April 15, 2014

The ARRI AMIRA Hits the Streets of Rio De Janeiro, & the Footage is Absolutely Breathtaking

Last week, after months upon months of waiting with our breath held, ARRI unveiled the pricing for its ENG-style documentary camera, the highly anticipated AMIRA. As was expected, the camera, which sports the same 16:9 sensor as some of its ALEXA brethren, is not an inexpensive one by any stretch of the imagination, with basic AMIRA packages starting in the neighborhood of $40,000. Even though the cameras are starting to make their way out into the wild, we still haven't seen too many people put the AMIRA through its paces yet. Until now, that is. Filmmaker Jens Hoffman was recently given the chance to finish up his ALEXA-shot documentary MATA MATAwhich is about soccer culture and players in Brazil, on a brand new AMIRA, and the footage is breathtaking, to say the very least.

For the past three years, Hoffman has been using his personal ALEXA, which is rigged up for handheld documentary-style work, to document the lives of up and coming Brazilian soccer players. The documentary is called MATA MATA (which translates to "All Or Nothing"). Here's the trailer:

Although a vast majority of the film was shot on an ALEXA, there were a few scenes that still needed to be shot, and the AMIRA was the obvious choice due to its awesome high-speed functionality. In the film, one of the protagonists recounts playing soccer in the streets of the infamous City of God favela. Hoffman used the AMIRA's slow motion functionality to create a sense of magical realism for these scenes. Here's a look at his footage for this scene:

When asked how the AMIRA performed in comparison to his ALEXA, Hoffman had this to say:

The image quality and dynamic range are exactly the same as ALEXA; the only way to tell the AMIRA footage apart is because it's 200 fps. It was crazy bright in Rio, with very strong sunlight and very dark shadows, so we needed the dynamic range for those extreme contrast levels in the middle of the day, and then we needed the sensitivity once the light started to drop, because it drops fast. Even when it seemed too dark to shoot, we were still getting incredibly nice shots with the AMIRA.

And here's some additional AMIRA footage shot in Rio De Janeiro.

Really the only thing to say about this AMIRA footage is that it looks fantastic. It's exactly what you'd expect from a documentary version of the ALEXA. The color is immaculate; the dynamic range is incredible; it's clean and beautiful, but not overly sharp. The AMIRA is going to be an incredibly popular camera in not only documentary production, but also narrative productions with a run and gun style.

What do you guys think about this AMIRA footage from Rio? Let us know down in the comments!

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108 Comments

It looks great when they stay on the shot for a few seconds. When they cut really quickly, one looks more at objects in the shot rather than the quality of the shot itself. The colors are very saturated, which I like, and yet balanced. Amira is made for precisely this sort of high end documentary. Whether it's worth twice the F5 price for things more mundane, however, is yet to be seen. AJA Cion is obviously aiming for this market as well.
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PS. WC starts on June, 12, Brazil vs. Croatia. I remember watching the 1970 opener Mexico-USSR on a 13" B&W TV in a rec room of a Baltic resort with about twenty screaming adults, wondering what the fuss was about.

April 15, 2014 at 4:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I really wasn't impressed with the colors. Although it might've been a creative choice in post, way too saturated. Also during some of the cuts it felt like interlaced footage, quite possibly the web encoding though. Really no consistency in the color grade throughout the piece. Not saying this camera isn't capable of a good image, just don't think it's worth $40k in today's camera market. So many choices out there that might provide the same image for a better price. I'd have to see what comes from the camera before I make my mind up.

April 15, 2014 at 6:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jorge Cayon

I am very sorry but the images are not that surprisingly good. I know Rio very very well, I shot there many times and with that light almost every camera looks that good. I didn´t like the colors I get richer tones even with much cheaper cameras. It is not a camera I would buy.

April 25, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Augusto Alves d...

+1

Very nice footage and not to take away from the alexa's dynamic range, but the Fujinon lens is an amazing expensive piece of glass. The black magic 2.5k cinema camera and maybe even the pocket cinema in raw would be capable of the same shots SANS slow motion aspects of the film

Great footage but ultimately cooke or vintage nikon lens with a good colorist could really make black magic raw footage or better yet the F5 do the exact same

April 16, 2014 at 3:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

Dont know if its just me but the last video reel is picking up tons and tons of moire and aliasing in the slow motion footage in the beggining

April 18, 2014 at 1:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JAYE

Let's not forget that the $40,000 Fujinon 19-90mm Cabrio Cine Lens also contributes a little to this as well!!

April 15, 2014 at 4:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Darren

Thank you for saying that. The glass is so often over looked.

April 15, 2014 at 6:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

While the glass is the most important :P You can get a great image out of most modern digital film cameras if you have great lenses.

