By site editor Dan Chung:
Most real world shooters can only dream of filming their next project on an Arri Alexa. But for those lucky enough to work on these cameras Arri have announced a refresh that should help on high end documentary projects. The Arri Alexa XT (Xtended Technology) is a range of cameras that adds an in-camera ND filter module, meaning you can shoot without an external ND filter on the lens in bright conditions. All XT models also add in-camera ARRIRAW recording using a new XR module.
The cameras have a 4:3 aspect sensor that is perfect for Anamorphic lens users or for reframing an image in post production if you are shooting standard aspect ratios.
I have not seen pricing on the cameras but don’t expect them to be cheap. I certainly can’t afford one.
Existing Arri Alexa owners can get many of the features of the new XT models by purchasing the relevant upgrades.
This is the press release from Arri:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(20th February 2013, Munich) – With the ALEXA XT cameras (Xtended Technology) ARRI is refreshing its ALEXA product line, incorporating new features inspired by feedback from professional users. The ALEXA XT, ALEXA XT M, ALEXA XT Plus and ALEXA XT Studio cameras will replace all previous models except for the original ALEXA. Owners of existing ALEXA cameras will be able to purchase individual upgrades that deliver most of the features of the XT configuration.
Faster and more affordable ARRIRAW
All ALEXA XT models come with the new XR Module, a side panel that was co-developed with Codex to replace the previous SxS Module. The result is a smaller, lighter, more affordable and cable-free camera package that records ARRIRAW, ALEXA’s highest quality image output, inside the camera. ALEXAs can now capture ARRIRAW up to 120 fps onto exceptionally fast and rugged 512 GB XR Capture Drives. In addition to ARRIRAW, ProRes or DNxHD can also be captured to the XR Capture Drive for significantly longer recording times as well as ProRes 4444 recording at 120 fps. With an SxS Adapter it is possible to record ProRes or DNxHD to a single SxS PRO card, thus protecting the inventory of existing cards. The XR Capture Drive offers a number of different paths into post, using proven Codex workflows.
Less weight and easier working with internal NDs
The In-camera Filter Module IFM-1 allows ALEXA XT models to be rated at the base sensitivity of EI 800 without the need for external Neutral Density (ND) filters, even in bright sunlight. Filtering behind the lens rather than in front saves time and reduces weight, reflections and operational complexity. The Precision IRND filters used with the IFM-1 are based on innovative technologies that assure highest image quality and perfect color balance at all of the eight available densities, from ND 0.3 to ND 2.4.
True anamorphic with a 4:3 sensor
For the most effective use of anamorphic lenses, each ALEXA XT model is equipped with a 4:3 sensor, the same size and shape as a Super 35 mm film frame. This is crucial for delivering the unique and cinematic widescreen look that can trace its origins back to the CinemaScope films of the 1950s. It is a look that has long been appreciated by cinematographers, directors and the viewing public. An anamorphic de-squeeze license is included with all XT cameras, as is a high speed license for filming at up to 120 fps. The 4:3 sensor will also be useful on non-anamorphic productions as it permits significant reframing of the image in post, similar to shooting 4-perforation 35 mm.
More efficient VFX through ubiquitous lens metadata
Lens metadata is invaluable for a speedy VFX post workflow, which is why all ALEXA XT models are equipped with an LDS lens mount. The ARRI Lens Data System (LDS) reads the position of all lens rings and writes them into metadata in every format ALEXA can record. Over 41 lens models have LDS built-in, including the ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic, Master Prime and LDS Ultra Prime series, the Master Macro 100 and the ARRI/FUJINON Alura Lightweight Zooms. For all other lenses it is possible to store the lens table inside the ALEXA by using the Lens Data Archive feature.
Comfort and flexibility in viewfinder mounting
To provide maximum comfort for the operator, the new Viewfinder Mounting Bracket VMB-3 has a much stronger and more rigid design, partially achieved through the use of two 15 mm lightweight rods. These rods also facilitate rapid changes in camera support, i.e. from a tripod to a crane or Steadicam, since accessories such as lens motors or follow focus units can be hung from the rods rather than cluttering up the base plate. Also available as a separate accessory is the new Viewfinder Extension Bracket VEB-3, with a fold-out arm that holds the viewfinder securely in place when moving the camera.
Super silent XT Fan
ALEXA cameras are already among the quietest digital cameras, but an even quieter fan has become available and ARRI has incorporated this new fan into the ALEXA XT models, providing an extra safety margin in very quiet or very hot environments.
Future proof – upgrades for existing ALEXA cameras
The ALEXA system was designed for professional customers, providing high build and image quality, but also modular upgradability and long product cycles to ensure a solid return on investment. Having already released various upgrades, licenses, options and free-of-charge Software Update Packets, ARRI is now offering upgrades for existing ALEXAs that provide most of the functionality of the XT cameras. These upgrades include the XR Module, In-camera Filter Module IFM-1, Viewfinder Mounting Bracket VMB-3, Viewfinder Extension Bracket VEB-3, XT Fan and the anamorphic de-squeeze and high speed licenses.