Lightweight, versatile cameras are most easily categorized as go-to, run-and-gun cameras. The newly announced ALEXA Mini will start to change that idea without sacrificing ARRI ALEXA quality. It will be a specialized, lightweight camera for the pros. The body of the ALEXA Mini has 5.5 X 7.3 X 4.9” dimensions, is being marketed as a “go-anywhere tool”, and is encased in a carbon-fiber housing. It weighs approximately five pounds, has titanium PL and sensor mounts, and a design meant for a wide variety of mounting and shooting set-ups -- including multi-copters.
With a starting price of $30,000, the aim of ARRI’s newest addition is to save both time and money on set, by not having to rely on third-party cameras for unconventional or specialized shots. With the advancement of small, versatile, and affordable SLRs and 4K cameras, Dan Bracaglia of Digital Photography Review predicts the ALEXA Mini’s “...specs also foreshadow what we might expect in future consumer-level cameras…”
In recent years, filmmakers have been able to rely on smaller cameras to keep costs down. With smaller cameras and the popularity of drones and multi-copters increasing, a production may no longer need to pay for helicopters to get high-quality aerial shots. Sony’s new a7s and Blackmagic’s 4K Cinema Cameras offer an easy alternative for, say, a shot involving tight car interiors. However, the addition of the ALEXA Mini offers the most stiff competition for RED in the department of small body cameras.
By keeping key features of the ALEXA and AMIRA, including the ALEV III sensor, the Mini now belongs to a system of cameras. For productions relying on configuring third-party cameras, used for their size or speed, time is added on set as well as in post, matching images in grading. The Mini’s aim is to resolve this, with its 200 fps capabilities and in-camera CDL and 3D LUT color management. It also shares the color space of ARRI ALEXA’s shooting kit. In order to address changing light conditions while the camera is already rigged, the Mini offers a wireless remote-control ND filter. Equally impressive is what has been developed by Codex, alongside the ALEXA Mini.
Like the AMIRA and Blackmagic URSA, the ALEXA Mini has in-camera recording to CFast 2.0 cards. Codex has worked with ARRI to develop the Codex Multi-Camera Recorder, which will work with both Codex Capture Drive and Codex Capture Drive 2.0. The Multi-Camera Recorder allows for simultaneous ARRIRAW recording, one of six of the Mini’s codecs, from four different ALEXA Minis. This makes it perfect for use in multi-camera setups, such as 360 degree plate shots and TV. Codex Capture Drive 2.0 is designed with the latest PCIe-based flash storage, providing 2TB of memory at up to 20 GB/s bandwidth. See here for full specs on it and the ARRI ALEXA Mini.
It is a very exciting time for small body cameras. When quality is retained, features are added, and fast storage capabilities expand, it means more streamlined options both on and off set.