April 16, 2014 at 2:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aviral

Working on two films at the same time, one shot on f55 and one shot on alexa. I like the f55, but I love the alexa. In so many ways the camera is flattering my work but I just don't care, it's sooooo beautoful

April 15, 2014 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robin Schmidt

The Alexa is not that much more amazing than the f55 in fact I would take the f55 over it due to amazing lowlight , cinema 4k , and true global shutter.

Alexa 3 years ago was a dream camera due to workflow and build but technology and competition has caught up and Alexa is the the prettiest girl in class no more

April 16, 2014 at 8:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

some lovely looking stuff. but i just cant afford it ........ so ill be buying a Cion

April 15, 2014 at 5:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nigel

I just want this camera to live on my shoulder forever.

April 15, 2014 at 5:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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alex

Looks fantastic... but if you already shoot on Alexa it's just another Alexa. All I can see this mattering to most of us out here is that maybe that rental fee might fall inside your budget now. And you'll get to shoot with a fabulous camera! Now the AJA Cion I saw at NAB last week? That's giving you most of what you love about this camera but at a price where you can actually own it. And Darren is correct about that Fujinon... It's almost not fair how prices of high end cameras have dropped so far in just a few years, but good, high quality glass remains out of reach...

April 15, 2014 at 5:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gary

I'm sure the Fujinon, is fantastic, but it honestly doesn't look much better than what Nikon's, Samyang's, and especially the new Sigma lenses are producing. I think it's more of a placebo effect.

April 15, 2014 at 9:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bwhitz

+1

April 15, 2014 at 11:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That may be true at f5.6 and the middle of your zoom range, but at wide open on the focal ends of your lenses is where you notice the real difference in quality. I would never use a Samyang/Rokinon wide open (or even a stop or two closed, for that matter) if I had a choice. Nikon makes some really fine glass, but it's all photographic, making it more difficult to use in a film setting.

April 16, 2014 at 12:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kenneth Merrill

You must be joking, right? Nikons, Canons and even Samyang are made for Photography, where Full-Frame 16-36MP Images are scrutinized to the pixel-level and beyond. You really think that they can't hold a candle to those lenses that were made for Super-35mm film? If you can show me a comparison between any "miraculous" Cine-Lens and a Photo-Lens that blows it away in a 2K image then please enlighten us.

April 16, 2014 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Not joking at all.

Being designed for a full-frame or larger sensor has nothing to do with a lens' sharpness--it simply means the image circle is the appropriate size. If anything a photographic lens designed for full-frame cameras may be SOFTER on a S35 cinema camera because it is only using the center of the image circle.

Also, photographs are not under any more scrutiny than motion pictures. Most photographs are not projected in 4K on a 70-100ft wide screen, 75ft from the viewer. I would suspect there are only a few photographic displays in the world that rival the need for sharpness that cinema has.

NFS did a nice comparison between Canon still and cine lenses (linked below). Do the cine lenses "blow away" the still glass? For internet distribution to people without trained eyes, probably not. But on the big screen you will see a big difference between cinema and still lenses.

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/12/canon-cinema-prime-test-magnanimous-media/

Also, check out the Duclos comparison between Zeiss ZF and Rokinon lenses. The Zeiss are clear winners. As far as photographic lenses go, Zeiss ZF/ZE may be my favorite.

One final thing to think about: even if we say the image quality is too similar to really make a difference (which I will not), the build quality and usability of cinema lenses is worth the price even so. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to nail focus on a quick-moving subject with a photographic lens. The longer focus-throw of cine lenses is a lifesaver in such cases, and can potentially save hours on set trying to get the focus right. And every hour you save on set is money in the bank :)

April 16, 2014 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kenneth

I personally love using photography lenses for filming. However, I recently rented the Fujinon and used it with the Red Dragon and there is no comparison between that lens and any Rokinon. Perhaps, a Zeiss Super Speed might look better in certain uses.

April 16, 2014 at 2:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Josh

And i'm not talking about handling, focus throw, smoothnes of the mechanics, and overall build quality. Just the Image.

April 16, 2014 at 12:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Speak what you know sigma and samyangs don't hsce

April 16, 2014 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

Samyangs and sigmas are not on the same level , they are sharp indeed but contrast does not come close .

However the thing I love about the bmcc 2.5 is that it looks amazing at right apeture with cheap rikinon lens

April 16, 2014 at 8:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

What all those other camera manufacturer's might think in their darkest, most private hours when they think about ARRIs image quality.... When I see footage shot on RED or Sony, I'm always impressed of how good it looks. But, MAN: While they impress me, Alexa / Amira footage just always runs over me like a truck: Just the best in the industry. Fierce competition that is...

