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Header image for article ARRI ALEXA Mini LF FAQ

ARRI ALEXA Mini LF FAQ

ARRI's surprise announcement last week of their new ALEXA Mini LF camera system has created a lot of buzz. We've had a lot of interest in the new camera, and we are currently taking preorders with a $5,000 deposit. To help folks get the information they need, we've gathered the most popular questions we've received and answered them here. Be sure to check back often, as we will update this list with new information and additional questions.

Q: How much do the new Codex Compact capture drives cost, compared to CFast 2.0 media?
A: Initially, Codex Compact drives will only be available in 1TB capacity and will cost $2,380. The largest CFast 2.0 card approved by ARRI is the 512GB ARRI/SanDisk CFast 2.0 Extreme Pro Memory Card which sells for $1,460.

Q: Can the ALEXA Mini LF shoot in any of the existing standard Super35 recording modes of the ALEXA LF?
A: At launch, the recording modes of the Mini LF will match those of the full-size ALEXA LF, although with lower maximum frame rates. Super35 functionality is planned to be added in a future SUP for the ALEXA Mini LF. The LF 16:9 UHD (3840x2160) recording mode, which will be available at launch, has the shortest diagonal (36.35mm).

Q: How much does the ALEXA Mini LF weigh?
A: The ALEXA Mini LF is 5.7lbs./2.7kg. The standard ALEXA Mini is 5.1lbs./2.3kg.

Q: Is the new MVF-2 LCD/monitor being sold with the ALEXA Mini LF compatible with the ALEXA Mini and AMIRA?
A: No. The MVF-2 uses a new type of connector called CoaXPress, which has a spring-loaded locking collar like a Lemo connector but is not keyed (Geek Moment: it's sort of a hybrid between Lemo and BNC). However, ARRI is touting the MVF-2 as an investment in the future and has said that future cameras will use the MVF-2. The MVF-2 has a ton of new features and functionality, but a couple of the "stand outs" are that it includes a built-in eyepiece heater/defogger and the OLED EVF panel itself auto-calibrates in real time based on ambient temperature to maintain accurate color, contrast and brightness. There is an optional 10 meter EVF cable that allows the MVF-2 to be remoted, and in this configuration, the EVF acts similarly to the RCU-4 remote control unit. Also, the MVF-2 design is vertically symmetrical – in other words, it can be flipped over and mounted camera-right with no loss of functionality.

Q: Which ARRI PCA accessories for the ALEXA Mini are compatible with the ALEXA Mini LF?
A: Most accessories are compatible, except for those that can't accommodate the new side-mounted media bay or that otherwise rely on the position of design features on the camera-left side and, to a certain extent, the rear of the camera body. For example, the MSB-2 side bracket is compatible with the camera-right side but not the camera-left side due to the new side-mounted media bay. ARRI has made a new MSB-3 side bracket for the camera-left side (it is also backwards compatible with the ALEXA Mini). Another new piece is the clamp for the rear accessory bracket, the RAB-1 Clamp 2 (the bracket itself is compatible). This clamp attaches to the bracket's mini-dovetail and is commonly used to mount a battery plate/adapter. The original clamp would have blocked some of the new terminals on the rear of the camera so it has been moved a bit over to camera-left, and also now has a lever lock. There is also a new vertical camera plate to allow for portrait shooting, such as for fashion or social media content. A few other accessories, all compatible with both the ALEXA Mini and the ALEXA Mini LF, have been updated as well. There is a new MAP-2, for example: the MAP-2A. The only difference is that the rod clamp assembly has been strengthened.

Q: Can Codex Compact capture drives be used with the full-size ALEXA LF?
A: Not today, however ARRI has said that Codex Compact media will also be an "investment in the future" and that future cameras will use the same media. There is a caddy that will convert Codex Compact capture drives to the same form factor as Codex SXR capture drives. Today, the caddy is being provided to allow DITs and media managers who own Codex "pucks," that take the XR/SXR capture drives, to utilize their existing hardware for media offloading. This is said to provide about 2x the offload speed vs. the less expensive Codex Compact USB-3 reader ($690). The caddy is $550.

