Home Camera Blackmagic URSA Mini Test Parts 6 – 9: ND Comparison, Night ISO, and Rolling Shutter

Blackmagic URSA Mini Test Parts 6 – 9: ND Comparison, Night ISO, and Rolling Shutter

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

With our release of Parts 6 through 9 of our Blackmagic URSA Mini test in Shane’s Inner Circle, we want to share a snippet of our review with you right here. In Parts 6 and 7 we will discuss IR Pollution while testing Tiffen Straight ND, Tiffen IR ND, and True ND filters. In Part 8, we conduct a Night ISO Test to see how the URSA Mini performs, and lastly, in Part 9, we will test its rolling shutter which will be available exclusively to Inner Circle members upon release.  If you want to get more insights into cinematography and filmmaking sign up for Shane’s Inner Circle today!

Blackmagic URSA Mini Part 6: IR Pollution Test with Straight ND Filters

Welcome to the Blackmagic URSA Mini IR Pollution test with Straight ND filters. This is Part 6 of a 9 Part series testing the Blackmagic URSA Mini. In this section, we’re going to dig in and find the tipping point of this sensor, as well as finding out exactly where IR Pollution takes over the whole image with the Straight ND filter. If you want to get a more in-depth, comprehensive review of the Blackmagic URSA Mini where I cover Straight ND Filters, IR ND Filters, True Filters, our Day and Night ISO Tests, Overexposure/Underexposure with skin tones, Color Correcting, and our Rolling Shutter Test, join Shane’s Inner Circle today and get instant access to instructional tools on cinematography, camera, lighting, gripping, and personal advice directly from me.

In this test, I’m going to shoot clean while trying to keep my depth of field consistent so it doesn’t pull our eyes away from the IR pollution. To do that, I’m first going with a 5 degree shutter, then at an 11, 22, 45, 90, 180, and finally a 360 degree shutter all in stop increments to follow the NDs’ level of density. By keeping the depth of field consistent, our minds won’t be playing tricks on themselves, thinking that one shutter looks better because it looks more in focus, etc. You will find one of the videos of our test below, and once again, members get access to the full version of articles like these, so sign up today!

Music via Musicbed: Lovelast – “Awake”

When shooting with the Blackmagic URSA Mini, ND 0.9 is about as high as you can go with a Straight ND before the colors start getting too contaminated. When you go ND 1.2 or above, you’re reaching a point where the work put into grading and fixing the image is not worth the headache. Can it be fixed? Maybe, but it will take a lot of time to do so. To combat this, you’ll have to shoot at a higher f-stop, but then your image won’t look as cinematic because everything will be focus. Your other option is to ND down using either IR NDs that combat that IR Pollution or to use True NDs that are really the recipe for success when using the Blackmagic URSA Mini.

  • Tiffen Straight ND Filters
    • ND 0.9 is about as far as you can go before the colors start to get too contaminated
    • When you go to ND 1.2 or above, you’re going to have to do a lot of color grading and you’re at the point of no return when it comes to dialing it back
      • To combat this, you’ll to have to shoot at a higher f stop, but because everything is in focus, it will NOT appear as cinematic
  • Tiffen Straight ND Clean
    • Nice skin tones
    • Colors look good
    • Greens in the background are rich
    • Sky detail is beautiful
      • Overcast day with the sun coming in and out so our levels kept changing

  • Tiffen Straight ND 0.3
    • Not seeing much of a change on the ungraded image
    • With the grade, the image looks very good
    • No brown dirtying up the greens
    • Colors seem to be keeping fairly true to form

  • Tiffen Straight ND 0.6
    • Still safe and manageable
    • Not seeing any brown in the greens
    • Colors are staying consistent
    • When comparing the ungraded clean and ungraded ND 0.6 images, there’s a slight green tone that’s added with the ND 0.6
      • This can be easily dialed out
    • With the graded image, the greens are starting to brown slightly
    • The blues are beginning to shift into purples
    • The skin tones are starting to brown slightly
      • A bit of cyan baked into Monette and Chelsea’s skin tones

  • Tiffen Straight ND 0.9
    • More brown is occurring
    • The greens are starting to lose that saturated, blue-green color and are yellowing out based on the IR Pollution
    • Chelsea and Monette’s skin tones are starting to have more brown to them
    • Monette’s shirt is more purple than blue now
    • We can still dial the pollution out

  • Tiffen Straight ND 1.2
    • The wheels start to come off
    • A lot of painstaking color correction is needed to fix the image
    • Starting to see a brown cast over the RAW file and graded versions
    • Chelsea is starting to get tons of redness into her skin tones, and Monette appears like she has a tan
    • The sky starts to have a weird, blueish tone
    • Asphalt is browning out

  • Tiffen Straight ND 1.5
    • The whole image has a brownness to it
      • A similar look to Terminator: Salvation
    • Monette’s shirt is purple and Chelsea’s jeans are starting to turn purple
    • Colors look all muted and kind of contaminated
    • Too difficult to dial back, which is why ND 1.5 is the tipping point for the Blackmagic URSA Mini

  • Tiffen Straight ND 1.8
    • Purple shirts and jeans
    • Brown is cast over everything in the RAW file
    • An otherworldly look
    • A lot of red contamination in the blacks

  • Tiffen Straight ND 2.1
    • The whole image has brown, purple, and magenta blazing all over it

This has been a cut down version of our test and findings and we will be releasing the full version inside Shane’s Inner Circle where members have access to the full version of articles like these, so get in there!


Blackmagic URSA Mini Test Part 7: IR Pollution Test with True ND Filters

Music via Musicbed: Tony Anderson – “Journey”

IR pollution can be extremely difficult to handle on certain sensors. Some sensors have beautiful IR cut filters embedded in them like the Arri Amira, the Canon C300, C500 & C700 series as well as the new RED Weapon which work beautifully. For cameras that don’t have these cut filters, like the Blackmagic URSA Mini, we have to find the right recipe to combat IR Pollution. In Part 7 of 9 of our Blackmagic URSA Mini series, we’re going to test our True ND filters.

If you want to get a more in-depth, comprehensive review of the Blackmagic URSA Mini where I cover Straight ND Filters, IR ND Filters, True Filters, our Day and Night ISO Tests, Overexposure/Underexposure with skin tones, Color Correcting, and our Rolling Shutter Test, join Shane’s Inner Circle today and get instant access to instructional tools on cinematography, lighting, gripping, and personal advice directly from me.

We’ll start with a clean image with no filtration whatsoever, and then we’ll see it side-by-side with 0.3 filter, followed by a series of True NDs all the way up to a 2.1. We’re going to color correct the clean image and then slap those same settings on the filtered images to see how they compare. The reason we’re not just going to balance the color is because you won’t learn anything that way. We want to see how well the clean image’s color correction holds up as we increase the density of our True NDs.

You couldn’t use anything from 2.1 and beyond with the Straight NDs because the look became too otherworldly. In comparison, at a 2.1 with our True NDs, our image still looks well balanced. This is where the True NDs really show their power. I like to shoot wide open even during the day, so this is going to be my go-to filtration when I use the URSA Mini. The blues, the grays, and the greens are all still right there in the pocket. This is the way to combat IR Pollution on the URSA Mini.

  • Mitomo True ND Filters
    • Enhances and completely makes null and void IR pollution on the Blackmagic URSA Mini
    • Used on Into the Badlands and The Babysitter
    • Love what they do to skin tones
      • A beautiful golden quality in the skin
  • Mitomo True ND Clean
    • I like to use blues and greens in the image to spot IR Pollution

  • Mitomo True ND 0.3
    • Greens and blues are looking nice
    • Chelsea and Monette’s skin tones look wonderful
      • Skin tones slightly richer in the clean file, but can be dialed out
    • When comparing to our clean file, we can see a little bit of green infused to handle IR Pollution
    • Slight cyan quality

  • Mitomo True ND 0.6
    • Image still balanced
    • Greens still looking nice and saturated
    • Blues are still rich
    • Chelsea’s skin tone is a richer brown with a greenish, cyan cast; and Monette’s skin tone is more of a peachy

  • Mitomo True ND 0.9
    • COMPARISON: Breaking point for the Straight ND
    • For our True ND, it looks stunning! This is great filtration
    • Still a slight cyan cast
    • Blues and greens look great
    • Combating IR Pollution beautifully and delivering a much cleaner image than the IR NDs and Straight NDs

  • Mitomo True ND 1.2
    • Color looks good on the datacolor SpyderCHECKR
    • Blues and greens are still rich
    • Again, any problems we see can still be easily dialed out at this stage

  • Mitomo True ND 1.5
    • Blues are still pretty true
    • A slight bit of brown over the image
    • COMPARISON: At this point with the Straight NDs, the blues started turning purple and the greens started to look brown

  • Mitomo True ND 1.8
    • Still a solid image
    • Minimal IR contamination
      • Still combating pollution very nicely
    • Starting to add a slight red-brown to the skin tones
    • Start to see matching skin tones between the clean image and filtered image
    • IR Pollution is starting to take over that cyan cast we’ve seen until up now
      • Helping us to an extent by keeping the blues from turning too purple and greens turning too brown

  • Mitomo True ND 2.1
    • The image is still well-balanced
      • Unlike the Straight NDs and IR NDs
    • Blues, grays, and greens are all still right in the pocket
    • This is the way to combat IR Pollution on the URSA Mini

This has been a cut down version of our test and findings and we will be releasing the full version inside Shane’s Inner Circle where members have access to the full version of articles like these, so get in there!


