C100 Mark II vs Ursa Mini Pro

*Consulting sessions are available now. Check out our consulting page or use the button to schedule your one hour chat with monstrinthedark.


As a preface, I've only owned the Ursa Mini Pro for roughly a month as of this writing, but I spent a week on a feature with it. It only took one day of testing different codecs, frame rates, etc to understand how to use this camera. I've already started to develop some muscle memory of where the different buttons are located.

On the other hand, I've owned the C100 Mark II for over a year, and I use it almost daily. I've shot close to 100 videos with it.

Let's pit these two very different cameras against each other and see which comes out on top.

PRICE

On B&H you can currently pick up a Mark II for $3500 (that's with an instant savings of $2000). In 2017, it's blasphemous for Canon to charge $5500 for this camera. As good as it is, when you can pick up a Sony FS5, a similar camera but with way more bells and whistles or an Ursa Mini 4.6K or Ursa Mini Pro for the same price, you've missed the mark. 

I don't know when or if the instant savings of $1500 ends (it shouldn't). $4000 is a perfect price for the C100 Mark II, but what you can get for $6000 out of the Ursa Mini Pro is unreal. The only caveat when it comes to the Ursa is that you'll need to spend more money on batteries and media. 

WINNER - The C100 Mark II is cheaper, but URSA MINI PRO is a clear winner here. It's a next level camera.

A still from "Buga" - a narrative feature about immigration. This shot was slightly underxposed on the Pro but there's a great amount of detail you can pull from both shadows and highlights.

A still from "Buga" - a narrative feature about immigration. This shot was slightly underxposed on the Pro but there's a great amount of detail you can pull from both shadows and highlights.

MEDIA

One of the bonuses of the Ursa Mini Pro is the ability to record lower resolution and lower data rates to SD cards. This results in a savings on the costly CFast 2.0 cards. I opted to buy a Transcend CFast 2.0 256GB card. The director and producer of the feature I worked on opted to shoot in ProRes HQ in 2K to save space on their hard drives. The image looks amazing and scales great to 4K. 

With that said, all you need to get up and running with the Mark II is an SD card as the data rates are much lower on the Canon.

WINNER - In terms of cost, the Canon C100 Mark II wins here. 

Another frame from Buga shot with the Ursa Mini Pro and Rokinon glass.

Another frame from Buga shot with the Ursa Mini Pro and Rokinon glass.

CODEC

This one is a no brainer. The C100 Mark II gives us two relatively weak codecs to shoot in - AVCHD and MP4 - both feature 8-bit 4:2:0 - so while we still get amazing color and skin tones from the Mark II, we need to use an external recorder like an Atomos Ninja Blade to have a better codec to work with in post. Why do we want a beefier codec like ProRes? We want to be able to do more work in post with our footage, affecting color range and contrast.

The Ursa Mini Pro records to many flavors of Prores as well as RAW. The footage you shoot will take up more room on your hard drive and that's not a plus, but being able to grade true 10-bit or 12-bit files (depending if you shoot in ProRes or RAW) is a joy.

WINNER - Ursa Mini Pro

 

DYNAMIC RANGE

One of the most important features of a camera is its dynamic range. According to Canon, the Mark II has 12 stops of dynamic range, but that last stop is only available when you shoot Log. The Ursa Mini Pro boasts 15 stops.

Some DR on display here as I shoot towards some windows with noon-day light spilling through.

Some DR on display here as I shoot towards some windows with noon-day light spilling through.

I'm not a scientific guy who does tests with charts but I can definitely confirm that the Ursa Mini Pro is superior in this category.

WINNER - Ursa Mini Pro by a mile

 

LOW LIGHT

We finally reach a category in which the Mark II is a winner. A clear winner. The Mark II is a very good low light performer with clean ISO up to about 5,000. 

The Ursa Mini Pro does perform much better in low light than I expected, but there is some Fixed Pattern Noise if you underexpose, particularly at ISO 1600.

