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ARRI's New ALEXA HD is a 'Budget' Version of the Industry-Leading Digital Cinema Camera

07.1.13 @ 10:59PM Tags : , , , , ,

Arri Alexa HD - AbelCineWant that sweet ALEXA look but can’t quite afford the full price to buy one? Or need the rental to be just a little cheaper? What if you don’t need that fancy schmancy RAW option? Then the new ARRI ALEXA HD might be in your immediate future. ARRI has taken everything that’s good about the camera series — like the 14-stop 800 ISO sensor, 10-bit Log-C ProRes, SxS cards, and the intuitive menu system — and is passing the cost savings on to the customer. Here is AbelCine’s Mitch Gross explaining exactly what this camera has to offer for users who want their ARRI just a little cheaper:

So what about price? This isn’t going to be Canon DSLR affordable (obviously), but it is a good $10,000 to $20,000 cheaper than a comparable setup from one of the lower-end ALEXA models that has the ability to shoot RAW. It was looking like this might be a steal for the hardware at around $30,000 for body, but it must be purchased with a few key components that bring the price up a bit. Thanks to Katie Shipsides from AbelCine for the clarification on Twitter (AbelCine is selling the camera exclusively for ARRI):

Alexa HD Body Only is $30,300 but MUST be purchased w/ ProRes Codec, ALEXA SxS Module, ARRI QT File Format = $44,008

AbelCine has a starter package available for $65,000, but you might be able to find a used ALEXA with RAW for somewhere around that price. The base price, however, is probably the cheapest you’re going to find an ALEXA that could theoretically shoot with some cards and a battery, but this will likely appeal to shows already using ALEXA, who want a few additional cameras but don’t need the extra capabilities, like the 4:3 sensor or RAW of higher-end models. We’ll see if it will do anything to bring back users who might be moving to the F55, but I think if ARRI had figured out a way to get a full starter package under $30,000 they’d really be putting serious pressure on Sony and Canon.

For more information, head on over to AbelCine.


Disclosure: AbelCine is a nofilmschool advertiser.


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Description image 105 COMMENTS

  • For a second I thought this was Alexa’s version of the Scarlet but then I was scared away by the price.

  • BMCC all the way… C’mon ARRI you coulda done better with the price.. smh

  • It is a beauty. But man, that price tag. It is an elite camera. Oh to be able to buy cameras like Peter Jackson…..

    • Honestly, you’re not getting that much of a better image than with something like a BMC 2.5k cam. No reason to even look at Arri. Great looking films have been shot on much less than Blackmagic. Elite cams do not necessarily make elite images. Not anymore…

      • In a way I do agree. After watching “Zacuto, Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout” I saw there isn’t a lot of difference between cameras (except the iPhone and the 7D did kinda poorly). Even the GH2 Hacked did well—talk about a money saver! The ARRI really didn’t stand out like I thought it would. The one moment in the docu that stood out to me came from the Red. If you get good with the settings on any given camera you can make beautiful video. Even the Panasonic AF100 didn’t do the best in that docu. But I’ve seen beautiful footage from that camera elsewhere. Like Philip Bloom says, video from the AF100 looks “like a million bucks”. I think Panasonic makes the best color of all cameras for video. Stills are an entirely different story, don’t know which makes the nicest, most interesting color, maybe Fuji, who knows. I think it comes down to the lens and setting everything up well internally in the camera.

        ARRI is out of my league. I would probably go with a BM 2.5k if I wanted a professional looking video. The price is within reach of anyone that wants a cinematic look. But then again the GH2 hacked, or GH3, set up right, aren’t a bad choice either.

        • Buy the BMCC and spend some extra money on lights. Good lighting can make an iPhone look better than a poorly lit RED (exaggeration, but you get the idea).

  • Arri used to be the shit. But now, its unfortunately been overcome by cheaper and more feature heavy products. Kinda like the iPhone, originally, the best and you could afford to fork out that $$$ to get it. NOW, there is so much competition, technology has advanced, that you can get a smartphone for under $50.

    TBH, Arri doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of the new technology that is available, which is a real shame.

    • Joe Marine on 07.2.13 @ 1:03AM

      I actually think a big part of it is that Arri isn’t really set up to handle more mass market adoption. If they sold a $10,000 camera, they’d have to deal with a huge increase in support calls and repairs, something I doubt they want to do. And they are also continuing something Leica has – being a “prestige” brand.

      Arri owns the TV market, and they own a large percentage of the film market, so I don’t think cheaper cameras are really affecting the productions they are aiming for.

      • Joe,

        I agree with you. ARRI’s business model is different. But I believe they will have to change in the next 2 years if Blackmagic Design can prove that they can produce high quality camera at the right production rate to the consumers.