April 15, 2014 at 6:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anteeru

With Slog3 and Sony's BT.709TypeA LUT, the F55 gives identical color, but better detail, IMO. The demo at NAB was pretty telling, as well as tests I've been seeing from users. Sony have beaten Arri to a 4K Alexa, lol.

April 16, 2014 at 9:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick

Totally agree. I think ARRI still has a slighy edge in DR but I haven't had a chance to test it for myself. Regardless, the F55 is a no brainer.

April 16, 2014 at 10:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Conrad

Or what big boys have told me...

Get Sony F55, raw recorder and set of Cooke lenses. Shoot 4K, 16-bit raw to the recorder. Take the material to latest Resolve. And using build-in (and very simple !) ACES process spit out final REC709 frames.

Result: "Arri Alexa 4K" with less than half the price...

April 16, 2014 at 12:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

Nice... but honestly tho, anything shot in Rio de Janeiro is breathtaking. Alexa or not.

April 15, 2014 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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+1 ;)

April 15, 2014 at 8:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kuk

true

April 16, 2014 at 5:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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YES. You could have shot this with almost ANY camera and got great stuff. Have shot in Rio twice - you have to work pretty hard not to get magic.
/thought the footage looked nice but was otherwise ordinary.

April 16, 2014 at 8:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

+1

April 25, 2014 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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thomas

I think this camera also opens up the possibility of less experienced DPs or DP/Directors who started on much cheaper cameras stepping up to the Alexa now that there is a shoulder mounted option which appears to need very little in the way of crew support (if that is the aesthetic you are going for).

The alexa always intimidated me because every shoot I have seen it on it had monster camera support - 2-3 assistants, giant studio rigging etc.

Seeing it on one guys shoulder just popping cards in and out is inspiring.

How to get the time on it to feel comfortable, without spending an arm and a leg, before shooting my feature is the new quesiton.

April 15, 2014 at 6:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

ummm...this is a pretty uninformed opinion...it doesn't take anymore people to take the sxs cards out of the alexa than it does the cards out of the amira...The amount of skilled and talented people you have on the camera dept (usually no more than 4: operator, 1st, 2nd, and a loader/DIT) has nothing to do with your experience as a DP...in fact if you are less experienced I'd think having MORE experienced people in you camera dept along with a good G/E crew would be the best way to go.

I'll never understand why people are so set on not hiring the right people. Thats like trying to run a restaurant with only a cook...no busboys, waiters, or hosts etc. Doesn't make sense to me...

April 18, 2014 at 1:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaja

Yeah...also less experienced DP's don't need to be worrying about a $40k camera either. (That won't stop anyone, of course.)

April 23, 2014 at 7:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

I'm wondering how Amira will compare to Aja Cion as spec and form factor wise they are very similar.

April 15, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kamil

AJA Cion is/will be 4K, so Vimeo will make them look comparable on resolution while YouTube will give you an option for a higher pixel image.
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BTW, at this NAB, several companies came out with either a zoom-rocker lens or a zoom-rocker attachment for a lens. Zeiss and Zakuto have the attachments, Canon has a couple of $30,000+ zooms, so Cabrio ain't the only game in town.

April 15, 2014 at 9:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Lol, nobody will watch 4K on YouTube, people barely watch 1080p.

April 16, 2014 at 11:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcus

Just killer skin tones!

April 15, 2014 at 8:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Edry

i also thought the same thing about the skin tones...

April 15, 2014 at 11:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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So huge and expensive camera for doco. Nice picture. Yep in Rio sun every camera shine :)

April 15, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kuk

Slog3/Sgamut3 on the F55 looks very, very close to the Arri look and is way cheaper.

April 15, 2014 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard

I will be up front and say I'm an F5 user but to me this just looks like 5D footage before the 5D got RAW and made it awesome. I dont see anything very nice in this so far. Red Canon like skin tones, crushed blacks and bad highlights. Maybe they are shooting with a 5D also and thats what I'm seeing?? Maybe its just the way they chose to grade it?

Look forward to seeing more.

April 15, 2014 at 9:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Also it doesnt look that sharp in resolution. I love DSLRs but this footage looks DSLR sharp, not > $20K sharp.

April 15, 2014 at 10:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The footage was shot in ProRes422HQ and the grading does no favor to it. It's the way ARRI chose to grade. The original footage is much more cinematic in many ways.

April 16, 2014 at 5:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anja

I dunno. Sony has a very technically "nice" image... but it feels so videoish like a soap opera or something. Alexa and Amira feel like film and look incredibly cinematic.

