ALEXA Studio Aluminium Skeleton

ARRI Build Quality

Robust, Reliable and Easy to Use

Over a century of experience, an obsessive attention to detail, and an intimate familiarity with the conditions on set have led to generations of ARRI cameras that are robust, reliable, and simple to operate — all features that our digital cameras have inherited.

Robust and Reliable

Production is tough and cameras have to function anywhere on, below, or above the earth in all climatic conditions, day after day, shot after shot. To an ARRI engineer, reliability is a mission-critical, must-have quality that is of constant consideration during camera development. Some of the most obvious development choices in this regard are the rugged and lightweight unibody design, the camera’s cooling system, and the combination of lens and sensor mount.

To assure that our cameras perform as advertised above, every camera undergoes rigorous testing: ARRI’s Quality Control department puts them to the test. On a vibrating plate, we simulate the mechanical stress of a thousand-kilometer truck ride — nothing is allowed to come loose.

Directly after the vibration test, the cameras get transferred to thermal testing. One could imagine it like an oven-refrigerator combination where cameras are being cycled through different temperatures from -20°C to +45°C (-4° F to +113° F). While being heated up or cooled down, each camera undergoes a series of startup and recording tests to make sure they can withstand various climate extremes worldwide.

Have a look at our video with Dr. Hans Kiening who was head of ARRI’s quality control for many years, including the first years of ALEXA.

Long Product Cycles

Times have changed, not only from analog to digital but also the pace at which new products hit the market is increasing in the digital era. With ARRI’s legacy in mind, our digital cameras are built to last. Not only do we protect the investment of our customers by maintaining long product cycles, but we also invest great energy in internal testing.
Since we have the ability to upgrade a camera system with new software or electronics, the testing never really stops. Each software update undergoes a similar testing procedure which is only altered to incorporate and test new features with each release.

This continuous effort enables a camera from 2010 to maintain its quality even years after its market introduction. Our customers profit from this value in two ways: as a camera owner, they can be assured a high resale value for their equipment; as prospective buyer of second-hand equipment from ARRI, one can be sure that their investment is in proven camera gear that won’t let them down.

Future Proof

On ALEXA, four major components are specifically designed to allow an easy upgrade and to add new features in order to extend its useful life. 

First, taking into account the rapid rate of change in storage technologies, the module that holds the SxS memory cards was designed to be removable. With the introduction of ALEXA XT and later SXT, the recording module has undergone its third update, first supporting SxS and Codex Capture Drives. For ALEXA SXT, newer drives were able to support faster recording speeds at higher resolutions than before. Via an adapter, we were able to support media on the ALEXA Mini and AMIRA via the CFast 2.0 memory cards. 

Second, the camera control electronics, which comprise the whole right side of the camera, can be removed and replaced with upgraded electronics with advanced features. This was done for ALEXA SXT. Now the internal hardware is fully capable of rendering 3D LUTs and outputting Log C and processed imagery at the same time.

Third, the Exchangeable Lens Mount (ELM) system allows the use of PL, Panavision, or stills camera lenses, further expanding creative options. This has been adapted on AMIRA and ALEXA Mini to open the cameras up to a wide variety of lenses. The use of small lightweight lenses is especially handy for documentary and drone cinematography.

Finally, the camera’s software is designed to be quickly and easily upgradeable.

With AMIRA and ALEXA Mini, we had to work around the ideas of modularity in favor of a compact body design. With the knowledge that CFast 2.0 memory cards would be adopted by a good number of manufacturers, we had the assurance that the media would be compatible.

ALEXA’s Unique Cooling System

Cooling a camera cannot be compared to cooling an ordinary computer. Since your computer is not likely to have electronics that live in a sealed compartment in the center of its body, the camera’s cooling system needs a totally different approach.
On ALEXA, for example, the heat generated by the sensor and the electronics is transported via heat pipes to a radiator located in a ventilation shaft at the back of the camera. A single, slow-running, super-silent fan cools the radiator. If need be, the fan can be easily exchanged. 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.

The cooling for AMIRA, ALEXA Mini, and ALEXA Mini LF follows the same principle: Cool air is drawn from the camera’s surroundings, is fed through a ventilation-shaft via two fans, and exits on the side/back. On ALEXA Mini/Mini LF, the boards have been arranged around the central cooling core with the plate around the sensor being its backbone. On AMIRA, the backbone is its cooling duct and everything is attached to that core and revolves around it.

Open Architecture

ARRI cameras are designed to be the best tool for capturing images and for moving those images from set to post. This requires more than just a camera, it requires a complete digital production system where all components mesh perfectly, including lenses, recording media, recording codecs, electronic accessories, mechanical accessories, batteries, and post production tools.
We have worked closely with a number of innovative companies such as Apple, cmotion, Codex, FUJINON, ZEISS and others to integrate their technologies. Through these efforts, from day one, ALEXA was compatible with many existing industry standards, lenses, accessories, and post production tools that were already well established all over the world.
In order to offer the filmmaker more options, our camera systems are based on an open architecture incorporating many industry standards and providing compatibility to third party products. This includes the Apple ProRes codecs, the HD-SDI standard, CFast 2.0, and SxS memory cards. We support both the Anton Bauer Gold mount and the V-lock standard for on-board batteries.
To guarantee a smooth ARRIRAW workflow, we have been working with third parties that have enrolled in the ARRIRAW Partner Program, so when your post house receives ARRIRAW clips from set, their tools will be able to understand and process ARRIRAW. Furthermore, we’ve published two SMPTE Registered Disclosure Documents (RDDs) on ARRIRAW: RDD 30:2014 and RDD 31:2014. These RDDs explain how to read and reconstruct ARRIRAW images to Log C RGB images.

3D Optimized

Various features of ALEXA and ALEXA Mini make them the perfect choice for stereoscopic shooting on 3D rigs. The cameras include an EXT-SYNC input to guarantee reliable synchronization between left and right eye cameras.
A simple master/slave mode makes setting parameters on two cameras a snap. The camera’s unmatched high sensitivity helps compensate for the light loss in mirror rigs, while its compact size reduces the rig’s size and weight. Finally, high dynamic range has been identified as one of the contributing factors to a better stereoscopic impression for the audience.