        Anyway, I believe the art is beyond just tools nowadays.

        • Agreed. Once Blackmagic picks up some momentum (when they’re actually shipping in volume) and get some higher frames rates in their v.2.0 cams… it’s going to be tough for allot of these manufacturers to justify this kind of pricing anymore.

          Heck, I just heard a rumor that Sony is about to roll out with a damn 4k video cell-phone! A 1080p HD camera for $30,000 is outrageous! As it’s been said, Arri caters to a different market… and I guess it works out for them. But honestly, taking into account the price/tech ratio of the current market… Arri should be rolling out a 4k internal-RAW Alexa for $4500. No joke. The Alexa has an amazing image, but there is just not reason for this absurd elitist pricing anymore.

          • You’re not taking into account the build quality, quality of materials and extensive testing Arri has built its name on. This philosophy/business model has kept Arri on top for decades. If the market no longer values those things, it will let them know by not buying their products, but Arri have no reason to believe that’s the case.

        • The price difference between Alexa and Blackmagic is a drop in the ocean for TV or decently-budgeted movie production. And cost savings in this kind of production come from being able to work faster — they’d be going in the opposite direction if they switched from Alexa to Blackmagic.

      • Joe: voice of reason in this land of idiots.

        • Yea, ok… We’re seeing 4k internal RAW recording for $4k this year… and because we think that $30,000 for a freaking 1080p camera is overpriced… we’re the idiots. How brilliant you must be…

          Face it… you just like elitist pricing/gear because it keeps natural competition away. There is no other logical reason for defending absurd market segmentation like this.

      • “prestige” is a better choice of words than elite.

  • If Arri’s going to lose any of their high-end clients, it’ll be to Sony. On the low pro end, FS 700 with full Sony gear, including the interface and the recorder, is a 4K Raw camera in the $20K-22K range. With the Convergent Design recorders that should be out soon, one might be able to get a complete 4K (ProRes) package in under $15K. The image quality is allegedly excellent and close to F55′s. Of course, as I said in a recent post, Arri won’t go for the budget end of the market. Unfortunately for them, the budget end will soon be good enough for shooting major releases and prime time TV shows. Their sole escape will be upward, into the 8K territory.

    • Screw Sony’s bloated recorder, the Odyssey 7Q is shaping up to be very attractive mate for the FS700…

      • Convergent Design’s “Sony Option” is still Pro-Res, which is why it’s priced considerably lower than Sony’s own 4K Raw package but even that is less than C500 + Gemini in 4K Raw, which will run over $30K. And the “budget” Alexa will run twice as much. Sure, on a big shoot, quality and reliability are über alles (can I say that?) but major TV and film productions now want to boast about shooting – and eventually storing, transmitting and/or streaming – 4K. 4K is the buzz word. Most people, aside of DoP’s, don’t care if its 8-bit or 10-bit or 12-bit or whatever. They want 4K. This doesn’t have 4K. And you can have 4K for a lot less than $68K (or $2.5K-$3K daily package rental). On a medium budget shoot with half a dozen cams needed, Alexa HD may not be that great of a choice.

        PS. I am surprised that Arri hasn’t come out with a true 4K camera as their first move. If they did, the HD version may have turned into a solid B-cam option. In reality, this is the most likely use of it anyway. There are too many much lower priced 2K (4K upgradable) units such as F5 out there to justify the outlay on this.

        • Kenneth Merrill on 07.2.13 @ 2:30PM

          Actually most DPs I’ve talked to prefer the Arri to the Epic, which until recently was the only 4k option.

  • The biggest thing most people forget is the ruggedness and reliability of these cameras. You don’t even have to add a single thing to the Alexa to get great shoulder shots. You can plug into every interface needed on everything from a movie set to a multicamera tv set. People are comparing the BMCC because of a sensor comparison. Fact of the matter is that most professionals want to work fast and with ease and BMCC is a hassel to put on your shoulder, power, sync. Has anyone tried to shoot on the BMCC in humid and rainy situations? What about subfreezing temps? What about crazy hot days? Its at a different level and until people get on bigger sets with tons of people or have to shoot run and gun they are not going to get that 5ds and BMCC are nearly impossible to work with like that. I just upgraded to a c300 from a 7d and its because I needed xlr inputs, peaking, zebras, focus assist, moire and jello fixes. Sure the 5d mark 3 now has raw but I wouldn’t think twice about trying to run and gun with them on the same shoot.

  • Aaron Cabrero Jr on 07.2.13 @ 4:55AM

    A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet-Orson Welles

  • Arri having a bit of Kodak thinking.

  • I was panicking when I read the title.
    Wouldn’t want to regret forking out the cash for a Scarlet so soon!

