New 35mm cameras @ NAB 2014

NAB 2014 has seen the release of some new 35mm cameras as well as some new 35mm camera manufacturers. Black magic have anounced the new 'URSA' and the 'Studio camera' and AJA have put together their first attempt at a 35mm camera - 'CION'.


Blackmagic - 

The Blackmagic URSA at $6,495 is the worlds cheapest 4k camera. This camera claims to be the users answer to 4k, however rumours are that it actually isn't 4k - we of course can't confirm this. The global shutter and recording onto CFast cards remind me of the Amira, however this camera is a fraction of the price. The URSA also gives an impressive 12 stops of latitude too. Where the URSA really shines are with its screens. The 10 inch side mounted flip out screen, designed to replace any other on-set monitors, is pretty impressive albeit ever so slightly on the large side, but it also has 2 more 5" screens each side of the camera. The 1st 5" on the operator side gives the DOP access to all the menus without interrupting the picture on the 10" screen (just incase there isn't enough room!) and the 2nd is rigged on the opposite side for the camera assistant to use. The second screen is a really nice idea for the assistant to use without interrupting the operator and also has the audio levels next to it which are brilliantly large too. We weren't able to pick the camera up as it was battened down which was a shame. This camera is aimed at Features, Dramas and high-end TV which means that the lack of shoulder pad and slightly unusual positioning of the audio XLRs isn't too much of a problem as you wouldn't comfortably be able to shoulder mount and shoot with this camera. It also doesn't have a viewfinder (unless you plan on using the 10") but a 3rd party viewfinder can be rigged with a noga arm if required. The camera is available in 4 flavours; EF, PL, B4 and HDMI. The HDMI version caught my eye though. Using an HDMI input you can mount a camera like a Canon 5D onto the front of the body allowing the user to record from the HDMI output on the camera into Apple ProRes and into the same work flow of the URSA. Other than economical reasons ($4,495) I have no doubt that this version will remain a nice idea and not be as popular as the other 3 versions.

Over all the Blackmagic URSA is a nice looking camera and coupled with free DaVinci Resolve 11 software is a very good economical way to capture Apple ProRes rushes.

The Blackmagic Studio Camera -

If I was to say "you get what you pay for" then I think this would round up this camera perfectly. The amazing $2995 price tag for a 4k studio camera recorder is a fantastic price and they have packed a lot of accessories into a small unit. From an operational side of things the talkback system is only 1 channel and you need to touch the screen to either look at return video or reply to talkback which obviously inhibits the user when trying to pick a shot to match the line cut. Interestingly they advertise the Blackmagic Studio Camera as being able to take a B4 mount ENG lens which is true, however without a power-out to power the lens and not having any integration with the lens, the person racking would struggle to match each camera on a fast moving shoot or sport event. You can use a PL mount Cabrio lens, but this gives less lens range and at a costly £28,000 (over 14 times the cost of the standard $1,995 version) kind of makes the economical camera an expensive camera system again. Blackmagic have also skimpt on the fibre connector as the LC output is not water proof and having to use patching style fibre can lead to bends and essentially loss of signal. Over all this camera will never replace a proper broadcast set-up but for small conferences etc could work.



The CION camera stole the show this year as AJA announced its first cine camera. The 35mm sensor, global shutter, PL mount, HD-4k, ProRes camera at only $8,995 was surprise to most. On paper the CION sounds like it could give the likes of Arri, Sony and Blackmagic a run for their money! The CION has a shoulder mount and you can also purchase a Sony dovetail adaptor so that you can use a Sony VCT-14 camera plate too. The camera does not come with a viewfinder but you can purchase an additional viewfinder mount as well as 15mm bar mount support. Unfortunately the CION does not have a line out for standard audio ENG style recording, although AJA have not pitched it at this market, it could have been a nice addition. We had the chance to have a hold and feel of the CION which at only 6lbs was quite front heavy! It only had a 35mm CP.2 on the front and even then I found myself forcing the camera backwards. However for under $9,000 this camera could make a bit of a mark in the cine world.