ARRI launches large-format camera system

The ALEXA LF camera, ARRI Signature Prime lenses and LPL lens mount together comprise an entirely new system, offering an immersive, emotionally engaging look.

At the 2018 BSC Expo in London, ARRI has unveiled a complete large-format system that meets and exceeds modern production requirements, delivering unprecedented creative freedom while also being backwards compatible with existing lenses, accessories and workflows.

Featuring a large-format sensor slightly bigger than full frame, ALEXA LF records native 4K with ARRI's best overall image quality. Filmmakers can explore a large-format aesthetic while retaining the ALEXA sensor's natural colorimetry, pleasing skin tones and proven suitability for HDR and WCG workflows. Different sensor modes cover any deliverable requirement and versatile recording formats-including efficient ProRes and uncompressed, unencrypted ARRIRAW up to 150 fps-provide total flexibility.

Accompanying the ALEXA LF camera are 16 large-format ARRI Signature Prime lenses, ranging from 12 mm to 280 mm and fitted with the new ARRI LPL mount. While the Signature Primes exemplify state-of-the-art optical precision, they render organic, emotional images, gently softening and texturizing the large format. A fast T-stop of T1.8 facilitates shallow depth of field and the smooth focus fall-off gives subjects heightened presence in the frame.

Cinematographer Dan Laustsen ASC, DFF
Photo © Chase Hagen

In the lead-up to the release of its new large-format system, ARRI asked a number of cinematographers to shoot with the camera and lenses in real-world situations. Among them was Dan Laustsen ASC, DFF, who is Oscar-nominated this year for his work on THE SHAPE OF WATER. After shooting with the system, Laustsen commented, "We were trying to tell a story about wideness and freedom; the ALEXA LF worked really well. The depth of field is so small, creating its own world. It's fantastic." Of the Signature Primes, he noted: "The lenses are lightweight and are not too sharp, but with a certain softness and very specific. With the 25 mm lens, you feel like you are there in the scene with the actors."

The new LPL lens mount has a wider diameter and shorter flange focal depth, allowing the ARRI Signature Primes and all future large-format lenses to be small and lightweight, with a fast T-stop and pleasing bokeh-a combination of features that would not be possible with the PL lens mount. The LPL mount will also be available for other ARRI cameras and is being licensed to third-party lens and camera manufacturers.

Cinematographer Wang Yu
Photo © Zihao Chen

Another cinematographer to shoot with the system prior to its release was Wang Yu, who used it to explore the atmospheric studio and creative inspirations of the celebrated Chinese artist and furniture-maker, Shao Fan. "The results got me really excited," he says. "The camera and lens captured every tonal nuance with unmatched detail, gradation and color. I love how the out-of-focus areas are rendered, contributing to a rich and vivid overall look."

Although the camera, lens mount and lenses are new, full compatibility with existing PL mount lenses and ALEXA accessories is a cornerstone of the system's design. A PL-to-LPL adapter offers backwards compatibility with all PL mount lenses, whether Super 35 or full frame. The adapter attaches securely to the LPL lens mount without tools, allowing crews to rapidly switch between PL and LPL lenses on set, and offering cinematographers an unlimited lens choice.

Cinematographer Tom Fährmann BVK
Photo © Henning Rädlein

Tom Fährmann BVK, who also got a sneak preview, chose to shoot a diverse palette of faces and skin tones against a white background, under varying portrait lighting conditions. He reports: "To me, the system embodies typical ARRI quality, but there is a new level of emotion to the images-a smoothness to the way the camera and lenses work together."

ALEXA LF offers the same tried-and-true, versatile workflows as other ALEXA cameras. Existing ARRI Look Files can be used, and the entire range of ARRI workflow software tools will support ALEXA large-format images. Lens metadata can be recorded from LDS-1, LDS-2 or /i capable lenses.

Cinematographer Matias Boucard
Photo ©Thanaporn Arkamanon

Shooting wide open with ARRI Signature Prime lenses for shallow focus and gorgeous bokeh, French cinematographer Matias Boucard worked purely with natural light and available sources when he tried out the new system in Thailand. "The ALEXA LF camera and Signature Prime lenses are an elegant combination," he says. "I love the lenses; they strike a wonderful balance between modernity and character."

Visit the ALEXA LF microsite