    This will certainly be a great camera though,
    despite its price point every bit helps in making it more accessible.

    • Shortly you will be able to upgrade your scarlet for 9K to get a camera that rivals the Alexa or technically beats it, with 2 extra stops and much more resolution.

  • It seems we’re talking about angels gender (in my country we’re used to say that about a discussion without any practical conclusion).
    I really want to know how many of you have really work with the alexa at least one time. And I mean REALLY work, on a payed job, with DP, Director, client, agency, crew and so on. Because I’m working with Arri’s cameras since I’ve started this work in the 2010 (not so long I know) and I can say that a production (even a small one) loves to work with the Alexa.

    I suggest to look some specs of some of the films produced in the last two years (commedies, actions, thrillers) and you can see that a lot are made with the Alexa. Some are even shoot in proress HD (or 2k but there’s no big difference) and then projected on cinema (anyone has seen “only god forgives”?!). And not to talk about commercials.

    The reason the Alexa is so much loved by DP, Directors or Producers is not only in the image, but also for its form factor, compatibility with all Arri’s accessories, easy and powerfull workflow, and so on.

    You can say that it doesn’t has raw or even 4K, but I really want to know how much of you REALLY needs to shoot raw or 4k. Raw and 4k have a production cost that are out of mind if you don’t shoot any “Hobbit” or “Pacific rim” movies.

    I cant afford a 30k$ camera right now, but only thinking to be a little step nearest the Alexa let me think I can “rule the world” :)

    Talking about the BMCC:
    1-they are not even selling enough cameras to answer all the demand
    2-crop factor of 2x means only photograpic lenses (a pain in the ass if you are a focus puller….) to have wide focal lengh
    3-small sensor means not so good low light sensibility.
    4-some times some frames drops (and I think it is the WORST trik a camera can do)
    5-form factor like an iPad means a lot of money spent in rigs.

    3k became easily 10k$. At this point is better to buy a C100

    • Re: BMCC

      1. Many places like B&H and Adorama have had them in stock for a while

      3. Low light is great on the BMCC, based on my experience using it. Sensor size effects lowlight of tiny sensors used in cellphones much more than the relatively giant sensors used in cinema and still cameras…sensor design is a much bigger factor.

      4. Certain SSDs may be needed for reliably recording raw…but most SSDs (and even some HDDs) work fine for ProRes, which honestly from using the camera seems like that the most practical option anyway.

  • for digital Arri is a great rental

  • I like how many people will dismiss a camera if they can’t own it.

  • Production reliability has been pointed in here multiple times, rightfully. I used to work on a show recently that for the sakes of having a B-Cam choose 2 REDs over one ALEXA. And what happens: sound unusable because during rehearsals the REDs fans make it impossible for the sound engineer to listen closely to background noise and sound becomes unusable because of the inevitable airplane-flyover. And during a scene shot on a big subway station in Berlin with 60 extras to be directed, the goddamn Cam A just turned off. 3 minutes of waiting, also remembered among the crew as minute’s silence in of the ALEXA. And one day the DIT steps in saying we might have lost the last 1,5 hours of work. 2 hours of reshooting, an overtime premium to be payed for 2 hours by a pissed production department. Not ONE, I repeat ONE technical failure by an ALEXA on the shows I worked on. That is performance and reliability.
    And even if the BMCC has comparable dynamic range, and a color science that resembles film more than, say, the RED, that is not the bottom line in sensor technology. ARRI just nailed the film look digitally and that is why the ALEXA sensor is on its own a masterpiece of modern engineering. It was only the ALEXA who really made traditionalists run short of arguments eventually.
    ERGO: Production Deptd. LOVES the Alexa!

    But even regarding sensor technology the ARRI has an appeal to DoPs that no other camera has. It looks like film. It just does look like f******* film! 1,5 years ago I worked as a 2nd AD on a show that INBETWEEN season switched from 16mm to Alexa and those two episodes did not look different at all.
    ERGO: Camera Department LOVES the Alexa.

    And I’ve had a conversation with our makeup artist in Munich recently. Told me horror stories of directors not shooting close-ups because of 4K ability of the RED. Make Up for close up ist different from make up for medium shots. And regarding sensor technology: ARRI nailed the film look, RED didn’t.
    ERGO: Makeup Deprtd. LOVES the Alexa.

    • strange, many directors of photography film to Hollywood choose RED EPIC, films with higher budgets choose RED and Alexa, why? I explain this?

      The EPIC now are silent as an Alexa, just read the manual and get the accessories right.

      As for the color, I’d be happy if I take a practical example and not the usual words Alexa better than Epic. Many people are unable to understand how the EPiC and then choose Alexa for simplicity .

      I have 2 Alexa EV and 1Red Epic, and sincerely 2 cameras are fantastic,
      Alexa better flow, Epic very modular. Fantastic.

      • You’re right, they are both amazing cameras.

        But here we don’t want to start a war between alexa funboys and epic funboys, but simply pointing why the camera is still being priced so high, instead of the low price of others cameras (who said bmcc?! ;)).
        It seems that it’s only a matter of “how many pixels the sensor has” and I think that it the wrong way to see this amazing tool from Arri.
        MattN explains very well why the alexa is so high priced and so used in commercials and movies (long, short, medium).

        On the other side the epic is choose from directors and cinematographers who needs 5k or have already worked with the RED (Jackson and Soderberg are friends of Jannard…).

        Sometimes is only a matter of how they feels with a camera (like a painter with a brush).

      • Alexis,

        Forgive me, but I can’t help myself. I recently watched an Episode of “Revenge” (the last one I will have seen because it bore me like hell) and thought it was shot on film, against better knowledge that TV has switched almost completely to digital, now. Then there were some practical flashlights in a scene and they revealed rolling shutter. I immediately thought: Alexa. Because that is the only weak spot the older Alexas (and REDs, see same effect in “House of cards”) have. I was right. Same thing with films like “Drive” or shows like “Game of Thrones” – was sure they were shot on film, and then blown away by the fact they weren’t. Only the Alexa-shot “Life of Pi” gave it away, but because of the unfilmlike shutter angle.

        With REDs, though, be it the “Amazing Spiderman”, “House of Cards”, “Prometheus”, “Flight” – the skin tones are just telling you that this is not film. They don’t look neccessarily bad or lets say ‘worse’ than the Alexa-shot films, but the look of chemical film has been burned into our brains as how movies should look, especially because there are still some marvelous stocks out there. On a commercial we ran out of film and gathered some of the few Kodak films we got from Paris(!) (shoot was in Munich) and the material looked SO GREAT! There have been 100 years of development that mad such great images and the Alexa being able to emulate that look so closely is not only impressive but a testament to the beauty of the film look that will survive with the Alexa – and upcoming REDs, why not? I’m as curious about the Dragon sensor as you probably are. And I also don’t want to make a good camera worse than it is just for the sake of argument. I had a huge discussion with a guy on a German forum who tried to make a point by stating that this year’s cinematography Academy Awards nominations were not shot on RED at all (Yes, I’m very well aware that national bias could be a factor in here, too.). So what? There will probably be some RED-nominees next year, because it is a sufficient tool for professional filmmakers and reached a point of excellency where the camera is not decisive on these matters. Also Fincher explains his fondness of RED (partl) with the ultra-light camera they constructed for him over the weekend for “Social Network” – so there is another kind of awesome reliability that RED offers that ARRI probably wouldn’t offer. But from an aesthetics POV i favor the Alexa.

        Another note to those who really believed that ‘budget’ for ARRI is the same thing as for us independent filmmakers. ARRI was never cheap. Their lamps aren’t, their Follow Focuses and lenses are expensive as hell. And that is because they target professionals exclusively, or more clearly: companies and rental houses. That is their business model and that market also hasn’t changed that much. Why? Because the change from film to digital has meant cost savings for film stock predominantly, not for renting cameras. Renting an Alexa is more expensive than renting a 35mm ARRIFLEX 235. ARRI has managed to make more money by also providing the recording medium that prior to that other companies used to provide. So the comparison between ARRI and Kodak that was uttered here just doesn’t fit. Firstly because ARRI is selling cameras like never before and secondly they are partly the reason ehy Kodak as a film stock company kicked the bucket.

        • I understand Mattn,
          Your speech may be true and may be false.
          The shades’ skin!?
          Life of Pi I like the story for the rest do not.
          Sometimes I have the same feeling when I see a movie of your now going to see in imdb with what they shot film at times, sometimes Alexa, sometimes RED.
          I love Alexa,
          but as shades ‘skin Amazing Spiderman and’ perfect, Flight be great, The Great Gatsby excellent too, and many other films.
          If we think that the EPIC sensor have 3 years! be remarkable for a company and that ‘five years in the field do not you think?
          But you expect from the Dragon and we will see, however, be nice to have tools like Alexa and EPIC.
          For now, the big audience chooses the best 2 cameras Alexa and EPIC.

        • The Epic footage cut well with the Alexa in Skyfall. RED footage has been cut with film.

          The Alexa’s main advantage isn’t that its capable of “better” skin tones, its that its closer out of the camera most times. It gives the DoP a defined look, and its one that’s comforting to them. The RED gives a less defined look which can transfer more of the control to the colourist.

