June 22, 2014

ARRI AMIRA Review: Less Expensive ENG-Style Camera with an ALEXA Sensor

ARRI introduced the ENG-style AMIRA back in September of last year, surprising quite a few people who were expecting a low-cost ALEXA, but not necessarily aimed at a different audience. ARRI sees this new camera as more of a TV or documentary tool, since it is designed to fit more comfortably on your shoulder and has better access to functions on the operator side. Even though it has a max resolution of 2K, it has the same sensor as the ALEXA, which means the footage has that signature ARRI look. Sebastian from cinema5D recently reviewed the camera and shot some beautiful footage with it.

Here is some of what Sebastian had to say:

While weighing almost half of an Arri ALEXA, the AMIRA is still heavy in comparison to most entry-level solutions we’ve come to know: The C100 / C300 / C500 cameras by Canon, the FS700 by Sony, the KineMINI, any DSLR, they are all much lighter in comparison. And that’s why they work with Movi’s, helicopters and small tripods.

So if all your accessories are laid out for smaller, lighter cameras, you can either pass on the AMIRA, or you will need to get new equipment and possibly get a little help carrying stuff on your shoots.

If however your shooting style is handheld, I’m convinced the AMIRA will please you. As soon as its 5kg were resting on my shoulder, the weight actually was a benefit making my shots look more organic and smooth and weight was no longer an issue due to the perfect balance that is easily achieved (given that you’re using small / lightweight lenses).

And here is some great piece shot by Sebastian with the camera:

For this project I mostly (about 95%) shot ISO 3200 on the AMIRA as I used a lot of natural light in the location and also wanted to see how far the sensor can be pushed. There were a few shots where the noise, even though it looks very filmic, was too much for my tastes.
Luckily I could easily remove that noise within Davinci, but of course it did water down the quality of my shots a little.

One of the issues with cameras that are too small or too dense in a small area is that they are difficult to balance properly. If you're shooting a lot of handheld footage, weight is less of an issue than balance, and ENG-style cameras have been perfecting this for quite a while.

The AMIRA is obviously capable of some gorgeous footage, though it's still not inexpensive enough for a vast majority to own (it starts at around $40,000 for a barebones package). While some will be able to throw some money down for a purchase like this, it's going to be a good rental for those who are using the camera in a one-man-band kind of situation and need something that's much lighter than the ALEXA and offers better controls for the operator (and obviously for anyone who wants an image closer to an ALEXA).

For more of his review, check out the links over at cinema5D.

Links:

Your Comment

58 Comments

What's Cinema5D?

June 22, 2014 at 8:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D.B.

June 22, 2014 at 8:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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You do have a point Josh.

June 23, 2014 at 1:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Less Expensive only starting from 40K?

June 22, 2014 at 9:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tim

Less expensive than all of ARRI's other cameras, yes. Which also means the rental should be cheaper.

June 22, 2014 at 9:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

I'm curious what the typical rental prices are for it.

June 23, 2014 at 12:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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what is the price of Arri Alexa?

June 23, 2014 at 11:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Laurel

Locally(seattle), it's 1500 a day vs. 1000 for a red epic.

June 23, 2014 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chuck

You kidding? Crushing hopes!

June 23, 2014 at 7:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

700/weekend + insurance

June 23, 2014 at 5:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

Once again my visit to NFS has been interrupted by a pop-up for the FREE DSLR Cinematography Guide.

The world is full of choices, you choose to annoy me and I choose to not read your site! ...simple as that.

June 22, 2014 at 9:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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c.d.embrey

If you can click through and type a comment, it's not that inconvenient.

June 22, 2014 at 9:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pat

c.d. embrey. It's 2014, get adblockplus and you won't get any popups and it will eliminate most ads on most sites.

June 22, 2014 at 10:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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neil

c.d.'s got a valid complaint. It shouldn't need an adbockwhatever. NFS should give up posting an ad for something 2-3 yrs old. Most people on here have moved past DSLR's.

June 23, 2014 at 4:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Close to a million people read this site monthly, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that people still want the download, and are still shooting with DSLRs.

June 23, 2014 at 12:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Well put up a new ad...when an ad runs exactly the same way every time, you ignore it so it's not doing anything for anyone but being a minor inconvenience to click around. Also, that book is dated now.

June 24, 2014 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Can you provide a link to you FREE up to date book. Thanks.

June 27, 2014 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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james

I, too, am outraged over my free content.

