New ALEXA cameras on the way
ALEXA is not just a camera; it is an advanced technology platform from which ARRI is deriving a comprehensive line of cameras for every production need. In late 2011 the current two models, ALEXA and ALEXA Plus, will be joined by a new and unique camera, the ALEXA Studio. As the top-of-the-line model, ALEXA Studio will have an optical viewfinder and a 4:3 sensor. Soon afterwards a fourth camera will be added to the lineup, the ALEXA M - a flexible and compact solution consisting of separate camera head and body.
ALEXA M is custom tailored to 3D productions, action photography and tight corner shots where the physical space available on set or on location is limited. Despite its diminutive size, ALEXA M does not necessitate any compromise when it comes to image quality; being based on existing ALEXA technologies, it outputs the same exceptional and cinematic images that have quickly boosted ALEXA to the pinnacle of digital production tools.
The ALEXA M camera head is optimized for small size and low weight, offering great flexibility when used on compact and lightweight 3D rigs; multiple mounting points on the top and bottom of the camera allow for an easy setup with many of the 3D rigs now in widespread use. Head and body are connected with a fiber optic cable that can also be used for powering the head, depending on distance. The backend provides various recording options, just like the standard ALEXA; images, sound and metadata can be recorded to SxS cards or external recording devices, offering many different kinds of workflow. ALEXA M has a PL mount and works perfectly with all existing 35 mm lenses. It will also be compatible with a wide range of ARRI accessories.
ARRI is currently planning to present working prototypes of the ALEXA M at IBC 2011.
A mock-up of the ALEXA Studio model which will feature an optical viewfinder, mirror shutter, 4:3 sensor and offer true anamorphic capability.
Both its name and its feature-set clearly show this camera's heritage. On the one hand, the ALEXA Studio is equipped with a quiet mirror shutter and an optical viewfinder like the ARRICAM Studio. On the other hand, it has the same control panel and buttons as the ALEXA Plus, which has been praised for its simplicity of operation.
The viewfinder is a completely new development, which allows it to accept both 435 and ARRICAM style eyepieces and viewfinder extensions. Operators can look forward to a high resolution, high contrast image with true colors and little geometric distortion. If need be, the optical viewfinder can be removed and replaced with the ALEXA Electronic Viewfinder EVF-1.
Using the full 4:3 area of the ALEXA sensor allows plug-and-play use of 2x anamorphic lenses on the ALEXA Studio. Aside from the D-21, which also has a 4:3 sensor, this is an area that has been oddly neglected by digital cameras in the past. Anamorphic lenses create a unique image quality that has been appreciated by directors throughout film history and that cannot be created in post. Some highlights of anamorphic cinematography include APOCALYPSE NOW, BLADE RUNNER, CHINATOWN, the INDIANA JONES films, ALIEN, THE LAST SAMURAI and the latest STAR TREK film, which delved very deep into the aesthetic of anamorphic flares. The optical viewfinder is equipped with a special anamorphic element that can be swung into the optical path to de-squeeze 2x anamorphic images. When the electronic viewfinder is used, special software takes care of the de-squeezing.
Due for release before the end of the year, the ALEXA Studio - with its 4:3 sensor, optical viewfinder and other high-end features - is positioned to become the premium camera for spherical and anamorphic feature films and commercials.
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