ARRI’s Upcoming Large Format 4K Alexa LF Camera Used In “The Shape Of Water”
Stephan Jukic – February 5, 2018
Recently tested by the cinematographer behind “The Shape of Water” and almost ready to hit the pro recording market, Camera maker ARRI’s newest version of its Alexa digital cinematography camera offers native cinematic 4K resolution and a lot more.
ARRI, a company already famous for the quality of its professional digital shooting cameras, has now released a special 4K version of the already popular Alexa digital cinema camera. The new device is a large-format digital model that also happens to solve a major technical requirements problem faced by filmmakers working for original Netflix productions.
To break down the essential issue that the new Alexa solves: ARRI’s previous version of this particular Alexa model shoots video at a 3.2K resolution and its other, also large-format Alexa 65 camera records in a much larger 6K format. Generally, the 3.2K was considered ideal for most cinematic shooting despite its lower resolution. Furthermore, ARRI itself has maintained that pixel count is in any case secondary to other important features found in the Alexa cameras, such as wide dynamic range and image processing technology designed by ARRI to record ideal video by the standards of many Hollywood studios.
However, despite these features, Netflix in particular has been firm in stating that only 4K cameras can be used for its original entertainment productions. Specifically, the company has stated on its website that:
“The ARRI Alexa and Amira are fantastic cameras, and we stream plenty of content that was captured with these cameras. However, since these cameras do not have true 4K sensors, we cannot accept them for our 4K original productions. For those who pay a premium for our UHD 4K service, we only deliver content that was shot and delivered at a true UHD 4K resolution.”
For cinematographers who happen to work for the entertainment giant and use ARRI gear, this has obviously been frustrating.
This is where the new 4K ARRI model literally enters the picture. Since the new Alexa LF shoots in native 4K (cinematic 4.5K resolution with 4K-level pixel support and high dynamic range as well), it offers the perfect blend of all accessory features which made other ARRI cameras great for Netflix originals while also pleasing the specific resolution rules of Netflix. In addition to the camera’s built-in features and pixel support, the Alexa LF 4K is also surrounded by a constellation of 16 optional upcoming new large-format ARRI Signature Prime lenses of between 12mm to 280mm, all fitted with ARRI’s new LPL mount design. All older lenses for the 3.2K Alexa LF camera work fine with the new model as well.
Now for those of you who are wondering just how real video shot by the new 4K Alexa looks, well, you need look no further than test footage from Guillermo del Torro’s recently released and critically acclaimed film “The Shape of Water”. The camera was one of the ARRI models used during on-location recording of parts of the movie and according to Dan Laustsen, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer working on the film
“It’s a fantastic large-format camera, and the new lenses that I used are really great; I like the wide angles very much. This is also going to give cinematographers [the option to] work with a smaller [Alexa] camera if you want to shoot 4K.”
Other cinematographers have also tested the ARRI Alexa LF 4K camera with their own test footage.
The new 4K Alexa LF is coming up for availability as of late March and a set of its most essential Signature Prime lenses will be going on sale as of June with the other 12 lenses getting released sporadically throughout 2018. Cinematographers who buy the camera before its lenses get release can of course use older Alexa 3.2K versions in the meantime.