ALEXA product updates

New ALEXA upgrades at NAB 2011

Take a look at the anamorphic de-squeeze and high speed software upgrades available soon for ALEXA.

Truly cinematic image quality in combination with efficient workflows has resulted in a blindingly fast adoption of ALEXA in the industry. The camera's unique features and great flexibility have seen it shine not only on major 2D and 3D feature films, but everything from international television series, commercials and soap operas to music videos, documentaries and video art. Crews everywhere appreciate the fact that ALEXA is a true ARRI camera  -  robust, reliable, and tailored to the demanding requirements of a professional set.


With hundreds of cameras in the field, ARRI is receiving an enormous amount of positive feedback from customers worldwide, including many suggestions on how to further improve ALEXA. These suggestions, combined with ARRI's internal list of new features, have led to a number of product updates that will make the ALEXA system an even more versatile toolset.


An exciting feature currently in development is the new ALEXA High Speed mode. When switched to High Speed mode, ALEXA and ALEXA Plus cameras can run from 60 to 120 fps; in order to make this possible, ARRI has created a method of pushing full sensor images through the ALEXA hardware at higher frame rates. This does not involve windowing, but instead uses the full size of ALEXA's 35 mm format sensor. Depth of field and angle of view are therefore exactly the same for Regular and High Speed modes.

ALEXA & ALEXA Plus Regular Speed mode

  • ProRes 422 (HQ) and lesser codecs: 0.75 to 60 fps
  • ProRes 4444: 0.75 to 40 fps


ALEXA & ALEXA Plus High Speed mode

  • ProRes 422 (HQ) and lesser codecs: 60 to 120 fps

Enabling the High Speed mode involved reworking the camera's image processing; as a result, there are some differences between the two speed modes. In High Speed mode, the traditional REC OUT output is not available, and the signal from the MON OUT output will be routed to REC OUT. Additionally, an Auto White Balance can only be set in Regular Speed mode, although it can then also be used in High Speed mode. ALEXA High Speed mode is expected to be available by IBC 2011.


In order to properly view the image when shooting with 2x or 1.3x anamorphic lenses, a de-squeeze function for the ALEXA viewfinder and the MON OUT output can be activated with the purchase of a license, starting in June. It is now possible for the operator to independently switch between four different modes for the viewfinder and MON OUT when shooting with anamorphic lenses:

  • Anamorphic de-squeeze off (in record and playback modes)
  • Anamorphic de-squeeze 2x (in record and playback modes)
  • Anamorphic de-squeeze 2x and magnify (in record mode only)
  • Anamorphic de-squeeze 1.3x (in record and playback modes)

All four modes are available with or without surround view.


Some major updates and significant improvements comprise Software Update Package 4.0, which is scheduled to be available in June, after a period of Beta testing. Like every other Software Update Package, version 4.0 is free of charge. Here are the most important features:

Audio Playback

Playback of audio (in addition to images) from SxS PRO cards through the headphones jack and embedded in the HD-SDI stream for HD-SDI and ARRIRAW T-link output.


A focus check for the viewfinder and MON OUT output.

Auto White Balance

In addition to the wide range of white balance options already available, the new Auto White Balance can automatically determine the red/blue white balance and green/magenta CC values when the camera is pointed at a white surface.


The RETURN IN connector can accept a video signal that will be shown at the push of a button on the viewfinder and on the MON OUT output.

Fan Low Mode

When this mode is on, the fan will run slower during recording, to reduce the noise in hot environments.

Test Signals

SMPTE color bars and a number of other test signals will be available, including 1 KHz audio tone, directly from ALEXA outputs.


Those who want to use two regular ALEXAs (non-Plus) with a UMC-3 in a 3D rig may have noticed that they have one too few EXT connectors; the EXT Distribution Box EDB-1 solves this issue. It is equipped with a short, permanently attached cable that plugs into the camera's EXT connector. On the box are three additional EXT connectors that allow three devices to be connected at the same time. This will be useful for the situation described and also for future accessories that use the EXT connector.


This bridge plate for the ALEXA is very similar to the BP-12, except that the BP-12 accepts 19 mm studio rods and the BP-13 accepts the older-style 15 mm studio rods.


Software Update Package 4.0 will include a licensing mechanism that allows advanced camera features to be enabled via a software license purchase. Each license is coded to a particular camera and can be activated by copying the license to an SD card and placing the SD card in the camera. Licenses can also be de-activated, allowing rental houses full power over which camera is sent out with which feature. The first such pay-per-feature function is the anamorphic de-squeeze.