Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

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JerryG

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Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostFri May 07, 2021 7:02 pm

I've been researching cameras lately with the goal of buying a new camera for travel videography now that the Covid pandemic is starting to ease a little. I've looked at various models and currently have three on my shortlist: BMD URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2, Canon C300 Mk III, and Sony FX9.

The URSA is significantly less expensive than the Canon or the Sony while offering similar specifications. I like having the ability to record BRAW internally and really like the menu system of the URSA over that of the other two. About the only thing I like better on the Canon and Sony is the monitor isn't permanently attached to the body. All of my lenses (PL mount) are manual focus, so I don't really care about autofocus.

With that being said, I've been reading persistent stories on the net about the quality control of BMD cameras and wonder if this is really an issue or simply a few rare and widely separated cases. Some of the issues I've heard about include the monitor going blank or being filled with a solid color (pink and purple are the two colors that seem to be the most common), the OFF switch not working and needing to remove the battery to turn the camera off, issues writing to media (particularly the Mini Recorder), random freezes, etc. By contrast, I've not heard of any similar issues with either the C300 or FX9.

I tend to go to places like deserts and forests and don't mollycoddle my equipment, and am often in places were service isn't an option. Am I being unnecessarily worried about quality issues with BMD cameras (and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 in particular) or can I buy with confidence and expect it to perform well and last a long time?
Jerry Gardner
Northern California
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Ellory Yu

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostFri May 07, 2021 8:11 pm

Hi Jerry. I have been an owner of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 for several years now. I have not run into any "quality" issues with the camera (knock on wood). It is a nice cine camera that won't let you down in features and IQ unrivaled by the Sony F series, the Canon C series, and some of the RED that I rented before, and one that I can recommend. The stories you read with regards to quality issues usually are told of when the product is just released. This is because Blackmagic tends quality control is lacking and IMO they operate on a premise of "releasing early and fix the problem as we go" mentality. So if you are okay to be an early adopter (a.k.a. in beta testing mode), expect problems and wait for the next version or model to address it. Then there is firmware updates that can cause issues to the camera. That usually gets resolve as new firmware updates comes out. There seem to be a number of folks who are fine with this. Me, my preference is to wait for generation 2 or 3 of their product, and the incarnation of several firmware versions before buying it.

With that said, the firmware went through a number of versions and the URSA Mini Pro is now a gen 2 model. I think it is stable as it will get. The G2 has aged and like a fine wine, it gets better with age. This is not to say that there may not be an issue with a new copy. But if there are going to be problems with the G2 these days, it will be far and in-between or until the next firmware update for it is released. One thing to consider is the UMP G2 has been in production for more than a year. Again, in my experience, Blackmagic tends to release new products that quickly and quietly obsolete the previous model and owners tend to find out in a hard way the lack of support and upgrades that can make the equipment still viable. That's just an observation from my experience since I bought into the Blackmagic cinema camera eco-system, which started with buying the original Pocket HD, the Cinema Camera 2.5K, the URSA 4K, the URSA Mini 4K, the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2, and more recently the Pocket 6K.
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rick.lang

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostSat May 08, 2021 1:32 am

BMD cameras are not sealed so if you do a lot in windy deserts and the Amazon, I’d suggest some mollycoddling might be warranted.

Since this is your travel camera you might also want to consider the convenience of the BMPCC6K with a lens adapter and EVF or the budget-friendly but quite capable and problem-free BMPCC4K that I shoot with (using manual PL mount lenses) in all conditions except the Amazon or heavier precipitation than light rain (same is true of the URSA Mini 4.6K. For the price, you could by two BMPCC4K cameras as a backup in the event of problems.

The thing is the image quality and all the resolution and sensor range flexibility of the Pocket cameras whose capabilities are complemented using the latest release of DaVinci Resolve Studio that is included free.
Rick Lang
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JerryG

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostSun May 09, 2021 11:56 pm

Thanks for the reply, Rick.

Portability isn’t really too important to me as I travel in a big SUV and prefer to shoot on a tripod. I haven’t had issues with dust in the past and usually wrap the camera in plastic if the dust and/or rain gets too bad.

I’m not really worried about environmental damage but rather the failures that I’ve been reading about on the net that seem to plague the URSA models. I’m trying to gauge whether these problems occur to 0.1% of all URSAs or to 10-20% of them. If the former, no problem. If the latter, I’m going to look for a more reliable brand.

I already have and use Davinci Resolve Studio, so getting that with a camera purchase isn’t much of a deal sweetener for me.
Jerry Gardner
Northern California
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rick.lang

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostMon May 10, 2021 2:09 am

Things like broken caps on controls can result in a lot of complaints but usually boil down to a simple flaw in manufacturing or installation that is corrected and then we never hear of them again. If you can manage the cost the URSA Mini Pro 12K might give you better results than the Pro G2. It’s a fascinating sensor and camera. I feel it deserves your attention. Not because it’s 12K but for how flexible it is.

Alas I can’t justify a Pro 12K personally but I’m very happy with the modest BMPCC4K.
Rick Lang
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Ellory Yu

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostMon May 10, 2021 3:27 am

I'm not disagreeing with Rick on the sensor of the URSA 12K, but in terms of reliability, the URSA G2 has a much better and longer track record in terms of durability and stability at this juncture (especially when in comes to BMD eco-systems). I know coz as I said, I own one and have used it quite a bit to date. I think the G2 and the Pocket 4/6K as a A/B cam combo is much better buy than the U12K.
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rick.lang

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostMon May 10, 2021 4:52 pm

Agree the value is better as Ellory states; I use my BMPCC4K with my URSA Mini 4.6K especially if both are recording ProRes 422 HQ. I’ve shot BRAW and CinemaDNG but there’s more of a difference. Probably moreso with Colour Science 5 versus colour science 3 or 4 from the Mini in Resolve camera raw.
Rick Lang
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Ellory Yu

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Re: Quality Issues with BMD Cameras?

PostMon May 10, 2021 6:30 pm

rick.lang wrote:Agree the value is better as Ellory states; I use my BMPCC4K with my URSA Mini 4.6K especially if both are recording ProRes 422 HQ. I’ve shot BRAW and CinemaDNG but there’s more of a difference. Probably moreso with Colour Science 5 versus colour science 3 or 4 from the Mini in Resolve camera raw.

Since they now have Gen 5 on the Pockets, I'm hoping they'll add that to the UMP G2 soon.
MSI Raider X99 MB / Intel i7 5280 6 core CPU / 2 x AMD R9 390X 8Gb GPU / 32Gb 3200 RAM / Decklink 4K Mini Monitor / 240Gb SSD OS Drive / 4Tb RAID 0 SSD Cache/Scratch Drive / 24Tb 7200rpm Data Drive / Win 10 Pro 64bit / Resolve 17

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