“EWWW that camera is so good it makes Jayden cute.”
What other accolade can I give the BlackMagic URSA Broadcast. I used the URSA Broadcast while we were in Las Vegas for NAB and I have used it several times for projects with my class. I have found a ton of things that camera can do and just a couple that the camera struggles with.
I will start with the struggles because there are just a few.
When I told people that I got the URSA Broadcast, several said “what about the noise in low light?” That’s easy, add more light. Seriously, for what we do, rarely are we going to be in a position where we can’t add more light. Honestly, I did an infinite black shoot with my camera a week ago and had no problem with noise. I dropped the gain down, boosted the light to what I needed lit well and moved on. Yeah, if you don’t light a scene well, there will be noise but that is the case with all cameras.
The other thing I heard was “what about their quality control? Haven’t you had trouble with their stuff?” The answer here is no. I have used BMD equipment for most of my time in education. When I saw what the ATEM studio products could do at the price point they were offered, I jumped on them and have not had trouble yet (That wasn’t self inflicted.)
Here’s the deal with this camera and why it is great for education.
First, it is built well. When you pop out the 5’ viewfinder, it’s like opening a vault. The screen first snug against the body of the camera and there is a good amount of drag holding the screen in place both horizontally and rotationally. Too often, I find that viewfinders seem like the last thing thought about in the design process and they are poorly engineered. The URSA Broadcast does not have that problem. Adding the shoulder mount and hand grip make the camera feel like a weapon more than a camera. The build is all around rugged. It’s meant to be used in the field gathering footage every day so it has to be.
I love the controls on the outside of the camera. Seriously, LOVE them. When we were in Vegas and went from the convention hall interviews to outside in the Nevada sun, simply scroll down the aperture, drop the gain to -6 and rock and roll. The back of the viewfinder has a VU meter so you can monitor audio as well as time code and other camera settings. It’s nice to be able to just look at the camera and see where you are with the settings and time.
The optional viewfinder is a great additional as well. The eyepiece is adjustable so you don’t have to feel like you are too close to the body and if your right eye gets tired after shooting 20 or so interviews at NAB, pull the eyepiece a little farther and use your left eye (completely different viewing experience!!).
The footage that comes from the camera is great. While in Vegas, we were in a pretty wild environment. There were literally lights of every color in every direction so white balancing became a bit of a chore. I decided that instead of trying to perfect it on the run, I would “do it in post.” Using Adobe Premiere Pro, I went to the color panel and adjusted the white balance quite easily. That’s because of the amount of data in the footage. I have not done a real test of the highest setting on the camera (4k uncompressed) but I have sampled it and am blown away by the possibilities. As I build the camera a little more with an SSD recorder, I will shoot a lot more uncompressed footage. The camera doesn’t require SSD cards but in order to maximize the potential of the footage, you have to go with an SSD or a CFAST card. My thought is that if I am going to buy a big CFAST card, I may as well by the SSD adapter and a drive.
The other thing that I love about the camera is the versatility. Out of the box, the URSA Broadcast uses B4 mount lenses. If you haven’t researched the cost of a B4 mount, I suggest you do so…. Be prepared to blush. There are three adapters that you can purchase EF, F, and PL mounts. Simply, remove the B4 mount, add a couple of provided shims, and place the mount you want and you are good to go. There is no need to buy new lenses.
Overall, I am super impressed with the camera. I find it easy to shoot with and learn. There are no hidden menus that you find with other cameras. Everything is right there in front of you. I know that you will not be able to buy a class set but I would suggest you pick one or two up so your students who are higher achievers and want to do more than shoot with a DSLR or a cell phone, have the chance to really push themselves and learn on a great piece of gear.