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Blackmagic URSA 12K or the pocket 6K: A Comprehensive Comparison for Independent DOPs



Introduction:

As an independent Director of Photography (DOP), choosing the right camera for your projects is crucial. In this blog post, we will delve into a detailed comparison of two popular Blackmagic cameras: the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and its larger sibling, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K. Yes... we said 12K. You might be asking, what are you going to need all those Ks for? At HatChap Productions we've had the privilege of working with both of these incredibly powerful cinema cameras, but which one should YOU choose? In this post we will explore the pros and cons of each camera to help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs. So let's dive into which one is best for you - the Blackmagic URSA 12K or the pocket 6K.


1. Form Factor and Portability:

The first noticeable difference between these cameras is their size and weight. The Blackmagic Pocket 6K lives up to its name, providing a compact and lightweight design, making it an excellent choice for run-and-gun or handheld shooting. On the other hand, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K offers a larger form factor, catering to more traditional shooting setups and facilitating easier integration with professional accessories such as matte boxes and follow-focus systems.


Blackmagic Ursa 12K on the set of Colin Van Loon's "Aakaotasi" Documentary
Blackmagic Ursa 12K on the set of Colin Van Loon's "Aakaotasi" Documentary

Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Portable and lightweight, perfect for on-the-go shooting.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Larger form factor allows for seamless integration with professional cinema accessories.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Limited space for mounting additional accessories directly onto the camera body.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Bulkier and heavier, making it less suitable for handheld or documentary-style shooting.





2. Image Quality:

Both cameras offer exceptional image quality, but the resolution and sensor size differ significantly.


The Blackmagic Pocket 6K features a Super 35mm sensor and can record up to 6K resolution. It delivers stunning cinematic images with excellent dynamic range, color reproduction, and low-light performance.


On the other hand, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K boasts an impressive 12K resolution and a larger full-frame sensor. This results in incredibly detailed images, superior color accuracy, and enhanced low-light capabilities.


Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: High-quality Super 35mm sensor, excellent dynamic range, and remarkable color reproduction.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Unmatched 12K resolution, larger full-frame sensor for extraordinary image detail.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Lower resolution compared to the Ursa 12K.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: The 12K resolution may not be necessary for all projects and may require more substantial storage and processing power.


Jocelyn Chugg and Chantelle Vant Erve on the set of Paid in Blood - Teaser
Jocelyn Chugg and Chantelle Vant Erve on the set of Paid in Blood - Teaser. Shot on the Pocket 6K

3. Recording Formats and Codecs:

Both cameras offer a range of recording options and codecs to meet different production requirements.


The Blackmagic Pocket 6K supports various codecs, including Blackmagic RAW and ProRes, enabling flexible post-production workflows. It can record up to 6K resolution internally onto CFast 2.0 or SD UHS-II cards.


Similarly, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K provides versatile recording options, including Blackmagic RAW and ProRes. It can record up to 12K resolution internally onto CFast 2.0 or UHS-II SD cards, or even to an external SSD via its USB-C port.


Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Wide range of recording options, including Blackmagic RAW, allowing for efficient post-production workflows.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Offers the highest resolution in a variety of recording formats and supports external SSD recording.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Limited to 6K resolution.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Higher data rates associated with 12K recording may require more significant storage capacity and processing power.


4. Integrated Features and Expandability:

The Blackmagic Pocket 6K and the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K offer a range of integrated features to enhance your shooting experience.


The Pocket 6K comes with a 5" touchscreen display, allowing for easy menu navigation and live monitoring. It also features built-in microphones, a mini XLR input, and a headphone jack, providing basic audio recording capabilities. Moreover, it offers a USB-C port for direct external recording and battery charging.


In contrast, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K offers a larger 5" fold-out touchscreen display, which offers more flexibility for shooting at various angles. It includes professional audio inputs with phantom power, multiple SDI outputs, and XLR audio outputs, making it well-suited for demanding audio recording setups. Additionally, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K provides a wide array of physical controls, including ND filter wheel, iris control, and customizable function buttons.


Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Compact touchscreen display, basic audio recording capabilities, and USB-C port for convenience.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Larger fold-out touchscreen, professional audio inputs, and extensive physical controls for enhanced flexibility.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Limited audio input options and fewer physical control buttons.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Larger size and weight may not be suitable for every shooting scenario.


5. Price Points:

Price considerations are crucial for independent DOPs working on a budget. Let's take a closer look at the price points of these cameras.


The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K offers an affordable option for filmmakers, priced around $2,495 (as of the time of writing). This competitive price makes it accessible to a broader range of independent filmmakers, especially those working on smaller projects.


On the other hand, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K is a higher-end cinema camera, priced at approximately $9,995 (as of the time of writing). The higher price tag reflects the camera's advanced capabilities and its ability to capture footage at an astonishing 12K resolution.


Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: More budget-friendly, providing a cost-effective solution without compromising on image quality.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Offers top-of-the-line features for filmmakers who require the absolute pinnacle of resolution and image quality.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: Lower cost may come with some trade-offs in terms of resolution and sensor size.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: Higher price may be prohibitive for those on a tighter budget.