I'm still searching for just one single example of something cinematic shot on F5 or the F55... there's just nothing out there. That Dig film suffers from the "soap opera" look and comes off so cheesy for some reason.

I don't like RED either, but I have to admit it can look incredibly cinematic and filmic when it needs to.

Arri and RED can at least achieve this look if need be, but Sony... ugh. No matter how you grade it, how you light it, how you shoot or frame your shot... it just looks like overly sharpened news footage or something. It's great for shooting a concert or sporting event, but too cheesy for narratives or anything with "drama".

April 15, 2014 at 11:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kaleb

Theres no such thing as a film look. Film encompasses so many different looks its ridiculous to refer to a "film look"

The Sony's are so sharp and clean. Trouble is in finding "filmic" F5 and F55 examples is they are still new and entering the scene and initially being picked up by TV shows with tight deadlines so little time for a filmic production values. I think its the sharpness thats making you think video, not that video has ever been this sharp but the brain works in funny ways.

Personally it comes down to lensing and framing. As long as you have good DR then you can make any look you want.

April 15, 2014 at 11:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Here' Sony's new cine color science they introduced at NAB. Pretty awesome.
http://www.dvinfo.net/article/acquisition/sonyxdcam/sony_sgamut_vs_sgamu...

April 16, 2014 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard

Hi Richard, thanks for the link. I actually like the look of slog2 over slog3. Slog3 isnt better than slog2, its just that the data is in the shadow to mid of the curve. Whereas slog2 the data is in the top end of the curve where I want it because that what our eyes are drawn to, highlights.

April 16, 2014 at 2:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This I shot last week in SLOG2 SGAMUT on the F5 in New Zealand. https://vimeo.com/92123841 Its just one clip of many but I uploaded it as an example of highlight rolloff and colour. To me the F5 is an extremely "filmic" camera. Really lives up to the Cinealta logo on the side.

April 16, 2014 at 8:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Wow, Simon, so beautiful image. Can I ask you what lenses have you used? And why is that strange pattern at 1:06?

April 16, 2014 at 9:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kamil

Hi Kamil. That was the Samyang 35mm (on Super35 it becomes a 50mm) probably my favourite lens as its really sharp and so creamy. I cant see any pattern at 1:06. I noticed vimeo's compression had a field day because the shading is so fine. Well I guess web compression in relation to shading is still an issue but resolution wise its fine.

April 16, 2014 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That truly says a lot about this camera if with a relatively cheap lens like Samyang it looks so, so good. I'm wondering how it would look with something like Cooke.
On 1:05 on the left hand side there is a light flare than on 1:06 suddenly becomes checkered. It looks really strange, is this some random Vimeo artefacts or this come out from camera like that?

April 16, 2014 at 3:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kamil

I'm looking at it at 100% size on a retina Macbook and cant see what you mean although in Resolve I've seen something similar before if the viewport was set to an odd size like 78% or 93% etc. So maybe its a browser scale thing. When I first saw it I thought it was light on the OLPF grid but it disappeared at 100% view size.

April 16, 2014 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thank you for checking! Yea, that might be something to do with a compression as this pattern changes as I watch it full screen and in a small window. Here is what I see: http://s17.postimg.org/ul1f73thr/pattern.jpg
I looks like a canvas thread overlaid over the image.

April 16, 2014 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kamil

Sorry, Simon. Not to take away from your footage, because it looks really nice, but this isn't the best example of a camera's cinematic image making abilities. It "cheats" in that regard on two fronts. First, it was shot outdoors. Digital cameras look their best in natural daylight. You have to be trying really hard to get bad looking footage under daylight conditions, provided your exposure is correct and your cam has sufficient DR, as the F5 does. Second, it was shot at high frame rates. I find this, too, lends a more cinematic look to footage, although I'm not quite sure why.

To me, the best tests for cinematic or filmic (let's not pretend we don't all know what that means) images are those shot in "bad," artificial lighting, indoors at 24/25 fps. Even film looks worse under bad lighting conditions but it always has the benefit of possessing those qualities that make it so appealing in the first place. The closer digital cameras come to that aesthetic, the more cinematic I think they are. In other words, if a digital cam produces a strangely pleasing image with redeeming qualities despite being badly lit, art directed and composed, it's on the right track.

It may sound stupid. However, I just saw some footage that exhibited that very behavior, in my opinion. The lighting was bad, among other things (the location was actually nice, though, which is a shame), but it was as if the camera were fighting back against all these things and you could clearly see the potential in the images without it screaming, "Hey, look at me. I'm digital video." I'm not saying it was impossible to tell, but it was nowhere near as evident as it might have been a few years ago.

April 18, 2014 at 11:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Hi Brian. I wasnt saying my footage was cinematic, just comparing footage in bright sun to the Amiras bright sun footage in relation to skin tones and DR.

