The brochure for ARRI’s super-awaited new camera has leaked. Named the ALEXA 35, this new technological marvel boasts 17 stops of dynamic range, an all-new 4.6K sensor, and a new color science called REVEAL. Now is the time to count the movies that will be shot on this beast. All the details are below.
ARRI’s new camera is called the ALEXA 35, and according to ARRI, this 4K Super 35 camera will elevate digital cinematography to unprecedented heights. As stated in the leaked brochure; “ARRI’s first new sensor in 12 years builds on the evolution of the ALEXA family over that time, delivering 2.5 stops greater dynamic range, A-like highlight management film, better low-light performance and richer colors”. In addition, the new REVEAL Color Science takes full advantage of the image quality of the sensor and offers a fast and simple workflow, while ARRI textures enhance creative control of the camera. ARRI states that: “Easy operation, robust build quality, new electronic accessories and an all-new mechanical support system complete the ALEXA 35 platform.” Here are the main highlights as described in the ALEXA 35 brochure:
ALEXA 35 measures at 17 stops of dynamic range (exposure latitude), far more than any other digital cinema camera. Filmmakers gain 1.5 stops in highlights and one stop in shadows over previous ALEXA cameras while retaining naturalistic, cinematic highlight reduction. Sophisticated lens flare suppression ensures that the full range of character and contrast of each lens is captured. Together, the increased dynamic range and lens flare control make it easier to manage all lighting conditions on set, increase flexibility in post-production, and provide the best possible source for High Dynamic Range (HDR) projects. Now we know ARRI. These 17 steps are not “marketing steps”, so expect stunning images with maximum detail.
ARRI defines the ALEXA 35 as a “High ISO” camera. An optional enhanced sensitivity mode can be applied to settings between EI 2560 and EI 6400, producing an even sharper image in low light. This exceptional sensitivity, combined with wider dynamic range and truer contrast, enables ALEXA 35 to capture the most delicate nuances of light and shadow in a wider range of shooting situations. Filmmakers can work with available light in real-world locations, knowing that even at extreme ISOs, any noise will have a pleasingly cinematic structure.
Introduced alongside the ALEXA 35 is REVEAL Color Science, which is the collective name for a suite of image processing steps that, along with the new sensor, help the camera register more accurate colors with more subtle tonal variations. Skin tones of all types and colors are rendered flatteringly and realistically. Highly saturated colors such as neon signs or car brake lights are captured with incredible realism, as are typically difficult colors like cyan, burgundy and pastel tones. Overall, the true-to-life color fidelity and incredible resolving power of the sensor results in beautiful, immersive images. This is how ARRI defines its new color science implemented in the ALEXA 35.
ARRI Textures offer cinematographers a new and unique way to exercise greater creative control on set. A texture defines the amount and character of grain in an image, as well as the amount of contrast at different levels of detail, perceived by the viewer as sharpness. Previous ALEXA cameras were pre-programmed with a default texture. Yet with ALEXA 35, you can choose from an evolving menu of custom ARRI textures, either to suit a specific shooting environment or to refine your look. This allows you to fundamentally change the way the camera saves images, much like selecting a movie.
With its native 4K Super 35 4:3 sensor, the ALEXA 35 can be used with the world’s vast inventory of existing lenses: modern and vintage, anamorphic and spherical, Super 35 and large format. Filmmakers who want to shoot with ARRI cameras while having 4K mandates now have an infinitely wider choice of lenses. A total of 19 recording formats, incorporating efficient in-camera downsampling and anamorphic decompression, allow productions to optimize data rate, resolution and other parameters, according to their individual needs . Mixed Reality Productions (MRP) will benefit from the camera’s ability to record lens metadata in all common standards and output live streaming metadata to ARRI’s Live Link Metadata plugin for Unreal Engine .
ARRI’s discussions with filmmakers and careful review of the image pipeline have led to significant improvements in image quality and a faster, easier workflow. REVEAL Color Science is a suite of new image processing steps used by ALEXA 35 internally and also available through leading third-party post-production tools for ARRIRAW processing. It features an improved debayering algorithm for cleaner composition, a new color engine for more accurate color reproduction, a new wide gamut native color space for faster grading, a new LogC4 encoding to contain the increased dynamic range and new LogC4 LUTs (Look Up Tables) for enhanced color fidelity.
ARRI points out that the ALEXA 35 is the smallest fully-featured ARRI production camera ever, packing the features and processing power of a larger ALEXA into a Mini-sized package. Crews will be intuitively familiar with the simple menu structure; support for Codex 1TB and 2TB compact discs; and the MVF-2 viewfinder, now with HDR. Quick and easy operation is ensured with usability enhancements such as a new left-side display and additional user buttons. Temperature, splash and dust resistant, and designed with future hardware and software updates in mind, “ALEXA 35 is the best A-camera, B-camera and drone or gimbal camera on the market, the all in one” adds ARRI.
ARRI has designed a new line of bespoke ALEXA 35 accessories that expand the camera’s capabilities and ensure maximum speed and versatility on set. Tightly integrated electronic accessories provide additional power outputs or expanded audio functionality. An all-new set of mechanical support elements provides flexible options for any situation, scaling quickly and easily from a small, lightweight setup to a full production setup. The ALEXA 35 is available in retail kits that bundle components to suit different shooting styles and production types, with other accessories and system options facilitating countless configurations.
ALEXA 35 uses the B-Mount Battery Interface, an open industry standard endorsed by ARRI and the industry at large. Providing high-capacity 24V power, but also capable of supporting 12V, the B-mount offers more efficiency and improved data communication compared to previous systems. Compatible with camera, lighting and stabilizer equipment from manufacturers around the world, it allows productions to streamline their power needs.
Here are the full specifications of the ALEXA 35. Click to view full resolution slides:
We modern filmmakers can learn a thing or two from the ALEXA 35. First, resolution isn’t such a big factor. Second, a large format is not the holy grail. While we haven’t seen any sample videos (other than the screenshots in the brochure), we’re pretty sure the images are top-notch. 17 “real world” stops, meticulously developed new color science, and an accurate sensor that can be defined as an art form will make the ALEXA 35 hugely popular among high-end productions. The only thing that didn’t leak is the price. However, expect a price very similar to the Mini LF. You will therefore have to choose: Image quality or large format cinematography. To sum up, notice how many times the two combined words “film-like” are mentioned in the brochure. It’s proof that ARRI still believes that film cameras are the best. And the most difficult mission is to make a digital camera armed with technological manipulations in order to produce celluloid-like images. What do you think of the ALEXA 35? Throw them here.