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.
The Chronos 1.4 Team has now posted the first incarnation of the RAW Camera data to DNG File tool to convert the sensor information files to usable Adobe DNG sequences. They also have posted a sample image comparing the before and after characteristics of the image quality if saved on H.264 in camera and then the same scene shot and saved in RAW format which converted to DNG yields a substantial improvement in image quality as we explored in our previous post about this issue here.
The camera is expected to allow direct to DNG format file saving in the future but now you can shoot in the camera RAW format and later convert as an interim solution without sacrificing quality on the H.264 files. Maybe in the future, the camera will be able to simultaneously save RAW and H.264 files as a proxy feature to be able to easily sample clips in editing before conversion. We believe the DNG format should be your one-stop solution for this camera if image quality is important for your use case.
We received a set of Adobe DNG image samples from Krontech to check the resolution, dynamic range and grading potential of the camera when using the RAW recording mode. As of now the utility to convert the raw data is still being tested but we were impressed by the results the camera was able to achieve by offloading the de-bayering process to a more capable converter like the Adobe Camera RAW module.
The Chronos files were already good when properly exposed but did suffer from some aliasing and moire in fine detail while resolution also took a hit by saving in a compressed H.264 format. Now with the DNG RAW capability, we are glad to see that the camera image quality made an enormous improvement in the resolution, color fidelity, and dynamic range. It really brings out the real potential of the camera for a variety of applications, also creating a cleaner result in the noise department when processed correctly.
For many of us it seems counter intuitive to own a camera that doesn’t shoot color images. In this day and age of technological marvels, being constrained by black and white / monochrome output on recording is a strange proposition. For the world of high speed imaging however you have to re-examine the entire debate from a benefits point of view and why it could be ideal to have monochrome instead of RGB color as your high speed option.
Depending on the intended use Monochrome might give you more bang for your buck and save you a lot of money on lighting and power requirements to run those lights. To understand the benefits we need to dig in on why Monochrome camera sensors excel in areas where color sensors suffer and why this will hardly change with current sensor technology in the near future.
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