Why the ARRI Alexa is One of the Most Popular Cameras for Film

The ARRI Alexa is now an industry standard for feature, commercial, drama and high end documentary and broadcast shows. It has become a staple and the go to camera for crews and production.

History of ARRI Cameras

The origins of ARRI lie in a small shop in Munich, opened by August Arnold and Robert Richter in 1917. Among the various things the shop sold were film cameras and other related apparatus.

ARRI’s first products were printing machines and lights for filmmaking. The first camera Arnold and Richter built was the KINARRI 35.

When Richter visited the USA in 1925, he saw how Hollywood studios were using bigger and heavier cameras. This observation influenced future ARRI camera designs.

The breakthrough came in 1936, with the prototype for a new lightweight camera, the ARRIFLEX 35.

During World War II, German combat cameramen used ARRIFLEX cameras, and the first ones to make their way to America were captured by the allies during the war.

After the war, with ARRI resuming manufacturing, the company released its next generation ARRIFLEX 35 II camera. With more Hollywood films being shot on location from the late 1960s onwards, ARRIFLEX cameras became more widely used.

This included such cultural landmarks of cinema as Easy Rider (1969).

The ARRIFLEX 35 III was the new model released by ARRI in 1979. In the meantime, it had also produced the 35BL, its first silent 35mm production camera.

Various notable Hollywood films used this model, including Taxi Driver (1976), Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Shining (1980).

From the end of the 1980s onwards, larger formats and faster speeds began to dominate filmmaking. The ARRIFLEX 765 arrived in 1989, innovating the use of a separate, electronically-synchronised camera movement motor to minimise noise.

In 1994, the ARRIFLEX 535 represented a further technical advance, with its adjustable viewfinder system. The company went on to refine this initial version to make it less bulky.

Meanwhile the ARRIFLEX 435 replaced the 35 III.

The company adapted agilely to the digital age, bringing out the ARRI D-20 in 2005 and D-21 in 2008. And then, the first ARRI Alexa model in 2010. Housing the infamous ALEV III CMOS Bayer sensor, that would go on to be used in all models of ALEXA and Amira up to present day including ALEXA LF and ALEXA 65.

The Move to Digital: ARRI Alexa

The move to digital worked well for ARRI. The ALEXA looked and felt familiar enough as an ARRI camera, and the company’s researchers had looked extensively at things like image processing and what pictures should look like when comparing to film.

The images that the ALEXA captured did not look like video, they appeared cinematic. The camera’s dynamic range and exposure range was similar to film, as was its ability to expose highlights and shadows.

It had the image processing capability to achieve cinematic imagery, a familiarity we as an audience have adopted since the dawn of film.

The original ALEXA went on to become one of the most successful digital cine cameras of all time. By 2017, it was being used in 80% of major motion picture productions.

Crews were already familiar with the ARRI name and with its kit, including the lenses and peripherals they could continue to use with the new, digital ARRI cameras.

But the real proof was in the results: pictures that looked more like film.

Another major benefit of the ALEXA, which has supported its widespread adoption, is how simple it is to learn to use and operate. With digital came vast menus and more buttons, ARRI’s simplified design based on their history of film cameras made digital to film enthusiasts.

Excellent Image Quality

A key feature of the ARRI ALEXA for filmmakers is image quality. Colour reproduction and grain texture are stand-out features, due to the way the camera has been engineered to produce more textured, softer images whilst still retaining resolution and detail.

With the ARRI ALEXA, you do not get images that feel too sharp or overly digital.

The way the company’s engineers have concentrated on colour science has continued to pay off, helping to produce natural skin-tones and familiar highlight roll off that was previously unseen in digital cameras. The ALEXA’s imaging system is highly sensitive, and it will maintain its dynamic range at all sensitivity settings.

The camera has the ability to show the operator a surround view to allow them to see edge of frame, booms and marks entering show or record Open Gate allowing the full extent of the sensor to be recorded especially useful for VFX.

It is an example of how the ALEXA effortlessly combines technical excellence with ease of use.

The Same Sensor

All ALEXA cameras have the same sensor, the ALEV III . This shows an enormous amount of confidence in their original concept. This also allows operators and Directors of Photography to understand how to light and expose scenes so they do not have to be concerned with if the camera is capable or not.

For the end-user, it means they can rent any ARRI ALEXA and be sure of the results. The imagery will be of the same high standard that people have come to expect from ARRI.

Different designs will vary in terms of size and functions, but they are all fundamentally built around the same sensor.


ARRIRAW allows full date and information from the sensor to allow the most flexibility in post production. This format retains the camera’s natural colour response and exposure as uncompressed and unprocessed sensor data.

It is the digital equivalent of a film negative, which the camera then processes, converting the single channel image into a colour image for normal viewing.

