The ARRI Alexa (in the producer’s spelling: ΛLEXΛ) is well on its way to making film history. With this, the film camera joins the ranks of its famous predecessors. The camera was first presented to the public in April 2010.
On the road to legend: ARRI Alexa
After the Munich-based company ARRI had already familiarized itself with digital recording technology before (Arriflex D-20 / D-21), the decision to produce the Alexa film camera was considered a clear commitment of the traditional company to digital cinema. This has enabled us to successfully open up an important new segment of the market. Today, uber-films like Sam Mendes’ 1917 are shot with cameras from Munich.
Founded in 1917 by August Arnold and Robert Richter and known worldwide as Arriflex since the late 1930s, the ARRI Group today produces professional film cameras, lenses, lighting and equipment for post-production. For 2015, ARRI expected a turnover of € 300 million (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung).
The ARRI Alexa camera’s CMOS sensor allows images with 2880 × 2160 pixels or 1920 × 1080 ProRes 422, or with the current firmware 7 on ProRes 4444 on SxS Cards or 2880 × 1620 with ARRIRAW (the company’s own proprietary raw data format) on external data carriers.
Video: The best cameras for the best recordings:
How much does an ARRI Alexa cost?
An ARRI Alexa costs between € 50’000 and € 85’000 (without tripod and camera lenses), depending on the type of camera and accessories.
Owners of the camera can purchase additional software licenses for the camera and thus unlock additional features of the film camera. These include high-speed shooting (120 FPS), a DNxHD codec and a 4 : 3 open gate mode for shooting with anamorphic lenses.
ΛLEXΛ: Camera models
The ARRI Alexa film camera is available in different versions and configurations:
- Alexa was the name of the first film camera from the Alexa product family. It had a CMOS Super-35MM sensor.
- Alexa Plus – identical in construction to the Alexa, but with integrated wireless remote control, the new Lens Data System (LDS), additional outputs, a synchro for 3D lenses and built-in position and motion sensors
- Alexa Plus 4:3 – like the Alexa Plus, but designed for anamorphic camera lenses
The Alexa M – Unlike the classic Alexa, the M model has two separate modules: a recording unit and a recording unit. This makes the Alexa M lighter and handier as a film camera, which is an advantage for 3D rigs and recordings where the camera must not be too big.
The Alexa Studio has an optical viewfinder, a mechanical aperture and a 4 : 3 sensor (for anamorphic images)
ARRI Alexa XT – the two letters stand for eXtended Technology. This includes a so-called XR module, which replaces the SxS module and allows raw data to be recorded on external recorders. The Alexa XT is also equipped with an internal ND filter, a 4 : 3 sensor and a quieter cooling system. The extension concerns as previous models and extends the model range to Alexa XT, Alexa XT Plus, Alexa XT M, Alexa XT Studio. XT is downward compatible, which means that older models from the Alexa range can also be upgraded.
The Alexa 654 with 6K / 65MM
The Alexa 654 is a digital 6K / 65MM film camera. The camera uses an A3X sensor with a maximum resolution of 6560 × 3100. Unlike the other camera models, this camera is not for sale, but can only be rented for filming through ARRI Rental.
- Alexa Mini – the smallest camera in the Alexa family so far was introduced in 2015. Its sensor is identical to that of the larger models.
- ARRI Alexa SXT – the SXT line supports upscaling to Apple ProRes 4K.
- Alexa LF – the abbreviation LF stands for Large Format. The camera was first presented at the BSC Expo in London.
Right at the front, but not the only one
The ARRI Alexa also plays a leading role in Hollywood. Among the most widely used film cameras from 2015 to 2017, the Arri Alexa swings high up the rankings. It is one of the most frequently used camera types in Hollywood for blockbusters.
The Alexa has brought us to a point where you just have to admit that digital is better than analog!
Despite their lead and great success, the Alexa film cameras face a number of competitors. In addition to Panavision, the second long-established global company, these include RED Digital, Sony CineAlta, Panasonic VariCam, Blackmagic URSA and AJA Cion.
More about the ΛLEXΛ
To the official YouTube channel of the manufacturer: ARRI Official
Roger Deakins is a cinematographer (among others James Bond, Skyfall, 2012)
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