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The New RED Raven, Comparatively Speaking

Marco Solorio Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Editorials, Reviews 35 Comments

With the never-ending growth of new camera technology, Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media explores the data of RED’s new Raven 4K camera and how it fits in the balance of other emerging camera technology.

I’ve been receiving A LOT of questions from people asking me what my thoughts are between the newly announced RED Raven 4K and (specifically) the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K EF. Understandably so since the URSA Mini 4.6K is appealing to so many people. It’s really a tough answer to put into a single answer, simply because the two cameras couldn’t be more different in their approach to shooting footage and by all accounts are comparing apples to oranges. To add, everyone’s production needs are as vast as lens options, so what may work for one shooter, may not work for the next person. But hey, there’s no harm in comparing them anyway, right?

Although I haven’t tested the Raven yet in production, it does look quite appetizing on paper, if you’re okay with a non-removable EF mount on the body (which, for the record, I am). Although the sensor is being labeled as a Dragon sensor, it’s actually a new sensor from RED, so at this time of writing, there’s little information on real-world performance as compared to the Dragon 6K sensor we’re all used to. Understandably so, as I’m assuming RED is probably still optimizing the new 4K sensor.

RED hash-tagged the Raven as, “#4k4all” but in reality, affordable 4K acquisition (at much lower cost than the Raven) has been available for some time now from the likes of Panasonic, Sony, Blackmagic Design, and others. Maybe, “#red4all” would have been more appropriate? Eh, semantics I guess.

Sensor Size Comparison RED Raven 4K BMD 4.6K

The size of the Raven’s 4K sensor is a little smaller than the original Blackmagic 4K sensor and the AJA CION 4K sensor. The Blackmagic 4.6K sensor is the largest 16×9 Super35 sensor in its class, fitting just within the S35 spec.

The price of the Raven starts at $5,950.00, but as everyone quickly realized (and as RED clearly states), this is for the brain only. This basically means the camera is inoperable and still requires one of RED’s expander modules to gain I/O, control, and power, as well as a RED touchscreen or remote to change functions within the camera. And because the Raven uses RED’s new Mini-mag media format, you’ll need to get at least one of those as well (starting at $850 for a 120GB card, or included with the Base I/O Package).

In truth, expect to pay at least $10k to have a functional Raven that is controllable with media it can record to and read from. Still, by RED convention, this is a low cost solution that definitely lives in the RED ecosystem. For existing RED owners that want the Raven as a B or C camera, this is a plus.

Like all modern RED cameras, the Raven is a small cube (I’ve actually always liked this body concept) allowing the user to build the camera as simple or complex as they see fit, specific for the type of production they need to suit it for (typically for cinema style shooting and not as much for ENG style rigging, although not impossible either).

The URSA Mini 4.6K EF on the other hand (with the optional $395 Shoulder Mount Kit) caters more along the lines of an ENG-style body concept, which means just about everything you need is ready to go in a single package, that is both shoulder and tripod mountable without having to switch out parts. Add the $1495 Blackmagic 1080 HD OLED EVF and you have a complete package out the gate. And for the record, I own the OLED EVF and it’s nothing short of spectacular, but that’s another read for another day.

Because of the huge interest between these two cameras (and people asking my opinion between the two), I’ve decided to take the time to put the data side-by-side to really see how much these cameras match up and compare. At least on paper that is. Oh and I threw in the URSA Major 4.6K EF to see how its specs compare as well. Yes, the big URSA is obviously much larger than the Raven (comparing apples to bananas at this point), but the operational cost of the big URSA is still less than the Raven, so I figured I’d throw it in with the Mini.

