June 5, 2015

ARRI ALEXA Mini Product Manager Michael Jonas Walks Us Through the New Camera

ARRI made a big splash a few months back by announcing the ARRI ALEXA Mini, a scaled-down version of their larger camera with the same image quality but the addition of internal 4K (and of course plenty more). We talked with Michael Jonas at NAB, who served as the product manager for the Mini:

Here are just some of the basic specs of the camera:

  • Same Super 35mm 3.4K Sensor as other ALEXA cameras (which is then upscaled to 4K)
  • ProRes: 1920x1080, 2048x1152, 2048x1536, 3200x1800, 3840x2160
  • ARRIRAW: 2.8K 16:9 2880x1620 & 4:3 2880x2160
  • Codecs: ProRes 4444XQ, 4444, 422 (HQ), 422, 422(LT), ARRIRAW
  • Frame rates: ArriRAW up to 30fps, ProRes up to 
  • 14 stops of dynamic range
  • 800 Base ISO
  • Built-in motorized ND filters 0.6, 1.2, 2.1
  • Built-in Wireless Control
  • Lens Mounts: Titanium PL mount with L-Bus connector and LDS, EF mount, PL mount with Hirose connector and LDS, B4 mount with Hirose connector
  • CFast 2.0 memory cards
  • 2x HD-SDI out 1.5G and 3G: uncompressed HD video with embedded audio and metadata, SDI-6G interface to external CODEX recorder 
  • Audio Lemo Input
  • Weight: 5 lbs. with PL Mount
  • Available Now
  • Price: Starting at $45,000, and goes up from there depending on options selected

You can watch some of the recent work shot with the camera here (though what's interesting is the way it's being used, as image quality should be pretty similar to the old ALEXA models):

The camera has started to ship in some quantities, but due to the incredible demand, it's not really possible to order one and expect it to come tomorrow (and if you pre-order right now it could be quite a wait). As far as the price, it will all depend on what hardware and licenses are added to the overall package. A fully tricked-out Mini will run up into the high 50s/low 60s, so certainly it's approaching the territory of their bigger cameras. In the end though, the vast majority of folks will be renting as opposed to buying, but when there are more available I have a hard time believing these are going to be in stock for very long anywhere, especially with how gimbal and drone work is increasing every day. If you would like to purchase one, you can find them for sale at places like AbelCine.

An interesting discussion surrounding this camera has been the price. From conversations I've had with people close to the company, part of the pricing decision had to do with the rest of ARRI's product line, and also the state of the camera industry as a whole. They don't believe that the current race to the bottom, with some manufacturers halving the price of their current cameras in a year, benefits the industry. Their goal is to make sure that if you buy an ARRI camera, not only are you going to get stellar service from them (something that gets harder with greater volume), but you also know they aren't going to cut the price in half in just 6 months, making your investment worth a lot less than it might have been otherwise. Of course everyone would buy an ALEXA if it was less expensive, but the economics of this are tricky, and above all, ARRI has gained the trust of rental houses and owner-operators, something that might be shaken if they turned around and offered a camera like the ALEXA Mini for a fraction of what it currently costs.

Whether or not you're on ARRI's side when it comes to this discussion, there is no question that camera cost has had a huge effect on the industry, and will continue to do so.


No Film School's complete coverage of NAB 2015 is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock.

No Film School's coverage of NAB is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock

Your Comment

22 Comments

May I have a test model... Like, forever??? Love the quality of Alexa footage. I'm convinced those awesome skin tones it produces has to do with the larger latitude.

June 5, 2015 at 3:44PM, Edited June 5, 3:44PM

3
Reply
avatar
Donovan Vim Crony
Director, DP, Editor, VFX, Sci-Fi Lover
277

4:3 is a "mode". I thought only the ST or older d21 had a native 4:3 sensor. Thanks

June 5, 2015 at 4:05PM

4
Reply
avatar
Anthony F. Marino III
produce shoot edit
314

It's basically 4:3, as the max recordable area is 3414 x 2198, which is 1.55, since all of them use the same sensor. This camera isn't capable of Open Gate mode though, just the higher end cameras. But it's taking the 3.4K and upscaling that to 3.8K.

June 5, 2015 at 4:27PM

5
Reply
avatar
Joe Marine
Camera Department

which is it the crop factor? thank you

June 5, 2015 at 4:31PM

3
Reply

4:3 2K: 2867 x 2150

June 5, 2015 at 4:42PM

0
Reply
avatar
Anthony F. Marino III
produce shoot edit
314

I mean if I put a 35mm lens on a DSLR canon I must multiply 35x1,6 (canon APS-C crop factor). So for example 35mm lenses on the Canon 7D is equal to 56mm.
If I use the Alexa Mini which crop factor should I calculate? thanks again.

June 5, 2015 at 6:02PM

0
Reply

There isn't a "crop factor" because it is a cinema camera, not a DSLR. A Super 35mm sized sensor is based on 35mm motion picture film, not 35mm still photography film (which is what full-frame DSLRs are based on). So with cinema, Super 35 is the standard to be compared with rather than a full frame photo camera like a 5D. The APS-C sensor is actually pretty close to Super 35 so your 35mm lens that you would use on a 7D or 70D would be pretty close to the same view on an Arri.

