ALEXA Mini LF FAQ
Questions and answers on ALEXA Mini LF
Questions and answers on ALEXA Mini LF
ALEXA LF and ALEXA Mini LF have different hardware and software architectures, and the maximum frame rate of each recording format is determined by different components. In contrast to the ALEXA LF, the ALEXA Mini LF has an adaptable compression implementation, which can process Apple ProRes at frame rates of 40 to 90 fps, depending on the amount of data that has to be processed for the different recording formats.
Yes, when using recording resolutions based on the LF 16:9 sensor area, it is possible to ask the camera to down-sample the native image resolution (3840 x 2160) to 2K (2048 x 1152) or to HD (1920 x 1080). All three recording formats have a 16:9 aspect ratio. The two down-sampled recording formats still give you the large-format look, but at a substantially lower data rate.
Since the ALEXA Mini LF uses the same sensor and the same recording formats as the ALEXA LF (which is Netflix approved), we do not see any reason why the ALEXA mini LF will not be Netflix approved soon.
No, since essentially everything in and around the Mini LF is different from the ALEXA Mini. An upgrade would be more expensive than buying a new ALEXA Mini LF. However, we offer a trade-in program that allows you to trade in your ALEXA Classic/XT/SXT, ALEXA Mini or AMIRA when purchasing an ALEXA Mini LF. Please note that capacities for trade-in might be limited.
The ALEXA Mini LF user interface is currently available in English and simplified Chinese.
No, the ALEXA Mini LF does not support Broadcast-style multicam applications like the AMIRA or the ALEXA Mini. However, for cine-style applications where multiple cameras need to be synchronized (bullet-time, rear-screen projectors, multi-camera rigs, etc.), the ALEXA Mini LF has a new BNC connector for Genlock (black burst and tri-level sync) called SYNC IN.
No, each camera has its own unique features and role to play on set. The ALEXA LF can shoot in LF Open Gate ARRIRAW up to 90fps, and in LF 2.39:1 4.5K at 150fps: far greater frame rates than the ALEXA Mini LF. It is also the ideal camera for assistants with four independent monitoring outputs, multiple accessory power options, built-in wireless video and a dedicated control panel.
The ALEXA Mini remains an ideal choice for Super 35 production due to its high framerate ability; we’re not expecting your investment in the most popular camera on set to disappear overnight. We’re very proud to offer the ARRI Large Format Family of ALEXA LF and ALEXA Mini LF, and the ARRI Super35 Family of ALEXA SXT and ALEXA Mini.
The simulator for the ALEXA Mini LF is still being worked on, and as soon as it is finished we will release it.
The ALEXA Mini LF has two WiFi antennas: one integrated into the camera body in the front right underneath the camera model label and one external stubby antenna above the media bay camera left. The ALEXA Mini LF is CE and FCC approved and all antenna radiation levels are within legal limits. If an operator is still concerned about the second WiFi antenna (the one above the media bay), they can switch it off in the menu. The WiFi range will obviously be more limited in this case. Alternatively, the second antenna can be offset using an SMA cable and the antenna can be placed somewhere else on the rig – which is not a bad idea anyway as that means less interference from the metal of the camera and accessories.
At first, the ALEXA Mini LF will have the same recording formats as the ALEXA LF. However, we know that customers also want Super 35 recording formats cropped from the LF frame. We take that seriously and will add a set of Super 35 recording formats with a future Software Update Package.
We at ARRI believe in Super 35. Not everybody will shoot Large Format/Full Frame. Many productions, in particular in TV, will remain with Super 35 for the foreseeable future. Therefore, we are also working on a dedicated Super 35 4K camera (not LF), further increasing the choices for cinematographers.
This ARRI S35 4K camera will have a new S35 4K 4:3 sensor and the size of the body will be close to the ALEXA Mini LF. It will be compatible to the MVF-2 viewfinder and will support CODEX Compact Drives which have been introduced with the ALEXA Mini LF.
In order to implement additional ALEXA Mini LF features and to deliver software updates for our existing customers, the launch of the S35 4K camera will not take place in 2020, as originally announced.
SDI 1: 1.5G 422 HD (up to 30 fps), 3G 422 HD (up to 60 fps), 3G 444 HD (up to 30 fps), 6G 422 UHD (up to 30 fps)*
SDI 2: 1.5G 422 HD (up to 30 fps), 3G 422 HD (up to 60 fps), 3G 444 HD (up to 30 fps), 6G 422 UHD (up to 30 fps)*
*If one SDI output is switched to 6G UHD, the other one will have to be 1.5G HD or 3G HD
Both SDI outputs carry uncompressed video with embedded audio and metadata. SDI 1 and 2 can be either “clean” (HD or UHD) or “processed” (only HD). Clean is an image without any overlays (status, false color, zebra, framelines, etc.). Both SDIs can be clean at the same time. If one SDI is switched to processed, the other can be a clone of that one, or has to be clean.
As with all ARRI digital cameras, we have very low latencies, which is important for serious professional work. The image coming out of the SDI outputs and the image in the MVF-2 viewfinder have less than one frame delay. The image in the MVF-2 viewfinder has about one frame delay.
The MVF-2 is compatible with the ALEXA Mini LF and future ARRI digital cameras. It is not backwards compatible with existing cameras, since it has an entirely different cable connection to the camera (labeled "VF"). The existing viewfinders EVF-1, EVF-2 and MVF-1 are not compatible with ALEXA Mini LF.
We noticed that crew like to tape critical information, like the lens' close focus distance or the names of actors and characters, to the side of our cameras. On the MVF-2 there is an empty space (see red circle) with a slot for a business size card. The camera will come with a card illustrating the false color system on one side and the Signature Prime information on the other. Templates for making your own (DIN A-4 and US Letter/8.5 x 11) will be available from the DOWNLOAD section of the ALEXA Mini LF webpage.