All this data is available from their respective manufactures, so don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

(Some mobile devices will need to view the below table in horizontal mode to view all 5 columns together)

  RED Raven RED Raven Base I/O Package URSA Mini 4.6K EF URSA 4.6K EF
Base Cost $5,950.00 $9,950.00 $4,995.00 $6,995.00
Lens Mount EF EF EF1 EF
Removable Lens Mount No No No Yes (PL upgradable)
EF Lens Communication Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sensor Size (mm) 20.48 x 10.8 20.48 x 10.8 25.34 x 14.25 25.34 x 14.25
Sensor Category Size APS-C APS-C Super35 Super35
Global Shutter No No Yes Yes
Rolling Shutter Switchable No No Yes Yes
Dynamic Range2 16.5 Stops 16.5 Stops 15 Stops 15 Stops
Field Replaceable Sensor No No No Yes
Recordable Open Gate Resolution 4096 x 2160 4096 x 2160 4608 x 2592 4608 x 2592
Megapixel Resolution 8.8 8.8 11.9 11.9
Max ProRes Resolution 2K (2048 x 1080) 2K (2048 x 1080) UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) UHD 4K (3840 x 2160)
ProRes Formats HQ, 422, LT HQ, 422, LT 444XQ, 444, HQ, 422, LT, Proxy 444XQ, 444, HQ, 422, LT, Proxy
Max FPS @ Open Gate 120 (13:1 compression) 120 (13:1 compression) 60 (any RAW/ProRes setting) 120 (any RAW/ ProRes setting)
Max FPS 240 @ 2K 240 @ 2K 120 @ 1080 240 @ 1080
RAW Formats Redcode: 3:1, 5:1, 7:1, 13:1 Redcode: 3:1, 5:1, 7:1, 13:1 Cinema DNG: Lossless, 3:1, 4:1 Cinema DNG: Lossless, 3:1, 4:1
RAW + ProRes Simultaneous Recording Yes Yes No No
Capture Medium RED MINI-MAG RED MINI-MAG Dual-slot CFast 2 Dual-slot CFast 2
Capture Bandwidth ~140MB/s ~140MB/s ~900MB/s interleaved, ~450MB/s single slot ~900MB/s interleaved, ~450MB/s single slot
Audio Resolution Uncompressed 48kHz, 24-bit Uncompressed 48kHz, 24-bit Uncompressed 48kHz, 24-bit Uncompressed 48kHz, 24-bit
Video Outputs None 3G SDI (1080 HD), HDMI 12G SDI (60p UHD), 3G SDI (1080 HD) 12G SDI (60p UHD), 3G SDI (1080 HD)
Video Inputs None None 12G SDI (60p UHD) 12G SDI (60p UHD)
Reference Input None SYNC 4-pin Lemo6 BNC7 BNC
LTC Timecode Input None SYNC 4-pin Lemo6 BNC7 BNC
LTC Timecode Output None None None BNC
Audio Input None 2-channel 1/8-inch TRS 2-channel XLR with Phantom Power 2-channel XLR with Phantom Power
Headphone Output None 1/8-inch TRS 1/8-inch TRS ¼-inch TRS
Remote Control None LEMO Control Port LANC (2 ports) LANC (1 port)
Data Communication None SYNC: Tally Out, RS-232 via 4-pin Lemo, USB USB USB
Internal Microphones 2-channel stereo 2-channel stereo 2-channel stereo 2-channel stereo
Internal Microphone Control Level Level Level, -10db pad, low cut EQ Level
Screen Type(s) None 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 touchscreen, bolt on swivel. 5-inch 1920 x 1080 touchscreen, fold-out. 10-inch 1920 x 1200, fold-out. 2 independent 5-inch 800 x 480 touchscreens (ability to display live feed).
User Interface Control 4 push-buttons (2 power/record hybrid, 2 assignable function) 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 touchscreen, 4 push-buttons (2 power/record hybrid, 2 assignable function) 5-inch 1920 x 1080 touchscreen, 18 push-buttons (transport, power, assignable function, etc.), 2 audio trim encoders. 2 independent 5-inch 800 x 480 touchscreens, 31 push-buttons (transport, power, mute, solo, etc.), 2 audio trim encoders.
