often because the designs consider a range of things beyond just clean high iso or wide dynamic range.
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Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostTue Jun 06, 2017 5:29 pm

Important tangential comment: A few years ago, I placed Bulldog steel wool in an opening to my attic that had squirrels coming and going. Squirrels don't like steel wool. No more squirrels in the attic.


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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostTue Jun 06, 2017 11:53 pm

Rick I think you got off easy! They had already chewed a hole in the aluminum vent before we had started filming, then it was replaced and the camera was setup and they chewed through again!
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 1:29 am

Here's a couple more with before and after. These were meant to be DAY scenes and were shot WELL AFTER the sun had gone down.

Judge for yourself. You can see the original and the graded dailies. I have better examples with main cast but I'm not able to post those.

Again these are dailies grades using CDL by a great colourist limited to ONLY primary grading tools. No NR, no windows, no secondaries.

When I was shooting these I thought there was no way in hell they would come back. I couldn't even pick focus in the EVF. But we had to keep going because there were stunts involved we'd spent a long time rigging.

These shots are in the first episode which goes to air on Thursday night in the US. With the final grade and added NR they look great and intercut very well with shots done earlier in the day.

ExDStill_QOTS_170131_010438.jpg
ExDStill_QOTS_170131_010438.jpg (262.2 KiB) Viewed 9922 times

ExDStill_QOTS_170131_010447.jpg
ExDStill_QOTS_170131_010447.jpg (762.92 KiB) Viewed 9922 times


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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 1:36 am

I think John Brawley absolutely nails it. I own two BMPCC, one URSA Major (v2) and had my upgrade Mini Pro delivered today that I have been testing. I have been pretty miffed at BM's 'announce v delivery' which continued with my Mini Pro (10 weeks delivery) but all my I'll feeling has been dispelled this afternoon. My Mini Pro shows no FPN, noise, magenta corners or low light issues at all. My initial tests show it has a fantastic sensor, and so long as the camera proves to be reliable, will be a much valued addition to the kit and I believe will continue to do so for some considerable time. My Ursa Major 4K is now two years old (has been very profitable for me) and continues to provide simply superb footage. I do shoot RED but I would pick my Ursa every time over RED, (for cosmetic beauty stuff) just because the skin colour science on BM's beauty is just so darn good. Do you doubt me.... go check out my Instagram ( @iainphilpott ) All the recent motion is the Ursa Major (v2 sensor). (Also one specific project I'm working on I will be posting in the next week or so has a skin-tone that is just edible!!!!!) Outside of beauty I have shot some fab stuff making corporate films a little more interesting by cutting reportage (b&w) Pocket Camera footage with Ursa interview footage. Pocket stuff shot with Voigtlander glass is very easy to match. Not quite identical but has such a great raw depth/feel to it. I eagerly await shooting the Mini Pro on it's first shoot next week - on my tests this afternoon I'm sure it will not disappoint! I'm also sure that the Mini Pro will be continuing to deliver fantastic footage five years from now. Blackmagic you drive me frigging nuts BUT, and it's a big BUT, nearly 4 years on from it's introduction I have absolutely no qualms about picking up the Pocket and feeling confident of delivering the perfect job all these years on - today. Specs are specs, it's the quality of content that you deliver that is the most important factor. Whatever anyone says BM have built/supplied cameras that not just owner operators are using...... features and docs are too. Keep up the good work! #proudtoshootblackmagic4k #contentisking
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 3:11 am

Hope you have time to post samples here, Phil. Congrats on the new camera.


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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 5:13 am

John, that is exactly how I would expect the sensor to behave. I don't expect anymore than that. However, this is what I (and what it seems, many more) are getting in similiar situations.

Image

Image

Again, this is just to demonstrate the problem. Out of focus, so that the pattern is easier to see and underexposed to hell. It can be seen in better exposed images in movement. This is just for demonstration purposes, not something I would really want to try in a real shoot. Look at the right side of the image, those red lines are fixed.

Shot this in prores444 HD, ISO 800, graded with simple curves.

EDIT: Images should be visible now!
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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 8:22 am

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Re: Is the URSA Mini already starting to show its age?

PostWed Jun 07, 2017 5:55 pm

And how many of us have these options? Likely zero.

"Storaro screened and discussed the 1930s-set period drama Cafe Society, which opened Cannes last month and debuts in the U.S. on July 15, during his session at the main theater on the Paramount lot. He had arrived hours earlier in the day to make sure the projection was just as he intended. The gorgeous imagery was, uniquely, screened from a 12-bit uncompressed 4K DPX file (rather than a commonly used Digital Cinema Package), playing off a Clipster postproduction system and displayed with a Sony 4K projector — meaning that the Cine Gear presentation of the movie had more resolution and color tonality than come from today's most commonly used digital cinema projectors. Storaro asserted that today’s projection needs improvement, to at least be able to project 4K and 16-bit imagery.

Lensed with Sony’s top-of-the-line F65 digital cinematography camera (and lighter F55 for Steadicam work), Cafe Society was both Storaro's and Allen’s first feature-length motion picture shot with a digital camera. The cinematographer related that he’s been examining digital for a long time — testing Sony’s early HD camera technology as far back as 1983, and he felt this approach was the most creative choice for Cafe Society."


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