The ARRI Alexa 35 came out to meet either rave reviews or massive disappointment. Either you couldn’t wait to get your hands on the new kit, or you saw the price tag and thought it wasn't worth it.

Either way, the Alexa 35 did reset the standard for what a cinema camera should be. But was it perfect? According to the community, some additions needed to be made. 

Let’s take a look and see what’s new with the Alexa 35 and what budget filmmakers can expect from this news.

Alexa 35 SUP 1.1

Software Update Package 1.1 (or SUP) comes with a bunch of new features and bug fixes. The latter is filled with small improvements, but from what we saw, the most important of them is a correction to timecode offset when using Jam Sync and Enhanced Sensitivity, more strict thresholds for warnings when a timecode source does not match project frame rate, a fix for adjusting the look intensity for the Default Look, and more accurate Roll & Tilt metadata.

ARRI Alexa 35Credit: ARRI

For a camera that costs as much as a luxury car, having precise timecode and metadata is absolutely crucial, so it’s great to see these fixes come in the first update. You can check out the patch notes if you’d like to know about all the updates.

But what about the new features? Oh, there are quite a few. Here are two that we think are most important. 

New Recording Format

The biggest addition to the new update is ARRIRAW 3.8K 16:9 - UHD, which is designed for filmmakers who want to record exactly a UHD image of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is great for when you want ARRIRAW but also needs to match your delivery format, such as when shooting fast-paced television productions. You don't want to spend time in post reframing all of your shots.

To get this output, the new format crops in the sensor from 4.6K to 3.8K, making it a hair wide than larger formats. However, this does reduce your data rate, which is nice when storage is at a premium. 

Creatives will find a maximum frame rate of 120 fps when using the Compact Drive 2TB and 65 fps for the Compact Drive 1TB. Recording times in 24 fps will be 1 hour and 38 minutes when using the Compact Drive 2TB and 49 minutes with the 1TB drive.

On Set Coloring

The next addition to coming to the Alexa 35 is going to be a big help to folks who are doing on-set coloring. 

Wireless Video Optimized LogC4 or WVO LogC4 is an intermediate encoding for SDI outputs on the Alex 25. This is designed to improve image quality when transmitting LogC4 over wireless video transmitters, either to a DIT on set or when using camera-to-cloud. 

While it won’t be a feature that everyone will use, it’s a nice addition to really expand the camera's wireless capabilities and the feature set when you have a colorist acquiring footage wirelessly. When time is tight on set, which it usually is, having a clear idea of what your image looks like will save you from second-guessing the visual you’re going for.

What Can We Learn?

There are so many other things that have been updated for the Alexa 35. If you’d like to dive a bit deeper, check out the most recent ARRI Tech Talk to learn more:

For us, we only covered two of the updates from SUP 1.1 as we think we can learn some helpful knowledge that can transcend the image capture device you are using. 

With the ARRIRAW 3.8K 16:9 -- UDH update, we see ARRI providing a high-quality codec but speeding up the transition to the delivery resolution. When shooting a project, especially when you’re moving fast, it’s essential to consider what type of codec you’re using and how you are delivering. 

If you shoot in 8K but are delivering to the web, that’s a lot of unneeded resolution you’re recording. This can eat up your drive space and make editing a lot more time-consuming. 

Also, consider your aspect ratio. If you’re delivering in 16:9, shooting open gate may give you more options to reframe in post, but is that the best use of your editors' times? Consider shooting in 16:9, taking the time to frame the shot you want, and then avoiding reframing your entire project in post. If you do need RAW for your project, also consider what type of compression ratios are available to you and find a nice balance of image quality and storage. You don’t need to shoot 3:1 if you can get more than enough with 12:1, for example.

However, when we look at the new Wireless Video Optimized LogC4, we can get a glimpse into the limitations of wireless workflows and how necessary it is to ensure the image you see on set is the one you lit for and the one you want to deliver.

While you may not have a colorist on set, having an idea of what your image is, either through a pre-built LUT or lighting plan, can give you more time to be creative with the performance you are trying to capture. If you do happen to have a colorist on set, ensure they are getting an image that isn’t being altered by your pipeline. Before coming to set, consider every step of your image pipeline so you don’t have any surprises after you wrap production. While pickups are necessary, they are meant to elevate your projects to what it needs to be, not to correct mistakes you make on set. If that’s how you use your pickups, you may be doing it wrong. 

Let us know what you think of the new updates to the ARRI Alexa 35! What did you learn? Sound off in the comments!