Visual Readouts Power LED, record LED. 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 touchscreen, Power LED, record LED. 5-inch 1920 x 1080 touchscreen, Power LED 2 independent 5-inch 800 x 480 touchscreens, two 18-step LED audio meters.5
Wireless Connectivity Built-in WiFi Built-in WiFi None None
Position Data None None 9-axis Gyro None
Power Input None 6-pin LEMO 4-pin XLR (12-20 volt) 4-pin XLR (12-20 volt)
Power Output Port None None 4-pin XLR (12 volt) 4-pin XLR (12 volt)
Included Power Adapter AC POWER ADAPTOR (DSMC)3 AC POWER ADAPTOR (DSMC) 12-volt 4-pin XLR AC power adapter 12-volt 4-pin XLR AC power adapter
Battery Mount None V-mount Open Plate8 Open Plate8
Body Material Aluminum Alloy Aluminum Alloy Magnesium Alloy Aluminum Alloy
Body Weight ~3.5 lbs4 ~5 lbs (with included expander and side handle) ~5 lbs (with included side handle) ~16 lbs
Cooling Thermally controlled fans Thermally controlled fans Thermally regulated liquid cooling Thermally regulated liquid cooling
Integrated QR head mount None None None9 V-lock
Added body parts EF portal cap EF portal cap, DSMC² Base I/O V-Lock Expander, Touch 4.7″ LCD, DSMC² Universal Handle EF portal cap, side hand grip (with cam control), LANC cable. EF portal cap, top handle
Full License of DaVinci Resolve Included ($995) No No Yes Yes
Additional Relative Costs
Current Media Cost $850.00 @ 120GB ($7.08/GB),
$1,400.00 @ 240GB ($5.83/GB),
$2,450.00 @ 512GB ($4.79/GB),
$3,900.00 @ 1TB ($3.81/GB)
$299.95 @ 128GB ($2.34/GB),
$599.95 @ 256GB ($2.34/GB)
Media Reader $195 RED Mini-Mag Reader $195 RED Mini-Mag Reader $34.95 Lexar CFast 2 Reader $34.95 Lexar CFast 2 Reader
V-mount Battery Plate Pricing on I/O Base Module N/A Included $95 Blackmagic V-mount Plate $95 Blackmagic V-mount Plate
Optional Relative Costs
Integrated XLR Audio + Phantom Power + Added I/O $3,950.00 for DSMC² Redvolt Expander (doubles overall length of Raven) Included Included
Shoulder Mount Kits $4,900.00 for “Clutch” Shoulder Mount and Top Handle Kit $4,900.00 for “Clutch” Shoulder Mount and Top Handle Kit $395.00 for Shoulder Mount Kit w/ Top Handle (a must-have) $345.00 for URSA Shoulder Mount Kit w/ Rosettes
Optional OLED EVF $4,150.00 for 1080 HD OLED EVF w/ Mount $4,150.00 for 1080 HD OLED EVF w/ Mount $1,495.00 for 1080 HD OLED EVF $1,495.00 for 1080 HD OLED EVF
  1. The URSA Mini 4.6K PL mount version ($500 more), also comes with a front-mounted 12-pin Hirose port for power/control connectivity to powered ENG-style lenses.
  2. As claimed by each respective company.
  3. This power adapter will not connect to the Raven without an optional RED expander module or the RED Weapon Redvolt XL Module.
  4. Weight of brain only, not including weight of required expander module to power and operate camera, and added weight of optional DSMC² Handle. Ultimately at least the weight of the URSA Mini.
  5. URSA touchscreen visual readouts include histogram, waveform, running audio waveform, recorded shot blocks, focus peak, timecode, exposure values, format values, battery life, and more.
  6. Reference In and Timecode In share the same SYNC 4-pin Lemo port on RED Raven with Base I/O V-mount expander.
  7. Reference In and Timecode In share the same BNC port on URSA Mini.
  8. Molex DC power connector and screw points for optional V-mount or Gold Mount battery plates.
  9. The URSA Mini shoulder mount kit comes with a V-lock base.