June 23, 2014 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chuck

+1

June 23, 2014 at 2:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Morgan Simpson

It's free real-estate, Jim.

June 23, 2014 at 11:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Wow what a bummer to have to make one click to see all this outrageously priced (free) content.
Get a life man. What's the problem with ads? Someone has to pay for your ride and these guys deserve to get some compensation for all they do for us. I'll never understand people who think everything in life should be free.
I'm not rich having to pay my ex for two kids every month so I can not afford all the equipment I want but slowly piece by piece I'm getting there and meanwhile since I can not afford to go to film school this site really helps fill in the gaps and gives practical demos of things my books talk about but can not show in real time. No film school
will be a real factor when the day finally comes that I put out a worthy product and I thank them for that.
You haters are rebels without a clue. Get real.

June 26, 2014 at 9:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gary Simmons

Oh the humanity!

June 27, 2014 at 7:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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james

Giant camera, bulky, and expensive.....

June 22, 2014 at 10:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aram

Very pretty. Nice vivid colors.

The nicest looking thing in it was the wood of the cello. After reading so much rave review of skin tone with the ARRI I was expecting more in that area....

BTW, ARRI 4K will be out soon, which is good because it was clear this shoot was not in 4K.

One more thing: from the cinema5D review of the Amira, a video showing the proper handling of a Canon 5D. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WDONiHbq_U

June 22, 2014 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

For selfish reasons, I want this camera to fail.

ARRI takes a hit, lowers their prices, then one day, god willing, I might be able to actually use one of their cameras.

Love the image, despise that price tag.

June 23, 2014 at 12:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I don't think you're alone in wanting the price to come down. I am sure lots of people wish that. So you're not selfish really. I wish I could own one. But it's out of my league. But it really does make a nice image. And it has a solid look to the body.

June 23, 2014 at 12:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I feel the same way about the stock market

June 23, 2014 at 5:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anthony Marino

If they have to lower their prices then the quality will drop also. Catch 22 really

June 23, 2014 at 8:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stephen Rangott

Why not just rent it? I don't understand the need to own a camera. I've shot on an Alexa 3-4 times this year. I don't own it. Shooting with the C300 this week. Don't own that either. Build the rental into your day rate. It's what professionals do. You think Chivo owns the Alexa he shot Gravity with? There are some cameras you can't own like anything "Panavised". I don't understand you people at all. Quit thinking like little kids playing with DSLRs.

June 23, 2014 at 10:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jolly lolly

Well...

there might be dozens of tiny projects a month, where the single customer is not willing to pay $1.500 or more for a well equiped Alexa per day, but you still want to provide the best picture quality.

So you buy your own one (an Epic, C300,...., or even that Amira) so that such a camera get amortized after a few weeks.

June 23, 2014 at 11:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom DoP

Renting isn't always possible or easy. when you have to drive 5 hrs EACH WAY to pick up and drop off, 20 hrs of driving, 2 tanks of gas, its not reasonable. ever fedex overnite with insurance ? its as much or more. then you have to have insurance, or sometimes they let you pay a 10% premium on the rental for their insurance.

then there is last minute booking which happen all the time where you can't go pick a camera up. you are out the door the same day or early the next morning.

of course when you own you also get play time with the camera to learn it. want a couple days of play with the alexa ? unless you are good friends / frequent customer of rental house that favor isn't happening.

so there are plenty of reasons to own. basically is seems that canon and sony cameras as ones you own, everything else you rent.

June 23, 2014 at 11:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Truth.

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

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+2. There are still limited or nonexistent rental options even in many mid-sized cities in the Hinterlands. Besides, it's not that hard to rack up rental fees that come close to the total cost of a camera for projects that get extended. It's also convenient to have a camera handy for squeezing in some unplanned shooting.

June 23, 2014 at 12:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marc B

+1

June 23, 2014 at 1:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom DoP

Oh, I can't afford to rent one either. Undo that panty wad there chief.

June 23, 2014 at 12:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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In my case, I work for a church where they regularly create content, but do not have the budget for renting. However, good camera purchases make sense as they will be used many, many times every year for several years (3-5 probably).

So there are markets for owning, even Arri cameras and gear. I am pleased they are recognizing this need with the AMIRA even if it is still more than most can afford, it's the right direction.

June 23, 2014 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Morgan Simpson

Morgan Simpson

Can you tell me what cameras you use? And do you use them for live streaming? Also, what settings do you use, 1080p? 720p? 30 fps? 60 fps?

