We at PVC got a chance to check out ARRI’S ALEXA Mini LF while we marched around NAB 2019 with all of our camera gear. The ARRI ALEXA Mini LF is a large format sensor and is similar to the ARRI ALEXA LF, the big brother of the Mini. As a DOP and a rental shop owner, Nathan Thompson of Contrast Visuals – they have an ALEXA LF on their rental inventory, was able to talk with Art Adams about all of the updates from the original Alexa Mini to the Alexa Mini LF.
Alexa Mini LF Key Features:
- Same sensor and recording formats as ALEXA LF
- Compatible with LPL and PL mount lenses, Super 35 and Full Frame
- Supports all anamorphic de-squeeze ratios
- Compatible with ARRI and cmotion wireless remote systems
- Works with 12 V and 24 V on-board batteries (~65 W power draw)
- Three internal, motorized large format FSND filters: ND 0.6, 1.2, and 1.8
- New dedicated, regulated 12 V and 24 V accessory power outlets
- New SYNC IN and improved AUDIO connectors
- Three operation modes: single operator, crew or remote
- HD OLED display, color science and ARRICAM eyepiece like ALEXA LF EVF-2
- Uncompressed and unencrypted MXF/ARRIRAW
- New Codex Compact Drive 1TB is small, tough and cost-efficient
The ARRI ALEXA MINI LF packs a large format sensor inside the smaller Mini camera body with some slight difference. The new Mini LF has a slightly larger body than the original Alexa Mini though it is very close to the original Mini. Almost all of the accessories from the Alexa Mini will work on the slightly larger body of the ALEXA MINI LF. The current ARRI Prototypes weigh in around 2.6 Kg/5.7 lbs for the camera body with LPL lens mount and 800 g/1.7 lbs for the MVF-2 viewfinder.
ALEXA Mini LF Sensor
The ARRI LF sensor is slightly larger than full-frame measuring 36.7mm x 25.54mm. This is the same sensor in the ALEXA MINI LF as in the larger ALEXA LF which was released last year. This LF sensor falls close to between the ARRI ALEXA 65 and it’s gigantic 54.12mm x 25.58mm sized sensor and the smaller ALEXA MINI 28.17 x 18.13mm.
The ALEXA MINI LF and its ALEV 2 A2x sensor have the same photosite size and type as Arri’s Super 35mm digital cameras. The difference? Electronic in the ALEXA MINI LF, the sensor board and processing boards, are unique to the Mini LF to keep the Mini LF size similar to the original Alexa Mini. These changes only affect the maximum frame rate in different recording formats but not the Arri image quality.
ARRI stepped away from CFast 2.0 cards to support new recording media, the Codex Compact Drive 1 TB. This is a small, tough, and affordable option containing one industrial SSD (no RAID). The Codex Compact Drive 1 TB can record both ARRIRAW and ProRes. Because these drives will be formatted by the ALEXA MINI LF in the UDF format users can record both ARRIRAW and ProRes onto the same media without changing out drives or reformatting. This is the chosen media for future ARRI cameras. The CFast 2.0 cards would not have read/write speeds fast enough to support the ALEXA MINI LF frame rates and resolutions.
ARRI LPL Lens Mount
Just like the ARRI ALEXA LF, the MINI LF comes with Arri’s LPL lens mount. This mount is optimized for large-format lenses and accepts ARRI’s Signature Primes, ARRI Rental DNA LF and 65 format optics and third-party LPL lenses. A PL-to-LPL adapter may attach securely to the LPL lens mount without the need for tools. This gives operators the ability to use all PL mount lenses even if they are Super 35 or full frame. Right now, the PL-to-LPL adapter is an OPTIONAL extra that can be purchased separately.
According to ARRI, Panavision and Vantage offer proprietary lens mounts for both the ALEXA LF and ALEXA MINI LF. All of these options give cinematographers nearly unlimited lens options.
With the introduction of the new ALEXA MINI LF ARRI announces the 3rd version of their electronic viewfinder and a 2nd version of the multi-viewfinder. The new viewfinder’s function and layout are similar but the MVF-2 has a new 4″ rotatable flip-out LCD display for live image or menu control. The new display shows off a new user interface designed to be close to older models in terms of functionality but offers more flexibility with the display. New cables allow a length of up to 10 m/33 ft, enabling MVF-2 for camera remote control. Arri is using the same HDR capable high-definition OLED panel and ARRICAM eyepiece optics found in their EVFs.
Price and Availability
This Mini LF and its great feature set do not come cheap. Nor should it. Arri says the camera will ship in July.
- The ALEXA Mini LF Large Format Camera Basic Set cost $58,760 for the body only
- A package that includes the ALEXA Mini LF and a PL to LPL adapter will cost $59,890
- A 1TB Codex Compact Drive cost around $2,185
- The MVF-2 EVF costs $6,500
For just over $70,000 you can pick up a ready to shoot kit that includes
- ALEXA Mini LF camera body
- ARRI LPL Lens Mount ALEXA Mini/AMIRA
- 2 x Codex Compact Drive 1TB (CA08-1024)
- ALEXA Mini LF Multi Viewfinder MVF-2
- Cable VF (0.35m/1.15ft)
- Cable VF (0.5m/1.5ft)
- Mini Adapter Plate MAP-2A
- Mini Viewfinder Bracket MVB-1
- Center Camera Handle CCH-2
- Mini Side Bracket MSB-3
- Mini Side Bracket MSB-2
- Compact Bridge Plate CBP-1
- Rear Accessory Bracket RAB-1
- RAB-1 Clamp 2
- Rod Mounting Bracket RMB-3
- 15mm Reduction Insert
- Gold Mount Power Splitting Box Mk II
- Bottom Plate 300mm/12″
- Power Cable Straight KC-50 2m
Compared to other Large Format cameras this price is not out of reasonable expectation. The Sony Venice without additional licenses is around 42,000 for the body alone. Will you buy it? I bet we see a bunch of rental houses snap up the ALEXA Mini LF quickly since this is a true 4K capable Mini from ARRI.