          Both are great cameras, and even on the m-x sensors the colour science of the REDs is getting the initial out of camera shot closer to the film like area the Alexa sells itself on. Part of REDs problem so far has been that even cinemas have lacked 4k so it’s resolution advantage is largely nullified (compounded by vfx being expensive at that end, though the Hobbit I believe was a time not storage issue..

          • good point Peter,
            and ‘what I think too. Alexa out of the box to be perfect, RED not, but if all 2 pass from a good colorist will not notice the difference.
            I recently installed Codex, on my Alexa, a disaster in post production, it takes harddisk faster processors and high performing, I was complaining about the R3D files to the Epic 5k but if I’m being honest now have RED flow better as far as the RAW and there are many more options to the R3D files.
            We’ll see what the future holds.

          • I have to add, though, that even good colorists couldn’t change any bit about the very unpleasant white roll off that RED sensors provide, compared to 35mm film and ALEXA footage. Recently witnessed this on “House of Cards”, “Oz” and earlier on on Soderberghs “Contagion”, aswell. Then again several scenes in “Life of Pi” showcase the Alexas very natural roll off, and so did “Skyfall”. White roll off actually would be the first thing I would pay attention to, if somebody asked me to spot RED footage. In “The Amazing Spiderman” they seemed to carefully avoid setups with white clipping at all, interestingly. At least I remember none.
            This is, btw, also very evident in natural fire. If I directly compare candles/torches from “Game of Thrones” (Alexa), “Woman in Black” (35mm) and “The Hobbit” (RED), I find the Alexas images to be indistinguishable from 35mm, at least much closer than the ones from the RED. I think several DoPs also mentioned that this was a reason why hey’d prefer the Alexa.

          • @MattN Highlight roll-off is the easiest thing to change on any camera’s footage. What can’t be changed is the exposure decisions made on set and how that affects the dynamic range distribution between highlights and shadows. If the image was exposed to keep more dynamic range in the shadows, then rolling the highlights off more will make the image look overexposed.

            Also keep in mind that a 3d film grade compresses more of the image into the highlights to attempt to compensate for light lost through the polarizer. That makes any 3d film shot on anything have crappy highlights if seen with the 3d grade.

            Both Flight and Hitchcock look fine in regard to highlight roll off and skin tone (at least on a calibrated monitor):

            Now look at Hemlock Grove. Looks like shit. Shot on Alexa…does it look like shit because of the camera? I don’t think so.

          • Hey, Gabe,

            the first scenes of “Hemlock Grove” are just a bit overexposed, but the white roll-off didn’t bother me, it was the overexposure. But the show doesn’t look that good either, I agree. I could easily name several Alexa scenes that just looked overexposed, too, like the bonobo ape at the beginning of “Life of Pi”. But they looked overexposed and sure, why not? Overxposure is nothing bad in general it just struck me that RED footage on overexposed areas tends to have a sharper white roll off than Alexa footage. I remember a scene on “House of Cards” I happened to watch on my calibrated Eizo 23 L FS2331: classical white clipping on an outside window that just was a bit too sharp. And if the thing is overexposed (which again is not a bad thing at all), there must have been limitations as to what they could do against a sharp roll off. I noticed the same on the helmet lights in “Prometheus” and very briefly in “Flight” on the ceiling lights in the cabin at one point. To me it seems like DoPs tend to shy away from overexposing too much on REDs deliberately (as in Amazing Spiderman) and then add exposure in post. And if they don’t, that’s my assumption, you can see it (as in “Oz”) .
            Now that said, this is not a very unpleasant look to me, it just adds to the crisper, sharper look that the REDs have and that could also be a matter of stylistic choice, after all. I just think the Alexas roll of is (again) more filmlike an fits my taste better. But the fact that I’m really pixel-counting here shows a) that the DOPs who shot “Flight” or “Amazing Spiderman” did a spot-on job and b) that those differences are too marginal to distract me at all. I just notice them.

          • @MattN Fair enough, but do keep in mind that roll off is just a part of the curve applied to the image data…if you put a bigger curve on the highlights then you have more roll off. The only place the actual camera comes in is when the camera’s photo sites get over saturated and the pixels hard clip.

            And technically there is one physical difference between the Epic and the Alexa in regard to highlights, but it’s a cheat. The Alexa has an ultracon filter integrated into the OLPF, and that helps to soften the highlights and raise the shadows. But it’s just a filter…you can put an ultracon or similar filter on any camera to achieve a softer look (I find it very handy on the GH2 because it has somewhat limited DR).

  • I’m confused – on AbelCine, the body appears as $44k. Katie’s tweet says the body should be $30k. Is that a typo?

