ALEXA SXT Studio
Best Overall Image Quality
Future proof images for 4K, HDR, WCG, HFR
More than ever before, ALEXA offers the best overall image quality with the SXT cameras. For content producers that are increasingly concerned about compatibility with next-generation standards for deliverables and displays, there is no better choice than ALEXA SXT. By striking a perfect balance between pixel size and resolution, ALEXA SXT is able to produce beautiful images in HD, 2K, 4K UHD or 4K Cine, while also delivering the highest dynamic range of any camera on the market, with 16 bit in-camera processing. It is therefore uniquely suited to the creation of content for emerging HDR (High Dynamic Range) display technologies. Since ALEXA SXT records a WCG (Wide Color Gamut) signal larger than any current displays can show, its images are ready for new color space standards like Rec 2020. In addition, the ability to record at up to 120 fps in full image quality means that HFR (High Frame Rate) approaches to enhancing viewer experience can also be easily accommodated.
High Dynamic Range
The ALEXA sensor provides high dynamic range images through an unequalled exposure latitude with special consideration given to highlight treatment. ALEXA's wide exposure latitude translates into a 'thick' digital negative; there is more detail information in the highlights and in the dark areas than any of the current display technologies can show.
Uniquely suited to true anamorphic
Anamorphic cinematography produces a widescreen look that has long been appreciated by filmmakers and audiences worldwide. The unique tall sensor of ALEXA cameras maximizes resolution when using anamorphic lenses and ensures that the distinct optical qualities of those lenses are rendered faithfully in the digital image. Since ALEXA's sensor has almost exactly the same dimensions as a 35 mm film image, anamorphic lenses maintain their field of view. With the new sensor modes (6:5 and 8:9) and the option to record and monitor squeezed or de-squeezed images, the ALEXA SXT system presents the perfect solution for anamorphic productions.
In the images below, the sensor area used for shooting with anamorphic lenses is shown. Since an anamorphic lens squeezes the CinemaScope 2.39:1 image by a factor of 2, it needs a sensor area with a 1.195:1 aspect ratio, which can also be expressed as 6:5. Film (orange) and the ALEXA sensor (blue) are tall enough to easily accommodate this. Since film and the ALEXA sensor have almost exactly the same dimensions, they exhibit the same angle of view for anamorphic lenses. Other cameras use a 16:9 sensor, and cropping the required 6:5 out of a 16:9 sensor (inner black rectangle) results in a significantly smaller sensor area, which means fewer photo sites and a different angle of view than what cinematographers are used to.
ARRI custom imaging chain
To render images with a film-like, organic look, all components of the ALEXA imaging chain are proprietary high performance custom designs: the optical low pass filter, the CMOS sensor, the electronics hardware imaging engine and the image processing software.
ARRI Color Science
ALEXA's high sensitivity and its ability to retain definition even when extremely under or overexposed make it very easy to work with. Its already low noise floor is further improved in the SXT cameras with an optional mild noise reduction. ALEXA’s unique color science was developed by the same ARRI color scientists that have been working on the ARRILASER and ARRISCAN; thus they are intimately familiar with both film and digital color science. ALEXA renders natural colors, great looking skin tones and shows excellent color separation while also showing a fantastic ability to resolve mixed color temperature sources.
Efficient and Versatile Workflows
Create great images efficiently
Through detailed case studies, ARRI engineers have examined how images, sound and metadata are created and moved through the entire digital workflow chain. As a result, productions are free to select the most appropriate and cost efficient recording medium, recording format and color space for their needs, making ALEXA suitable for a wide range of workflow and budget requirements.
ALEXA SXT Recording Media, ALEXA SXT Sensor Modes, ALEXA SXT Recording Formats
ALEXA SXT cameras offer in-camera recording of ARRIRAW or ProRes to a wide range of media, from high speed, high capacity SXR Capture Drives to CFast 2.0 cards. ProRes enables file-based workflows that save time and money, while ARRIRAW delivers maximum image quality, the greatest flexibility in post and the safest choice for archiving. Additional options are provided by different recording color spaces, the most popular being ARRI Wide Gamut/Log C, which captures the widest range of tonal values and colors for advanced color timing. Rec 709 is perfect for immediate access to HD images, while Rec 2020 provides immediate access to images utilizing this new color space standard.
Click here to enlarge.
Great efforts have been taken to prepare captured material for efficient handling in all near-set and post processes. Monitoring is possible in standard or High Dynamic Range (HDR), as well as Rec 709 or Rec 2020. Rich metadata is recorded into every format and the new ARRI look management maintains, protects and shares the cinematographer's look on set, in dailies creation and in editing. Four independent monitoring outputs provide the right image for each crew member and a range of assistive tools provide useful information about camera, lens, exposure and focus.
Through close collaboration with ARRI partners, all relevant editing, grading and visual effects tools can read and process ALEXA files and display the look, without any need for pre-processing. Additionally, ARRI enhances the workflow at all stages through a wide range of powerful stand-alone applications and useful online tools, and by sharing software code with third parties.
In-camera ARRIRAW for ultimate quality and flexibility
For productions requiring uncompromised image quality, ARRIRAW is the best digital recording option. Unlike other camera formats, ARRIRAW delivers raw, uncompressed, unencrypted image data, providing the absolute best image quality from ALEXA. Especially for VFX it is important to record uncompressed raw, because compression artifacts make compositing more difficult.
