While ARRI has been dominating film sets with the ALEXA line there has been a push towards the larger-format ALEXA LF series in recent years – as evidenced by an expansion of the line and a desire for native 4K resolution in many productions.
Now, with the release of the ALEXA 35 we have a compelling choice for both large-format and Super35 productions.
ARRI could’ve just taken the current ALEXA body and popped the new sensor in but they didn’t.
The ALEXA 35 is all new and different from its nearest large-format brother the ALEXA Mini LF. If you are curious about how these cameras differ there is a nice video from Pixel Planet Studios that lays out the differences.
The most obvious difference between the two is the sensor tech. The ALEXA 35 uses a much newer sensor design, it’s a full model number greater than the ALEV IV vs the ALEV III found in the Mini LF which ARRI doesn’t do that often.
ARRI’s ALEXA Mini LF used the same ALEV III tech as the earlier ALEXAs but put them side-by-side to create the large-format system.
The ALEXA 35’s sensor is brand new and, critically, makes the Super 35mm area native 4K resolution. Before, you had to go to the LF models if you wanted native 4K recording which is required by companies like Netflix.
Both sensors are 4:3 aspect which allows them to work properly with all cinema glass, including anamorphics.
The ALEV IV in the ALEXA 35 is a generational leap. It exceeds 17 stops of dynamic range, beating the older cameras by about 1.5 stops in the highlights alone.
While the base ISOs may be rated at 800 on both, tests have shown that the ALEXA 35 is able to retain much greater dynamic range even at higher ISOs.
There are new creative looks built into the ALEXA 35. You can consider these types of filters or LUTs that can do a pre-processing of your footage to get a faster turnaround or preview.
ARRI has also increased the workflow to 13-bit, compared to 10 or 12-bit.
Extended Sensitivity mode will permit shooting at up to ISO 6400 and will do some advanced processing and data capture to reduce the amount of grain in the image. The images out of the ALEXA 35 are much cleaner than older cameras.
A physical change is a move to the new B-mount battery standard. This is a 24V standard which gives the camera and accessories more power to work with.
Older 12V systems can’t always keep up with all the tools you might want to use with the camera.
The mount itself is also better and it can have a compact setup directly on the camera body. Releasing the battery is done via controls on the battery itself, keeping the body even smaller.
The ALEXA Mini LF really needs a cage and additional power distribution tools to do a proper rig.
ARRI is going for a new construction and aesthetic with the ALEXA 35. It has a heavier, more solid metal construction compared to the Mini LF’s carbon fiber build. The new accessories are lighter weight though.
The 35 has a more industrial design that shooters should feel very confident using. The smaller things like mounting points and adjustments are much more secure and versatile.
It has been a long wait for the ALEXA 35 and it seems like ARRI has done a great job with this upgrade.
It’s a more rugged, yet still relatively compact system that offers a generational leap in image quality. If you prefer the classic look or want to go large format then you might still want to check out the Mini LF.
What do you think about ARRI’s new lineup? Would you go LF or for the newer ALEXA 35?
[source: Pixel Planet Studios]
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