Late last week we welcomed our newest Alexa member to our rental fleet.
Since the initial announcement at the Broadcast Video Expo earlier this year there has been a lot of speculation about the camera and from a rental house point of view, the camera really delivers on it’s promises.
The Alexa Mini is based around a 4:3 sensor found in the body of the bigger brother the Alexa XT. The size and weight of the carbon fibre body will please a lot of users who are shooting on the shoulder all day.
Another pleasing feature of the Alexa Mini is that not only has Arri effectively shrunk an Alexa XT into a smaller package but they have actually shrunk an Alexa XT Plus into a smaller package.
The Alexa Mini has an inbuilt MDR system in the body of the camera which can communicate wirelessly with the Arri WCU-4 hand unit allowing partial control over menu settings as well as integration of the newly released CForce Mini Motors that plug directly into the camera through one interface cable. The motors can then be daisy chained through each other and back to the single port on the body located near the PL mount.
Speaking of mounts; like it’s big brother, the Alexa Mini has LDS pins as standard on the PL mount allowing communication between smart lenses, the camera and displaying on the WCU-4.
With the ability to now do up to 200fps in ProRes the Alexa Mini is already outpacing the XT range in terms of frame capture speed due to integration of the new CFast 2.0 media.
One thing that the Alexa Mini lacks out of the box is a full sized audio port onto the camera. The Alexa XT and the Amira have this covered. The XT range having a XLR 5 pin audio in for two channels while the Amira still remains the best option for recording audio and monitoring audio – XLR 5 pin input and two XLR 3 pin outputs with mic, line, phantom power and AE3 support recording on up to four channels.
The audio mini XLR input on the Alexa Mini is very much a scratch track only.
Another thing that the Alexa Mini lacks out of the box is the ability to record RAW and Anamorphic right away. Both of these require licenses to unlock and work. Currently we have purchased the anamorphic license for our Alexa Mini but are holding off on the RAW license due to a couple of factors.
One is that with the current size of media – 128Gb CFast 2.0 – the amount of data RAW will take up would involve very limited recording times and a multitude of cards will be required. The second factor is that we already have an Arri RAW capable camera in the form of the Alexa XT which uses 512Gb Codex drives. We may revisit the idea of RAW in the future if/when large CFast cards become supported.
Basically, our overview is that the Alexa Mini is not replacing the XT range. Think of it more as an Alexa ‘light’ as the Mini name applies. It will be great for rigging, gimbals, all day shoulder shooting etc
Depending on the style of shooting or the job requirements, the Alexa Mini will be the A camera while on others, such as feature film or TV series work, I can see it as being either a B or C camera to that of the Alexa Classic/XT/Amira range.
It is clear that Arri have been keeping an eye on the ever decreasing sizes of cameras that were heralded in by RED so it will be interesting to see what tweaks and additions Arri develop on the life cycle of this new form factor.
Curious about how an Alexa Mini will fit into your next project? Give us a call at The Vision House to set up a time to have a look at one.