June 23, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

GH's. a99's, and 5D's are used to make a living for some people. They are not playing like kids with them.

June 23, 2014 at 7:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

This is how the industry has been for at least 70-80 years now. You're supposed to have a yearly insurance plan and you go into the rental house each project and get what you need specifically for said project/job. But its really nice to have a blackmagic sitting in your room for those last minute gigs and low profile stuff.

June 23, 2014 at 11:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

"It's been done for 70-80 years" is the argument here? I can't think of a single situation where that is a logical argument to be made.

June 24, 2014 at 12:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PS, I know what you were saying and that you were responding "in general".

June 24, 2014 at 12:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The footage looks fine but, one should be able to get roughly the same image with the aforementioned C 100/300, FS-700, etc. - and C100 has some huge discounts on it at the moment too - and save beaucoup bucks in the process. I actually thought Amira stood out with that soccer video due its DR and color science. In this type of a gray world, it seems a surplus to requirements. And, if you want 4K, it's not even in the ballpark.

June 22, 2014 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Canon has nice color. I'm not sure the Canons have color this nice. That fire hydrant when she walked in the door look good, vivid red. And the cello looked the best. The soft look in everything looked nice to me. I don't mean the image was soft or muddy, technically speaking. Canon doesn't match that.

June 23, 2014 at 1:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

This camera is way overpriced.

June 22, 2014 at 11:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rich

Can someone do a comparison between this Arri and the 5D Mark III.
PLease, don't tell me the specifications vs RAW, show me a video comparison.
Too much advertising I think...

June 23, 2014 at 12:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Javier

You don't really think the 5D matches an ARRI? The 5D can't even match a GH2 Hacked.

June 23, 2014 at 1:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

In RAW? It could very easily intercut seamlessly with ARRI footage. There are many ways to convert the colorspace to ARRI and grade. Just have to keep an eye on that DR.

GH2 hacked > Stock 5DmkIII
ML RAW 5DmkIII > GH2 hacked. By a mile.

June 23, 2014 at 11:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave N.

ML RAW vs Besr ARRI Format, of course.

June 23, 2014 at 12:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Javier

That video was amazing. Forget what camera it was shot on...

June 23, 2014 at 2:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Totally... that was frik'n amazing performance... captured and edited so well!!!

June 23, 2014 at 3:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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OMG, what a beautiful short! The sound and the music are just gorgeous. Actually the whole thing is done so good that if it was filmed on iphone it would be still very beautiful!

June 23, 2014 at 4:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Einar

Here's an intereting article on getting the Alexa "look" out of a F5. The colour grading principle can be applied other footage as well but in a test I saw recently between the F55 and Alexa the skintones were indistinguishable.

http://www.dvinfo.net/article/acquisition/sonyxdcam/sony_sgamut_vs_sgamu...

June 23, 2014 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JPS

Dude thanks for the link! This is my issue with many many cameras out there - I just can't stand the "digital" saturation that colors seem to have on all cameras except Alexa.
My list of cams with best saturation/color behavior is this : Alexa, F35, Phantom Flex, Panasonic G6 (shocking isn't it?) and an honorable mention goes to Red One MX (Epic or Dragon is dead to me)

June 23, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pietro

While resolution isn't everything, spending $40K (Just for the body) for a 2K Camera seems like a mistake. If they offered it for closer to $15-$20K they would have a much larger audience.

June 23, 2014 at 7:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'm wondering what the ARRI 4K will cost when it comes out?

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

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Gene

Over here an Alexa body rents for €600/day, x3 times that for a whole week. The same €600/day goes for an Amira WITH the cabrio 19-90 (plus cards batteries, Sachtler 20, etc).

No wonder producers refuse to use anything else (canons are dead).

June 23, 2014 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Henry

Great camera, but the ergonomics, weight and the size are just too complicated for our current multicopters to handle. We are working on producing an X8 quad, rotating some 28" to 36" props which should be capable of lifting cameras such as these for well over 20 mins flight duration, but still good horses, it's overkill, and it would be nice if ARRI developed a smaller unit because I too like Pietro, like the ARRI's more "film like" tonality and saturation, it would be great for aerial shots!

June 24, 2014 at 2:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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the industry rents, the artist owns so they can control content.
to make a living, rent
to have your own voice and not the bank
well you know

June 30, 2014 at 10:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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emilio murillo