  • nothing wrong with renting…that’s how you get the best possible camera for the job….digital or film….then you have to worry about the lighting package…grip…etc…(the camera is only part of it)

  • Amen. Sick and tired of people who shoot on DSLR’s bitch about BUYING an Alexa or Red Epic. RENT RENT RENT!

    • Not Daufenbach on 07.2.13 @ 9:19PM

      Leland on 07.2.13 @ 3:43PM
      “Amen. Sick and tired of people who shoot on DSLR’s bitch about BUYING an Alexa or Red Epic. RENT RENT RENT!”

      Says the guy who works at a Rental House. SMH.

  • For those desiring the “film look”, aren’t there various software packages (DxO Filmpack and alike) that can help bridge the gap between the “old film” and the “new digital”?

    ps @ Kenneth Merrill – yes, DP’s love Alexa but their bosses will probably want a 4K camera from Arri soon. Alexa has been around for three years and, while that was sufficient for most eras, we’re living in a very short product cycle in the photo-cinema imaging world. Going back to 2010, the new DSLR’s were 60D, GH2, D7000, Alpha 55, etc. They’re still useful but no longer state of the art. And neither is Alexa.

  • Nigel Thompson on 07.2.13 @ 7:23PM

    Aimed squarely at broadcast TV if you asked me. Ikegami & Sony now have to contend with the Monsters. I think the live production crowd will pick these up. Not intended at any low budget anything, broadcast cameras need to be able to take a pounding and Arri products live up to that in all ways … This move should not be compared to any black magic, Sony or even RED. I think it’s for live broadcasts. And of course if you want to do 1080 recordings you can do that if need be

  • Someone said above they actually wanted to see video that shows ARRI is better then RED. He said he hears all the time ARRI is better than RED but has never seen a comparison. I have never seen a side by side comparison either of ARRI at its best and RED at its best.

    I do know this RED 4K footage might be the most beautiful video I’ve seen. If anyone knows of gorgeous ARRI footage somewhere on the internet please link it here so we can compare. ALSO, I know some will say the Canon 5Diii looks just as good as the RED. Will those that say that link some of the 5Diii footage that looks just as good as this so we all can see it for ourselves and decide?

    Sundance in 4k, watch in “Original” quality

  • To see both ARRI and RED in action in a comparison watch this 3 part documentary made by Zacuto, “Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout”. You will see ARRI does not stand out as something special in comparison to some other cameras, most of which cost FAR less than the ARRI. Keep track of the footage you think did best. They don’t give the name of the camera with the footage at first. They reveal the names of the cameras later. They just label the footage alphabetically. Write down all the letters of the footage you think looked best and find out later which cameras you picked. You might be just as surprised as everyone else was at which you think was best. You may even pick the GH2 hacked as one of the best and be shocked just like some of the pros were. This documentary is worth watching not just for the comparisons but for other things you’ll learn that I don’t think you’ll be expecting to learn.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    • Horrible test for objectivity. The Zacuto test is more about the DP not the camera. It’s a subjective test. For a proper test a scene should be lit the same way for all camera and then see how the camera handle them. It’s frustrating how people take the revenge test like it’s an objective test. It’s a flawed test if one wants to simply compare cameras.

      • They weren’t doing a scientific test. They came out in part one and made it clear what they were doing. You can’t fault it for not being something it wasn’t made to be.

        All cameras were handled by people with experience with the cameras. So it was a fair comparison. In order for what you say to happen then wouldn’t they also have to have the same ISO, the same saturation, the same everything, a strict scientific test?

        The Zacuto Revenge was fair. The good cameras looked good. The poorer looked poorer. In the end any one of the cameras that fared well could be used by any of the DOPs involved if they had wanted to. The camera wouldn’t have mattered. The ‘scientific’ tests don’t matter either. If you know how to use the camera settings, and you feel comfortable with it, the cameras going to work great.

      • The ARRI was handled by people with experience with ARRI. If it really was the awesome machine that is actually worth $80,000.00 it would have looked like it, wouldn’t it?—and it would have been easy to make it look like that. But it didn’t look like it. Did it really look 40 times better than the GH2 Hacked? One can only conclude it isn’t as awesome as billed. Instead of buying an ARRI buy a Red Epic and a Sony F65, rent one or the other out, use the other, and you’ll be ahead in the game—and very few people will be able to see, or care about, the difference in the finished product.

        • From what I have heard about the Alexa (only seen and touched it at IBC last year, but never used it myself) is that it is a perfect work horse film camera. Not a computer with a lens like the Red, not a DSLR with some video function, but a perfectly made film camera, developed by the best film camera technicians for professional film acquisition.
          If that perfect workflow-design can save a big production only one day, it is worth more for them than another nice looking camera that costs only half or less.