After almost a decade of the ALEXA user interface we are presenting an improved fresh look and better functionality with the ALEXA Mini LF. The camera's HOME screen and menus can be accessed through the flip out monitor on the MVF-2 viewfinder, which is larger and has a higher resolution than all previous menu displays on ARRI cameras.
The ALEXA Mini LF has a voltage input range from 11 V to 34 V. Therefore, it can be easily powered by any 14.4 V on-board battery as well as by 24 V on-board batteries.
The ALEXA Mini LF has a power draw slightly higher than the ALEXA Mini, we estimate currently at around 65 W when recording ARRIRAW at 24 fps with the MVF-2 viewfinder connected. Note: electronic accessories will increase power draw based on the accessories’ power draw.
The ALEXA Mini LF can be remotely controlled in a variety of ways:
The ALEXA Mini LF uses the new, small and cost-effective Codex Compact Drive 1 TB.
The Compact Drive has been specifically designed for the small form factor of the ALEXA Mini LF, using new flash technology in a miniaturized tough casing. The ALEXA LF Mini accepts Compact Drives directly, without the need for an adapter. ALEXA LF or ALEXA SXT W do not support the Compact Drive.
The Compact Drive 1 TB contains one industrial SSD and both ARRIRAW and Apple ProRes recording can utilize the drive's full recording capacity of 960 GB. The drive will be formatted by the ALEXA Mini LF in the UDF format for ARRIRAW and ProRes. Therefore, both ARRIRAW and ProRes can be recorded onto the same media without reformatting or switching drives. The drive offers sustained write rates of up to 8 Gb/s. We will also use this drive for future cameras.
While the Compact Drive Adapter will fit physically into an ALEXA LF or ALEXA SXT, the cameras do not support the Compact Drive. The new Compact Drive uses a new software interface (NVMe), which is not supported by ALEXA LF and SXT. However, NVMe is supported by MacOS and Windows, which is why the adapter can be used for downloading.
High Density Encoding (HDE) is a technology developed by Codex that reduces ARRIRAW file sizes by 40% during download or later in the workflow process. Important note: HDE does not happen in-camera. Inside the camera, ARRIRAW gets recorded in full size onto the Compact Drive. Only during the download process from the Compact Drive to a computer is the data encoded with HDE. HDE is part of the free-of-charge and license-free Codex Device Manager software. HDE is fast: ARRIRAW Open Gate 4.5K can be encoded comfortably at 24 fps on a modern MacBook Pro. Many third parties already support HDE, including Assimilate, Codex, Colorfront, Filmlight, Imagine Product, Pomfort, YoYotta, Marvel, Netflix, Fotokem, Sony and others. Codex and ARRI are actively working with industry partners on integrating HDE into many more tools. In summary, HDE is a direct 40% savings in time and money through lower storage costs, shorter transfer times and a faster workflow.
To learn more about HDE have a look at our ARRIRAW FAQ and filter for High Density Encoding (HDE).
Also pay a visit to the HDE website of CODEX.
Apple already has an MXF plug-in available for MacOS X 10.14.3 or later that you can download as part of Apple's "Pro Video Formats 2.1". This allows the MacOS QuickTime Player, FCPX, Motion, Compressor, VLC and ARRI Color Tool to play MXF/Apple ProRes, with many more in the works. On Windows machines you can currently use the ARRI Color Tool or VLC, with other programs in preparation.
Yes, this is possible in Resolve. It should also work on other post software that can read MXF/Apple ProRes.
The ALEXA Mini LF allows recording in ARRIRAW and Apple ProRes Log C. It is not possible to record a baked-in look, as that would use too much processing power. However, the whole ARRI Look Management system works, so you can preview a look on the SDI outputs and on the viewfinder. The look will be stored in metadata and can be applied automatically for dailies, during editing and during color grading.
No, the ALEXA Mini LF does not support the ARRI Look Library, as that would use too much processing power.
Yes, the ALEXA Mini LF supports WiFi client mode.
Export laws dictate that for sensors made up of more than a certain number of photo sites, we cannot record positional information like tilt and roll, lest the camera be classified as military equipment. While the photo site count of the Super 35 ALEXA, ALEXA Mini and AMIRA cameras fall below this boundary, the ALEXA LF and ALEXA Mini LF are above it. However, we can display the tilt and roll information as well as the digital bubble level.
Yes, the ALEXA Mini LF has internal, motorized FSND filters like the ALEXA Mini. However, the filters inside the ALEXA Mini LF are larger to cover the large format sensor, and the densities are: clear, ND 0.6, ND 1.2 and ND 1.8 (the Mini has ND 2.1 as the highest density). We chose 0.6, 1.2 and 1.8 since we had a lot of cinematographers request it and it is a difference of 2 stops between each filter and that is much easier to calculate on set.
FSND stands for "Full Spectrum Neutral Density". These are filters that are significantly better than traditional ND filters, since they affect an attenuation over the entire visible and near-visible spectrum (therefore "Full Spectrum"). This means there are no color shifts, even at higher densities. Because of their unique anti-reflective coating, ARRI FSND filters allow a very high contrast from the scene to pass through to the sensor for best HDR capture.
The ALEXA Mini LF records four audio channels. Channels 1 and 2 are always the LINE IN from the AUDIO connector, and channel 3 and 4 are always the two internal microphones (when turned on; they are off by default).
The entire ALEXA Mini LF is spray and dust-proof. The two microphones in the front are protected by Gore-Tex membranes that let sound in but protect from water ingression.