ARRI AMIRA: Same ALEXA Sensor in New Lower-Cost ENG-Style Body, Shoots 2K & Up to 200FPS
ARRI just announced a brand new camera at the IBC conference in Amsterdam they are calling the AMIRA. Not to be confused with the budget ALEXA HD that was just recently announced, the AMIRA features the same sensor and similar recording resolutions as that camera, but is housed in a completely new body design designed to be more ENG/TV/Documentary-friendly. Check out their intro video below:
More on shooting with the AMIRA:
- Super 35mm 16:9 Sensor (Same Exact Sensor as Other 16:9 ALEXAs)
- 2K/1080 Rec 709/Log C using ProRes LT, 422, 422HQ, or 444 codecs
- Up to 200fps
- Records to CFast 2.0 (New Compact Flash card standard)
- 1280 x 1024 OLED Viewfinder and Separate LCD Monitor
- Internal ND filters
- 4-Channel PCM Audio: 48KHz 24-bit
- Selectable 3D LUTs can be recorded
- Aimed at Documentary, TV Magazines, Trailers, Corporate, Factuals, Live Events
- Interchangeable Lens Mounts: PL, PL Broadcast, B4, and Canon EF
- Shipping: Sometime before or near NAB 2014
- Price: TBD, but said to be well under the ALEXA (but which one?)
The Canon C300 and the Sony F3 were huge steps up for TV and Doc work that had previously been using DSLRs. With better resolution and ND filters — and in the case of the C300 almost no rolling shutter — they made getting the shot that much easier. There is a market between low-end (under $10,000) and high-end (over $40,000) that wants a camera with some of those features, but also the ability to expand if possible. The Sony F5 and F55 fit that market perfectly, but with expansion are actually aimed for high-end cinema as well. AMIRA doesn’t quite fit that market perfectly, but their goal is ultimate image quality at 2K/1080.
ARRI is not positioning the AMIRA that way because they are satisfied with their high-end solutions, and they would rather not introduce compromised versions at the lower end with 4:3 sensors and 2.8k ARRIRAW (that’s what the big boys are for). Many like the ALEXA look, and obviously ARRI saw an opportunity to try to get that look into more hands on less predictable and more run & gun shows. They’ve made the AMIRA weather-sealed internally. This means that as long as your lens can hold up, you can use it basically anywhere under any conditions. It goes without saying that weather-sealing is extremely helpful for Doc or TV work.
The AMIRA will have interchangeable mount options, including PL, PL Broadcast, B4, and Canon EF (that last one will be huge for smaller budget productions). There is absolutely a huge market who are going to eat this up. How much though, will come down to price. If ARRI wants to hit C300 or F5 owners, it has to be somewhere closer to $20,000. Otherwise it’s just going to be too big of a jump for many owner-operators. I would be surprised if ARRI can get the price under $30,000, especially with the ALEXA HD featuring similar specs starting over $40,000. If they hit $20K for a working camera it will literally sell by the truckloads.
If the camera becomes a relatively inexpensive rental, somewhere around $500 a day (give or take a few hundred), it’s going to find its way on a lot of film sets and music videos, especially with 200fps capabilities (even thought they aren’t necessarily aiming at that market). 14 stops of dynamic range, ND filters, gorgeous colors, and 2K resolution will be perfect for lower budget productions that can’t quite afford the big ALEXA, but could still benefit from the image and don’t really need anything more than Log ProRes. I know that I would rent one for a short or feature without even blinking if they can keep the price down and make a rental comparable to a C300 or F5.
Unfortunately, much like Sony does with their cameras, it will require completely new media. SanDisk is one of the first out of the gate with what is known as CFast 2.0, the next standard of Compact Flash technology. These cards are capable of much higher write speeds as they are closer in nature to SATA SSD drives, but are much smaller and use less power. These cards are not backwards compatible with older hardware, but ARRI is making CODEX adapters to use them in the new XT/XR recorders.
The AMIRA is a smart move for ARRI, especially since plenty of TV and Doc work will continue shooting well under 4K for some time to come. Getting that ALEXA look is now looking to be even more affordable, which means we have even more choices for how we want our projects to look.
What do you think? Where do you think it will be priced? Would you buy one? Rent one?