Blackmagic design has launched what it's calling the world's most affordable and flexible pro-level UHD broadcast camera. Suited to both studio and field work, the URSA Broadcast comes in much cheaper than DSLR's like Nikon's flagship D5 or Canon's EOS-1D X Mark II, at under $3,500.

"URSA Broadcast lets customers get the most out of their investment in cameras and lenses because it can be re-purposed and used on every type of project, whether it's out in the field or in the studio," said the company's Grant Petty. "URSA Broadcast is exciting because it makes high end broadcast camera technology available to everyone from AV and web producers all the way up to professional broadcasters, for the same price as a common DSLR."

Blackmagic Design promises "super sharp images" with fine texture and detail, accurate skin tones, vibrant color and high dynamic range from the 13.056 x 7.344 mm 4K sensor at the heart of its URSA Broadcast camera. An extended video mode means that recordings don't need to be adjusted for color before going on air, which makes the model a good fit for fast turnaround live feeds. And operators can make use of integrated neutral density optical filters with IR compensation to quickly reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor.

The included B4 lens mount has been designed to match the sensor, offering a wide depth of field so that users needn't worry about going out of focus between zooms from close-ups to medium and wide shots. The URSA Broadcast has full electronic B4 lens control too, allowing for focus, iris and zoom adjustment using the camera's controls or via a remote switcher, panel or iPad over a Bluetooth connection. All controls on the camera have redundant backups so that the shoot can continue even if problems arise, and optional EF, F and PL mounts can also be attached for lens choice flexibility.

The outside of the camera is jam-packed with traditional broadcast controls and buttons, in a layout designed to allow for ease of operation without needing to constantly look away from the action. Recording to (relatively) low cost SD/UHS-II and CFast media is possible via dual CFast and dual SD slots, a setup that caters for continuous recording possibilities. As one card becomes full, recording continues to the next and allows the operator to swap out the first card.

Broadcast footage at up to 3,840 x 2,160 resolution and 60 frames per second can be captured in 10-bit DNx145, DNx220X or ProRes formats, with metadata, though better quality is offered in the shape of lossless 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW recording, too.

The URSA Broadcast is wrapped in a durable magnesium alloy body. There's a high-visibility, backlit LCD status display panel to show critical shooting information – like timecode, shutter and lens settings, battery life, recording status and audio levels – and a fold-out 4-inch capacitive touchscreen display which negates the need for an external monitor to access menu settings and for on-set monitoring.

The camera has built-in stereo microphones and a mono speaker, balanced XLR audio inputs with phantom power, and multi-rate 12G-SDI for video out and return feed input. 12 V DC power output and HD-SDI monitor input allow the camera to be used with Blackmagic (or third party) viewfinders and monitors.

The Blackmagic URSA Broadcast is available now for body-only price of US$3,495.

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