I have to disagree about daylight bright sun being more flattering to digital cameras than film cameras. Exterior sunny shots have always been the big divider between film and digital because until recent years when exposing for skin, digital would over expose skies and clouds, anything bright, while at the same time the shadows would be crushed to black etc. Film shined in the sun. It takes bright sun to show the best digital cameras.

Thats actually why the Zacuto camera shootout a few years ago indoors was able to make even an iPhone look good. Take that same model iPhone (probably iPhone3) into the sun and it falls apart.

April 18, 2014 at 11:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Simon, since you mentioned "filmic" in relation to the F5 and said it lives up to the Cinealta logo on the side, I thought you were presenting your test for highlight rolloff and color as an example of how cinematic/filmic it also looks, which it does. No argument here. What I was saying is I think digital cameras are helped greatly by the way daylight interacts favorably with their sensors versus ARTIFICIAL light. I did NOT say daylight was more flattering to digital cameras than film cameras. In fact, I think you basically misread my entire post.

This is an article about the Amira and this particular discussion was about the F5. I thought it was understood we were talking about a certain class of camera and therefore didn't think it necessary to exclude the likes of the iPhone. And for the record, I thought the iPhone and the GH2 looked terrible in that Zacuto test.

I didn't say bright daylight sun, I said daylight, meaning ALL types of light derived from the sun (overcast days, partial cloud cover, shade, bright/direct sunlight, etc.) and those objects off which sunlight bounces. I assume shooting in daylight would include taking all the necessary steps one normally would to achieve a suitable image given their camera's capabilities and daylight environment - silks, curtains, flags, higher f-stops, ND or whatever. I also said you need proper exposure and sufficient dynamic range. Of course, a camera without enough DR will have trouble in high contrast outdoor shots. However, after properly accounting for and controlling the DR to fit within the limits of your camera, that image is going to have a more easily achievable filmic look to it than what many can produce under artificial lighting without a certain amount of skill, IMO. For instance, take one of the millions of low budget projects shot digitally in the woods or a forest. If there are indoor scenes that require artificial lighting, they often don't look as filmic as the outdoor scenes and may actually draw more attention to the DP's mediocre lighting skills.

Put a slightly different way, I'm saying it's much harder to achieve a filmic/cinematic result on a digital sensor indoors, solely through artificial lighting, than it is when shooting someone sitting at an outdoor cafe in the shade on a sunny day. Even the iPhone 3G will knock that shot out of the park because digital sensors seem to prefer the full spectrum light that daylight bouncing around provides. So, even with 14+ stops of DR, a camera's potential for filmic image quality might begin to drop off sharply when you take it out of its ideal sensor conditions and start throwing badly and artificially lit scenes with so-so art direction at it. It's a way to try to separate the camera from the artistry in front of it in order to judge how well it renders an intentionally amateurish scene compared to other cameras. Cameras that look the least digital or video-ish in that scenario could be more aptly deemed filmic or cinematic. It's just a thought. Maybe it won't reveal anything useful at all.

April 19, 2014 at 3:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

My mistake when I mentioned I wasn't using that clip as an example of F5 being filmic I thought we were talking of the tennis video.

Basically I think any camera cam be made to look decent with lighting, diffusers, bounced light etc but I don't like any of that, too often it doesn't look real, it looks setup. I like Terrence Malik's approach to using the world as it is where possible.

The thing with the Amira is, even if it matched the quality of the F5 it will always be HD. But with the F5 down the track if I decide to go 4K (which I will avoid as long as possible) then I can add the R5 to the back and suddenly its 4K 16bit RAW with 240fps!! Thats flexibility. It also allows 2K 16 bit RAW which is what I would prefer. 4K at 16bit uses staggering amounts of data!!! But 2K RAW should be manageable.

April 19, 2014 at 7:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Simon - agree with you completely re SLog 2 being better than SLOg3, and you could EASILY get footage this good or better out of an F5 or F55.

April 16, 2014 at 8:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

Hey Kaleb, please stop perpetuating falsehoods. Sony did accrue a reputation for what is referred to as a 'video look' due, in large part, to it being a pioneer of electronic image capture. Until recently, that look has been difficult to overcome for ALL manufacturers of video cameras, not just Sony.

The Sony video look ended with the F65 and the F3 (and, to a large degree, the F35) but, due to public ignorance and perception developed in the early days, Sony continues to bear that cross and statements like the ones you make, especially, "No matter how you grade it, how you light it, how you shoot or frame your shot... It just looks like overly sharpened news footage or something", perpetuates the rather ludicrous concept that Sony cameras are incapable of producing cinematic imagery.

