Fstoppers Reviews the URSA Mini Pro

I really believe that the URSA Mini Pro is the best camera that Blackmagic Design have ever released. That doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect camera for everybody, but it’s reaching out to a much wider audience than its predecessors.

Blackmagic Design (BMD) have not paid for this review, and it is based on shooting with it for two weeks. That’s not a particularly long time and there are probably parts of the camera that I didn’t brush up against. However that’s probably two weeks more than whoever’s reading this, so we’ll crack on.

The major updates included with the URSA Mini Pro aren’t anything groundbreaking. This camera is BMD’s apology camera in response to valid gripes from users of the previous URSA Minis. You see, when the URSA was being downsized, BMD also removed functional buttons. This was a problem because the screen was now smaller on the baby URSA, and using an electronic viewfinder was more likely, in which case you’ll want those buttons back.

The other big change is the addition of a black and white monitor on the rear of the regular monitor. I never found myself using it that often, but then, if I was doing a long interview it would be handy to glance over and see my audio levels and card space. It’s also an effort to avoid opening the main monitor, something previous URSA Mini cameras needed in order to be switched on. Thankfully, the switch is at the top this time around.

Different lens mounts are available, including Nikon this time.

The Choices

It’s a pretty customizable camera. With a large selection of lens mounts, including Nikon, and your choice of V-Mount or Gold Mount battery plates. It sports two XLR jacks on top, SDI and Timecode too. You’ll be able to record on an SD card, and there’s nothing but the physical card capabilities stopping you from recording high frame rate 4K (you’ll get about 10 seconds). This could save the day when you’ve run out of expensive CFast card space.

The body remains largely the same, however, and that’s part of the point. If BMD were to completely re-design the URSA Mini, and create an entirely new operating system, it would come with an astronomical price tag. So in order to bring the cost down, the body hasn’t changed much at all. In fact that’s largely what the verdict of this camera is: pedestrian, barely changed, and utilitarian. That doesn’t mean that it’s not the most important camera for BMD. The minor upgrades to the URSA Mini have pushed it over the edge into the realm of possibilities beyond short films and studio shoots.

The idea is that you’ll use this cost saving to get whatever additional add-ons you’ll need for your situation. Let’s face it, a C300 or FS7 is a far better documentary camera out of the box. The URSA Mini can at least compete now, and adapt to a variety sets better than ever. In fact, it's specs are lined up nicely with Canon's C700.

The Cost

This customization adds up though. With a price point of $5,995, the camera sits comfortably below the competition. However, if you add the basics, you’ll run up a bill of $10,000 pretty quickly. A couple of V-Mount batteries and a charging station might set you back $600, CFast cards can cost upwards of $350 each (and they don’t last long), BMD’s own EVF costs $1,495. As such, by selling the basics and asking the customer to fill in the gaps and buy the extra gear, it could cost less. That doesn’t mean it will.

So it likely won't end up as expensive as a kitted out Sony FS7, but it's not far off. If we're comparing apples to apples here, the benefits of the URSA Mini Pro comes in the form of what Blackmagic does best: choice. The FS7 will not take SD cards, swap lens mounts, or record ProRes and DNxHD. This is why you’d probably choose the URSA Mini Pro over the FS7 for your next short film.

If you already own the original URSA, BMD was offering a huge discount on the newer camera. At $3,495, it would be about a 40 percent discount. This might hint further that the quality of the URSA Mini Pro is what they should have been releasing in the first place.

The camera received a whirlwind tour of N.Y.C. during its stay.


With all of that control, you’d assume that the URSA Mini Pro would be easy to rig. That's not necessarily the case. It has mounting points on the bottom and top, leaving both sides bare of any screw threads. It's not the kind of camera you’ll want to throw a cage around, so it’s disappointing that there isn't a hot shoe mount nor space to mount more than one or two radio mics. This is pretty easily done on an FS7. Hell, I’ve been able to mount three radio mics and a Zoom H6 audio recorder to an FS5.

Other physical issues I have are down to its new ergonomics. I much prefer shooting with my hands, where I can see everything, and tuck it into my chest for stability. This means that the buttons behind the screen, the new ones that are the saving grace of this camera, become inaccessible. The feeling of sluggishness when controlling it this way boils down to a lack of jog-wheels. Since the screen is blocking the customizable jog-wheel, and there isn't one to be found on the side handle, you’re stuck without one. It’s just a matter of button placement but I can't quickly change my exposure when shooting like this. The handle only has autofocus and autoexposure buttons, nothing manual.

