Note that this article is just a transcript of the video above so I’d recommend you watch the video if you can
One of the things I was most looking forward to test was how the new 1250$ Pocket 4K actually stack up against the more expensive 6000 $ URSA Mini Pro from Blackmagic Design. In this comparison I’ll mostly be talking about image quality but I will also quickly go through differences in Ergonomics, Connectivity, Media and Audio.
Note that Blackmagic did not pay me or asked me for this video I purchased both cameras myself so it’s a honest real world comparison based on personal experience .
Both cameras have a rolling shutter sensor. The URSA Mini Pro has a Super 35 sensor and can shoot in 4.6K up to 60fps whereas the Pocket 4K has a smaller 4/3 sensor and can shoot Ultra HD up to 60fps. The URSA Mini Pro has 15 stops of dynamic range versus 13 stops for the Pocket 4K.
I took both cameras side by side in multiple environments. I only had one lens of each type so in order to compare both cameras with the very same lens I shot a video with the URSA Mini first and then shot the same video with the Pocket + a Metabones Speedbooster ULTRA with the same lens, matching the frame as best as I could. I shot at the exact same settings on both cameras, except for the aperture which was sometimes slightly adjusted since the Pocket looks a tad brighter.
I can understand that his test is totally unscientific, and it’s it actually hard to compare two cameras just judging by tripod shots but what I found was that the Ultra HD image quality is very close on both cameras, at least much closer than the previous pocket compared to the URSA Mini Pro. On some shots we can feel the difference in dynamic range, which sometimes make the Pocket look a bit more “video” than film but I think it’s not a huge gap between the two.
I find it very easy to colour match both cameras in post, and without using any color checker. Of course, using a colorchecker is better but sometimes you just don’t have enough time or the possibility to do it. At ISO 200, the images are very similar and when you reach the second ISO gamma curve at ISO 1250, it’s different we can see that the pocket 4K has a bit more saturation, increased contrast and boosted highlights. But it’s still okay to match them.
I think that when you don’t have a proprely lit environnment, the low-light capabilities of the Pocket 4K are much better, and I hope some sort of dual iso upgrade will come for the Ursa Mini cameras, that would be amazing.
11.14.18 update : BM has updated Ursa Mini Pro firmware adding ISO 3200 and after some testing I think it handles low light better ! Also after this video I did a black shading calibration on my camera which removed these bluish tones in the shadow.
One interesting thing to note is than when shooting UHD with EF mount lenses, the frame size or crop factor at a given focal length is almost the same on the URSA Mini Pro and the Pocket 4K + Speedbooster Ultra , which is quite practical.
Here is a download link with RAW Stills so that you can judge by yourself.
The obvious difference between the two is weight and size since they are not designed for the same purpose. The URSA Mini Pro weighs 2.3kg whereas the Pocket 4K weights only 0.72kg .
So an URSA Mini Pro is harder to put on a gimbal or a steadicam.Both cameras same the same fantastic touch OS, there is this really nice harmony between the cameras.
The URSA Mini Pro has built in high quality ND filters which is a huge advantage over the Pocket 4K.
After a year of use I find the URSA Mini Pro LCD two small and of poor quality, so we always ended up adding a Video Assist on the camera.
The pocket 4K LCD is probably its biggest strength aside from image quality, it’s big, bright, color accurate. I think you don’t need to attach an assist with a magic arm. Not that the Pocket 4K touchscreen cannot be tilted as opposed to the Ursa Mini Pro touchscreen which has a 180° tilt angle.
The Ursa Mini Pro can hold a V-Mount battery than can last for 4 hours while the Pocket 4K LP-E6 batteries will only last 45 minutes. I couln’t do any autofocus comparison because the metabones speedbooster ULTRA does not
The overall connectivity is better on the URSA Mini Pro, you have two SDI outputs, one of which can output 10bit 4K. Whereas on the Pocket 4K you only have one full size HDMI output which is only 1080p at 10bit. The Pocket is going to be much harder to use on live productions since as opposed to the Ursa Mini Pro, Ursa Broadcast and other studio cameras there is no SDI IN input which means no preview / program tally and you cannot control its color correction unit by SDI or Bluetooth. There is no LANC port on the pocket so you can only control the Start / Stop record & other controls through bluetooth. Both support Timecode input, on the URSA Mini Pro it’s through a BNC cable and on P4K it will automatically grab timecode that comes into he 3.5mm jack input.
Also, the Ursa Mini Pro has a DTAP power port. When it comes to audio, check out the video for a sound comparison.
Media & Codecs
When it comes to media & codecs, the URSA mini pro wins. It can record on two CFast cards one after the other or two SD cards one after the others. One the pocket it can record on one sd card and one CFast card, one after the other. Both cameras do not feature simultaneous recording on two cards at the same time.
Both camera can record RAW and Prores, but only the URSA Mini Pro can record Prores 4444 / 4444 XQ in 444 color space. Note that on the pocket you can choose to apply burn a LUT directly on the recorded footage., which is practical when you have to deliver footage to a customer who doesn’t want to color grade.
So, now that the Pocket 4K is out, is the price difference with the Ursa Mini Pro worth the investment ? It depends on the type of work. The Ursa Mini Pro is going to be much more suited for Interviews, Live Events, When I first started shooting with the pocket 4K, I was wondering wether it would actually be a replacement for the Ursa Mini Pro… and I was really frustrated since I had invested 5000$ into a camera that might have been replaced by a stripped down version 4000$ less expensive.
Now that I’ve done a few edits using footage from both cameras , I think it’s two cameras that serve two different purpose. I personally prefer the image quality of the Ursa Mini Pro, except in low-light, where the Pocket 4K shines. I’ll continue using both cameras, the Ursa Mini Pro for tripod or shoulder shots, and the Pocket 4K for Ronin-S or POV, or Slider shots. I’m really glad they match so well and I think they form an awesome couple !
That’s it for this comparison, Hope you liked it ! I am far from an expert so if you wish to correct me on some technicalities or share your own experience, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks a lot for all your support, I really appreciate that, and see you soon !