Q: Is the ALEXA Mini LF mount interface compatible with existing ALEXA Mini and AMIRA mounts (e.g. PL, Canon EF, B4, etc.)?
A: This has not been confirmed but it seems possible. The LPL mount used on the ALEXA Mini LF is the same as the one sold for the ALEXA Mini (and AMIRA), and the Leica M mount available from Leica is also the same mount as for the ALEXA Mini.
UPDATE: We have received guidance from ARRI that the form factor, screw-hole locations, and other dimensions of the mount interface on the ALEXA Mini LF are the same as on the ALEXA Mini. However, due to the design of the original mounts, such as the Canon EF mount, some vignetting may be observed when the ALEXA Mini LF is shot in Open Gate 4.5K mode. The upshot? Test, test, test.

Q: What are these 'dots' on the front-upper of the camera body on the right and left sides?
A:
These are internal stereo scratch mics.

ALEXA Mini LF - Scratch Audio Mics

Q: Does the ALEXA Mini LF have a headphone jack?
A: Yes, it is on the underside of the new MVF-2 electronic viewfinder.

ALEXA Mini LF - Audio Jack

Q: What are the power specs of the ALEXA Mini LF?
A: The camera has a 2-pin Lemo that outputs 12V (regulated) with a maximum current draw of 2A, a 3-pin Fischer 24V, with run/stop, and the familiar multi-pin EXT port, which is also 24V. The new rear-mounted audio terminal is larger, now with 6 pins, and outputs 12V as well to power accesories such as pre-amps or wireless audio receivers.

The camera is 12/24V compatible and has a wide voltage range of 11.5-34V that can be input via the 8-pin Lemo 'BAT' (DC in) connector. The camera is expected to "draw" (or dissipate) only slightly more wattage than the ALEXA Mini (about 65W). ARRI seems confident that most, if not all, existing power solutions that work with the ALEXA Mini will work with the ALEXA Mini LF.

Q: Have any optional licenses for the ALEXA Mini LF been announced?
A: Not at this time. The license for ARRIRAW is pre-installed on all cameras and is included in the body price, as well as all package prices.

Q: Does the ALEXA Mini LF shoot a new type of ProRes format?
A: Yes and no. The underlying ProRes codecs are the same, however only ProRes (HQ), ProRes 4444, and ProRes 4444 (XQ) are present. However, MXF is now used as the container, or wrapper, for ProRes just as with the version of ARRIRAW used on the camera (as with the ALEXA Mini). Apple fully supports MXF-wrapped ProRes from the release of Pro Video Formats 2.1 in January 2019. ARRI has said that all future cameras will use this new MXF-wrapped version of ProRes.

Apple describes the compatibility of MXF ProRes as follows:

"The Pro Video Formats package also includes the following MXF support:
• Play MXF files in QuickTime Player and other supported macOS applications
• MXF plug-in and presets for use in Compressor 4.3 and earlier"

Q: Can I shoot with the standard ARRI REC709 LUT, or a custom look, 'burned' into the ProRes footage?
A: No. At launch, the camera will only support LogC recording in both ProRes and ARRIRAW. However, any look that has been applied to a monitoring signal path will be embedded/included with the footage in the same way as they are today. They will be automatically applied in post in, for example, Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Q: What is 'HDE' or High Density Encoding?
A: HDE is a Codex technology that performs lossless compression of camera original files during offload. Using the Codex Device Manager, the software will utilize your offload computer's CPU to "bitpack," losslessly, the camera files as they are being copied. A modern MacBook Pro should be able to encode a file shot in Open Gate 4.5K at 24fps in realtime. The resulting file on disk could be as much as 40% smaller. Codex plans to share HDE technology with other software vendors such as Assimilate, Colorfront, FilmLight, Imagine Products (makers of ShotPut Pro), Pomfort (makers of Silverstack and LiveGrade), and others.

Q: Does the ALEXA Mini LF use the same custom look file format as the ALEXA Mini and other ARRI cameras?
A: Yes, the ALEXA Mini LF uses the same ALF-2 look file format (file extension .aml) as other ARRI cameras, including the ability to 'wrap' a custom 33x 3D .cube into a .aml file using the ARRI Color Tool, available as a free download.

Geoff Smith
Camera Technology Specialist, AbelCine NY

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Intro image for article ARRI Announces ALEXA Mini LF Camera
Tech News
Today ARRI announced a brand new camera in their popular ALEXA lineup. The ALEXA Mini LF is the companion camera to the full-bodied ALEXA LF. This LF (large format) ALEXA Mini has the same 36 x 25mm 4.4K sensor as the ALEXA LF, but now in a much smaller form factor. The new camera has the same basic footprint as the ALEXA Mini, but with some significant differences.
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