BVE 2016: Miss shooting 16mm film? ARRI turn the Alexa Mini into a Super16 doc cam with SUP 4.0

It hardly seems like a year has passed since ARRI debuted the Alexa Mini at BVE 2015. During that time it’s proved a very popular camera, surpassing ARRI’s own expectations and proving a stalwart for drone and rig use where the camera’s bigger cousins, the Alexa and the Amira, wouldn’t be a good fit.

Super16 crop mode on the Alexa Mini turns the camera into an interesting option for doc shooting.
Super16 crop mode on the Alexa Mini turns the camera into an interesting option for doc shooting.

Now with a new Software Update Packet (SUP) 4.0 release the Mini is going to gain a Super16 crop mode that will allow the use of vintage Super16 lenses, and B4 ENG lenses with optical adapters like those from MTF or IBE. Configured this way the Mini becomes an even more versatile option for high quality run-and-gun documentary style shooting. The Super16 mode is limited to HD frame sizes and it is achieved by recording a crop of the sensor and then slightly upscaling it in-camera up to 1920×1080. ARRI say it is a little noisier than regular shooting – although they characterise the noise as filmic. ARRI Amira users are not left out – that camera also gets the mode with the SUP 4.0 release.

There’s also the highly anticipated 4×3 sensor mode for anamorphic shooting, ArriRaw recording in-camera, and a clever feature that lets you add lens profiles for older lenses that don’t have modern electronic contacts to pass data to the camera.

The Alexa MINI running SUP 4.0 in anamorphic.
The Alexa MINI running SUP 4.0 in anamorphic.

There are also operational tweaks, like being able to reassign the Wifi on/off function to a user programmable button – useful for drone operators who want to be able to quickly isolate radio signals before takeoff; and a repositionable focus check area on the viewfinder.

Outputs have also been updated, and it’s now easier to use both a wireless transmitter and monitor on the camera simultaneously.

SUP 4.0 will be free to all users of the camera, but the 4×3 mode and ArriRaw recording options are paid upgrades, costing €2950 each from the Arri licence web store.

This latest Software Update Packet (ARRI speak for what sounds suspiciously like a firmware update), is undergoing testing and is slated for release at the beginning of March if everything goes smoothly. We’ll let you know as soon as we have confirmation it’s available.

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