ARRI ALEXA 35: Surprisingly New, Breathtakingly Great05/31/2022
ARRI’s new ALEXA 35 camera is already making waves in the cinematography world, and we are happy to provide you with the latest info. Boasting a new sensor design and new color science, the ALEXA 35 is a brand new camera with 17 stops of dynamic range (2.5 more than previous ALEXA cameras), and a familiar Super 35mm camera package with a host of dedicated accessories that will fit into established on-set workflows. Truly a 4K camera with a 4.6K resolution sensor that fulfills the mandates for 4K origination while using a Super 35mm-sized sensor, the ALEXA 35 delivers not just the tech specs, but it also expands the creative potential of your images. This is a truly massive achievement by ARRI, and it does away with the two-form-factor approach of previous ALEXA cameras where the smaller version sacrifices some of the high-end features of the larger cameras. There is no larger-sized version—the ALEXA 35 is compact, yet sacrifices none of the high-end features. The ALEXA 35 is currently offered in several bundles including a 15mm LWS Lightweight Set for on-the-go use and and both a 15mm Studio Production Set and a 19mm Studio Production Set suitable for more studio-oriented setups.
ARRI has long held fast to its original sensor design for the ALEXA, refusing to squeeze in extra pixels that might cause the image to suffer. However, now 12 years after the original ALEXA debuted, ARRI has created a new Super 35mm sensor with 4K resolution without compromising the image. The new sensor features 4.6K resolution, 17 stops of dynamic range with filmic highlight roll-off, thanks to 1.5 stops of increased highlight sensitivity and 1 stop more sensitivity in the shadows. The sensor provides more contrast, sensitivity, and colors, and it is so improved over previous ALEXA sensors that during the camera’s development, ARRI engineers found stray light contamination between the lens and the sensor—the downside to such a large dynamic range—which led to the development of stray light suppression technology in the camera and in the five new lens mounts developed just for the ALEXA 35 to help you get the cleanest images. Relentlessly pursuing the most from its cameras, and for you to get the widest dynamic range for your images is the ARRI way, and the ALEXA 35 exemplifies this.
The Super 35 sensor itself has a 4.6K horizontal pixel count, and can capture footage at 120 fps, which is impressive for a new sensor design; the ALEXA 35 boasts a standard ISO range of 160 to 6400 ISO. This range provides clean images throughout a variety of lighting conditions, letting you take advantage of the sensor’s dynamic range and contrast. However, sometimes you will have no choice but to shoot in dim conditions with little to no access to lighting units, and here is where the ALEXA 35 and its Enhanced Sensitivity Mode won’t let you down. From 2560 to 6400, you can select the Enhanced Sensitivity Mode, which produces a much cleaner image compared to the standard ISO setting.
REVEAL Color Science and Imaging
To take advantage of the new sensor’s capabilities, ARRI has developed its own new color science that provides more lifelike skin tones of all types, and can reproduce subtle tonal variations. This allows you to capture images with a palette that varies from robust saturated colors to gentle pastels. The REVEAL color science uses a color space larger than the REC 2020 color space, yet it doesn’t include virtual colors (colors humans can’t see), providing you a wide palette that is easy to manage in post-production for fast color timing, and simpler color space conversions. Plus, the new color space is compatible with ACES.
REVEAL also uses an improved de-Bayering algorithm for improved color fidelity and cleaner edges, excellent for green and blue screen work. ARRI has also developed a new Log C tonal curve, Log C4, to handle the expanded dynamic range of the sensor, and new Look Up Tables (LUT) for working with Log C4. The REVEAL color science can also be used to process ARRIRAW from the Alexa Mini LF and ALEXA LF which, though lacking the expanded dynamic range of the new sensor, provides cleaner color edges and easier grading of your LF and Mini LF footage. Another nifty feature, available with the ALEXA 35, is what ARRI is calling Textures. Textures can be chosen in-camera like Look files, or like selecting a film stock. Each Texture file is a combination of 30 image settings, and different textures can be selected for a variety of image needs to match the shooting conditions for skin tones and sharpness.
With its Super 35 4:3 native 4K sensor, the ALEXA 35 can be used with the vast global inventory of existing lenses—modern and vintage, anamorphic and spherical, Super 35 and large format—so you can use your favorite glass comfortably. Outfit the new ALEXA 35 with the existing ARRI LPL mount (LBUS), use the ARRI PL to LPL adapter, or for EF mount glass, use the ARRI EF mount (LBUS), and the in-camera stray light suppression system will work with any lens and lens mount combination. However, to get the best contrast, use one of the new stray light optimized lens mounts; ARRI PL Mount (LBUS) and ARRI PL Mount (Hirose). The new MVF-2 viewfinder blends the familiar form and controls of the earlier model with a 500 cd/m² display compatible with HDR viewing. Mechanically, ARRI has developed a wide range of mounting and support accessories for the ALEXA 35 for improved ergonomics and easy integration with your onset workflow. These accessories are available individually or in several pre-packaged sets.
Select from 19 different recording formats including ARRIRAW, Apple ProRes with in-camera down-sampling, and anamorphic de-squeezing. The camera body features a host of connectors with an integrated antenna port for ARRI ECS radio, a camera left-side display, and the back of the camera features a mechanical and electronic interface for sliding in a host of accessories that have been developed to expand the connectivity of the ALEXA 35. The 24-volt camera can be powered multiple ways, using the power input port, or add a B-mount battery plate to power the camera in its smallest configuration. Stack additional modules to configure your camera as the shoot requires. If you need additional accessory power output ports, there is a module for that. Adding the AEM-1 Audio Extension Module allows you to add the audio expertise of SONOSAX to your ALEXA 35, for high-end mic pre-amps and clear audio capture.
We are excited about the features of the new ARRI ALEXA 35, and there are far too many advances to list here. This camera is an exciting development, opening up new possibilities for you to create impactful images for visual storytelling, with a new sensor design and color science developed and supported by a company with more than 100 years of experience creating the standard in cine cameras.
What are your thoughts on integrating the ALEXA 35 into your workflow? Please share them in the Comments section, below. Please contact The Studio Team at B&H Photo with inquiries about the ALEXA 35.