An URSA Mini 4.6K vs Arri Alexa comparison may seem like a stretch, but Blackmagic’s new 4.6K sensor raises the bar for everyone in performance and price.
I love disruptive technology, and my favourite manufacturers are the most disruptive ones. They are also the most innovative, able to change the game for everyone with a single, often unexpected product announcement.
URSA 4.6K / URSA Mini 4.6K Change The Game
Arri has been king for a long time now, and few have come along with any real competition for the top spot. RED Digital Cinema are right there, but as with Alexa and Alexa Mini it all comes with a premium price tag.
Not too long ago it was RED Digital Cinema that was behind the first major tectonic shift in the cost of the tools of professional cinematography. RED has led the revolution so to speak against the elite, self-protective establishment, more or less “inventing” the 35mm digital cinema camera as we know it. With the RED One, Epic, Scarlet, and now Weapon, Raven and Helium, more creatives than ever before can afford and access film like 35mm imagery. RED brought down barriers for many, but not everyone.
Could it be time for another tectonic shift?
Can it be argued that Arri and RED have become the new establishment, the new barrier to an even wider and ever growing young generation of creatives looking for access to the same tools?
I believe now… if they get it right, Blackmagic Design is poised to lead a new wave of the digital cinema revolution.
I believe (and it is just opinion at this stage) that the performance gap between a $6,995 URSA 4.6K or $4,995 URSA Mini (featuring the new 4.6K 15-stop sensor) and a $40,000 RED Epic or $60,000 Alexa will no longer justify the vast difference in cost.
In fact, Blackmagic Design’s first camera, the 2.5K Cinema Camera set all this in motion two years ago.
It has long been said and acknowledged that the 2.5K Cinema Camera has the best image of any Blackmagic camera that has shipped to date. It has a lovely flat organic look, great color when graded and decent exposure latitude.
It’s also been said that this camera has a somewhat “Alexa” quality to the image. I’ve shot with both, graded both and I agree.
The same thing is being said of the image from Blackmagic’s new 4.6K, 15 stop sensor.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Arri and RED, I love the Alexa, and both of these companies are disruptive and innovating in leaps and bounds, just look at the 8K VistaVision full RED Weapon, 8K RED Helium, and the Alexa 65. That’s all cutting edge technology and worth every penny.
However, I think the Blackmagic URSA and URSA Mini 4.6K may finally bring premium imaging to everyone.
Another good read for more information on why this sensor looks so promising is this article by Noam Kroll – Why Highlight Rolloff Matters As Much As Dynamic Range & Which Affordable Cinema Camera Does It Best
URSA 4.6K / URSA Mini 4.6K Specs Look Good
I’ll leave you with an interesting comparison of specs, not that it means anything without real images. This story is far from over, and I am sure as more 4.6K Blackmagic cameras get into the hands of hungry shooters, we’ll start to see how good the images really are.
|Arri Alexa / XT / XT Plus||Blackmagic URSA 4.6K|
|Sensor||35 format CMOS sensor with Bayer pattern color filter array||super 35 format CMOS sensor with Bayer pattern color filter array|
|Sensor Size||28.17mm x 18.33mm||25.34mm x 14.25mm|
|Sensor Aspect Ratio||4:3||16:9|
|Open Gate Resolution||3414 x 2198||4608 x 2592|
|Resolution (16:9 Modes)|
|RAW||2880 x 1620||4608 x 2592|
|HD||2880 x 1620 down sampled to 1920 x 1080||4608 x 2592 down sampled to 1920 x 1080|
|2K||2868 x 1612 down sampled to 2048 x 1152||4608 x 2592 down sampled to 2048 x 1152|
|3.2K||3168 x 1778|
|4K||N/A||4608 x 2592 down sampled to 4096 x 2304|
|ProRes HD||0.75 – 120fps||not yet specified|
|ProRes 2K||0.75 – 60fps||not yet specified|
|ProRes 3.2K||0.75 – 30fps||not yet specified|
|DNxHD HD||0.75 – 120fps||not yet specified|
|RAW||0.75 – 120fps||1 – 120fps|
|Exposure Latitude (Dynamic Range)||14+ stops||15 stops|
|Native Exposure Index (Base Sensitivity)||EI 800||EI 800|
|Exposure Index Range||EI 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200||EI 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|White Balance||Presets for 3200 (tungsten), 4300 (fluorescent), 5600 (daylight) and 7000 (daylight cool). Automatic calculation or manual white balance for 2000 to 11000 Kelvin, adjustable in 100 K steps||Presets for 3200 (tungsten), 4300 (fluorescent), 5600 (daylight) and 7000 (daylight cool). Manual white balance for 2500 to 8000 Kelvin, adjustable in 500 K steps|