6. Storage Considerations:

When it comes to data storage, both cameras require careful planning to ensure efficient and reliable recording.


The Blackmagic Pocket 6K uses CFast 2.0 or SD UHS-II cards for internal recording. While these media options are widely available and relatively affordable, they may have limitations in terms of capacity and data transfer speeds, especially when recording higher-resolution formats.





The Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K supports internal recording onto CFast 2.0 or UHS-II SD cards, but due to the significantly higher data rates associated with 12K recording, it is highly recommended to utilize external SSDs via the camera's USB-C port. This provides larger storage capacities and faster data transfer rates required for capturing high-resolution content.


Pros:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: CFast 2.0 and SD cards are affordable and widely available.

- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: The option to record onto external SSDs offers more storage capacity and faster data transfer rates for high-resolution content.


Cons:

- Blackmagic Pocket 6K: CFast 2.0 and SD cards may have limitations in terms of capacity and data transfer speeds for higher-resolution formats.


- Blackmagic Ursa 12K: The necessity of external SSDs for optimal performance adds to the overall cost of storage.


A couple great storage options in the SSD world for these cameras are the Samsung T5 2 terabyte SSD and the Sandisk Extreme Pro 1TB. Each one provides substantial read and write speeds between approximately 500mb/s and 1000 mb/s.


7. Blackmagic vs. Industry Competitors:

The Blackmagic line of cameras competes with other popular cinema camera manufacturers in the industry. Let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Blackmagic over its competitors.


Pros of Choosing Blackmagic:

- Affordability: Blackmagic cameras offer exceptional value for their price, providing professional-grade features and image quality at more accessible price points compared to some competitors.

HatChap Productions owner, Nick Bohle, in the editing suite. - Photo credit: Dayton Stebner
HatChap Productions owner, Nick Bohle, in the editing suite. - Photo credit: Dayton Stebner

- Image Quality: Blackmagic cameras are known for their impressive image quality, offering high dynamic range, accurate color reproduction, and low-light capabilities that rival more expensive options.


- Integrated Workflow: Blackmagic cameras integrate seamlessly with other Blackmagic products, such as DaVinci Resolve and Blackmagic Video Assist, allowing for a streamlined post-production workflow.


- Extensive Recording Options: Blackmagic cameras support a wide range of recording formats and codecs, including the highly efficient Blackmagic RAW, providing flexibility in post-production and efficient data management.


- Accessible User Interface: Blackmagic cameras often feature intuitive user interfaces, making them easier to operate for independent filmmakers and DOPs.


Cons of Choosing Blackmagic:

- Limited Availability of Accessories: Compared to some competitors, the availability of third-party accessories specifically designed for Blackmagic cameras may be more limited, potentially limiting customization options.


- Ergonomics: While Blackmagic cameras offer ergonomic designs, they may not be as refined or customizable as certain high-end competitors, which may affect comfort during extended shoots.


- Brand Recognition: While Blackmagic has gained popularity in the industry, it may still have less brand recognition compared to established competitors. This might impact perceptions and rental availability in certain markets.


Brief Overview of DaVinci Resolve NLE:

In addition to its cameras, Blackmagic Design is known for its industry-leading non-linear editing software, DaVinci Resolve. Let's briefly touch on the advantages of using DaVinci Resolve for your post-production needs.


DaVinci Resolve is a comprehensive and powerful editing, color grading, visual effects, and audio post-production software. It offers numerous benefits for independent DOPs:


1. All-in-One Solution: DaVinci Resolve combines editing, color grading, and audio post-production tools in a single application, reducing the need for multiple software and streamlining your workflow.


2. Advanced Color Grading: DaVinci Resolve is renowned for its professional-grade color grading capabilities. It provides a wide range of tools, including primary and secondary color correction, curves, power windows, and more, allowing you to achieve the desired look for your footage.


3. Collaboration and Teamwork: DaVinci Resolve Studio (the paid version) offers collaborative editing, allowing multiple editors and colorists to work on the same project simultaneously, increasing productivity and efficiency in collaborative workflows.


4. Fusion Visual Effects: DaVinci Resolve includes Fusion, a powerful node-based compositing tool, enabling you to create stunning visual effects directly within the editing environment.


5. Fairlight Audio Post-Production: DaVinci Resolve features robust audio editing and mixing capabilities with its integrated Fairlight audio engine. You can handle everything from basic audio editing to advanced sound design and mixing within the same application.


6. Free Version: DaVinci Resolve offers a free version with a substantial feature set, making it accessible to independent DOPs with limited budgets. The free version is feature-rich and suitable for many professional projects.


CONCLUSION:

Choosing between the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K ultimately depends on your specific needs as an independent DOP. The Pocket 6K offers a compact and affordable solution with exceptional image quality, while the Ursa 12K provides unmatched resolution and advanced features at a higher price point.


Consider factors such as form factor, image quality requirements, recording options, integrated features, expandability, price, and storage considerations. By carefully assessing these aspects, you can determine which camera aligns best with your project requirements and budget, enabling you to create captivating visuals and bring your creative vision to life.


Remember, regardless of the camera you choose, it is your artistic vision, storytelling skills, and technical proficiency that will ultimately make your work shine. Happy shooting!



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