WINNER - CANON C100 MARK II by a mile

 

ND FILTERS

I really wanted to pull the trigger on the Ursa Mini 4.6K and I'm so glad I waited. The addition of ND filters in the Pro version is amazing. I do own a Matte Box but it's fucking huge and it adds a decent amount of weight to my set-up. Matte Boxes also add a time element to your shoot when you need to swap out filters. 

Both cameras has three stages of ND which can be used by flipping a dial. Fantastic.

WINNER - It's a draw.

 

FORM FACTOR

One has height (especially when you add the Mark II's top handle), the other has length. I think the Pro looks prettier and it feels better too.

One has height (especially when you add the Mark II's top handle), the other has length. I think the Pro looks prettier and it feels better too.

Hey, that Canon C100 Mark II has a weird fucking shape. It never bothered me, though I have heard many people complain about it's shape and size. It's quite light which makes it a good gimbal option, but it's awkward shape made it impossible to fully utilize the full range of movement on my DJI Ronin (the tilt was limited by the Mark II's EVF getting in the way). Canon seems to have moved on to a more industry standard box with the C700. 

The Ursa Mini Pro takes that form as well, although it is slightly rounded. It's solidly built, heavier than the Mark II, and is littered with dials and buttons on the left side. Like the Mark II, it has a side handle with a trigger for recording. I personally think the top handle and shoulder pad should be included with the cameras purchase.

Many of the controls you will find on your OLED display also have redundant buttons and switches on the side for quick access. Nice touch.

Neither camera has a wealth of mounting options.

WINNER - I think this comes down to user preference. I like both cameras, though I think the Pro will feel better on my shoulder if I decide to purchase the EVF in the future. DRAW.

 

EVF and OLED

This is a tricky category. The Canon has both an OLED screen (3.5") and an EVF. The EVF however is located in a strange place on the back of the camera, as if it were a DSLR. If you want to use the C100 Mark II on your shoulder, you would need to purchase an additional viewfinder. Most of the time I turned the EVF off unless I was shooting outside. The OLED screen on the C100 Mark II is bright and can rotate around and lock into different positions, but it is not a touch screen.

The rear of the Mark II.

The rear of the Mark II.

The Ursa Mini Pro has a 4" OLED touch screen. Unlike the Mark II's screen it does not fully rotate 180 degrees, making it hard to film yourself unless you have an external monitor. It is bright though and I had no trouble using it outside (but it was an overcast day).

The Pro also has a little status display screen on the outside of the monitor. I think you can choose what info is displayed on it - it has no relevance to the way I work and I didn't look at it once. 

The Pro does not have an EVF but Blackmagic Design makes one compatible with all versions of the Ursa Mini for $1500. I have read many reviews about it which are almost all very positive.

WINNER - Dare I say a DRAW? Each camera has one very usable screen.

More from the Pro. Fucking love this camera.

More from the Pro. Fucking love this camera.

FRAME RATES

As with nearly every Canon offering, high frame rates always leave a sour taste in most people's mouths. The Mark II maxes out at 60fps while the Ursa Mini Pro can shoot 120fps in 2K and HD, and 60fps in 4.6K and 4K. That includes 4.6K RAW at 60fps.

One thing to note is that the 120fps is in a windowed mode so you are not using the full sensor.

WINNER - I don't shoot a ton of high frame rate stuff unless I'm doing a music video. I can normally get by with 60fps but 120fps is nice to have. Ursa Mini Pro is the obvious choice here.

MENU

Sony and Panasonic cameras have some crazy menu systems. You can spend a lot of time slogging through them. I'm not saying the Canon menu system is much better, but it's more accessible than those two. 

The menu system on the Ursa Mini Pro beats them all hands down. Really simplistic and clean looking - the menu is divided into six sections, each which has two or three screens to scroll through with tappable buttons and sliders.

You can choose your recording settings, what displays you would like to appear on your monitor, and your audio settings. You can also load a LUT (I believe you can store up to 17 different LUTS)

WINNER - It's the Ursa Mini Pro

AUDIO

I'm not an audio expert by any means. What I do know is that each of these cameras can record a scratch track from an external mic so you can sync from another audio source. Each camera also has two XLR inputs and the quality sounds good on both.

