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#1 Why I'm still rocking the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G1


This is for anyone who likes cameras and has a dry sense of humour. I’ll be honest, I could never bring myself to write the whole “Welcome” first blog post. I think anyone reading this either knows me already or might be interested (or not?) in what I have to say.

It’s 2023 and yes, I still have a (ready for it?) Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K G1. However, from now on I’m going to label it as the G1 as the titles will get painstaking to repeat. I bought mine second hand in 2019, yet it was only last year when picking up from a rental house that I got the response “One that still works!?”.

After they dropped the price of the 12K to a similar range of the G2, I’ve got to admit it left a little pit in my stomach. The second-hand price of my camera practically halved overnight and I felt like my investment had been skewered by elements out of my control.

I see a lot of people still running with their G2’s and quite happy, but not very many G1’s these days – not since Blackmagic’s support for it has seemed to dry up.

Honestly, (And no harm to Blackmagic here) I’ve wanted to swap out my camera for a while now. I look up what’s hot, I do the research, almost pull the trigger and then…NOTHING. I don’t do anything. I keep what I have and keep shooting. But why?

Truthfully there’s not a camera currently out there new on the market (outside of the UMP range) that has delivered as much utility for the price as my G1. I’ve struggled time and time again, it’s like sticking hay in your eyes.

The sensor is lovely, filmic and dynamic with an interchangeable mount. The BRAW codec is fantastic with the ability to shoot 12 Bit almost-uncompressed RAW. The ergonomics and build are perfect considering I’ve used this camera every way up. It’s low-light capability suffers greatly but if I want to be a good cinematographer I just need to light properly instead of sponging on ISOs. Not only that but it has a very good EVF that can be easily mounted, robust metal build and input directives from the camera such as LUTs, Peaking – you name it.

So you want better FPS? An improved sensor? Go get the G2 – right!?

There’s a stigma in the industry that hangs like a whisper in your ear. Seemingly that Blackmagic cameras are for indie productions, despite being capable enough to make supported streaming lists like Netflix. In some aspects I agree, like it’s price point – is perfect for indie productions.

Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting on ARRI and RED Cameras. They both produce incredible images. What mithers me is that in some instances, to be taken seriously you have to be able to sink £20,000+ on equipment just to have a chance to be taken seriously. It’s ludicrous considering Cinematography is an art, a skill that the tools (cameras) go hand in hand with to make it happen.

In a nutshell, hire the talent - not the tool. I say this only because I have been turned down for numerous jobs in the past simply for not owning an ARRI or a RED and it’s frustrating. It’s this in particular that throws my judgement when considering a G1/G2 upgrade.

Anyway, swiftly moving on – The G1. It’s easy to get stiff using the same camera every day when they’re pushing out cinema cameras so quickly these days.

So, what have I done to keep my image fresh and enjoyable when shooting?

It’s all about glass. Whoa! Another tangent – here we go.

I’ve had my lenses for nearly 7 years now, the image gets less pleasing just from seeing the same aesthetics day-in, day-out. I nearly cried when I shot a short on hired DZOFilm Zoom Lenses and the image was unlike anything I had seen in a little while.

And that’s when it happened.

Since then, I’ve made modifications to my lenses (at the cost of a stop in exposure), not sweated the fact that the coating is starting to fade and used a variety of filters. Paired with the Phantom LUTs beautifully created by Joel Famularo.

It made all the difference. Not only that but it renewed my love for the G1 and made it harder to part with.

So why ultimately am I still running around with it?

I’ve never needed to change it – truly. I’m dying to see a camera for the price point that offers everything this camera does – and hopefully more.

At the end of the day that’s all it comes down to.

So to all you rising cinematographers in the field – where ever you are. A gentle reminder to stop worrying about the latest equipment and instead, push past the boundaries of what you’re using. The creativity is rewarding and makes you a better Cinematographer than any money can buy.

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