Blackmagic Teases Groundbreaking 17K Large-Format Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design teases Ursa 17K cinema camera

In addition to unveiling the Pyxis 6K and Ursa Cine 12K cameras, Blackmagic Design also used NAB 2024 to tease an even higher-resolution camera with a large-format image sensor.

During its NAB 2024 update presentation, seen below, Blackmagic teased that it is working on a Ursa Cine 17K camera. While it won’t be available until the end of this year, and details are scarce, it is such cool technology that it is well worth taking a closer look.

The 17K Ursa will use a 50.8 x 23.3-millimeter image sensor. Compared to the Ursa Cine 12K’s image sensor, which is 35.6 x 23.3 millimeters, the 17K camera offers a wider sensor. The increase in surface area is quite significant, up to 1,183.6mm2 from 829.5mm2. This is a nearly 30% increase.

Blackmagic Design teases Ursa 17K cinema camera

In terms of pixels, the big sensor’s resolution is 17,520 x 8,040 pixels. Put another way, it is 140.9 megapixels. The Ursa Cine 12K’s megapixel count is a still-very-high 98.8.

Blackmagic Design teases Ursa 17K cinema camera
The new 17K sensor (left) versus the Ursa Cine 12K sensor (right)

Blackmagic says that nearly all the Ursa 12K’s features will carry forward to its 17K model, although the built-in neutral density (ND) filters won’t make the transition due to the larger image sensor. Due to the bigger sensor, there also won’t be an EF version of the Ursa 17K. The camera will come in Arri LPL and Hasselblad mount options.

It is important to note that the Ursa Cine 12K and the upcoming 17K camera, while not launching simultaneously, have been developed alongside each other. They are two sides of the same coin.

Blackmagic Design teases Ursa 17K cinema camera

Chatting with CineD at NAB, Blackmagic’s Business Development Manager Stuart Ashton explained that the big 17K sensor was engineered in-house and promises 16 stops of dynamic range.

Although the Ursa 17K will undoubtedly be expensive — the Ursa Cine 12K is $14,995 — it could make large-format cinematography much more accessible to a broader range of filmmakers.

Blackmagic Design teases Ursa 17K cinema camera

The Arri Alexa 65, a go-to large-format camera for Hollywood feature films, has a 54.1 x 25.6-millimeter sensor, which is very similar in size to Blackmagic’s 17K camera. However, Arri’s camera and lenses cost a reported $10,000-12,000 to rent per day. It is difficult to find what it would cost to buy an Alexa 65, but it’s a safe bet that it’s a six-figure proposition.

The primary takeaway is that Blackmagic’s Ursa 17K is unlikely to be cheap, but it may very well put large-format cinematography into the hands of more filmmakers. That’s a win for everyone.

Image credits: Blackmagic Design