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URSA Mini Pro 12K

URSA Mini Pro 12K

By Bokeh Rentals | January 11th, 2022

Blackmagic Design has revolutionized the affordable cinema camera game before by combining spectacular resolution, superior workflow, and nifty form factor—and the 21st century manufacturer is doing it once again with the URSA Mini Pro 12K.

The company website describes the product as “the world’s most advanced digital film camera”. But what’s most important isn’t the limits of the new URSA’s functionality—it’s where the impressive features meet price.

Before jumping into the URSA Mini Pro 12K’s specs, you must look at its price: $5,995 for the camera body. This is a remarkably affordable camera for its capabilities, which advance the game for digital cinema cameras as a whole.

The URSA Mini Pro 12K was essentially designed by placing a new sensor into the lightweight, magnesium alloy body of the URSA Mini. The Super 35 sensor has a size of 27.03mm X 14.25mm and is capable of shooting at a resolution of 12,288 X 6,480, equivalent to 80 megapixels per frame. That’s a patently high pixel count for any digital cinema camera. Beyond the aesthetic difference that comes with better resolution, the 12K resolution gives users more creative flexibility in postproduction—as a 12K frame provides plenty of room to crop and stabilize when rendering to a 4K or even 6K frame.

In fact, this incredible resolution could technically reach IMAX resolution standards—as mentioned by Blackmagic Design in a previous press release. Although this wouldn’t constitute “true IMAX” (it wouldn’t be in IMAX’s analog format)—and it certainly wouldn’t hold a candle to the images of IMAX’s world class, extremely limited cameras—this comparison does shed a light on this Blackmagic consumer camera’s highly impressive image production. Beyond resolution, the URSA Mini Pro 12K has 14 stops of dynamic range. To assist with light manipulation, there is also a four-position ND filter wheel with clear, 2-stop, 4-stop, and 6-stop IR ND filters. The URSA can shoot 60fps at 12K, 120fps at 8K, 120fps at 6K (Super 16), and up to 240fps in 4K (Super 16). These capabilities on such an inexpensive camera make this device a great contender for stylish music video or commercial work—as well as useful for VFX-intensive productions.

The URSA Mini Pro 12K is outfitted with the standard PL mount for cinema lenses—but is also interchangeable and can be switched out to a Nikon F-mount or a Canon EF-mount.

Blackmagic Design also put a lot of effort into the software embedded within the URSA. The company has its own video codec, Blackmagic RAW, that makes post-production workflow even smoother. Blackmagic RAW files from the URSA Mini Pro 12K—even at its highest resolution—can be edited directly in the computer without use of a proxy. Blackmagic RAW is cross platform, available for free, and includes a developer SDK so consumers can incorporate Blackmagic RAW functionality into their own software.

To handle the large amounts of data, the URSA Mini Pro 12K has dual built-in CFast and UHS-II SD Card slots, capable of recording 900MB/s and 500MB/s, respectively. There’s also a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port that can record up to 900MB/s. Below are the bitrates of the URSA Mini Pro 12K’s full resolution, and an interactive data rate calculator can be found on Blackmagic’s website.

Versatility lies at the center of the URSA Mini Pro 12K’s design. Whether it’s the lightweight form factor, groundbreaking pixel count, various frame rates, fluid RAW workflow, or most importantly, it’s affordable cost—the URSA Mini Pro 12K serves as an accessible entry for consumers eager for the world of Super 35 digital cinema.

The URSA Mini Pro 12K sits at a very comfortable price of $5,995. On its higher end are the ultra-professional bodies like the RED Ranger Monstro and ALEXA Mini LF, which go for about $59,000. Just above the URSA is the Canon C300 for about $10,000. Therefore, this might be the most affordable S35 digital cinema camera out there, at an opportune price point for filmmakers that want to advance beyond DSLRs.

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ARRI Signature Zoom Lenses

ARRI Signature Zoom Lenses

By Bokeh Rentals | November 17th, 2021

Back in March 2018, ARRI announced its newest line of Signature Primes. With 16 lenses ranging from 12mm to 280mm focal lengths, united by universal T-stops, new LPL mounts, and a large format sensor, a new standard had been set for cine lenses.

