The ARRI ALEXA Classic is having a moment. We’ve been covering it plenty as well, especially the adventures of FoxTailWhipz as he has been fixing them up and talking about the things he loves about the legendary cinema camera. That isn’t the whole story unfortunately as it still isn’t the perfect camera.
To be clear, even though there are some things he hates about the ARRI ALEXA Classic, he does still enjoy it and plans on using it extensively. However, while he is perfectly good with the tradeoffs he has made he wants to spell out some of the potential turnoffs for someone in the market for an ALEXA.
Designed to be at the top of its field over a decade ago, ARRI spared no expense in the media for the ALEXA Classic. It uses SxS cards, which unless you have worked with professional cinema cameras you might not have actually seen before.
They technically aren’t the worst in terms of proprietary media, but they are large (physically) and they are expensive. The format is also old by today’s standards.
Part of the age issue is that many cards have small capacities. They are only really found in sizes up to 256GB and realistically you may be making do with something closer to 64GB.
The ALEXA Classic can only record at up to 2K and a 64GB card will hold about 20 minutes of footage. Current media is smaller, has larger capacity, and is cheaper.
2. Start-Up Time
Instant start is not a thing with older ARRI cinema cameras, the ALEXA Classic included. We may have gotten spoiled with cameras being so fast to take a picture and with smartphones doing it in a second, but that is not the case here.
You’ll be fine working on a narrative set, but for documentary or run-and-gun work the minute-long startup time could be a pain.
3. Few Mounting Points
The stock camera body does not have all that many mounting points for accessories. The top handle has a couple 3/8’-16 points, but the rest of the body has essentially none. There are another two threads on the sides on the camera but otherwise you have some other, smaller threads on top.
If you want to get your accessories on right away you’ll need to look into alternative solutions.
4. Size & Weight
Looking at it in the video you can quickly see that it is a big camera. It is also built like a tank so it is heavy too. This is no mirrorless camera that you can toss in your day bag.
The body only weighs around 14 lb and you’ll likely be adding on a few heavy accessories so you are looking at closer to 20 lb in practice.
5. Lack of Audio Inputs
For a pro cinema camera with a large body there is a surprising lack of audio inputs. The ALEXA Classic only has a single 5-pin XLR input.
You’ll need an adapter or special cable just to make a standard XLR mic work. Plus, it doesn’t even have phantom power so your usual mics just won’t work as expected.
Just to get usable scratch audio you’ll need extra pieces and even with that the preamps aren’t even that good. You’ll need to rely on a second system for audio alone and hopefully some sync equipment.
Even with these downsides would you still consider picking up an ARRI ALEXA Classic?
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