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A 12K Camera for $6K? Yes, You Heard That Right

Blackmagic Design (BMD) has reduced the price of their 12K resolution camera from $10K to $6K making acquisition at this resolution even more attractive. And, they have release version 17.3 of Davinci Resolve, their free editing and grading platform that offers a 3X speed improvement when working with 4K and 8K files on Apple Mac models with the M1 chip. The combination makes not only capture but also production much more attractive for 8K and even 12K workflows to a larger audience.

According to the Sports Video Group, the price reduction was enabled by manufacturing efficiencies and improved supply of the 35mm 12K sensor.  The better processing was enabled by a new processing engine optimized for the M1 chip.

The company’s web page on the URSA Mini Pro 12K has all the details you need including a nice summary of the features:

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is a revolution in digital film with a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range, built into the award-winning URSA Mini body. The combination of 80 megapixels per frame, new color science, and the flexibility of Blackmagic RAW makes working with 12K resolution a reality. Oversampling from 12K gives you the best 8K and 4K images with the subtle skin tones and extraordinary detail of high-end still cameras. You can shoot at 60 fps in 12K, 120 fps in 8K, and up to 240 fps in 4K Super 16. URSA Mini Pro 12K features an interchangeable PL mount, as well as built-in ND filters, dual CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port, as well as some other features. DaVinci Resolve Studio is included for creative control through post from editing to color, VFX, and more!

One of the more innovative elements of this camera is the sensor.  It is a Super35 mm device measuring 27.03 x 14.25mm and was chosen over a full-frame sensor to enable better compatibility with lenses using the camera’s PL mount option. Most importantly, it does NOT arrange the sub-pixels in the conventional Bayer pattern (RGGB). Instead, there are equal numbers of red, green, and blue pixels which means there are no de-Bayering artifacts – a fact that most camera makers conveniently ignore.

An RGB arrangement may lose some sensitivity vs. a Bayer pattern which is where the BRAW encoding technology that BMD uses comes in. It is a closely guarded secret how all the color science works, but the feedback has been very positive so far.

The BRAW encoding has options for 5:1, 8:1, 12:1, and 18:1 at constant bit rates. There are also several constant quality options that vary the bitrate.

The new price will definitely open up new opportunities for 4K, 8K, and 12K projects but ultimately, BMD needs to get this and other cameras into rental houses so they become an accessible rental option.

In addition to capture and finishing with Resolve, BMD can support the 8K workflow after the project is complete.  For example, their HyperDeck Extreme 8K HDR appliance can encode and decode 8K in a production environment using a 4x12G SDI input/output interface. 8K/60p, 4:2:0, 10-bit HDR in HLG or PQ can be encoded in HEVC at up to 475 Mbps or ProRes HQ at up to 943 Mbps. Pretty impressive performance.