Now, ARRI has begun releasing a matching line of lenses that are capable of zoom. And these Signature Zoom lenses were built to match imaging and performance with the Primes. A dubious task, because of the mechanical elements required to make a lens zoom—but nevertheless, ARRI set its sights. And the results are impressive.

The ARRI large format Signature Zoom package is a collection of four lenses that cover 16mm-300mm; capable of achieving a maximum focal length of 510mm with the 1.7x extender.

Just like the Signature Primes, the ARRI Signature Zooms cover full frame formats. Any large format or Super 35 sensor is possible with these lenses, making these a great choice for any sized project.

Like any exceptional gear, these lenses are built as a package. All have a uniform T-stop of T2.8, which provide a comforting consistency among the lineup, as lenses can be swapped out with minimal strain. High-quality zooms like these have no exposure ramping, which means that when zooming from 65mm to 300mm during a shot, the T-stop isn’t going to self-adjust. It may seem like a given, but this is quite the accomplishment when constructing such mechanically intricate lenses.

T-stop is just a number, so it’s worth considering performance. And the ARRI Signature Zooms have spectacular performance with both low and high levels of light. These capabilities may be less important for a Prime set—but for run-and-gunning zoom lenses, you want the assurance an image won’t get blown out or too noisy in dark situations. Cinematographers have hailed the Signature Zooms’ ability to handle bright environments, especially daytime landscape shots where the sun can be strong on skin tones. These are key to retaining character when shooting documentary, and the ARRI Signature Zooms do not disappoint. As cinematographer Laszlo Bille described his experience: “The lens behaved very, very nicely outside. We never had any harsh flares or bad effects from the sunlight, even when panning into the sun”.

With image quality taken care of, ARRI has space to expand the zoom capabilities of the lenses, and so the four lenses come with a 1.7x extender, perhaps the largest in the industry. The way it works is simple: if you’d like to expand the outer bound of focal lengths, DPs can attach the extender to the 65mm-300mm lens, turning it into a roughly 110mm-510mm lens. Beware though, there is a loss of about 1.5 stops when attaching the mechanical piece, and the T2.8 becomes a T4.9. Despite the drop in aperture performance with the extender, the performance is still impressive, and there is remarkable sharpness to the image. In fact, the minimum focus distance is unchanged when the extender is added, so you can still be at 510mm and crisply capture an object that sits only 1.3m in front of the lens.

Newsshooter shot some stunning test footage around Tokyo, showcasing the color depth and latitude possible with the ARRI Signature Zooms:

Much like the Signature Primes, each Signature Zoom lens has a detachable magnetic rear filter holder. This space is useful for placing filters and fabrics to experiment with diffusion, color and flaring. As Christopher Doyle puts it: “I especially love that the whole Signature lens series has the magnetic rear filter holder, which I’ve always felt opens up all kinds of personalized creative looks and possibilities”.

The lenses themselves are as lightweight as they can get, given their mechanically intensive builds. ARRI opted for lighter magnesium housing (opposed to the heavier, alternative, aluminum), which is yet another reason for the set’s high retail value.

ARRI claims that its Signature Zooms have optical and mechanical performances that exceed the other cine zooms out there, and that they can be used alongside the instant-classic Signature Primes. And so far, there is some notable agreement from professionals, which the company has posted on its site.

The four ARRI Signature Zoom lenses are an optical feat of engineering and make excellent additions to their sixteen Prime counterparts. The zoom lenses are new, so finding them before Christmas 2021 might prove difficult, as they’re the most coveted among new optical releases. Additionally, the price per lens is in the tens of thousands, leaving the higher-budgeted productions most capable of putting them to use.

ARRI takes its time for its inventions—and the ARRI Signature Zooms have been well worth the wait. This ultra-capable lens set is a worthwhile investment for any ambitious production, and worth considering for rental.

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