Blackmagic URSA: A Modular Cinema Camera With Insane Swappable Sensor

Blackmagic URSA: A Modular Cinema Camera With Insane Swappable Sensor

Blackmagic just announced a new camera, the URSA, a 4K cinema camera with some absolutely unique features like a 10-inch LCD display, dual RAW and ProRes recording, and a crazy swappable sensor and lens-mount design. All for around $6000.

The URSA is large, definitely not for your handheld run and gun video project. While Blackmagic’s previous cameras, like the Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera, were geared towards smaller, portable scenarios, URSA is meant for studio and high-end production. Its super-35mm size sensor records 4k video to dual internal recorders — one RAW and one ProRes. You can choose either an EF or PL mount version, but here’s the kicker: the lens mount and sensor are part of a single assembly, which you can swap out for different models.

That means that if you are working on a broadcast production environment where a smaller sensor is more suitable, you can pop on the appropriate module and go to town. Then, for your indie flick requiring a whole other aesthetic, switch it back.

Instead of a tiny LCD monitor like on most cameras, the URSA features a huge 10-inch fold-out monitor for effectively monitoring focus and exposure without having to attach an external device. The 10-inch display is in addition to a dedicated 5-inch LCD just for viewing camera settings.

In typical Blackmagic fashion, the price on the URSA is a crazy low $US6000 (for the EF mount version). It may not sound cheap, but comparable rigs go for well over $US10,000, sometimes double or triple that. Unfortunately, the low price of previous Blackmagic cameras has really shown underdeveloped firmware and lack of basic UX features, giving the products a half-baked feel in the eyes of many users. It is rather surprising that the company has decided to rapidly push out new cameras each year rather than fixing the problems in their current models.

Hopefully the URSA will break from that history and provide a better overall experience for people.