Or in other words, when talking about cinematography, NOT photography, it is better to think of it as the 7D is not cropping your lens. Instead, the 5D is making it wider.

June 5, 2015 at 6:37PM, Edited June 5, 6:47PM

0
Reply

I'm sure it's a wonderful camera for some folks but I just can't see paying 50,000+ for a kinda sorta 3k camera with increasingly average dynamic range and an okay-verging-on-poor base ISO. It takes lovely pictures but so does an a7s.

June 5, 2015 at 5:39PM, Edited June 5, 5:44PM

0
Reply
J Robbins
527

Highlight Rolloff is still great and it's light years better than A7S in any mode.

June 5, 2015 at 11:53PM

2
Reply
avatar
Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1311

I wouldn't say light years at all. I've seen some very impressive A7s footage that colorists and DP's thought was an Alexa. Granted it does handle highlights better and is much easier to create a beautiful image with and allows much more flexibility in post but if you put an A7s in the right hands you just might not be able to tell as clearly as you think. Especially if it's SRGB online compressed footage. MAYBE in a movie theatre in full quality but nonetheless the average viewer won't be able to tell. Instead spend that money on getting together a great crew and an awesome story. I shoot Alexa all the time and would love to own one but I rent them per project because sometimes it just doesn't make sense. An A7s can handle almost everything you throw at it.

June 6, 2015 at 5:23AM

1
Reply
avatar
Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
446

"An A7s can handle almost everything you throw at it." a7s is 8-bit....and its rolling shutter makes even panning on long lenses unusable.

June 8, 2015 at 5:20AM

4
Reply
avatar
Rob Wilton
DoP
315

Any normal viewer and most DP's couldn't tell the difference, and rolling shutter isn't an issue if you have post production to fix it. 8 bit, yeah kinda sucks but doesn't suck enough to shell out 45K. Arri, RED, etc exist to impress clients. Other cameras exist to be practical, but still perform with the big dogs.

June 8, 2015 at 11:25PM

7
Reply
avatar
Graham Uhelski
Director of Photography/Video Editor
442

I get it. This is a Ferrari camera. Sorry but I just have money for rollerblades.

June 5, 2015 at 7:29PM

3
Reply
avatar
Edgar More
All
1204

Rollerblades? I can only dream of rollerblades. This is rather a specialised bit of kit, excellent for those who can get the most out of it, I'm sure.

June 6, 2015 at 6:05PM

0
Reply
avatar
Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1303

Its just roller-blades with a Ferrari badge on them. A name on a regular camera.

June 7, 2015 at 3:46AM

0
Reply

Sort of an Aston Martin Cygnet, perhaps?

June 9, 2015 at 4:57AM

6
Reply
avatar
Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1303

This "news" is a bit late to the table isn't it?

June 6, 2015 at 4:24AM, Edited June 6, 4:24AM

0
Reply
avatar
Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1569

"Some people come to the mountains to escape, I come here to be" Baaahahahhaha

Nice shots. But could have been shot on most anything these days. A lot of shots there had blown out highlights where I wouldn't have expected. Full disclosure I'm a Sony user and not Alexa.

June 7, 2015 at 3:32AM

0
Reply

The Alexa is just as capable of blowing out highlights as the next camera, but Arri's gamma curve makes those blown out highlights look way better than any other camera on the market. Also, it could just as well be the grade. Throw Rec.709 on a properly exposed Alexa image and the highlights blow quite often.

I love Sony and have worked extensively with the F55, but the Alexa still has that Arri edge over it and any other camera I've seen.

July 1, 2015 at 2:47PM, Edited July 1, 2:48PM

1
Reply
avatar
Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
1012

Also this in no way makes me want a Alexa but it has convinced me on a Ronin.

And beards and hippydipy non stories don't sell cameras.

June 7, 2015 at 3:39AM

0
Reply

The Alexa might be king because almost all older generation cinematographers hated digital almost as much as they hated change. Then Arri came along and they were like, oh, Arri made a camera, I know that name. Ok, goddamnit, I'll learn ONE digital camera, but that's it until retirement. We're all like, oh what's your secret? How did you make that $40 million dollar movie look so much better than my T2i vacation videos where I brought down the exposure by shooting at 1/250 at f16 on a Canon 18-55. I know, I need the Alexa too, just like Roger Deakins! This is just a maybe thing, but is it possible that those buttery Alexa highlight rolloffs don't mean jack squat to 99 percent of the audience?

June 9, 2015 at 4:04AM, Edited June 9, 4:11AM

4
Reply
Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
607

Don't really know what you're trying to say. At first you ramble about how it's just the Arri name and then mention buttery Alexa highlight rolloff. Which way is it? For me and most people who have used the Alexa, there are a fewfew things that set it apart: it's an actual camera that needs minimal rigging, it's very easy to use (in an entirely different league than Sony or Red), and most of all, the image. It looks more like film because of Arri's peculiar gamma curve. This is what gives it that buttery highlight rolloff.

Who cares what the masses have to say? They don't get paid to translate a screenplay into moving pictures. They wouldn't know what to look for, as long as the film looks good, but I bet you loads of regular people noticed those horrid gopro shots in the hobbit, but that's probably only because it doesn't say Arri.

July 1, 2015 at 2:55PM

7
Reply
avatar
Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
1012