So Blackmagic hasn’t failed to update their camera line up this year despite of the Corona Virus shutdown, which cancelled all events including NAB where most big camera announcements are made. Meet the new Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 12K camera!
I know what you might be thinking. Why would I ever need a 12K camera? Also what am I going to do with those huge file sizes since the camera shoots in raw. I’ll spend a fortune on hardrives!
Seems like the engineers at Blackmagic have that all figured out. First let me answer the why. 12K is useful when you are doing VFX and need extra info for tracking rotoscoping etc. Also even when editing a 4K video you can now essentially re-frame and zoom in so much more without loosing quality that it allows you to get one master shot with 2 people and then zoom in and get 2 close up shots all shot with 1 camera. Of course if you don’t need the 12 K for any of those reasons there is nothing to worry about since Blackmagic engineers have already thought of all that.
So now let me move on to the how. The new 12K camera is in fact a raw camera with 4 different cameras all in one. Because of the way that Blackmagic RAW or BRAW codec works it means that the camera can shoot in the full sensor size, which is Super 35mm, in all the different resolutions. It can shoot without cropping in on the sensor in 12K but also in 8K, 6K and 4K. So you can choose whatever resolution you want while shooting in RAW. On top of that the BRAW codec is very efficient at compressing the data yet being very friendly when editing it in Davinci Resolve. So it means that even if you are not sure if you will need the 12K resolution, you can still shoot in that format in BRAW with a 8:1 compression ratio and still get great looking footage that will allow you to re-frame etc in post. If you are one of those complaining about “Why do I need 12K?!” then remember this camera shoots in up to resolution of 12K but also in 8K, 6K and 4K. Doesnt mean you have to shoot everything in 12K. Some people will need it some won’t. If a camera comes with higher frame rates, will you complain about that too? Does it mean you have to shoot everything at the highest frame rate? No you shoot mostly in 24 fps but at least you got an option to use higher frame rates when you need it. Same with higher resolutions.
The way the new camera is designed, which by the way has all new internal components and not just the sensor, it will actually reduce the data rate coming off the sensor as you lower the resolutions. That lower data rate in turn allows the camera to shoot at higher frame rates. So this camera is not only amazing in the dynamic range, resolution but now also high frame rates.
Here are the following frame rates the camera can shoot at each resolution and crop factor:
12K full sensor at 60 fps
8K full sensor at 110 fps
6K full sensor at 110 fps
6K super 16mm crop at 120 fps
4K full sensor at 110 fps
4K super 16mm crop at 220 fps
Aside from all these exciting specs the camera brings along with it all the great design and I/O capability from the previous URSA Mini Pro G2. You can record to dual CFast 2.0 Cards plus just like the Pocket cameras from Blackmagic you can also record to an external SSD via the USB-C port. URSA Mini Pro 12K features an interchangeable PL mount, as well as built in ND filters. Of course all the previous URSA Mini Pro accessories and rigs will work with the 12K camera.
The sensor is 12,288 x 6480 resolution Super 35 image sensor with 14 stops of dynamic range. Blackmagic RAW lets you shoot 12K and still edit on a laptop, a capability that simply isn’t possible with other codecs. It is also one of the main reasons why I am such a fan of the different Blackmagic Design cameras. BRAW can shoot in different settings such as constant quality Q0 and Q5 options and new Q1 and Q3 lock the quality level, allowing compression to adapt, matching the detail of the scene. Constant bitrate encoding options 5:1, 8:1, 12:1 and the new 18:1 are designed to give you the best possible images with predictable and consistent file size. You can record RAW to two cards simultaneously so you can shoot 12K or 8K to either CFast or UHS‑II cards, even at high frame rates! In case you didn’t know this camera, as do all other Blackmagic cameras come with a full version of the amazing Davinci Resolve video editing and color grading software.
So is Blackmagic Design ending their previous camera the URSA Mini G2? No, the new 12K camera is mean to be a companion to the already great G2 model. The G2 offers lower resolution but it does give you 1 extra stop of light at 15 stops versus the 14 stops on the 12K version. Also the G2 camera offers even better slow motion capability with frame rates up to 300 frames per second.
The new 12K camera is set to start shipping in a few weeks although no specific date has been announced yet. We all know how Blackmagic can sometimes over promise camera releases and when keep paying customers waiting. Let’s hope that doesnt happen this time. The price for the new camera is $9,995 which makes this the most pricey Blackmagic camera yet still it one of the most affordable high resolution cameras.
As always you can pre-order the new 12K camera and the amazing G2 model on B&H Camera Store. Let me know what you think of this latest release from Blackmagic Design!