Video cameras are evolving as quickly as any other technology out there. We explore the pros and cons of two of the latest hot cameras.
The first we are recommending is the Blackmagic URSA.
The good news: this camera is cool for a bunch of reasons of reasons — one in that it has every kind of monitor you’d want built right in. It has a giant flip out iPad-sized viewfinder/touch screen, as well as two other LCDs. This camera also has a whole panel devoted to audio, with dedicated XLR inputs and meters. It also records to ProRes and RAW internally. One of the coolest things about the URSA is that is has the a user upgradable sensor and mount, which essentially future proofs this camera. So, while now the camera has a 4K (cropped 35) sensor capable of recording 80fps, we expect an upgrade to be announced at NAB in April. Perhaps 5 or 6K at up to 120fps! The current sensor has just 12 stops of dynamic range. Again, with a larger sensor we expect the dynamic range increase as well. Another thing this camera has is a “global shutter”. This eliminates all morié or rolling shutter artifacts. ProRes 422(HQ) is the highest quality version of ProRes the URSA can record.
The camera is available with an industry-standard (Canon) EF lens mount and the body retails for $5,995.
The bad news: this camera is heavy, weighing in at almost 13 lbs., without a lens. It also records to new “c-fast” cards, which are currently expensive. However, the cards are non-proprietary, so the cards should go down in price. Also, if you want to go hand held with the camera (in addition to adding weight), you will need to buy a shoulder mount (@ $99) and probably a third-party viewfinder.
Here’s the link: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicursa
The competition to the URSA is the AJA CION.
The good news: this camera is lighter, at between 6.4 – 7.4 lbs without a lens. And, like the URSA, it also has a 4K, (cropped 35) sensor with a global shutter and 12 stops of dynamic range. Looking at this camera, it has a much more parred down, almost minimalist design. It features one small LCD on the left side of the camera.
The CION can record RAW, but only to a external recorder. It can also do 120 fps, but only to an external recorder. It does however beat the URSA for recording resolution, in that it can record ProRes 4:4:4:4 (the extra 4 is an alpha channel). 4:4:4 refers to RGB, indicating that the CION is recording to the full bit depth of each channel. And in this case we think that is up to 12 bits per channel! The only other camera we are aware of that can match this feat is the ARRI ALEXA.
The bad news: a failing of this camera is that does not have a “LOG” recording option for superior color control when grading, whereas the URSA does have this feature. The CION is also limited to recording to AJA’s proprietary “Pak Media”. Plus, currently, this camera is only available with a PL lens mount, though third-party EF mount adaptors are available. The AJA CION retails for $8,995.
Bottom line – while both cameras rock!, in our opinion while the CION wins for its light weight and ergonomic design. DPs will get more for their money with the Blackmagic URSA.
For all of your video production needs, please contact Capitola Media in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.