WINNER - It's a DRAW but maybe if you're an audio expert you can share a better opinion in the comments below.

GIMBALS

I own a DJI Ronin and both of these cameras can fit on it. The C100 Mark II is way lighter but as stated above you will lose the ability to fully tilt the camera as the EVF hits the Ronin. It's never been a problem for me though in any of my work. The Ronin is already heavy by itself, but with the Ursa Mini Pro it's really fucking heavy. I haven't done any extensive testing with this setup because I do not own an external monitor that can receive an SDI input. I do imagine that controlling the features of the Pro may be easier as you can use the switches and dials on the left side to make fast changes.

WINNER - They both fit on the DJI Ronin and that's all I can speak to. DRAW

CONNECTIONS

The Pro has a bunch of pro features which the Mark II does not - maybe that's why they called it the Pro. Included with this camera are some great connections including 12G-SDI In and Out, 3G-SDI Out, Reference In and Timecode In, LANC, and a broadcast lens control connection. These SDI connections can carry a lot more data than an HDMI connection.

As I worked with the Pro on this latest film I provided the director's 14" monitor a direct feed via the 3G-SDI out.

The Pro does not support HDMI in or out. 

WINNER - No doubt it's the Ursa Mini Pro

ursa-and-lens.jpg

BATTERY

The Canon C100 Mark II batteries are beasts. I can get through about 6 hours of shooting on one battery so two are more than enough to see me through an 8 or even 10 hour shoot.

With the Ursa Mini Pro, it's time to take the leap into the professional battery category. The camera does not come with a battery plate, so you'll have to decide whether you want to invest in a Gold or V-Mount system. The Gold mount (Anton Bauer) batteries are more expensive but have a fantastic reputation for quality and performance.

If you choose V-Mount there are a ton of options to choose from with a wide range of prices. Everytime I see a Blackmagic broadcast, I notice that they use IDX batteries - so that's the brand I bought. I have two 93wh batteries and they each last roughly 2 and 1/2 hours (longer if I shutdown the camera when nothing is going on). Each battery takes between 4-5 hours to fully charge.

Do note that V-mount and Gold mount batteries can also be used to power a whole host of other equipment either directly or through a D-Tap. I can use my V-mounts to power my Aputure lights which is a big plus.

WINNER - The C100 Mark II has great battery life, period. You can buy batteries for the Ursa Mini Pro that have a charge of way more than 93wh, but of course, you'll pay for that premium. C100 Mark II takes this category.

AUTOFOCUS

I rarely use autofocus. Maybe a handful of times with the DJI Ronin. Still, I'd wager that the C100 Mark II reigns supreme here.

WINNER - C100 Mark II

EXTRAS

When you buy an Ursa Mini Pro you receive a full copy of Davinci Resolve which is a fantastic program for anyone serious about color grading. You can import your RAW sequences directly into Davinci for transcoding. This program coupled with this camera is a match made in heaven. Let's also not forget the swappable mounts for this camera including B4 and PL.

Winner - Ursa Mini Pro

CONCLUSION

So you've made it all the way down here. Did you skip over some stuff? Need a recap?

These are two similarly priced cameras (I purchased the C100 Mark II for $5500 and the Pro for $6000). They are both very good digital cinema cameras but in terms of quality the Ursa Mini Pro has moved to the next level. For 6 grand you use the Pro as a B-cam with a Red or Arri for sure. The Mark II still holds some advantages which are mainly it's low light ability and low cost of extras like media and batteries, but it falls well behind in dynamic range and codec options.

Overall Winner - Ursa Mini Pro

I think these two cameras each serve a different purpose. When I head out for a shoot with limited time, no pre-scout, that requires fast set-up and a quick turnaround, I'm gonna sport the C100 Mark II. When I want to make shit that looks good on my reel, I'm breaking out the Ursa Mini Pro every time. I'll be using this on bigger budget commercials, music videos, and narrative films. I can't wait to get out and shoot.

Have an opinion? Want to ask a question? Type it in below.