Blackmagic URSA Mini Test 8: Night ISO Test

Music via Musicbed: Makeup and Vanity – “Rec”

Welcome to the Blackmagic URSA Mini Night ISO Test. This is where we’ll take the ISOs in a night environment and see where the noise starts to come in. If you want to get a more in-depth, comprehensive review of the Blackmagic URSA Mini where I cover Straight ND Filters, IR ND Filters, True Filters, our Day and Night ISO Tests, Overexposure/Underexposure with skin tones, Color Correcting, and our Rolling Shutter Test, join Shane’s Inner Circle today and get instant access to instructional tools on cinematography, lighting, gripping, and personal advice directly from me.

We already did our Day ISO Noise Test in Part 3. If you remember, it was an open environment with a lot of light. I mean, we could really see into all the nooks and crannies. Due to this visibility, Noise has a very difficult time of hiding in a Day ISO Noise Test.

In this night scenario, the noise can hide in the shadow areas. I lit specific walls in this test to a gray tone so you can really see where the noise is coming out — and wow! We can really see the effects of us increasing the ISO. Doing it this way, we’re going to see what it does to the color, our noise levels, and our contrast within the scene.

Noise is tougher to locate in a Night ISO Noise Test as opposed to a Day ISO Noise Test. Noise can hide in the shadow areas, but can be seen on the lit walls.

  • The effects of increasing the ISO can affect:
    • Color
    • Noise Levels
    • Contrast
  • Exterior Night Environment
    • Shadowy, Urban
    • Using Sodium Vapors
    • Lit a gray wall for reference to Noise

  • Ungraded ISO 800
    • Looks clean
    • Even as a RAW file, nicer color-bit depth than 1600

  • Ungraded ISO 1600
    • Noise begins to show
    • Noise isn’t easy to see on the RAW file

  • Graded ISO 800
    • Good color and balance
    • Nice greens, blues & out-of-focus
    • Deeper colors
    • Your model will snap!

  • Graded ISO 1600
    • Noise is obvious
    • Fixed pattern noise elements
    • Can start to see lines
    • Loses vitality

This has been a cut down version of our test and findings and we will be releasing the full version inside Shane’s Inner Circle where members have access to articles like these, so get in there!


Blackmagic URSA Mini Test 9: Rolling Shutter Test (Teaser)

A lot of filmmakers get hung up on rolling shutter, hunkering down and looking for every imperfection of the camera and its refresh rate. I’m not one of them! When I’m watching a movie, my emotional attachment to it is more important to me than looking for these kind of flaws. Still, I wanted to see for myself how rolling shutter looked on the Blackmagic URSA Mini. We’re going to test out the URSA Mini’s rolling shutter with a moving vehicle, and getting down to business by seeing how this camera operates on speeds moving from 15 – 25 MPH. This is the final test in the Blackmagic URSA Mini series and it will be available exclusively to Inner Circle members upon release. So, if you want to check out this test — and trust me, you do — then become a member of Shane’s Inner Circle today!

This has been a teaser version of our test and findings and we will be releasing the full version inside Shane’s Inner Circle where members have access to articles like these, so get in there!


We’re excited to hear what you think about our Blackmagic URSA Mini Test series! Make sure to leave a comment below.

Now, let’s take a look at our table of contents for an overview of this series:

PART 1: Overexposure and Skin Tone

PART ONE TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 1 HOURS 20 MINUTES

  • Overexposure at ISO 800 – Runtime 9 minutes 35 seconds
  • Overexposure at ISO 800 Shane’s Review – Runtime 16 minutes 14 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Overexposure at ISO 1600 – Runtime 8 minutes 21 seconds
  • Overexposure at ISO 1600 Shane’s Review – Runtime 17 minutes 1 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Overexposure at ISO 800 vs. ISO 1600 – Runtime 13 minutes 46 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Overexposure at ISO 800 vs. ISO 1600 Shane’s Review – 16 mins 2 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

PART 2: Underexposure and Skin Tone

PART TWO TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 1 HOUR 21 MINUTES

  • Underexposure at ISO 800 – Runtime 10 minutes 11 seconds.
  • Underexposure at ISO 800 Shane’s Review – Runtime 18 minutes 50 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Underexposure at ISO 1600 – Runtime 10 minutes 47 seconds
  • Underexposure at ISO 1600 Shane’s Review – Runtime 12 minutes 34 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Underexposure ISO 800 vs. ISO 1600 – Runtime 15 minutes 50 Seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Underexposure ISO 800 vs. ISO 1600 Shane’s Review – Runtime 13 minutes 34 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

