It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the ALEXA Mini – the latest entry in the ARRI’s line-up of high-end digital cinema cameras. Fortunately, US-based camera DP’s Chris Aran and Nicholas Giaqunito already put their hands on one of the very first Alexa Mini’s to hit US shores and thanks to Cinematography Database now we have the chance to see their first unboxing, build, and test shoot with the new camera.
There are many things that we can learn about this little cinema beast, yet one is already clear. Just like the other members of the ARRI family, the ALEXA Mini offers the same organic and high dynamic range image and colour rendition we are used to seeing from the bigger ALEXA XT and Classics, as after all they do share the same sensor, however the ALEXA MINI ups the ante with newer electronics borrowed from the top dog ALEXA 65.
First and foremost, if you are planning to shoot your next project on the ALEXA Mini keep in mind that the camera is capable of recording in Arri LogC onto CFast 2.0 cards in all flavours or ProRes up to 4444 in a variety of resolutions including HD, 2K, 3.2K ProRes as well as uprez-ed 4K UHD along with 30fps 2.8K ArriRAW recording. Furthermore, if you are shooting in HD you can capture footage at a maximum frame rate of 200fps, just like the AMIRA whereas in 3.2K and UHD modes the maximum you can get is 60fps.
Despite that the form factor of the camera reminds more or less to a standard DSLR, undoubtedly the ALEXA Mini is in a totally different league. The latest Titanium PL-Mount with L-Bus Connector and LDS let users to plug in a wireless focus motor attached to the lens that can be easily controlled via dedicated wireless controller without any additional accessories that typically you will need to attach to your rig in case you want to control your lens from distance on any other camera system available out there.
The ALEXA Mini also provides built-in motorised 0.6, 1.2, 2.1 ND filters that eliminate the necessity to utilise a Matte Box and additional filters when needed. This is another highly welcomed engineering decision as these features keep the form factor of the camera as close as possible to its original size thus making the system extremely flexible and efficient when mounted on drones, gimbals etc.
The other interesting aspect of the functionality of the ALEXA Mini is the way the camera is controlled. Due to the form factor the device doesn’t come with the side LCD screen such as the AMIRA or the other ALEXA models, however, you can utilise the dedicated Arri MVF-1 viewfinder that also has a flip touch screen that can help you to change the settings of the camera in real-time. Alternatively, you can also control the ALEXA Мini using the built-in Wi-Fi interface and web-based remote control from phones, tablets, and laptops.
And last but not least, comes the dedicated ARRI WCU-4 wireless compact unit that not only lets you pull focus and change aperture on the lens mounted on the camera body but you can also use it to alter the settings of the camera as well. As other Arri products, it’s a bit pricey accessory, though. For better control over the Log-C image, you can use the ARRI Colour Tool the free software that allows you to create, modify and store LUTs inside and outside the camera.
Furthermore, these LUTs can be stored as a metadata without affecting your footage so every time you import Arri ALEXA Mini ProRes clips into your NLE you will be able to transfer and apply the same custom LUTs from the camera and use them further as part of your post-production workflow.
We’ll be expecting the next episodes of Cinematography F@CK YEA as I’m sure there are a lot more interesting reviews to come, meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the UHD Log-C footage these guys capture on the ALEXA Mini in the end of the above video.
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