Fully Operational Base Cost Comparisons with media and reader

$10,145RED Raven Base I/O Package (includes 120GB Mini-mag, Base I/O V-mount plate/expander, 4.7″ Touch LCD, Universal Handle) + RED Mini-Mag Reader.

$5,819.90URSA Mini 4.6K EF + Shoulder Mount Kit + Blackmagic V-mount Battery Plate + 128GB CFast 2 card + Lexar CFast 2 Reader.

Fully Operational Cost Comparisons with 1080 HD OLED EVF

$14,295RED Raven Base I/O Package (includes 120GB Mini-mag, Base I/O V-mount plate/expander, 4.7″ Touch LCD, Universal Handle) + RED Mini-Mag Reader + RED 1080 HD OLED EVF.

$7,314.90URSA Mini 4.6K EF + Shoulder Mount Kit + Blackmagic V-mount Battery Plate + 128GB CFast 2 card + Lexar CFast 2 Reader + Blackmagic 1080 HD OLED EVF.

Note that these operational cost comparisons do not include batteries and charges, since both cameras can use the same V-mount batteries and chargers. Tripods, lenses, and other essential kit are also not included in this comparison, since those can also be bought for the same price for each camera.

URSA Mini 4.6K PL

Although in prototype form, I’ve been fortunate enough to test the URSA Mini 4.6K in both PL and EF models. Despite the low cost, the camera does have a ton of features to offer, with a quality sensor that greatly surpassed my initial expectations.

The Raven uses RED’s proprietary Mini-mag format. Although this media is not cheap, it does have a few advantages. The biggest one (in my opinion) is that these Mini-mags are very well built, solid, and designed to thwart the rigors of heavy production use where things can get tossed around by crew. Another benefit is that these Mini-mags start at 120GB and go up to 1TB cards, which is great for those that needs a lot of space for HFR shooting on single cards. On the other token, I’d say cost and bandwidth are probably its only less attractive side however, with 120GB Mini-mags starting at $850.00 (or $7.08/GB) and the maximum 1TB Mini-mag costing a staggering $3,900.00 (or $3.81/GB). Cost aside, write-speeds appear to be limited to about 140MB/s. It’s not totally clear at this point if this is the bandwidth limitation imposed by RED to protect their Scarlet and Epic lineup or if it’s truly a cap on the media itself. Regardless of how the bandwidth limit is set, the Raven doesn’t record to ProRes above 2K and why 120 FPS Redcode RAW is restricted to 13:1 compression.

With the original URSA and the new URSA Mini using CFast 2, there’s been a lot of buzz for the last year on the perceived high cost of these cards. In reality, the cost of CFast 2 altogether has come down substantially since expected competition has gotten into the mix (Lexar, SanDisk, Wise, Transcend) and are ultimately lower cost than RED and Sony media. Originally, the SanDisk 120 GB CFast 2 card was $1,200.00 ($10/GB). Not cheap by any standard. Today, you can get 128GB CFast 2 for $299.95 ($2.34/GB), which is a 73% drop in cost in less than a year. Although the current maximum size is 256GB, expect to see these sizes increase and prices continue to drop in the market. Also worth noting, these CFast 2 cards are extremely fast, with about 450MB/s write speeds in single-slot mode and about 900MB/s write speeds when running dual-slot interleaved mode on the URSA Mini… more than enough bandwidth for URSA’s HFR open-gate RAW shooting (for the record, I shoot 80 FPS open gate RAW on single CFast 2 media with no issue). Lastly, they’re so small that they don’t generate a lot of heat (unlike standard 2.5″ SSDs do) and are super easy to pack up and only consume the bare minimal amount of physical space.

  • $3,154.45
    For CFast 2 media, I currently own three original 120GB SanDisk Extreme cards, two 256GB Lexar cards, and one 128GB Wise card. The total current cost of this is $3,154.45.
  • $2,399.70
    For a lower cost, I could save money with the approved Transcend CFast 2 cards in the same sizes (four 128GB and two 256GB) at the current pricing of $2,399.70.
  • $6,200.00
    The RED Mini-mag equivalent (four 120GB and two 240GB cards) currently costs $6,200.00 (and to note, with much lower read/write speeds).

In the end, I think the Raven is a great camera for existing RED owners that want to use the Raven as a B, C, or D camera. The menu structure and operation will be the same as the other RED cameras in the group, so production workflow will be seamless, mirrored, and familiar.
It’ll be interesting to see if the new 4K Dragon sensor inside the Raven will in fact push a full 16 stops, since it has been known over time that manufacturer-stated dynamic range values are, shall we say, a little exaggerated. But even if the sensor pushed a usable 13 stops with low noise and good skin tones, I think it would be a good addition to a RED multi-cam shoot.

RED Dragon

Shown is the RED Dragon at OneRiver Media, fitted with rigging that is used across all of OneRiver Media’s cameras. The Raven 4K looks like it’ll make a good companion to its big brother, the RED Dragon. Time will tell.