For greatest flexibility in post, nothing is "baked" into an ARRIRAW image. Image processing steps like debayering, white balance, sensitivity or downscaling, which are irreversibly baked into the image for a ProRes or HD-SDI, are not applied to ARRIRAW. Thus they can be optimized in post based on image content. For example, different debayering parameters can be chosen for faces, landscapes or green screen.
Since ARRIRAW image processing is openly published in SMPTE RDD 30 and 31, and a number of white papers, it is also an excellent, future-proof archiving format. Footage archived in ARRIRAW can be retrieved safely in the future and will look even better through continuous advances in debayering technology. We also make our color science and our debayering algorithm available to third parties as a Software Developer's Kit. Using this information, a large number of third parties have included native ARRIRAW support into their products. So when you come to your post house with ARRIRAW footage, they know how to process ARRIRAW with familiar tools.
Check out the list of third party tools with ARRIRAW support
Easy in-camera ProRes recording
No other motion picture camera bridges the gap between production and postproduction as simply and elegantly as ALEXA. By utilizing the Apple ProRes codecs, which are the same high-quality codecs used natively by Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing software, ALEXA offers the most streamlined and cost-effective workflow possible.
ProRes provides high image quality while using compression to reduce file size and thus costs. Native support by Apple and an expansive infrastructure, from the built-in ProRes viewer in every Mac to specialized VFX software, provides unrivaled immediacy and speed when working with ProRes files.
While ProRes is the staple of TV productions worldwide, its high image quality and specialized recording options also make it suitable for the big screen. Between ProRes 3.2K, Open Gate ProRes, ProRes 4444 XQ, ProRes pre-recording and ProRes in-camera de-squeeze for shooting with anamorphic lenses, filmmakers can choose the ProRes codec most appropriate for their project. ProRes RAID ensures redundant recording for added data safety.
Simple and Safe Operation
Simple operation on-set
ALEXA is simple to operate, and everything about its design ensures that you get a good image, no matter what. Its user interface has been specifically developed to be easy to learn and quick to operate. The camera's hardware is designed for most ergonomic use on the set, including the built-in shoulder cut-out, large number of accessories like the Low Mode Support LMS-3, the Remote Control Unit RCU-4 or the Wireless Compact Unit WCU-4, down to little details like differently shaped extrusions (eyebrows) above some buttons so the operator can feel the button’s position from the other side of the camera or when shooting in low light.
ALEXA cameras are part of a long heritage of cameras from ARRI, and we are very familiar with the sometimes horrid conditions our cameras have to endure in the field. So ALEXAs are built rugged and reliable with a sealed electronics compartment, a unique cooling system and the most stable lens/sensor mount that German engineering could devise.
The camera’s electronics are housed in a sealed compartment in the center of the body. The heat generated is transported via heat pipes to a radiator located in a ventilation shaft at the back of the camera. A single, silent and slow running silent fan cools the radiator. This system ensures effective, active cooling of the sensor and processing boards even in the hottest climates. At the same time it protects the electronics, thereby rendering the camera splash and dust proof.
To further improve the legendary stability of the ARRI lens mount, ALEXA's stainless steel lens mount is attached to a stainless steel distance barrel, which itself is attached to the sensor mount. The whole unit is then attached to the camera body. By creating a fixed link between lens and sensor (all the orange parts in the second drawing), a super stable flange focal depth is ensured - even if strong mechanical influences are applied to the lens mount, such as when a heavy zoom lens is not properly supported. Using stainless steel ensures minimum material expansion or contraction during temperature changes.
Robust data handling
In order to protect against the vagaries of production, ALEXA will continuously close the file it is recording. In case of a power failure, your data is protected and the media will contain a readable, uncorrupted file. If metadata gets damaged, on the next reboot ALEXA will look at the actually recorded frames and reconstruct the metadata so you can continue to record on that media.
Open, future-proof architecture
The ALEXA system is based on an open architecture, with many industry-standard interfaces and compatibility with third-party products. This provides more choice to the filmmaker and ensures that best-of-class components can be used. To protect customers’ investment in ALEXA, a plethora of affordable hardware and software upgrades have been promised and delivered, continually expanding the feature set.
Four ALEXA components have been specially designed to facilitate an easy upgrade path.
- First, the camera's left side holds the Storage Interface Module; the original SxS Module was replaced by the XR Module for ALEXA XT cameras, which is now superseded by the SXR module for ALEXA SXT cameras.
- Second, the Electronics Interface Module on the right side can be replaced with an upgrade such as the Plus Panel, for wireless camera and lens remote control.
- Third, the Exchangeable Lens Mount allows the use of PL, LDS PL or Panavision lenses, further extending creative options.
- And finally, ALEXA’s processors are Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA), a technology that permits the camera's feature set to be completely reprogramed. This has allowed the continuous development of many exciting new features through free-of-charge software updates.
This great compatibility coupled with ALEXA's hardware and software modularity allowed us to keep ALEXA cameras relevant, which translates into long and reliable product cycles and makes ALEXA a safe investment.
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Lenses are not the only way to create specific looks. ALEXA is capable of producing an amazing variety of different looks for different stories and situations, with creative on-set color control and incredible flexibility in post.