          And this is really the point I heard most when they asked any professional dp why they liked the Alexa: optimized workflow, perfectly stable software, camera just always quickly and reliably does what you need it to do.

  • The funny thing about the Zacuto video is that it was setup as a 14 F-stop test … then pretty much every cinematographer began to move in a bunch of fills to make the lighting more even. (the first thing I would have done would be to close the window curtains … it may have violated the rules but would have cut the brightness off the key light significantly and made the composition a lot easier as well)

  • It’s not a matter of which camera is best!
    I find all this discussion very useless!

    All starts from the point that some people early said that the cost of the Alexa HD is still too high for the specs it has.
    In my opinion the point is only one: Nofilmschool is not a e-commerce site. So don’t be afraid to buy every camera, app/software, gear they talks about. Simply take note about what there’s out there.

    Maybe it would be helpfull to know that there’s a camera that can shoot 240fps in avchd by sony, or a small camera that can shoot 4K in motion jpeg and uses canon EF lenses. You don’t have to buy these cameras: knowledge is the most important investiment you can do now.

    The most important thing is that you can shoot with everything you want! It’s only a matter of what the story (or the client) needs. You had to shoot a small commercial about food: rent the fs700 and shoot zucchini and pepperoni @240fps! And now you can rent an Alexa probably at half of the price because is “only” HD!

    Personally I love them all: I love the BCC and I whish to buy the pocket one, I love the image that cames from the alexa and the epic and I love even the image of the F35 in “Collateral”. I love to use the DSRL and I whish I have enough money to buy the 1DX. Every camera has something great and something not so great.

    Every painter loves his brush, and every brush is perfect for something.

    So please, stop this “mine is bigger than yours” challange.

  • On a related note, AbelCine is now selling Canon 1D C (body only) for $12K. It’s 4K to CF cards in M-JPEG or C-Log and gives Cannon a sub $15K 4K camera to compete with Sony FS 700 (which requires an external recorder for that).

    • There’s talk that the Panasonic GH4 will have 4k video. Wouldn’t it be humorous if they do get 4K and it’s at $1300.00? Then 1D owners can be annoyed by the GH they way 5D owners are. ;-)

      • It’d make sense for Panasonic and, some extent, Sony to get a jump on it because they don’t have a high end DSLR market to protect and their camcorders should survive the competition. Canon has no choice. They will have to refresh their entire line. They’ll just have to decide the individual features and price points. Nikon either has to poop or get off the pot/remain largely a photo company because 4K is taking over anyway and they can’t get into 4K half-assed.

        The technology is there. That said, I would look at the $3K-$5K body-only (with perhaps no internal 4K recording either a la FS700) price range at the 2014 CES and the NAB. Photokina is in September’14, so that will be another chance for the manufacturers to make some noise.

    • Wow, really?
      ok, but I think now is more important to have 2xrl input for professional mic instead of 4kmjpg resolution.
      Also HD-SDI for monitoring is a great option.

      Both these things owned by the nex fs700 for 7000$. To have professional audio input in the 1DC you at least have to spent 350$ more. An only hdmi output….

      But If you need stills and motion at the same time, the 1DC is great.

  • do you think hbo cares about 30k dollars? they want the best. they dont care how much it costs. sure 4k bmc will look awesome and most people would not be able to tell the difference but big productions will continue to use alexa because its alexa and its the best and big productions use the best. its like a vicious circle :p

    • … and also if HBO loses one day because there’s some firmware problem with the bmcc, they might have already lost even more money than that. Whenever countless well paid professionals work on a job, reliability and good workflow can be worth a lot of money, too!

  • Would LOVE on of these! Could shoot some awesome stock video!!

  • I thought this was gonna be around half the price of the normal Alexa, but with this price point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. So it will be like 1180 bucks for daily rental, instead of 1200 for the full version. Now that is really going to bring in the low budget customers. Not ;)

  • From what I have heard about the Alexa (only seen and touched it at IBC last year, but never used it myself) is that it is a perfect work horse film camera. Not a computer with a lens like the Red, not a DSLR with some video function, but a perfectly made film camera, developed by the best film camera technicians for professional film acquisition.
    If that perfect workflow-design can save a big production only one day, it is worth more for them than another nice looking camera that costs only half or less.

    And this is really the point I heard most when they asked any professional dp why they liked the Alexa: optimized workflow, perfectly stable software, camera just always quickly and reliably does what you need it to do.

    • this was supposed to be an answer to someone above (where it also appeared) but somehow the site decided to double post it here again. Not my fault, but sorry anyways (mods may delete this doublette if you like)

  • The Alexa HD is actually a year or so old. Its just a ALEXA Fiber Remote wich was released in sep 2012…

  • I’ve recent learned something re BMD Cameras: you only get above approximately 10 stops if shooting in RAW.