But does the Raven answer the call as an A-camera for new RED users? I think it can, if it meets the shooter’s specific needs. But for the price, I think the Sony FS7 and the URSA Mini 4.6K should be seriously weighed in for consideration, even though by all accounts, the form-factor of the Raven is obviously a little apple-to-oranges as compared to both the FS7 and the URSA Mini (which are much more closely matched to one another for the type of operational shooting they do).

Unfortunately I haven’t tested the Raven in production yet, but I have worked with the URSA Mini 4.6K (EF and PL) in prototype form (as all of us still wait for the public release). If you’ve read my article specifically about the prototype 4.6K sensor, you know that I’ve been incredibly impressed with its results—far above what I was originally expecting.

But like anything, neither one of these cameras are in the wild yet, so until then, all of this is nothing more than paper info and spec wars for those still waiting to get their hands on these cameras. But at the very least, these data comparisons might help give potential buyers of either camera a head start on a little research. As we know, every little bit of added help can be useful when cameras seem to be announced just about every month.

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About the Author

Marco Solorio

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Marco Solorio is an award-winning feature filmmaker, published author, and international speaker as a 30-year veteran in the industry with many industry awards to his name. As owner of OneRiver Media, he has produced, directed, and lensed content spanning from commercial to feature film works. As a credited thought-leader in the industry, Marco has consulted for the likes of Pixar, Apple, and Google to name a few. Along with published books to his credit, Marco has also been featured in... Read Marco's full bio here.

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Comments 35

  1. Both options are awesome, though I can’t afford either of them. But you do seem to have a clear bias towards BlackMagic, which was evident early in the article so basically made me skip everything but the specs.

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      Well, if you took the time to actually read the article, you may have a different opinion in your assumption. As clearly mentioned in the article, I have only used the URSA Mini in prototype form and have not even touched the Raven. I cannot give any kind of “hands on review” of the Raven because of that. Everything is based on supplied paper data. But again, if you would *read* the article, you’d see that there are many things I do favor about the Raven, especially towards the end. And where exactly, my I ask, do you assume I’ve been biased towards the Mini?

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  2. Hi Marco, I’m completely torn between these cameras. Red code has major advantages over BM’s raw options. Red is a more trusted professional brand than BM in the industry. However, the URSA Mini 4.6k is clearly more cost effective than the Raven and has far better Prores recording options for when you don’t want the hassle of RAW, not to mention better audio connectivity (unless you add RED’s $4500-ish XLR/I/O module. The Raven’s small sensor size and crop factor are also negatives. The high speed recording option of the Raven should be taken with a grain of salt because R3D is basically unusable at 13:1. However, I beleive a third camera also deserves consideration: Kinefinity’s Kinemax 6K. It also does internal RAW and the images are extremely cinematic, like RED’s and BM’s, and unlike Sony’s more video-like look. On paper and from the footage I’ve seen, it’s hugely impressive and has the benefit of interchangeable lens mounts, 6k (obviously), standard SSD recording and internal ProRes is coming later this year, etc. My main hesitation with it is that Kinefinity are still a small-ish company in China, although so far my interactions with their sales team has been very professional. Marco, what do you think about the Kinemax? Would love to hear your opinion!

    1. Post

      Hi Robert. Thank you for the highly detailed comment! All your points are spot on, well said, and I agree with them. As for the Kinemax, I had some interest in it but it ultimately sort of fell a little short for me. At this point, I need a solid camera that has ample ProRes options. We just shoot so much of it and if the lighting is balanced, can give results that can match RAW. Likewise, we need RAW for times when maximum latitude is a must. I think the upcoming addition of ProRes to the Kinemax is a huge step, but I just don’t know how solid the camera is in the real world. But I agree, it’s definitely something to think about and am interested in its developments. Thanks again!

      1. Hi Marco, thanks for your reply and your points definitely make sense. One things I’m curious about is this new B4 mount on the PL mount version. Personally, I have no need for broadcast lenses, but I own a bunch of both EF lenses and PL primes. This makes my choice of fixed lens mount difficult. I wonder whether it’s possible for Blackmagic, or a 3rd party, to design an active EF mount that would that replace the removable PL mount and connect to the camera using the B4 lens control connector. This would avoid the complications/impossibilities of EF-PL adaptors because the PL mount can be removed and replaced altogether, as proven with the B4 lens adaptor. The B4 lens control connector already allows the user to control the iris, zoom, etc, from the camera body, so why not an active EF mount? I know you have a good relationship with BM – have you heard anything about this? Could it be possible in the future?

