Questions and answers on ALEXA Mini LF

ALEXA Mini LF - Sensor & Recording Formats

  • We at ARRI believe that for the foreseeable future, the 65 format, the large format and the Super 35 format will peacefully coexist. Each format delivers a special look, is compatible with a certain number of lenses and available at a certain price point. We feel that we have the best cameras in 65 format, in large format and in Super 35 format and we will continue to develop gear for all three formats.

  • The ALEXA Mini LF uses the same sensor as the ALEXA LF. This is the ALEV 3 A2X sensor, which has the same photosite size and type as the Super 35 ARRI digital cameras. It has 4448 x 3096 photosites (yes, it is therefore a 4.5K sensor) and measures 36.70 x 25.54 mm.

  • The ALEXA Mini LF supports the same recording formats as the ALEXA LF. Recording formats and maximum frame rates of both cameras are shown in the table below.

  • 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 formats 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.

ALEXA Mini LF Camera

  • The ALEXA Mini LF (left) has the same dimensions and the same mounting points as the ALEXA Mini (right), except for the media bay on the camera left side. Our current prototypes weigh in at 2.6 Kg/5.7 lbs for the camera body with LPL lens mount and 800 g/1.7 lbs for the MVF-2 viewfinder.

  • 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.

ALEXA Mini LF - Monitoring and Viewfinder

  • Both SDI outputs carry uncompressed video with embedded audio and metadata. 

    SDI 1:

    - HD only, processed or clean, with or without a look file applied

    - 1.5G 422 HD (SMPTE ST292-1, up to 30 fps), progressive (p) or progressive segmented frame (psf)

    - 3G 422 HD (SMPTE ST425-1, up to 60 fps), p

    - 3G 444 HD (SMPTE ST425-3, up to 30 fps), p

    SDI 2:

    - HD or UHD, clean only, with or without a look file applied, or SDI 1 clone

    - 1.5G 422 HD (SMPTE ST292-1, up to 30 fps), p or psf

    - 3G 422 HD (SMPTE ST425-1, up to 60 fps), p

    - 3G 444 HD (SMPTE ST425-3, up to 30 fps), p

    - 6G 422 UHD (SMPTE ST2081-10, up to 30 fps), p

    SDI 1

    SDI 2


    Fully configured or clean

    Clone of SDI 1 or clean

    Output Resolution


    HD or UHD

    Image Processing

    Log C, Look
    or ALEXA Classic 709

    Log C or Look

    “Clean” is an image without surround view or overlays (status, false color, zebra, framelines, etc.), “processed” is an image with surround view or overlays.

  • 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 flip-out display 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 ARRI Signature Prime information on the other. Templates for making your own (DIN A-4 and US Letter/8.5 x 11) are 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.

    • Important settings can be quickly seen on the clearly structured new home screen
    • The location of a menu can be easily seen through overlapping menu levels
    • Expanded and improved notifications and alerts
    • Easier and faster text entry and list selection

ALEXA Mini LF - Power

ALEXA Mini LF - Accessories and Remote Control

  • Since the ALEXA Mini LF has the same size and the same mounting points as the ALEXA Mini, almost all mechanical ALEXA Mini accessories will fit. There are three exceptions:

    • Mini Side Bracket MSB-3: While the MSB-1 and MSB-2 still fit on the ALEXA Mini LF right side, they do not fit on the ALEXA Mini LF left side because of the new media bay. Use the new MSB-3 instead, which fits the Mini LF and the Mini on the left side and which offers extra mounting points.
    • Clamp 2 for RAB-1: In addition to updated mechanics and a new safety release, Clamp 2 moves battery adapters a small distance to the left in order to make room for the second row of ALEXA Mini LF connectors. Clamp 2 also works well on ALEXA Mini.
    • Vertical Top Plate for ALEXA Mini LF: This new top plate is part of the Vertical Adapter Set for ALEXA Mini LF, which allows 9:16 portrait filming—a growing demand in the fields of commercials and visual effects. Configurations can be built to allow quick changes between classic landscape and portrait image capture.
  • Yes, the Mini LF has an LBUS connector on the LPL lens mount that supports all ARRI LBUS accessories.