It retains the pristineness of the raw recorded data, which allows you to go back and refine your results in post production.

This represents a significant advantage for post production, visual and special effects as well as the end to end image.


The ARRI ALEXA Mini has proved to be extremely popular with documentary and independent filmmakers.

Essentially, it’s a lightweight variant of the full size ALEXA model, with a carbon fibre body weighing in at 2.3 kg.

It enables filmmakers to shoot anywhere or mount the camera on to anything with superb image quality. It is perfect for gimbal and drone work too. It features  interchangeable lens mounts, and is capable of working with anamorphic lenses.

The Mini was updated with a full frame ALEV III sensor in 2019 to achieve true 4K imagery for requirements from 4K broadcasters, the ALEXA Mini LF goes on to continue the original Mini’s success while we patiently wait for the announced and delayed ALEXA Mini II.

The ALEXA range of cameras continues to set the industry standard for modern, digital filmmaking.

Sony Venice: A Flagship Camera for High-End Production

The Sony Venice is a high-end 6K camera with a 24x36mm full frame sensor, designed by Sony as a next generation system.

Sony has basically gone back to the drawing board and come up with something that incorporates a new image sensor in its advanced, ergonomic design.

The Sony Venice combines ease of use with a superior performance in the field. Here, we look at the key aspects of this flagship camera.

The Camera

This is a camera that is built for longevity. It is pretty compact, and feels both robust and easy to handle.

But if you’re going to make the most of its full 6K capability, you’ll need to attach Sony’s AXS-R7 raw recorder to its back. The good news is that this feels like a completely natural part of the camera once you add it.

The main body of the camera uses SxS pro+ cards and can record up to 4K in XAVC Class480.

If you don’t need to shoot using raw, then you have a nifty but rugged stripped-back model. With the AXS-R7, you have a well-integrated unit that won’t interfere with your handling, but will enhance the camera’s capabilities.

The excellent software integration also reflects this ease of handling, since you won’t need to set anything up on the raw recorder. Extra options in the camera’s own menu become accessible once you add the AXS-R7.

The Venice also works with the Sony Rialto extension system, which allows you to relocate the camera’s front image block up to 18ft away (using the repeater module) to a much smaller housing. This is ideal for rigging the camera in smaller locations, tight spaces, use in and on vehicles and increased portability.

The Viewfinder and Lens Mount

The viewfinder on the Sony Venice is, like the rest of the camera, designed to be practical and accessible. You’ve got buttons for focus magnification, and excellent menu access. The quality of the OLED image is remarkable and very natural.

The lens mount on the Sony Venice is an industry-standard PL mount, which supports Cooke/i technology, so you can record lens data with your footage.

Behind this is a Sony E mount, with a very short flange distance, which means you can use almost any lens on it, with the right adaptor.

Extended ND Filter Performance

The Venice goes beyond having a few internal ND (neutral-density) filters and instead has an impressive 8-step technical ND filter up to 2.5 stops.

This makes the camera extremely versatile, increases speed on set and helps with exposure consistency throughout a shoot.

Camera Outputs

There are plenty of video outputs on the Venice, including four SDI outputs, one HDMI, one monitor out and one dedicated HD output for the viewfinder.

There are also various power outputs on the camera body, for powering multiple accessories.  We have kitted our camera package to include the Wooden Camera D-Box and power strip for further 12 and 24v outputs.

The various video outputs are all highly configurable, so you can send different amounts of information to different outputs, depending on how you want to set up your shoot.

Menu Displays

There are intuitive menu displays on both sides of the camera, so both the operator and assistant can have access to them.

With the main menu on the right side of the camera, and smaller menu screen on the left side, for the camera operator to use. This allows you to change settings without having to look at the viewfinder, or having to look around at the other side of the camera.

Image Quality

The look of the camera’s images emulates that of film. It desaturates highlights and provides a very organic quality of both highlights and colours.

Rendering skin tones naturally and handling the extremes of colour well, especially those shades on the edges of the spectrum.

The camera’s internal 4K recordings stand up well in comparison to raw recordings using the AXS-R7. They look sharp, but not overly digital.

With the Venice and the AXS-R7 unit come new recording codecs X-OCN (Original Camera Negative) LT, ST & XT.  These benefit from the same workflow of raw whilst reducing storage capacity.

What the raw and X-OCN recording capability will give you is more tonal range and colour information over XAVC as well as the post production flexibility.

The Venice sensor features duel native base ISO’s of 500 and 2500, both capable of 15+ stops of latitude to suit whatever lighting environment you face.  Because of the 6K resolution and 24x36mm size of the sensor the Venice is aspect ratio agnostic, meaning the camera can record all aspect ratios (3:2, 1.85:1, 2.39:1, 17:9, 16:9, 6:5 & 4:3) without having to reduce resolution.