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          That would definitely be a great idea to implement. I’m not sure if the flange distance is still long enough to build it in the same fashion as the B4 adapter but I’m guessing it maybe would? If such an active EF adapter did get developed, I’d definitely buy the PL version for sure. Maybe BMD will surprise us at NAB? Just not sure. Fingers crossed though!

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        Josh, I do not know if Robert’s comment regarding RED’s 13:1 compression being unusable is from his firsthand experience or not (but please ease up on the accusations). For the record, the compression ratio has been increased from 13:1 to 15:1 for the Raven. I myself prefer to stick around 3:1 to 7:1 (some clients require 5:1 or better), but at 13:1 (and 15:1), things do start to get a tad crunchy or soft in the details, especially when visuals need to get pushed around in post. Many will agree that above 10:1, things can get a little soft (but potentially still quite usable). I’m seeing some fellow RED users/owners admittedly calling the max frame-rate in the Raven more of a marketing move, than anything else, solely because of the high compression rate required. But as I’ve always said, I’d rather see it there with that high compression rate, than not at all (it’s something I wish Blackmagic would do more of). I think in many cases, compression rate quality is a very personal preference (and sometimes client request) and definitely varies in quality from shot to shot and person to person. With that said, I do believe people will deem 13:1 R3D compression to be either usable or unusable, depending on who you ask, the end result, client needs, and the shooting circumstances. Let’s please keep the tone a little more constructive and less malevolent. More perspective dialog and less personal accusations, please. Thank you.

      2. Josh, like Marco said, this is personal preference. I have rented REDs on many theatrical productions and will continue to do so for the high end stuff. My team and I deemed that on a big screen, above 7:1 is where the image quality starts to deteriorate. At 13:1, I personally think the image quality is not sufficient for theatrical presentation. Having said that, sure if you really needed to ramp up for a shot or two, you could get away with it and most normal viewers likely wouldn’t notice the difference. If you’re shooting for the web or smaller formats, 13:1 wouldn’t be so much of an issue.

  3. Hey Marco,

    Great post again! My first question is when do BMD allow you to post some 4.6k footage? 🙂
    And as far as i know the “9-axis Gyro” is not more part of the Camera, maybe you should edit this.

    Greetings from Germany.

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          I haven’t been through the BMD forum to see the thread, but with 9-axis gyro, you should have the required data (X, Y, Z, yaw, pitch, roll, etc.) to get proper positional 3D data to move the camera. GPS only gives you a location point, but in 3D, you wouldn’t really need that since you typical start from 0,0,0 space and offset from there. In the end, until BMD specifically/officially says anything, it’s all up in the air. I’m personally okay with GPS getting ditched but I’d hate to see the gyro ditched.

  4. Hi Marco,

    Nice article! Thanks for taking the time to put this comparison together. I think that both the URSA Mini and RED Raven are going to be great cameras for their respective owners.

    One thing that I think would be a valuable add for your article is to show cost / minute of record time in regards to media. While the absolute cost of media is important, no doubt, the amount of media required to capture raw during a shoot will impact the overall cost of platform ownership. Assuming that we are shooting at 24fps, Redcode at its given 3:1, 5:1, 7:1, and 13:1 recording options gives you approximately 19min, 31min, 44min, and 81min record times respectively in 4k on a 120GB card. According to the URSA manual, at 3:1 compression (the highest offered), one would get approximately 21mins of raw record time in 4k on a 128GB card, but without the option of using higher raw compression rates. So if one wanted to shoot raw but needed to record 80 minutes of footage, it could potentially take 4 128GB CFast cards to equal what could be captured on 1 RedMag (assuming a 13:1 compression ratio). So its possible for one to spend $850 on a RedMag and in order to record the same amount of footage, have to spend $800 on CFast cards as well. While that is an extreme case, it is more likely that RED users will be shooting at the 5:1 or 7:1 setting, meaning that it would take roughly 2x as much CFast storage to equal what can be stored on a RedMag. Of course, recording in 4.6k raw on the URSA will result in an even higher cost / min of record time…

    There is also the post side of the equation that one should consider as well, since the additional record data will need additional storage in post as well as for backup / archival.

