ARRI Alexa Mini by Charlie Balch (DOP)
Production quality in Bali has been increasing greatly, and so has the scope of the equipment that is available.

Until now, there have only been a few Alexa Mini cameras in Indonesia which are based in Jakarta.

To meet the demand, Bali Film Gear Rental has brought on the top of the line camera in modern cinematography – the ARRI Alexa Mini – to further improve the quality of productions shot in Bali.

To get a sense of how popular the use of this camera has been in recent years watch the below video :

As you can see from the video above, the Alexa has become the gold standard of modern cinema. Ranging from major Hollywood Blockbusters to high end commercials the ARRI Alexa look has remained the choice of some of the world’s top cinematographers and directors.

Why is this you ask?

Read on and find out…

Film to Digital

Manufacturers of digital cinema cameras have raced to find the closest comparison to film.

This is because film stocks such as Kodak Vision 3 have held superior latitude [dynamic range], natural falloff in the blacks, and color depth.

The process however can be quite expensive and an increasing number of film developing labs have closed over the last 20 years.

The german company ARRI not only has a long history of producing film cameras such as the legendary 435 but has been at the forefront of this research into making their sensors not only match the film look but also excel in other areas such as raw recording and excellent low light capability.

Because ARRI has put so much research into this technology many auteur Cinematographers who traditionally only settled on film have switched to shooting on Alexa.

A classic example would be Roger Deakins, who won best picture for Blade Runner 2018 in the 2018 Oscars. This film was also captured on the Alexa.

To find out what these cameras are capable of, let’s dive into ARRI and their line of cameras…

ARRI Alexa Overview

The ARRI range of cameras all operate off of the same base principles.

To provide the highest quality digital sensor housed in an ergonomic and balanced form factor with some of the most intuitive user interface software on the market.

Every new generation of Alexa uses the same style of sensor with different resolution and frame rate options.

The legendary color science remains constant across the board however.

The Alexa Mini takes all the positive components of the Alexa 4:3 and compresses it into a much smaller form factor.
This technology in a smaller space [weighing only 5 pounds] allows for more possibilities such as being able to mount the camera on a gimbal or mount a battery plate to the operator’s belt for lightweight handheld situations.

They have also included several new features such as 3 levels of internal ND filters which can often eliminate the need for a matte box.

ARRI also tests their products and software extensively to ensure there will be minimum opportunities for error in the field.

The incredible element of this small form factor is the amount of technology housed inside of it.

Below are some of the shooting specs for what the camera is able to capture :

Tech Specs

The full list can be found on the ARRI website here.

Recording Formats

S16 HD: 1600 x 900 (1760 x 980)

HD: 2880 x 1620 (3168 x 1772)

2K: 2868 x 1612 (3154 x 1764)

3.2K: 3200 x 1800 (3424 x 1926)

4K UHD: 3200 x 1800 (3424 x 1926)

4:3 2.8K: 2880 x 2160 (3168 x 2160)

2.39:1 2K Ana.: 2560 x 2145 (3424 x 2202)

HD Ana.: 1920 x 2160 (3424 x 2202)

Open Gate 3.4K: 3424 x 2202 (3424 x 2202)

Frame Rates

16:9 //

ProRes HD 0.75 – 200 fps

ProRes S16 HD 0.75 – 200 fps

ProRes 2K 0.75 – 200 fps

ProRes 3.2K 0.75 – 60 fps

ProRes UHD 0.75 – 60 fps

MFX/ARRIRAW 16:9 2.8K 0.75 – 48 fps

4:3 // ProRes 4:3 2.8K 0.75 – 50 fps

6:5 // ProRes 2:39:1 2K Ana. 0.75 – 120 fps

8:9 // ProRes HD Ana. 0.75 – 120 fps

Open Gate // MFX/ARRIRAW 3.4K Open Gate 0.75 – 30 fps

Features

14+ stops of dynamic range over the entire sensitivity range from EI 160 to EI 3200

Titanium PL mount with L-Bus connector and LDS

EF mount

ARRIRAW

Auto White Balance

Anamorpic 4:3 Sensor Coverage

Built-in Wi-Fi interface and web-based remote control from phones, tablets and laptops

For those to whom this information looks like gibberish it basically shows that the Alexa Mini is capable of a wide variety of frame rates and shooting formats.

The camera body is also capable of housing both Cinema [PL] and EF mount lenses.

For wireless focus, the PL lens mount offers a port to run a motor straight out of the camera. This not only allows the camera to be lighter by eliminating the follow focus receiver but keeps the overall build much tidier with less cables to organize.

So why Alexa?!

Well i’m really happy that you’ve asked 🙂

As a Director of Photography, the reason i’ve chosen to continually shoot with ARRI over the years is not only the film-like color science, intuitive menu design, and comfortable form factor – but also because the Alexa line has proven again and again to be downright reliable.

For situations like chasing a sunset and being able to change internal NDs quickly to having the ability to capture slow motion at the push of a button without the hassle and time of complicated menus.

Also it has been a dream to build entire color LUTs on set and immediately show client.

Even the post processing of importing your PRORES footage is a dream without long hours of transcoding.

ARRI asks a high price for the camera but I speak from experience when I say that it is worth every penny both on set and in post production.

Thank you for reading!

My name is Charlie and I am a DOP based in Bali.

With any questions / comments please feel free to contact me at ::

www.charliebalch.com

See some of Charlie Balch’s work

charlie-balch-director-photography-bali

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