March 18, 2015

New ARRI ALEXA SXT Cameras Will Have In-Camera ProRes 4K & UHD

ARRI ALEXA SXT ProRes 4K UHD
Today ARRI announced the ALEXA SXT (Super Xtended Technology) camera line.

These new cameras keep the 3.4K ALEV III sensor of the previous ALEXAs and add ALEXA 65 electronics and AMIRA color management. While the rumors of a new 6K Super 35mm sensor could still turn out to be true, these new cameras will use the same sensor as the previous ALEXA models, but feature completely new processing internally, including the ability to record in-camera UHD ProRes (3840 x 2160) like the AMIRA, and also the ability to do true 4K ProRes (slightly above actually at 4096 x 2637 because of the more square sensor). It's worth noting that these will be upscaled resolutions, as the sensor maxes out below 4K.

The new camera bodies will also include optional noise reduction, so it's possible that the ALEXA will be able to be pushed a little bit further in low-light situations right in camera without needing to do much more in post. The SXT line retains the Open Gate, 4:3, and 16:9 sensor modes, all of which can all be recorded in ARRIRAW or ProRes:

The first ALEXA SXT cameras are planned for release around mid-2015; the full range will comprise ALEXA SXT EV, SXT Plus and SXT Studio models, replacing current ALEXA XT cameras (though the ALEXA Classic EV model will remain in the line-up). ALEXA XT cameras (except ALEXA XT M) shipped between 1st Jan. 2015 and the first shipment of SXT cameras will be eligible for a full SXT upgrade, free of charge. 

ARRI ALEXA SXT Plus

Here are some of the major new features:

  • Easy in-camera ProRes 4K recording
    • ProRes 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)
    • ProRes 4K Cine (4096 x 2637)
  • Improved image quality
    • Completely overhauled image processing chain
    • Advanced pixel correction
    • Optional noise reduction
  • New Looks and smoother workflow
    • 3D Look-up Tables, ASC Color Decision List, Rec 2020 gamma
    • Matches current ALEXA images, but provides basis for radically different looks
    • Improved on-set preview, more efficient dailies and faster final grading
    • Same tools for ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini & AMIRA
  • Super flexible on-set monitoring
    • Three fully independent HD-SDI outputs

The new SXT will also sport new media (hat tip to Jon Fauer) called SXR drives developed with Codex (adapters let you use the old capture drives), which can support up to 20Gb/s and come in sizes up to 2TB at launch. 

A look at the adapters possible with the new media bay (SXR, XR, SxS, CFast):

And here's more on the new color management:

A new type of look file, the ALF-2 (ARRI Look File 2), contains an ASC CDL (Color Decision List) as well as a 3D LUT (Look-Up Table). The new color management engine can easily match the look of current ALEXA cameras, but also provides the basis for radically different looks. In addition, previewing of looks on set is improved, including the option to use the wide color gamut of Rec 2020 gamma, while dailies creation is made more efficient and final grading made faster. ALF-2 files and the tools that create them are compatible between ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini and AMIRA.

The three HD-SDI outputs will allow different color profiles as well:

To further streamline on-set workflows and deliver what has been asked for by crews all over the globe, ALEXA SXT cameras include three fully independent HD-SDI outputs. This allows, for instance, a Log C image to be used to show the director a pristine image with live grading, a clean Rec 709 image to be fed to video village, and a Rec 709 image with status information overlays to be displayed on the camera's on-board monitor. 

If you've got a slightly older XT camera and you don't benefit from the free SXT upgrade, ARRI will be offering an SXR module for these cameras which will provide all of the same features, but may not be upgradeable in the future.

While it's unclear if there will be any more announcements from ARRI besides the SXT and the ALEXA Mini before NAB 2015, it's clear that ARRI is trying to get quite a bit out of this current sensor, and DPs are still very happy with the images they are getting.      

Your Comment

32 Comments

...Wow. Maybe now people will finally shut up about Alexas not doing 4K? Cause this pretty much seals the deal on THAT conversation. Just... wow.