Maybe sharpness, 14 stops of DR, excellent color, delivered in a codec capable of handling heavy grading isn't your cup of tea. But, for all of us who have, actually, used these cameras and know what they're capable of, this is the ideal playing field for generating just about any look you could want.

For what the Sony F5/55 brings to the table, it should be one of the most popular cameras out there but, due to the prevailing ignorance of the uninformed, which abounds on forums such as these, it may never see its due.

April 16, 2014 at 10:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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+1.
All i read in these camera forums is:
- this has/hasn't got an Organic feel to it.
- it doesn't look filmic (noise, motion, whatever)
- can't say what but it has a video look to it
- the skin tones, goodness the skin tones!
So much repeated, uninformed BS from self-proclaimed Camera-Skintones-Film-experts.
What are you watching that footage on? probably your phone, an iPad or a computer with a non-calibrated screen.

April 16, 2014 at 12:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Large part of "filmic image" for example for Red cameras comes from the fact the material is extremely soft considering how much photosites there is supposed in the sensor. Red needs to filter the image a lot to mask the clearly higher noise from the sensor.

In many ways the Sony engineers are victims of their own superior talent. They can make literally the cleanest and sharpest sensors in the business, even with very high DR and global shutter. But this then makes them easy target for wanna-be-cinema-snobs who indeed keep yelling how "non-cinematic" and TOO CLEAN / SHARP the image looks like.

So, if want to make for example the Sony F55 "more filmic" just install temporarily the softer OLPF Sony is offering, or rent some HQ classic softer cinema lenses like some vintage Cooke. And right away you have that cinema look :

http://vimeo.com/74338401 (here OLPF in the work...)

April 16, 2014 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

+1 for the part about the Sony engineers being victims of the own talent.
Very true! It's the cleanest sensor available which, makes it utterly capable, in the right hands, of producing ANY look you want.

And, to Daniel, "What are you watching that footage on?"
Exactly what I was thinking.

April 16, 2014 at 9:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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+1000 what people fail to realize with these utterly stupid Sony video comments is that Sony was the gold standard before Alexa. The genesis in my opinion dpx files exceed Alexa dynamic range and genesis is nothing but a dressed up Sony s35

The Nikon d800 stills are amazing , guess what its a Sony sensor

The F65 best. Camera to date , people stop it

April 16, 2014 at 8:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaye

What does the Panavision Genesis have to do with Sony?

April 18, 2014 at 1:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jaja

Genesis was jointly developed with Sony/ Largely Sony I would imagine with Panavision optics.

April 18, 2014 at 11:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I agree with Kaleb, I would love to see a truly cinematic example of the f55 but I have yet to witness it. It's a fine camera but the image from the Alexa is much more filmic. I'm still waiting on examples so please post the visual proof as it would be much more cost effective to rent an F55 over an Alexa or probably an Amira. The new Annie movie is the biggest thing shot on that camera thus far. Perhaps we will see some of the big boys adopt this camera in the future but it has been out for well over a year and has very few big screen credits to show for it. The f55 checks all the spec boxes but the image does have a video quality to it, a very nice video quality but it's no Alexa as much as I'd like it to be.

April 17, 2014 at 11:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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F55, FS700
http://vimeo.com/77584248

F55 raw
http://vimeo.com/88429227

F55 raw+aces
http://vimeo.com/66048375

And all those are old material done with old firmware etc.

April 16, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

I F'ed up the description, obviously final example is xavc+aces, not raw.

April 16, 2014 at 2:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhan-i

As I mentioned to Simon above, all of this footage "cheats" the cinematic/filmic test because it was shot in almost-always-flattering-to-digital daylight scenes and most of it at high frame rates. Digital cameras tend to look their best under these conditions. Do you know examples where the F5/55 are being lit indoors by artificial light, preferably in less than ideal conditions? I'm starting to use that as more of a litmus test to evaluate images because most cameras are to the point where they look spectacular in natural daylight settings when exposed properly. NBC's The Blacklist and the upcoming Annie movie are two examples of film-style lighting with the F55, but can you point us to some smaller productions that shot indoors under artificial/practical lights?

April 18, 2014 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

You can also add Dolphin Tale 2 to the list of F55 productions, which should make you happy because the first one was shot on the RED ONE MX.

April 18, 2014 at 2:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

For 40K I'm not very impressed. Granted the web compression doesn't do it any justice, but so far all the footage looks very flat, and the blacks look milky. The colors just don't have that pop.

April 15, 2014 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony

I agree except maybe about the web compression. This I shot with the F5 and shows web compression is less an issue than it used to be https://vimeo.com/85711136 . We see stuff online a lot that looks great that is also subject to web compression so for this to stand out as average for the cost then its safe to say the uncompressed footage is already starting at a disadvantage.

