ARRI have surprised many people at IBC this year by unveiling a a new 2k camera called the AMIRA, aimed at the documentary and corporate one-man-band market. While most people expected a 4K solution, that camera would seem to still be in the lab and instead ARRI have chosen to service a market that hasn't quite seen a perfect large sensor solution yet. The AMIRA will feature the exact same sensor as an ALEXA which means 14-stops+ of dynamic range and frame rates from 0.75 right up to 200 with no compromises. This is also the first camera in the world to shoot to CFast 2.0 cards which amount essentially to Compact Flash 2 and Sandisk unveiled the first CFast 2.0 cards alongside the AMIRA. All flavours of ProRes are recordable but unsurprisingly for this market there is no RAW recording. For documentary work, audio features are given a prime spot on the camera with the side LCD screen being dedicated to audio monitoring and function. The AMIRA can record 4 channels of audio from what appears to be 3 built in XLRs, some of which are AES capable. There is also mention of wireless bluetooth monitoring and annotation track recording though details of this are scarce right now. It seems possible that one of the four available tracks might be assignable to a wirelessly received track from a bluetooth device to which someone could be recording notes alongside the main audio tracks.
On the front of the AMIRA you'll find a switch for motorized selection of ND filters and either a PL mount, a B4 mount or an EF mount. Excitingly, these mounts will be swappable with just 4 screws much like an Epic. The inclusion of a B4 mount will really prick some ears up though! There are many 2/3" B4 ENG lenses out there and options for their owners have been few and far between in recent years. Both the B4 AND the PL mount will include communication and power ports for those lenses. With the PL mount, Fujinon will be very happy and can expect to sell a boat load more of their gorgeous Cabrio 19-90 lens which will be fully controlable from the AMIRA, even including a push iris function. Up top of the camera on a sliding bracket is a new OLED viewfinder that has a flip out 3.2" TFT screen on the side of it. The viewfinder and screen appear to be independant of each other and buttons surrond the screen to control the cameras main functionality. It looks to be a very neat solution which hides away a fragile screen when not needed, definitely in keeping with this particular line from ARRI's documentation of the camera:
AMIRA is a highly durable product constructed of the strongest possible materials. Sealed electronics provide top-level protection against humidity and dust, while an integrated thermal core results in highly efficient cooling. Productions can take AMIRA anywhere, from jungles and deserts to snow-capped mountain tops, sure in the knowledge that it will not let them down.
As yet there is no official word on pricing though it's confirmed to be less than an ALEXA and 'competitive'. In order to be competitive in this market they will need to target people who are currently looking at either a SONY F5 or F55. Those being the only other cameras on the market at the moment that have similar functionality, albeit not quite so specifically designed for one-man shoulder mount operation. In my opinion $30k would be too much for this camera and the F55 would be more attractive as it gives you 4K if you need it. $25K and you'd have a few peoples attention. $20k and you'd have people running to their local dealer. If they can get anywhere close to $20K with this camera it will be a huge hit.
#AMIRA pricing is still not finalized yet - but I believe it can be revealed that ARRI does not want you to buy a SONY ;-)— Michael J. (@mj604) September 13, 2013
You can record in Rec 709 or LogC to the CFast 2.0 cards or choose to apply a look in camera using a range of pre-loaded 3D LUTs. It seems that these LUTs can also be used as a preview in the viewfinder and LCD which is always handy for showing clients on set who want to see more of a final look even when you are actually recording that flatter log image to the card.
Summary Of Main Features
- 4-channel audio recording with AES
- Alexa Sensor
- 2k or 1080p
- 14+ stops of dynamic range
- 0.75 to 200 fps with full resolution
- ProRes LT, 422, 4ssHQ and 444
- Shoots to CFast 2.0 Cards (dual slots)
- Built in motorized ND filters
- PL, B4 and EF mount
- OLED viewfinder and LCD
- Integrated 3D LUT bases in-camera grading
- Weather sealed
- Peaking, Zebra, False Colors
- 2 x Hirose 12V 4-pin power outs for accessories
As far as I can see, ARRI has really thought of everything when it comes to this type of camera. I have to be honest that when I first read the news I was excited myself, but expected to read quite a lot of backlash online about the lack of 4k. In actual fact I have read nothing but praise and excited opinions on the AMIRA, it seems as though ARRI has really hit a sweet spot that nobody elses was even aiming at right now. For final shipping models it seems as though Q2 2014 is the target, so round about NAB time.
If you enjoyed this post you can find more of Dan's writing in the following places: