Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is Frame Rate Beast!

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K

The Black Magic Design URSA camera line has been one of our favorite high frame rate options for many years now as it is a blend of excellent quality at a relatively low price with the added bonus of RAW recording and ProRes options.  Now the company has announced the latest iteration of the camera with a monstrous pixel size of 12k or 80 Megapixels per frame. All of this in an APS-C super 35mm crop from Full Frame sensor that is built to satisfy the requirements of their Black Magic RAW codec or BRAW for short which is in this camera the only recording format available.

What interests us as always are the high frame rates and this camera does not disappoint when it comes to this spec. The only real problem we see is that recording is made only from 4k resolution and up, completely avoiding 3k, 2k and HD resolutions which could yield even higher frame rates with probably a huge crop in the 80MP frame which will probably yield a noisy and artifact prone image hence why they probably avoided recording down on those modes.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K Main Specs:

High Speed Frame Rates:

  • 12K 17:9 full sensor up to 60 fps
  • 8K DCI full sensor up to 110 fps
  • 4K DCI full sensor up to 110 fps
  • 8K 2.4:1 and 4K 2.4:1 up to 140 fps
  • 6K Super 16 up to 120 fps
  • 4K Super 16 up to 220 fps

Shooting Resolutions:

  • 12,288 x 6480 (12K DCI)
  • 11,520 x 6480 (12K 16:9)
  • 12,288 x 5112 (12K 2.4:1)
  • 7680 x 6408 (12K Anamorphic)
  • 8192 x 4320 (8K DCI)
  • 7680 x 4320 (8K 16:9)
  • 8192 x 3408 (8K 2.4:1)
  • 5120 x 4272 (8K Anamorphic)
  • 6144 x 3240 (6K Super16)
  • 4096 x 2160 (4K Super16)
  • 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI)
  • 3840 x 2160 (4K 16:9)
  • 4096 x 1704 (4K 2.4:1)
  • 2560 x 2136 (4K Anamorphic)

Built in ND Filters: Four position ND filter wheel with clear, 2-stop, 4-stop and 6-stop IR ND filters

Effective Sensor Size: 27.03mm x 14.25mm (Super35)   80MP

Lens Mount: PL mount included. Interchangeable with optional EF and F lens mounts.

Lens Control: 12pin broadcast connector for compatible lenses and electronic control via EF mount pins on optional EF lens mount.

The camera looks very familiar because it shares the exterior with other URSA Mini cameras but the inside components are completely revamped. This makes sense as DPs and other BlackMagicDesign camera users want to jump straight into a tried and true design without having to re-learn muscle memory or new controls. The cameras work well and are ready to shoot. Simply put if you have shot with an URSA Camera you are easily ready to shoot on this new 12k beast within a few minutes.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K Test Footage and Highlights by Love What You Do:

The Image Quality on the URSA Mini Pro 12k is quite superb and literally overkill for most uses. The main point by BMD is that the camera will be ideal to shoot with and either scale down for extra sharpness or crop the image in a variety of frame sizes that will allow a shoot once and multi-edit/crop a shot with no limits.  In the video above you can see how 4k looks so minuscule, that it looks like a comparison between 720p and 4k from a few years back. Now 4k UHD is the new 720p for cameras in this range and that makes us a bit worried about the path where cameras are heading. 

The resolution race is becoming a bit ridiculous as even the best lenses out there simply cannot generate enough resolution to the sensor frame to be in line with 50 Megapixels let alone the 80MP in this camera.  So why then do we need the 80MP frame size when a 40MP would have sufficed?  That is a question that is not easy to answer except that the fact of supersampling and reducing for a smaller format creates a better image with fewer artifacts and noise. Using the URSA Mini 12k image at full resolution is pretty much an impossibility on most hardware so downsampling is already a foregone conclusion.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K | Up to Speed by ProAV TV:

The excellent video above makes a great point about the way the sensor in the URSA Mini Pro 12k works. In most cameras, there is a Bayer pixel pattern on the sensor surface but here it is an RGB design which means every color is represented at every photosite.  This allows to have a RAW image at lower resolutions but still saving on BRAW format with all the freedom and qualities that image capture codec provides.  This camera might be the way of the future when it comes to camera design.