April 15, 2014 at 11:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Did you shoot this in 2K, Simon? It looks very sharp. In any case, I stand by my opinion that Alexa/Amira colors are fine since I do like the saturated pastels. F5 seems to be more understated - or the footage was graded as such - which is fine as well. Sony has made a few upgrades to F5 in order to turn it into a portable ENG style camera, with the full package half the price of Amira's (and closer to a fifth, with that Cabrio lens) despite being 4K capable.
.
For comparison, this is 5D III raw shot by our buddy Luke Neumann last year.
[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19qKPwsi0Lk ]
.
And this is Black Magic Pocket Camera [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDMxcOCMF1Q ]

April 16, 2014 at 12:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Hi, Its 1080p but the F5 gets its 1080p by taking the full 4K sensor and debayering it down to 1080p without any pixel or line skipping giving it true 1080p resolution when most 1080p cameras when tested barely resolve 720p with a chart.

The thing about the F5 is 14+ stops of DR at 200mbps with XAVC or 600+mbps with SR codec you can grade it to look any way you want. Never worry about posterisation/banding with an extreme grade.

April 16, 2014 at 2:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That Polish dude I linked to off the GH4 article, tested it and got ~ 850 in 1080 and ~ 1500 in 4K. Something like Digital Bolex probably does test out at 720 or so. Amira should have a top notch processor to get it up to 1000 but who really knows without the charts. More importantly, is it really worth $50,000? The US online retailers offer various F5 packages @ ~ $25,000. All you need is a lens.
.
PS. It's interesting to see no new oversampling (i.e., 4K down to 2K or 6K down to 4K) cameras at the NAB such as the C 100/300, F5 or F65. I suspect there are a bunch of them in development.

April 16, 2014 at 7:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Thanks for the link on the RAW BMPCC, I didnt realise how much better the camera is now with RAW.

April 16, 2014 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nice footage, I like the natural feel the F5 has. I think it looks better than the Alexa Amira footage. You're right about the web compression, but who knows maybe they screwed something up down the pipeline, maybe focus was just soft, or perhaps it's the sensor? I've definitely seen much nicer Alexa footage.

April 16, 2014 at 3:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony

Agree but think this would be their best foot forward and Arri wouldn't upload anything less than the cameras best it was capable of. But its an Amira and not an Alexa.

April 16, 2014 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I love that you shot it all with the Nikon 18-200! LOVE that lens. Never gets any video props.
I recommend the F5 to everyone who will listen. Such a comparative bargain and with a complete upgrade path when you need it.

April 16, 2014 at 8:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

Hi Mark. I love the 18-200 :) During the Australian Open I hardly took it off the camera. For event work its awesome and for corporate/pretty shallow DOF creamy BG shots I love the Samyangs, all three, even the 24mm which is slightly softer but its T1.5 (F1.4) so wide open any 1.4 is going to be a little soft. 1.8 and up its sweet.

April 17, 2014 at 4:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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You guys have me interested in the Nikon 18-200 but, after looking at some pics of it, looks like it has no aperture ring. How do you set the f-stop?

April 17, 2014 at 10:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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On the F5 I have a Sony FZ mount to Nikon F mount adapter and on the adapter there is a little wheel that manually changes the aperture. On my D800 of course the aperture is controlled through the camera.

April 18, 2014 at 11:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert, I say this with respect - you really out to chill out a bit on the hyperbolic titles for your articles. The footage is very nice, yes, but it's no better than anything we've been seeing from the Alexa for the past couple of years. "Absolutely breathtaking" might be a little over the top.

April 15, 2014 at 10:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Yeah, agreed with Brian - nice footage but title is overboard. Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.

April 16, 2014 at 12:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James Poremba

+1

April 16, 2014 at 11:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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steve

I love that the reviews on the look of the footage range from it's to milky and flat to its over saturated. It's almost like there's hundereds of people watching the footage on different monitors at different bandwidths and then judging the cameras worth based on that...

April 15, 2014 at 11:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick Hiltgen

Ha ha, it is, all of the above. Milky, flat, and over saturated. iPad actually does a great job maintaining a good color standard consistent with REC 709.

April 16, 2014 at 3:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony

The only one I'll say yes to is over saturated. But it still looks good.

April 17, 2014 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

If only I could afford to own this cam, my wandering days (from cheap cam to cheap cam) would be over - I've found near perfection, and it's name is ARRI.