    So while overall the cost of URSA mini ownership may still be less, it will be higher than many articles allude to with a simple GB to GB cost comparison due to being able to get more minutes of record time with the RED platform, and requiring less storage in post production and for backup / archival for Redcode footage.

    For the record, we own a RED Epic Dragon as well as 4 BM cameras (2x BMCC, 1xBMPCC, 1xBMPC) and are delighted with both platforms! The Raven and URSA mini cameras are two fantastic options in the $5k – $10k price range and we are looking forward to getting our hands on both when they arrive.


    Brett Casadonte
    Cinematographer / Director / Producer
    Casadonte Productions

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      Hi Brett. Thanks for the details! All valid points. Keep in mind that the Mini will have 4:1 RAW as its maximum compression, not 3:1, so that does help a little. My assumption is that BMD didn’t want to crunch the RAW data too much before it visibly starts to fall apart since the option of all ProRes flavors are in the camera (with even longer record times using higher ProRes compression in comparison). With that said, I personally would highly welcome 5:1 and 7:1 compression as an option. But using the higher compressed ProRes formats like ProRes 422, ProRes LT and ProRes Proxy (visibly compressed), run times are truly long. Thanks!

  5. Hey Marco. Love your reviews and all of your info regarding the Ursa Mini 4.6k! I’ve had one on pre-order since they were announced and I’m becoming increasingly excited to receive it! I did notice that blackmagic seems to be slowly taking away features they previously mentioned the new sensors would offer! In your review, you mention that the Ursa Mini 4.6k has the 9 axis gyro. However, blackmagic has removed any information about that feature from their description of the ursa mini on their website (do you have any insight into why they did this? Did they get rid of this feature?). Also I just noticed that in the Ursa Mini High Frame Rate description, it use to say something like “if you want 120 frames in 4k you can get the regular ursa!” But now they’ve changed it to say the regular Ursa only will do 100 fps at 4k. Any insight into these roll backs of specs? It’s making me nervous that blackmagic may not be able to deliver all they promised….Thanks!

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      Thank you kindly for your nice remarks, Phillip! The gyro is a little unclear, but from what I gather, the entire tracking system is removed from the PL model (to make room for the 12-pin communication with ENG lenses) but I believe the EF model will still keep the 9-axis gyro minus the GPS. But everything is evolving, as early models were prototypes. As far as I know, the maximum frame-rate on the 4.6K will stay at 120 FPS on the URSA. We’ve been happy with the current max at 80 FPS, so 100 is still a bonus for us, but obviously 120 (as originally planned) would/will be fantastic. Developing these cameras with so many high end features is a lengthy, difficult, and highly involved undertaking, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few things change in the process. Hopefully everything will pan out however once these start shipping! Cheers!

  6. Hello Marco,

    Thanks for your article ! Just few question (sorry for my bad english by the way)

    – So we can’t record/shot @ 4608 x 2592 in ProRes?? And what about the Raw formats Losless, 3:1 & 4:1 @ 4608 x 2592?

    – Can we directly connect the camera to the computer (like I used to do with my DSLR) or do we have to buy a CFast reader to transfer the footage in the computer? (sorry for this question but for DSLR users it’s not obvious + I didn’t saw/heard anything about that fact).

    – When will you release the footage shot with the 4.6K sensor (can you upload it on Youtube too)?

    Thank’s A LOT for your article !

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      Hi David. Your English is great. Never apologize for that… it’s me that wishes I could speak fluently in more than one language!
      You are correct… the cameras cannot shoot at open gate 4.6K in ProRes. This is not a limitation set by Blackmagic, but by Apple. Apple only allows real-time recording of video to ProRes using standard/approved formats, like UHD 4K. Since 4.6K is not a standard format, the only option to record at open gate is shooting in RAW. Luckily, you currently have three compression levels to shoot RAW with: Lossless, 3:1 and 4:1, which look fantastic. And if you’re editing in Resolve 12, you don’t even need to transcode or create proxies to work with the original RAW footage. It’s proven to be a fantastic workflow for us.
      You will need to buy a $35 CFast 2 reader to transfer CFast 2 files. It cannot be performed from the camera.
      Unfortunately I will not be releasing footage acquired from the prototype 4.6K sensor. I’m sure as soon as the 4.6K sensor/camera is released that a flood of footage will be available however!
      Thank you for the very kind words, sir!