It will be interesting to see how good it is on low light with that 80MP sensor on a crop APS-C design which is less than ideal in Bayer pattern sensors.   We will revisit the frame-rate quality and the image quality at high ISO and low light when available.

Pretty impressive!

Its quite impossible not to be blown away by this camera spec sheet including the amazing frame rates at such monstrous resolutions.  4k at 220fps in Super 16 crop which should be a 1/2 size area of the sensor is a very cool frame rate to have and also being kind of on rarified air compares to the competition in the likes of the Canon R5 which tops out at 120fps 4k but only in 4:2:2 10 bit compressed and not RAW.

Many will balk at the $9995 MSRP price but for the kind of power here it is really a Cinema monster given away on the cheap. You will of course need a field monitor, a bunch of SSD recording media, and a monstrous amount of backup drives to store the footage.  There is also the matter of the camera only being able to record in BRAW format as the special sensor design is not able to record in other codecs like ProRes or H.265 for example.

Supported Codecs:

Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 5:1,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 8:1,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 12:1,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Bitrate 18:1,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q0,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q1,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q3,
Blackmagic RAW Constant Quality Q5.

Storage Rates:

Storage rates based on 24 frames per second.

12K – 12,288 x 6480
Blackmagic RAW 5:1 – 578 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 8:1 – 361 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 12:1 – 241 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 18:1 – 160 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW Q0 – 241 to 578 MB/s 1
Blackmagic RAW Q1 – 144 to 361 MB/s 2
Blackmagic RAW Q3 – 96 to 241 MB/s 3
Blackmagic RAW Q5 – 72 to 180 MB/s 4

8K – 8192 x 4320
Blackmagic RAW 5:1 – 258 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 8:1 – 161 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 12:1 – 107 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 18:1 – 72 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW Q0 – 107 to 258 MB/s 1
Blackmagic RAW Q1 – 64 to 161 MB/s 2
Blackmagic RAW Q3 – 43 to 107 MB/s 3
Blackmagic RAW Q5 – 32 to 81 MB/s 4

6K – 6144 x 3240
Blackmagic RAW 5:1 – 145 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 8:1 – 91 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 12:1 – 61 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 18:1 – 40 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW Q0 – 61 to 145 MB/s 1
Blackmagic RAW Q1 – 36 to 91 MB/s 2
Blackmagic RAW Q3 – 24 to 61 MB/s 3
Blackmagic RAW Q5 – 18 to 45 MB/s 4

4K – 4096 x 2160
Blackmagic RAW 5:1 – 65 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 8:1 – 41 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 12:1 – 27 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW 18:1 – 18 MB/s
Blackmagic RAW Q0 – 27 to 65 MB/s 1
Blackmagic RAW Q1 – 16 to 41 MB/s 2
Blackmagic RAW Q3 – 11 to 27 MB/s 3
Blackmagic RAW Q5 – 8 to 20 MB/s 4

Looking at the storage rates above, you can clearly see that there are tons of options if you are inclined to reduce image quality to gain storage flexibility.   We have seen very good quality in the BRAW format even at 18:1 compression that rivals that of the best H.265 out there so it is really possible to compress your footage and still be able to edit+store without breaking the bank.  The quality flexibility is there if you need it when there are no-cost constraints and the production demands it.

In the 220fps mode at 4k super 16 you can get a recording of 18:1 at 0.75MB per frame or 165MB/sec recording in that mode. That is a very acceptable recording rate for slow motion.

What to do?

As we still have not seen the final image quality on higher frame rates and or low light tests, we should wait for more solid tests before recommending a purchase.  If you already own Black Magic URSA cameras and have been waiting for a hyper resolution version of your platform of choice, then this new 12k camera is what you have been waiting for.

As high-speed enthusiasts, we wished it was also a Sub-4k camera that could record frame rates in 3k, 2k and Full HD at up to 480fps. But it seems the sensor design is geared only for 4k and up capture with the lower resolutions being impossible to capture.   So if you need higher frame rates at other lower resolutions then be sure to visit our HSC Camera Guide for more information on camera choices.

If you decide to buy this camera, you can pre-order it with our partners at Adorama here and help HSC at no extra cost to you PRE-ORDER HERE. 

We will have more information about the URSA Mini Pro 12k and frame rate samples in the coming months. Thanks for reading -HSC

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