March 18, 2015 at 11:36AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
1905

Well, it's actually 3.4K upsampled to UHD, just like the Amira does.
Back in the days, people use to bash RED for 4K debayered, saying it wasn't real 4K. I guess people really like the ARRI brand more...

March 18, 2015 at 11:45AM

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When the images are so stellar, I think it goes beyond brand loyalty.

March 18, 2015 at 3:31PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
682

They also state how they "completely overhauled the image processing chain" which I'm sure was meant for the 4k ability and why this camera was even made. The image is superior to every other camera and i've upscaled and cropped an Alexa 2k 4444 image plenty of times and barely noticed a difference.

March 18, 2015 at 5:20PM

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Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
259

So stellar? It's barely better than what a GH2 hacked, and Nikon D800, can produce.

March 19, 2015 at 8:41PM, Edited March 19, 8:41PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
554

This is an incredible announcement - the Alexa keeps getting better and better. Obsolesce obsolete.

March 19, 2015 at 9:32PM, Edited March 19, 9:32PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1433

Fancy!

March 19, 2015 at 1:04PM

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Chelsea Lupkin
Director / Director of Photography / Screenwriter
183

>Maybe now people will finally shut up about Alexas not doing 4K

Let's see if they announce the new sensor on NAB. Until then... it's not 4K.

March 19, 2015 at 9:05PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
893

Sick!

March 18, 2015 at 11:46AM, Edited March 18, 11:46AM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
998

These upgrades (total internal overhaul, improved electronics with increased processing power and a new memory card with increased bandwith) would seem to indicate the ability for slower slow-motion, but there is no mention of frame-rate improvements?

March 18, 2015 at 12:32PM

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If I recall correctly - high frame rates are determined largely by the sensor more so than the processor

March 18, 2015 at 6:52PM, Edited March 18, 6:52PM

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David J. Fulde
Colorist
101

Swap for a 600D with kit lens, uv filter and original strap?

March 18, 2015 at 12:33PM

6
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what happened arri?? Thought you guys were saying 2K is enough.
LOLOLOLOLOLOLLLLLL

March 18, 2015 at 1:21PM

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The update is clearly just to shut people up asking for 4K because it's the biggest number they know and thus must be better.

March 18, 2015 at 3:34PM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
682

4K will not be enough. 6K will not be enough. 8K will not be enough. 10K will not be enough. K's will continue to go up until it is physically not possible to go higher. Who knows how large a sensor can become to accommodate more and more K's.

But oh yeah, 720p is enough. ;-)

March 19, 2015 at 9:03PM, Edited March 19, 9:03PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
554

Exactly. We're letting supply being controlled by consumers, not experts. Usually that's not a good thing...

March 23, 2015 at 9:01PM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
373

This really is a weapon of a cinematic tool, maybe even better than a weapon;)

March 18, 2015 at 1:44PM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
634

As long as I can get an optical viewfinder w/ these too, I'll be set!!

March 18, 2015 at 3:42PM

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Peter Phillips
Filmmaker
561

Arri choosed very special day :) Same day with Weapon Unloaded show by Shane Hurlbut.

March 18, 2015 at 4:03PM

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It got pushed back another week. Love how everyone on reduser is blaming Shane for the delay.

March 18, 2015 at 5:02PM

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Jason
84

How is it possible that Alexa upreses and claim 4K?? If its not a 4K sensor its NOT 4K.

If any other manufacturer claimed 4K from a lower resolution everyone would be all over it but because its Arri nobody wants to say a thing?... WTF

Arri is just another manufacturer with a lot of hype. If Sony claimed 4K without a 4K sensor the industry would tear them a new one.

March 18, 2015 at 6:31PM

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I feel like the "industry" is quite satisfied by what Arri's products do! Maybe thats why..

March 18, 2015 at 8:48PM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
634

You, my friend, need to read up a bit on a little process called "debayering".