April 16, 2014 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ed Wright

I mean... it's nice... enough... But is it that much nicer than a $3000 digital still camera? Okay only the NAB-new kids on the block can do the slo-mo stuff but still... and same with the lens. It's fairly nice. But is it $40,000 nice? Not for me. Even if I had that kind of money, it would be going toward everything else but that.

April 16, 2014 at 2:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JFR

When you buy Levi's you pay $40.00. When you buy Wrangler's jeans you pay $18.00. Both look about the same and will last as long as the other. Some people would rather save money. Some people would rather pay for the name.

April 17, 2014 at 12:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

With 40k, you don't get a so much better image than the competition. You get top ergonomics, brandname, a trustworthy camera working out of the box, without any premature problems and a trusted workflow. For rental houses, news stations and big production companies all these factors are 40k worthy.

April 16, 2014 at 4:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stel

Exactly...

For high end docs this will be massive, but sure you can have most of it with other cameras such as the F5. Simon above on the comments gave good insights about it.

But yeah it's an Arri, top camera with everything the brand has to offer. Not for the indies.

April 16, 2014 at 9:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex Mand

I think this footage is what we've come to expect from Arri. They way the camera handles extreme highlights and shadows during a mid-day sun is in a league of its own. In quick turn around production this is invaluable to reduce setup times and therefore cost. I'm sure it will be an incredibly popular rental for all sorts of production genres.

April 16, 2014 at 7:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Will

I cringe every time I see long shutter speed slo-mo footage that follows 24 fps footage. That completely doesn't make sense. Why do some DPs do this? I don't get this. You go from movie mode to soup opera mode to movie mode again and it just looks disgusting. Anyway.. Amira sure is a great cam.

April 16, 2014 at 11:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter

I hear you. It's a setting...the shutter needs to stay at 180° when in high speed so it doesn't get that blur-o-vision look.

April 23, 2014 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

April 16, 2014 at 12:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Actually not very helpful at all, that video is a crock of sh*t. "Conclusive" evidence that the F55 sensor is "far superior" to that of the Alexa? Maybe he's right, but what evidence is he presenting besides the absence of a black spot? It's a pathetically hyperbolic conclusion.

April 16, 2014 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

I don't want to sound like a hater. But i wouldn't call any of that breath taking. Sorry :(

Im sure some will say the slow mo and the dynamic range etc etc but, and without sounding silly. Allot of that could be captured and more easily captured on other cameras. Maybe i was just expecting too much from the original text prior to watching the videos.

The last video has some really nice stuff. But the rest of it I feel would have been better covered by... and i know your gonna kill me but a C300 or a RAW enabled DSLR... i know ... i should be beaten.. and i love the ALEXA but..

Sorry :(

April 16, 2014 at 4:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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While I love working on the C300, do you really think you can say better covered by a C300 or a RAW enabled DSLR?

Not even mentioning the IC, the C300 cannot offer that kind of slow motion and the RAW DLSR is a pain of a workflow (been there) and AGAIN with no slow motion? So basically one could not even film this and nobody would want to film that with a DSLR RAW workflow.

April 17, 2014 at 7:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I think it looks like it was shot in rec709 or a camera that records in 8bit. IMO it looks terrible.

April 16, 2014 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel V

What is "ENG-style"? Was the Arri SR (or Aaton, or even the eclair NPR) "ENG-style"? When I first saw Sony's prototype "electronic cinematography" camera more than 25 years ago it was mos' def' taking it's lead from those, not the Betacam ENG camera.

April 16, 2014 at 7:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Definitely is a nice picture. Definitely also, not good in low light. But still, it has that nice ARRI image that the man that runs ARRI wouldn't settle for less than. It's out of my price range now. Maybe some day I can afford these kind of cameras. This footage is making me very curious about the ARRI 4K coming out soon. It may put ARRI in a lead over Red for 4K. We'll have to wait and see if it will beat Red 6K......

April 17, 2014 at 12:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

As someone who works at a rental company, I agree with Stel. Amazingly judged ergonomics, aimed specifically at broadcast and docu markets which I don't think many manufacturers are considering lately. Take the BMCC into the rainforest and see how long it lasts.

http://www.shoothd.co.uk/HD-Kit-Hire/3-Digital-Cinema-Cameras/72-ARRI-AM...

April 17, 2014 at 10:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nice camera but whites are clipping in highlights. Hmm.
Forget Sony, their skin tones are worst. It is the real shame Pana 4K Varicam is $60,000.

April 17, 2014 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jiri Vrozina

This is Doco Alexa, nice look and all. As much as Arri wants you to believe it, 2K is not enough anymore, especially for the money.

April 17, 2014 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

Blackmagic cams shoot just as well...and...shaky cam looks like s@#t, no matter how expensive the camera is.

April 28, 2014 at 8:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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