Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

For years we have paid through the nose for video equipment thanks in no part to inflated prices and inflated egos willing to spend silly money on kit.

Been there, done it, ate the pie as the saying goes…till now…the one clear message from Blackmagic’s latest offering is how much such a high spec camcorder DOES’NT COST !


If another manufacturer had brought URSA to market we would certainly be paying £10K upwards for this level of sophistication but the genius that runs Blackmagic Design Grant Petty has a clear vision…QUALITY at AFFORDABLE PRICES.

Granted BM have had a bad run of luck with the original BM Cinema camera but they have been honest enough to keep us informed about the duff sensors and hopefully with some better luck will start shipping the new URSA during July 2014.

At £3,785 plus vat the new URSA has set a new standard in not only quality but more importantly price that companies like Canon, RED, ARRI, Sony, Panasonic and JVC are going to find it hard to compete…especially those pitching at the 4K arena.

No surprise on the back of the BM announcement that Sony have announced an upgrade path for F5 owners to convert their cameras to the F55 which has delighted Sony F5 owners but at a price some are speculating about £3-4K almost as much as a new URSA !


Canon were rumoured to bring out a C400 with 4K specs but a rumour it stayed possibly a lucky coincidence as a newcomer to the camera market place the AJA CION priced at £5,370 plus vat, I can’t quite see how this camera is going to compete with the URSA at £3,785 plus vat.

So where does that leave similar spec camcorders like the ARRI ALEXA (Not 4K), RED EPIC, Sony F55 and Panasonics VariCam 35 well your guess is as good as mine but you can be well assured now that Blackmagic have taken the lid off over inflated pricing we may see some very good deals seeping out over the next few months as sales figures plummet and manufacturers get nervous.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

7 thoughts on “Have Blackmagic opened a Pandoras box that the video industry would have preferred to have kept tightly shut !

  1. I hope so. I’m in the market for a new camera and although this may be more camera than I currently need, the trickle down effect to the camera I am in the market for should drop considerably. I hope so at least. lol

  2. As more details of the Ursa emerge, I’m taking a Rain Check: it uses two C-Fast CF slots, which are quite expensive and don’t hold much footage when you’re shooting 10 bit 4K in an I-frame format like ProRes. A 128GB C-Fast card costs around $1,200 for 20 minutes of ProRes or 6 mins of raw. Come back, XQD cards, all is forgiven!

    HDW : Matt you took the words right out of my mouth CFast is very new, no one in the UK is selling it yet and $1,200 is a third of the price of the camera !

  3. I don’t think prices are going to drop that quick, the big boys are going to stick to their guns.

    Blackmagic is good at marketing, but to deliver on time and update its products to user requests is another story. I’m quite sceptical about Ursa delivery in July if they do manage it, there will be issues with hardware or software. They like to make promises that they can’t keep. Rather a company stays zipped until all issues are ironed out. Before starting to shout from roof tops that they have a product that can do this or that. Consumers just loose confidence in a company like this. Credibility & confidence is difficulty to get back once lost.

    Don’t get me wrong, likes of the BMPCC is an excellent camera, but a little rough round the edges. Even their 2.5K is good, the 4K could have been better if its low light performance was developed further before release. I think these cameras are ‘poor’ mans cameras. The large production houses wouldn’t touch them until they can prove there rep in the market. Likes of Sony, Canon, Panasonic have earned this over the years for reliability, customer service, software & hardware update, bug fixes etc.

  4. Great post and while I love the innovation of the URSA and think it’s a great idea for some, I disagree that it’s difficult to see how CION would be able to compete. As far as I’m aware the sensor in the URSA 4K will be similar to the one in the BMCC 4K, which as you mention, has had its fair share of reported problems (black holes, manufacturing errors, white orbs etc.). I love the idea of the HDMI version but think it would be quite unwieldy for me on location. Also if the battery draw of the BMCC is anything to go by, then coupled with that huge screen and the other two screens, the URSA is likely to eat batteries like crazy. Also the AMIRA-like weight of the URSA has already broken the deal for me as I would like to use my existing sliders / jibs etc. which won’t handle that kind of weight. Admittedly I haven’t seen the weight of the CION yet, but it looks to be lighter and for my purposes, the CION seems like a much more sensible proposition – I like the high frame rates, the choice of codecs and ergonomics of the camera, which negates the need for a rig whilst remaining relatively compact. I just hope AJA put in a good sensor and offer good service to users willing to take a punt on their first camera offering… There are bound to be issues with the CION that haven’t become apparent yet, but on paper it looks like a great camera to me!

  5. The price is nice indeed, but the URSA can only become a contender for Arri, Panasonic or Sony if BM manage quickly to solve all the problems that usually trouble their cameras for too long time. That’s the reason why many people familiar with BM cameras are very skeptical when (or whether?) the URSA will deliver what BM promise. Its sensor for example is the same as the one used in the BMPC 4K, where it has caused more than enough frustration already. When you don’t shoot just for fun, the camera price alone is far from being the decisive aspect.
    I will keep an eye on the URSA of course, but I am more impressed by the CION with the Arri Amira being the camera of my dreams. It can’t shoot 4K, but I have no need for 4K anyway and everything else is a class of its own. That’s why its “inflated” price is justified for professional use and the high number of pre-orders shows that Arri is right. It’s simply a very different market beyond the BM cameras.

    the CION weighs 3.4 kg with top handle attached and 2.9 kg without.

  6. Having believed the hype and ordered 2 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, after a long wait, one arrived. After testing I sent it back. The sound was appalling. Even the cheapest camcorders deliver much superior sound. Their latest products look to good to be true……I do hope they get these right.

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