March 18, 2015 at 10:22PM

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Alan Dembek
Camera Assistant
259

Do you think that magically gives you resolution? There are 4K cameras with 4K sensors that employ debayering. But they don't have an Arri logo on the side...

Arri are doing this due to pressure for 4K. On the cheap. While charging top dollar. But hero worshiping noobs wouldn't have a bad word said would they?

March 19, 2015 at 10:50AM

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See this is where you're misinformed. You need a 16k sensor to achieve sample-free 4k.

March 19, 2015 at 11:31AM

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Alan Dembek
Camera Assistant
259

Did you even read what I wrote? And by your definition the Arri would be in an even worse position.

Look past the hype and see just another company.

March 19, 2015 at 7:26PM, Edited March 19, 7:26PM

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I agree with you Simon. ARRI is like Stephen Hawking in that regard. People equate Stephen Hawking with the most brilliant theoretical physicists in the world, like Leornard Suskind, Peter Higgs, and Lubos Motl. But he is not equal to that hype. He is a brilliant man in the area of math, but not rising to their level as a theoretician. ARRI does not look much better than video from a D800, and a GH2 hacked. But arteries burst in some people at that idea. Red has been doing true 4K for some time. And is, apparently, now working on 8K. Are the same people jumping at the opportunity to praise anything ARRI able to see unbiasedly about other brands?

Here is also something else not happening in ARRI 4K comments---NO ONE is saying 4k is a sales gimmick to sell tvs, like so many commenters have said any time 4K in any other brand is talked about. It's all so cute to see.

March 19, 2015 at 8:58PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
554

Why doesn't an outside industry consumer testing agency just do an overall, in-depth bench-marking test on these cameras? I've been checking these forums here and on other sites for the past 2 years for such an in-depth test and not only have I NOT found one...

That... "ARRI does not look much better than video from a D800, and a GH2 hacked..." is a statement making the rounds in 2015 just stuns me.

Either ARRI and RED both have the legit goods for the prices they're changing or...they're not.

March 20, 2015 at 8:05AM

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mark thomas
writer-director
81

The D800 was the B cam on Dexter with the Alexa so thats not so crazy. D800 has very nice dynamic range. Nice enough to be intercut with footage from about any camera available with a grade.

Arri's digital cameras took over because they already had the Pro cinematographers in their pocket from film. Its that simple. If you spent 20 or 30 or more years shooting film on Arri who are you going to turn to when a studio says you have to shoot your next feature digital? They just switched from Arri film to Arri digital. 4K was about the only thing that could make that crowd look at anything other than Arri. Arri realised that and the fastest response they could make was to upres with the same hardware rather than reengineer.

Makes me wonder what Arri will have in their marketing material when they stop upresing and release a 4K camera. "Alexa, now with REAL 4K"... How do they spin that without reminding people they've been upresing till that point while they remind people at the same time they've only just caught up? Oh thats right they have the Alexa 65. Good luck with that idea. Lensing, data, specialist support, rental only. Doesn't seem like a smart direction. Is it Arris's attempt at keeping film production from the masses?

March 20, 2015 at 8:17PM

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Mark Thomas
It is not new to 2015 to say that. The comparison of Arri to the GH2 hacked goes back 2 1/2 years, to Revenge of the Zacuto Shootout documentary. The GH2 hacked and Arri looked virtually the same. Watch the documentary if you haven't.

March 21, 2015 at 1:47AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
554

What everyone else said, plus: there is about no one less hype-centric than Arri. They just make shit that does good work forever.

March 19, 2015 at 10:02AM, Edited March 19, 10:02AM

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Taylor Russ
Director of Photography
682

If Arris digital cameras were as reliable and lasted forever like their film cameras were, why does nobody buy them? They just rent them. Their purchase price is nothing if they last forever, right? Pay for themselves in a couple of year.

March 20, 2015 at 8:02PM

15
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Excellent.

March 23, 2015 at 2:07AM

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Steve Yager
Director/Actor
241