    That’s apparently the case when shooting in Prores – at least for any of the BMD cams. Somehow I doubt it’s any different for the Alexa HD.

    I know little about either the BMD or Alexa since I don’t own or use either of them. But I have spoken to BMD re this and Abel Cince in NYC which has confirmed it.

    Any comments on that?


  • I just watched the explanatory video ny Abel Cine’s Mitch Gross. He clearly states that it supports Log C, if you want 14 stops. I doubt this or any other cam – at least as far as I know of – supports anything above approx 10 stops when shooting in the highest quality ProRes, DNxHD, or any other high end codec.

    Thus, the OP’s brief text could be rather misleading to people unfamiliar with that reality. Neither the OP nor Mr. Gross state whether it supports 10bit recording internally or if that is only supported by external recording via SDI out.

    I am left with the suspicion that latitude above 10 stops will never be supported in the highest quality of Prores, DNxHD or other codecs. Only way one can get 14 stops is shooting in Log C/ RAW .

    For me, this recent revelation is a big disappointment. I want 13 or 14 stops but I have no need whatsoever for RAW. For me, it’s all corporate. To me, and I assume many others, the allure of the Alexa is/was the 14 stops – whatever codec your are shooting in.

    I wonder: Is there any real technical reason one cannot have higher than 10 stops in what are otherwise excellent codecs?

    • Joe Marine on 07.6.13 @ 3:35PM

      Log on the Alexa can be recorded in either DNxHD or ProRes, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to. You have full access to the dynamic range of the sensor with this camera by shooting log. RAW will give a little more flexibility, but this camera can record 10-bit everything internally to the SxS cards, as was the case with the previous versions of the Alexa.

  • Thanks for that info. I’ll research that point so I have a better understanding of Raw versus Log. (I’m in the corporate production biz not the film biz)

    I just looked at Black magic’s site and it seems none of their cameras support shooting in log. That explains why BMD cameras only allow higher than 10 stops when shooting in raw; there is no log shooting available.

    Now, if those cameras that do support log in ProRes or DNxHD allow 13 or 14 stops, that may be good news for me. But my next question is what exactly “log” and does it need advanced color correction like raw does?

    For me, a good quality filed monitor on set to nail the color I want and needing only minimal color correction in post is my holy grail.

  • who cares for arri if we can get same raw footage from cannon mark 3..arri very expensive

    • Ahh the old DSLR cowboy. The 5d is okay but it aint no Arri, hence why just about every block buster is shot on Arri and not a M3. I know where my goals are! :)

    • HAH. I’m so glad there are people like you in the world. Less competition for me.

    • Not all raw footage is created equal. The raw capabilities of a camera are limited by its internal hardware. The 5DIII is firstly and foremostly designed for still photography. The video mode that we all love so much has been included over the past few generations as an afterthought more than anything else, and no one at Canon even planned on introducing raw recording. The camera is not designed for raw video, and the raw codec is nowhere near as perfected as that on the Arri Alexa. In addition, the Alexa has a much quicker rolling shutter, making it possible to do a much wider variety of shots without significant artefacts. The Alexa can also shoot a much wider array of codecs, including various favors of ProRes. The Alexa has a greater resolution and supports many more memory options, while the 5DIII is stuck with tiny cards that do not possess anywhere near enough memory to shoot for long periods of time. The 5DIII has pitiful resolution compared to the Alexa, and a much smaller dynamic range. As I said at the start, not all raw is created equal. On the whole, the Alexa is a far more versatile camera than any of its weakling DSLR cousins.

      • Darren Vander on 06.23.14 @ 9:19PM

        Either you’re a troll or you are confused about some factors regarding the 5DMK3 and Arri. I don’t think anyone is saying the 5DMK3 is a professional video camera. It’s obviously a stills camera. If you’re talking about shooting h264 compressed 8bit on the 5DMK3 and comparing it to the Alexa, that’s not even a fair fight. The Alexa wins buy leaps and bounds but that’s to be expected for the 14X price difference as you would see from a professional cinema camera but since Magic Lantern Hack has become available you can now shoot with the same dynamic range of 14Bit and and there’s no codec involved as it’s true raw dngs being generated but with a budget of $3K instead of $40K. As far as resolution goes, did you refer to the difference between 1080p and 2.8K pitiful? That’s a pretty small margin of resolution, especially since pretty much all theater releases are shown at 1080p . You know what’s really pitiful? The Alexa’s resolution compared to the Red Dragon. Now that’s worthy of said derogatory remarks.

  • Alexra is very expensive.

  • You actually make it seem so easy with your
    presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which
    I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!