  7. hello
    today RED updated Raven Dragon max Resolution to 4.5k (4608 (h) x 2160 (v)) at 120 fps !
    sensor size is now 23.04 mm (h) x 10.8 mm (v) which means Equivalent to APS-C and Academy 35mm formats.

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      The new Raven sensor retains the same height of 10.8 mm and only adds width (more horizontal pixels). Although it’s 4608 pixels wide (from 4096), I’m not sure how useful this will actually be in real-world applications since the height of 2160 pixels hasn’t changed. To shoot 4K DCI, you will need to crop out the extra 512 pixel columns, which is then exactly where the original 4K sensor started from, so there’s really no gain there (especially since it’s much too small to be used for something useful like 2.4 cinemascope widescreen, which would mean the physical sensor width would need to be 25.92 mm). And because the sensor height remains the same, you are again working with the same sensor specs as before for DCI or UHD. I’m not seeing a benefit to these extra 512 pixel columns with no added vertical pixels in the mix. As for 120 FPS, this is at a highly compressed 15:1 rate. Personally speaking for our type of productions, we would never shoot at REDCODE 15:1 compression for a real/paid project. But hey, at least the option is there, which is nice.

      1. Hi Marco,

        Regarding raven sensor size improvement:
        If I choose to shoot at 4.6k ff (or opengate) on a raven, all i need will be 1920 vertical pixels to get cinema scope aspect ratio. So if my final deliverable is 2.4 cinema scope, this increase in width will definitely help me! Like, more pixels than final delivery in the same aspect ratio always helps.

        I couldn’t quite understand your line: ‘which would mean the physical sensor width would need to be 25.92 mm’. The sensor is good at what it is today (23.04mm) and shooting 2.4:1 utilizing full 4608 horizontal pixels.

        In a nutshell, If i want to shoot 2.4:1, on both the cameras I have to shoot 4608X1920! (which was not possible with old raven sensor).

        Your argument is correct for 4k dci and UHD distribution though.

        Coming to RC thing, though it’s a limitation, by understanding how the RC works, the higher compression can be used in many instances.
        Between, the RC recommended for BBC orbi theater when shooting on a weapon is 12:1 (again, their ‘approach’ towards projection is quite unconventional)

  8. Great review, Marco!

    Quick workflow question:

    Are you round-tripping EVERYTHING in DaVinci? I’m currently only on 11, but have not found it to be anywhere near robust enough to drop Premiere for it. Is 12 that much better?



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      Hi Cody. Yes, Resolve 12 is leaps and bounds better than 11 with the editor. In truth, 11 was a little clunky in that regard, but 12 is a real editor. We used to round trip almost everything. For the smaller projects, we’d stay in Premiere and use Colorista 3 for grading (and for the record, I prefer it more than Lumetri plugins, even though those are far superior to what Permiere had prior to that, but I digress). But with 12, we’re really pushing to keep everything within Resolve as it’s a wonderful workflow. Why not upgrade to 12? It’s free! And the performance is better too.

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      LOL, I wish I could release stuff, but unfortunately that is impossible. I honestly do not know what the hold up is, but whatever it is, I know it’s in the best interest of getting the best product they can out the gate. Believe me, they seriously want to start making money on their incredibly hefty investment, just as much as we all want to buy them!!! =)

  9. Hey Marco,
    Thank you for such a great insight on both systems! You wrote (in the comparative chart) that the EF version was upgradable to PL? Did I read this correct? I thought they were releasing the same camera but in different mounting systems? But if truly the camera can be switched from one mounting syst. to another I’m putting down the money right now!
    Also did you have a chance to try shooting in anamorphic?

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      Thank you for the kind worlds, Erwan! The far right column in the comparative table is for the full size URSA, which has the removable turret to change lens mounts. The URSA Mini does not have a removable lens mount.

      When I tested the prototype, the Anamorphic option was not enabled yet. Bummer since I do have various anamorphic optical options!

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