Already shooting in the field with pre-production models
After testing the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF large format cinema camera with several major films, including Dune, Outlander, and Roger Deakins' latest World War 1 epic 1917, ARRI has announced that their latest large format cinema camera is shipping to all customers worldwide. And Deakins is saying it's about as close to what you see with your naked eye that cinematographers are gonna get.
Stephan Schenk, Managing Director of ARRI Cine Technik/Business Unit Camera Systems says:
“Large format is taking off now. In 2018, when we introduced the ARRI large-format camera system with the ALEXA LF camera, ARRI Signature Prime lenses, and LPL lens mount, the production community was excited to try something new. Now that the ALEXA Mini LF is officially shipping, we can offer the perfect team of tools.”
Based on the quote above, it sounds like ARRI has designed the ALEXA Mini LF to primarily be a B camera, to act in concert with the standard ARRI ALEXA LF on any production set. Both cameras use the same ALEV 3 A2X 4.5K large-format image sensor and share the same image quality and dynamic range.
ARRI also used an extensive BETA field test on several upcoming feature films and television series to dial in the ARRI camera software and color science to better match both cameras to work in tandem. This will minimize color grading time in post-production and that translates to a faster turnaround in workflows.
You can imagine that fitting a large format image sensor inside the compact ALEXA Mini camera body would be somewhat of a challenge. Not only was it one that ARRI rose to meet, but they also added many new features including a media bay for Codex Compact Drives, a flip-out LCD monitor, and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder. ARRI also built-in internal full-spectrum ND filters, and all the standard connectors and power options.
The ALEXA Mini LF records in ARRIRAW in-camera at up to 60 fps in LF Open Gate 4.5K (40p), 16L9 UHD, and 2.39:1 4.5K. ProRes is also supported in those shooting options, plus LF 16:9 2K, and LF 16:9 HD.
“The image that the Mini LF and the Signature Primes produce seems, to me, more like what my eyes see than anything else I have experienced so far.” - Roger Deakins
While in its testing phase, ARRI shipped the first pre-production model to Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who used it to shoot 1917, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Dean Charles Chapman. The film is a Saving Private Ryan kind of story, about a soldier who is ordered to stop an attack that is doomed to failure and save his brother.
Deakins used the ALEXA Mini LF along with ARRI Signature Primes, and ARRI's Trinity camera stabilizer for action scenes shot in the trenches. And you can get a look at it from the very beginning with the official trailer that recently dropped:
Meanwhile, Cinematographer Stijn Van der Veken, push the ALEXA LF Sensor to the hilt on season 5 of Outlander, pushing the camera to 3200 ISO and declaring almost no noise with great contrast and "velvety skin tones."
And the compact size of the ALEXA Mini LF enabled indy shooter Kevin Garrison to travel to over 25 countries for his film NOMAD. "With the Mini LF we can use a camera in places where a much bigger body just wouldn’t have been possible," Garrison said. "Plus, it is very reliable; we’ve been running it all day in some crazy environments out here in Africa – dust and sand blowing with crazy wind 14 hours a day, unreal heat and cold.”
The camera is shipping starting September 18th, 2019 with the finalized software. ARRI says that those who purchased the pre-production models of the cameras will be relieved to know there were no changes to the hardware design and that they can download the updated SUP 6.0 software right from ARRI's website.