Moving away from its physical issues, how does it look? Without getting too deep into an already reviewed sensor, it looks spectacular. I'm astonished at how much wiggle room and dynamic range I can play with in post, raw or otherwise. The LUTs I used were from DeLuts and Vision Color. It's certainly not difficult to grade the footage. Skin tones look great, and details in the highlights are spectacular. BMD have done a great job in avoiding harsh looking skin. It's also worth noting that rolling shutter is hardly an issue. Shooting a passing subway train showed some skew, but it wasn't noticeable in most handheld shots.

What I Don't Like

  • Button placement doesn't feel right, unless it's on your shoulder.
  • Very little mounting points.
  • Too compact/snug on your shoulder.
  • Rigging needs a screwdriver, annoying if it gets loose.

What I Like

  • BMD are on your side, you can even get a discount on/with the original URSA.
  • The camera isn't small, but it's not heavy either. You can actually see all the way through it's hallow body, past the fans and out the other side. 
  • The menu and button combos work in tandem. When I change the high-frame-rate, the physical button re-programs to that frame rate.
  • They didn’t hold back, and it's not filled with proprietary nonsense.
  • SD cards save the day.


If you find yourself asking whether this camera is worth it, then I hope I’ve shown that it is. There’s a whole lot of punch for camera this size and price, and the consumer is relatively safe in the knowledge that BMD won’t be trying to replace it any time soon. A testament to how happy they are with the URSA Mini Pro is shown in how BMD released it. There was no major fanfare, it wasn’t announced at a conference, and it’s not the most exciting release from the company. That’s because it was simply ready to be released. It wasn’t rushed out like you could say about the first generation of URSA Minis, and it shows.

There are an awful lot of issues to consider, but they don’t impact everyone. Personally, this camera doesn’t make any sense on a day-to-day basis. I would happily rent it for a studio shoot, or if I need the extra dynamic range and high frame rate recording. Having difficulties mounting it onto a Ronin-M is an annoyance for me and I don’t have too many CFast cards lying around. It’s still Blackmagic Design’s best camera yet, and it’s refreshing to see so much crammed into a generally affordable package.

Stephen Kampff's picture

Working in broadcasting and digital media, Stephen Kampff brings key advice to shoots and works hard to stay on top of what's going to be important to the industry.

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Is there any IR pollution with the built in ND filters? Felt on the older 4.6k Ursa with normal ND the IR gets really bad at/past ND 1.2

I actually didn't find any issues with the ND filters. Kai Wong also tested this and mentioned that he couldn't see any real problem. I can't compare to the older BMD cameras still though.

Hey, great review, can you please tell me what music is in the video?

Digital Neckbreaker, by Max Brodie – Premium Beat
Acme, by Richard Smithson – Soundstripe
I Know, by Paper Planet – Soundstripe
The French Connection, by The French Connection – ArtList
Faster People, by Pieces Of Movement – ArtList
Lose Control, by The Town Shop – ArtList


I purchased my Ursa Mini 4.6K in December... this camera solves every complaint I have. I might try to sell mine an upgrade. Regarding the lack of mounting options, I purchased this cheese plate and it works great. I've also added a top handle that takes care of a lot of ergonomic issues and gives me a hot shoe to mount either a lav receiver or shotgun mic. I really wish they would have just not built the monitor into the camera at all and made it separate like RED does. It's barely a standard Ronin camera either... especially if you want to use anything better than a small Canon prime on the front. Too long.

Link for cheese plate - https://www.amazon.com/SmallRig-Mounting-Cheese-Blackmagic-Camera-1719/d...

And handle - https://www.amazon.com/Smallrig-Release-Multi-purpose-Handgrip-1203/dp/B...

Cheese plate is a great idea! Cheers for sharing.

I've only owned this camera for about a week now, and you're right in saying that other production cameras at this price point might offer better ergonomics or might be easier to shoot with in certain scenarios. BUT the image quality at this price point just cannot be beat. And given that i am a "quality at no compromise" kind of guy, I can live with the minor annoyances and with a canon pancake lens on my Ronin, for that look this camera produces. It looks so much better than anything coming out of Sony's cameras, even if they might be easier to shoot with and more complete straight out of the gate.

Plus I love that for general B-Roll shots i get up 3 minutes on my Lexar 1000x SD cards of full resolution pro res 422 and up to 10 seconds UHD at 60FPS. Which means you won't have to fill up your CFAST cards or SSDs with your B-Roll.

What is that massive addon on the back of the camera? Battery/storage?

That's a V-Mount battery, but you can also get a Gold Mount or just plug it into a wall.