  • The ALEXA Mini LF can be remotely controlled in a variety of ways:

    • The Wireless Compact Unit WCU-4 is a sophisticated, feature-rich and user-friendly 3-axis hand unit for wireless remote lens and camera control. It includes an integrated lens data display and offers extended ALEXA camera control.
    • The Single Axis Unit SXU-1 controls a single lens axis. On set the SXU-1 perfectly complements the 3-axis WCU-4 as a separate iris control unit, or it can be used on its own, offering a low cost option to productions that do not need multi-axis wireless lens control.
    • By connecting the Multi Viewfinder MVF-2 with a 10 m/33 ft VF cable to the ALEXA Mini LF, the viewfinder becomes a handy remote control for all camera functions as well as a monitor for the live image the camera is capturing.
    • The ALEXA Mini LF can be controlled wirelessly (over WiFi) or by cable (ETH connector) from a computer, tablet or smart phone running a web browser with the web remote. Please note that the ALEXA Mini LF web remote capabilities will be in the beta test stage when the camera ships first and will be updated with the next Software Update Package.
    • The Operator Control Unit OCU-1 is an addition to the WCU-4 lens control system on ALEXA Mini, ALEXA LF and ALEXA Mini LF that connects to the camera via an LBUS cable. The OCU-1 enables operators to over-ride and return focus, iris, and zoom controls at the touch of a button.
    • The Master Grips combine effective camera stabilization with comprehensive lens and camera control. They connect to the camera via LBUS cables.
    • The General Purpose IO Box GBP-1 is a break-out box that works with ALEXA Mini, ALEXA Mini LF and AMIRA. It allows users to build custom button interfaces and electronic controls. The box can be connected to the camera EXT port which it also replicates. It provides protected input channels that can be flexibly mapped to various functions.
  • Connect the LBUS connector of the ALEXA Mini LF to the LCUBE CUB-1, and the CUB-1 to the UDM-1 (Ultrasonic Distance Measure). The CUB-1 (pictured below with attachment bracket) is a miniature converter box converting the LBUS protocol to serial protocols and vice versa.

ALEXA Mini LF - Workflow

  • 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.

    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.

  • (1) = All Apple ProRes flavors have the same maximum frame rate on ALEXA Mini LF

    (2) = These are preliminary values, specifications may change without notice

  • There are two options for downloading data from the Compact Drive.

    • The new Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) is an affordable reader that works with MacOS or Windows without extra software or licenses. Use your preferred data management application to copy data from the drives. To add HDE capability, use the free-of-charge and license-free Codex Device Manager software. The Compact Drive Reader offers download speeds of up to 8 Gb/s. The Compact Drive Reader uses the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface (backwards compatible) and is powered via the USB-C connector.
    • For MacOS users, the new Compact Drive Adapter accepts the Compact Drive and fits in all SXR Capture Drive Docks (Thunderbolt 2 or 3). The Compact Drive Adapter maximizes download speed for Compact Drives up to 15 Gb/s. The host computer must have the free-of-charge Codex Device Manager software installed, which will also provide HDE capabilities.
  • 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.

  • We are switching all recording formats to the MXF (Material eXchange Format) container, since MXF is an open standard that is widely supported and allows for more flexible access to metadata. Using the same container also allows us to record ARRIRAW and Apple ProRes to the same drive without reformatting. Apple is supporting MXF/Apple ProRes and they have published the "SMPTE RDD 44: Mapping of ProRes into MXF". ARRI cameras that currently support QuickTime/Apple ProRes will continue to use QuickTime.

  • 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.

ALEXA Mini LF - Optics and Lens Mounts

  • 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 has the same interface between the camera and the lens mount as the ALEXA Mini and AMIRA. Therefore, physically, all lens mounts that fit on ALEXA Mini or AMIRA will also fit on ALEXA Mini LF. However, some of these lens mounts make little sense on the ALEXA Mini LF because they will show strong vignetting. We currently recommend using the following lens mounts with ALEXA Mini LF:

    • The ARRI LPL lens mount (attached to the ALEXA Mini LF in the image below) is the ideal mount for all LPL lenses, and with the PL-to-LPL Adapter (floating in front of the camera in the image below) it can also accept all PL mount lenses, be they Super 35 or full frame. The LPL mount supports LDS-2 and /i lens metadata, and the PL-to-LPL Adapter supports LDS-1 and /i.
    • The LEITZ M-MOUNT for Leica M 0.8 lenses works with the Mini LF and is available directly from Leitz. For more information, click here.
    • Panavision has created PV and PV70 lens mounts for the Mini LF.

    Here some notes on other lens mounts:

    • The Mini PL mount was designed for Super 35 only. Since the combination of LPL lens mount and PL-to-LPL Adapter shows less vignetting than using the Mini PL lens mount, we recommend against using the Mini PL lens mount on the ALEXA Mini LF.
    • We are evaluating the EF mount currently and will inform you as soon as we have the results.

ALEXA Mini LF - Audio