Here’s the new little camera from ARRI that shoots big pictures. It’s ARRI’s latest addition to their large-format camera system. This is what many cinematographers were asking for: Large Format, lighter, smaller, modular.
It’s pretty much always followed this way. Arriflex cameras were not just cameras, they have long been part of a system.
As Stephan Schenk explains (in our ALEXA Mini LF Report – PDF download), there usually was a studio style “A” camera accompanied by a hand-holdable, lighter, smaller “B” camera.
When the Arriflex 35BL came out, its lighter, smaller, faster MOS companion was the 35-3. The Arriflex 535 system was rounded out with the 435. Along with ARRICAM came my favorite analog camera, the shoulder-resting Arriflex 235 with magazines that looked like a school of playful dolphins.
This sets the stage for the camera that comes in the days ahead of NAB, in April 2019. Its design is equally joyful. ARRI ALEXA Mini LF is quintessentially an ALEXA LF stuffed into the body of a Super35 ALEXA Mini. It uses the same size ALEV III (A2X) CMOS sensor (36.70 x 25.54 mm). To picture the engineering involved, imagine unloading the entire contents of your 22-foot long camera truck and squeezing almost everything inside a BMW X3.
The new ALEXA Mini LF is not a “B” camera. It’s an entire-alphabet camera. Just as the Super35 ALEXA Mini captured the imaginations of users on all kinds of productions, the new Large Format Mini LF is equally versatile.
Which brings us back to the concept of ARRI’s camera system. Camera capabilities can be defined by shooting style.
You might want an all-in-one high-speed ALEXA LF camera, most likely in a studio, that does almost everything without having to add accessories. Or you may need a modular Mini LF, either by design or because it’s the only camera body the production can afford. You might choose your camera for flexible, fast-paced production. You may want the camera mounted on a gimbal for one scene, handheld the next, and then in full studio regalia with a spaghetti of cables and accessories surrounding it. In the best of all worlds, you’ll have one or more of each.
Big Picture, Little Camera
ALEXA Mini LF is the newest member of ARRI’s Big Picture camera system: ALEXA LF, ALEXA Mini LF, Signature Primes, LPL Lens Mount, LDS-2 lens metadata, and PL-to-LPL Adapter.
Incidentally, “Big Picture” is not a random, cute name. Denny Clairmont hated when we said “Super35” because there were so many variations. “Just call it ‘Big TV,’” Denny admonished. So, with a salute to Denny, “Big Picture. Little Camera.”
Of course, the Mini LF shares the photosite design and color science of the ALEXA LF, and for that matter, ALEXA 65 and Super 35 ALEXAs. Other well-known and enviable attributes include extremely high dynamic range, natural skin tones, easy color correction, high sensitivity and clean images for VFX. The camera is ergonomic, rugged and reliable. It is easy to operate. Menus are intuitive. Data wrangling and management in post is fast and efficient.
What’s new on ALEXA Mini LF?
ALEXA Mini LF’s carbon fiber body plus LPL lens mount weighs a mere 2.6 Kg. How convenient—that’s the same size and weight (about 5.7 lb) as the ubiquitous Maß (1-liter beer mug) at Oktoberfest.
The main way to tell the cameras apart is that ALEXA Mini LF has a bulge on the camera left side. This is where the recording media goes. And yes, it records ARRIRAW internally. We’ll get to that.
Other new things about the ALEXA Mini LF:
- New, small, tough, affordable Codex Compact Drive 1TB media
- Motorized Large-Format FSND filter slider (Clear, ND 0.6, ND 1.2, ND 1.8)
- 3 extra connectors: 12V 2-pin, 24V RS 3-pin and SYNC IN
- New Multi Viewfinder MVF-2 with large 4″ flip-out monitor that displays the image or menu
- Viewfinder works on camera left and right side
- New VF cable using easier, flexible CoaXPress (up to 10m/33ft)
- Viewfinder has a built-in eyepiece lens heater for de-fogging
- Camera works with 12V and 24V batteries (11V to 34V)
- Power draw at 24 fps with viewfinder is similar to ALEXA Mini, which is about 65 W.
- 3 more user buttons on the camera left side (6 total).
- New 6-pin AUDIO connector (2 Ch LINE IN + 12V)
- Recessed TC connector
- Easier access to recording media and Viewfinder connector
- 2 built-in microphones
- One LOCK button each for camera and viewfinder
- Additional external WiFi antenna
- ARRIRAW license included
Large Format sensor
This entire edition of FDTimes is pretty much a paean to Large Format, packed as these pages are with new Large Format products. So we probably don’t need to rhapsodize further about the distinguishable aesthetic virtues, although it’s difficult to resist. More natural perspective. Backgrounds appear closer but shallower depth of field separates them more than S35. Higher resolution and less noise. Higher sensitivity, higher contrast, smoother images.
For more information: arri.com/alexaminilf