Part 3: Day ISO/Finding Native

PART THREE TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 58 MINUTES 24 SECONDS

  • Day ISO Noise Test – Runtime 3 minutes 59 seconds
  • Day ISO Noise Test Shane’s Review – Runtime 13 minutes 55 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 400 – Runtime 4 minutes 3 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 400 Shane’s Review – Runtime 7 minutes 32 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 800 – Runtime 4 minutes 5 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 800 Shane’s Review – Runtime 13 minutes 18 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 1600 – Runtime 4 minutes 2 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Day ISO Noise Test Compared Against ISO 1600 Shane’s Review – Runtime 7 minutes 30 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

Here’s a look at what’s in Shane’s Inner Circle for Parts 1 – 3:

Part 4: Color Correcting Your Blackmagic URSA Mini 1

PART FOUR TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT:  7 MINUTES 13 SECONDS

  • Color Grading Day Exteriors with DaVinci Resolve  – Runtime 7 minutes 13 seconds

Part 5: Color Correcting Your Blackmagic URSA Mini 2

PART FIVE TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 8 MINUTES 34 SECONDS (COMING SOON!)

  • Color Grading without a LUT Under Tungsten Lighting – 5 minutes 14 seconds
  • Color Grading under Mixed Color Temp Sources – 3 minutes 20 seconds

Part 6: Combating IR Pollution Using Straight NDs and IR NDs

PART SIX TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 51 MINUTES 01 SECONDS

  • IR Pollution Test with Straight ND – Runtime 6 minutes 46 seconds
  • IR Pollution Test with Straight ND Shane’s Review – Runtime 19 minutes 25 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • IR Pollution Test with Tiffen IR ND – Runtime 6 minutes 44 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • IR Pollution Test with Tiffen IR ND Shane’s Review – Runtime 18 minutes 06 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

Part 7: Combating IR Pollution with True NDs & Our Battle Royale Finale

PART SEVEN TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 45 MINUTES 32 SECONDS

  • IR Pollution Test with True ND – Runtime 6 minutes 29 seconds
  • IR Pollution Test with True ND Shane’s Review – Runtime 16 minutes 01 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • IR Pollution Test ND Battle Royale – Runtime 4 minutes 55 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • IR Pollution Test ND Battle Royale Shane’s Review – Runtime 18 minutes 07 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

Part 8: Night ISO Test

PART EIGHT TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT:  19 MINUTES 49 SECONDS

  • Night ISO Noise Test with Chelsea – Runtime 3 minutes 04 seconds
  • Night ISO Noise Test with Chelsea Shane’s Review – Runtime 5 minutes 46 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Night ISO Noise Test with Mason – Runtime 2 minutes 33 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Night ISO Noise Test with Mason Shane’s Review – Runtime 3 minutes 18 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Night ISO Noise Test with Chelsea vs. Mason – Runtime 5 minutes 08 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

Part 9: Rolling Shutter Test

PART NINE TOTAL VIDEO CONTENT: 8 MINUTES 06 SECONDS

  • Rolling Shutter Test with Car – Runtime 1 minutes 41 seconds (SIC EXCLUSIVE)
  • Rolling Shutter Test with Car Shane’s Review – Runtime 6 minutes 25 seconds  (SIC EXCLUSIVE)

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

Order Black Magic URSA Mini Camera Test Series Part 1-9:

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8 comments

Kevin February 22, 2017 at 7:31 PM

Did you use True ND’s or Tiffens?

Reply
Jamie LeJeune February 28, 2017 at 5:48 PM

+1 to Kevin’s question. A Google search for “Tiffen True ND” only returns this very page. It doesn’t show up anywhere on the Tiffen site, nor on B&H.

Reply
Todd March 7, 2017 at 10:50 AM

In the equipment list at the end of the article, why aren’t there links to the filters discussed? Where can we purchase the “True ND” filters

Reply
Josh March 7, 2017 at 10:55 AM

Search for Mitomo true nd. Very good NDs, but expensive. Good ND filters are also NiSi and Lee.

Reply
Ben Yonker March 7, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Tough to find, but here they are. It’s a company based in Tokyo. https://www.mitomo.co.jp/products/nd-filter-true-nd-en/

Reply
Ben Yonker March 7, 2017 at 11:06 AM Reply
Ryan Simmons March 7, 2017 at 2:52 PM

Also, +1 to Kevin’s question.

Reply
Shane Hurlbut, ASC March 8, 2017 at 5:44 PM

Thank you for the good eyes, Hurlbog Readers! Our editors have updated to make the corrections regarding True NDs.

Reply

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