High frame rates of 120fps in 4K 2:39.1 and 60fps in 6K 3:2 allow for further creativity.

The Bigger Picture with Sony Venice

With the Sony Venice camera’s full frame image, you get a more natural perspective and magnification than you can achieve with Super 35mm.

It also offers fewer distortions at wide angle, and more flexibility when it comes to sensitivity, dynamic range and resolution.

The full frame format shares many characteristics with 65mm, but it uses smaller lenses, saving on weight (and budget)!

This is a future proof camera, carefully designed to support artistic expression and technical excellence.

Main Features of the RED Komodo Camera

RED komodo

The RED Komodo is a small but highly versatile digital camera. It’s designed for the mid-level market but this relative economy doesn’t undermine its technical performance and sheer usability.

It’s a 6K, super 35mm camera, and it works with a broad range of lens mounts.

Here, we look at the main features of this new RED model, as it’s something of a departure from what you’d normally associate with this brand.

Camera Size

The RED Komodo is a compact powerhouse of a camera. In fact, it’s very small indeed, at only 10.16cm x 10.16cm (or four inches), and it only weighs 900g.

This makes it extremely practical for all sorts of shoots and for access to hard-to-reach places. Plus, you can easily mount it onto lightweight gimbals or drones, without having to worry about the weight.

Despite its compactness, you’re still going to capture cinematic images with it.

Battery System

The battery design in the RED Komodo bolsters its sheer portability and versatility. The camera has two hot-swappable battery slots.

This design allows you to safely remove and insert batteries into the camera without shutting it down, running the camera continuously.

It also overcomes the issue of waiting for the camera to startup. The RED Komodo’s hot-swappable batteries mean this is no longer a potential problem.

The battery life is good too. Running it on just two small batteries gives you three hours of shooting time. Using larger batteries, you can expect to double this to six hours.

Global Shutter

A global shutter on a camera will read all of the pixels on the sensor simultaneously. This is very different from a rolling shutter sensor.

What this means is that when you use the RED Komodo as a handheld camera, you won’t get any image wobble. And if you use it to shoot out of a moving vehicle, you won’t get any unwanted strange motion effects.

How important is having a global shutter? Well, it gives you the feeling that you’re shooting on classic film. That’s definitely a good thing.

Raw Video

The Komodo use the REDCODE Raw codec for shooting raw video. This is the RED proprietary format for encoding image data and it’s extremely efficient.

It enables you to maximise your post-production capabilities by managing huge amounts of ultra-detailed data. As you increase your resolution, so the codec becomes more efficient, saving time and resources on your high-quality productions.

You get file sizes you can tune for superior image quality, but with lower storage requirements. The codec gives you raw workflow with non-destructive editing.

All the major post-production software packages, such as Premier Pro, Davinci Resolve, Apple and Adobe, support REDCODE Raw.

Image Fidelity

With its combination of global shutter sensor and RED Raw processing capability, the RED Komodo offers excellent image fidelity.

This is far beyond what you’d normally expect from this type of mid-tier camera. It takes complex image grades and correction on board with ease.

Colour Science

The colour science that the RED Komodo uses is essentially the same as in other, more expensive cameras in the RED range.

The economy and compactness of the Komodo don’t compromise on the technology that drives its quality.

Essentially, all the grading and effects that you apply will be the equivalent of what you’d get with high-end cameras in the RED range.

Internal ProRes

Apple ProRes is the industry-standard codec for post-production. It is a widely-used final format delivery method, used in broadcast-standard video and streaming.

The RED Komodo can shoot ProRes internally, ensuring not just a smooth editing experience, but a more rapid one.

Excellent Autofocus

The option of autofocus is a first for a RED camera, but on the Komodo, it works really well.

It’s an excellent option to have when shooting on a gimbal, and it positions the Komodo solidly in the vanguard of camera design and usability.

Simple Menu Functions

The Komodo’s menu is a no-frills affair, supporting the out-of-the-box functionality of the camera.

Everything you’ll need is upfront, on the main touch screen. Changing settings and selections is easy, and where you need secondary menus, these are easy to activate and access.

Better still, using the RED Control app over a wi-fi connection, you can access the menu remotely, via your smartphone or another mobile device.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

As a compact, all-in-one camera, the RED is ready to shoot straight out of the box.

Unlike other RED models, the Komodo doesn’t require a huge amount of technical know-how or extra accessories to achieve excellent results.

But the quality of what you can achieve with it is easily comparable with these other models.

If you’re looking to maximise your results without over-committing your resources, then this is the camera for you.

Canon C200

Canon C200

Show: NAB 2017, In Between Shows

The Canon C200 was another surprise from Cinegear. Perhaps not the most exciting release of all but Canon are still sticking to their guns with the C300/100 form factor which is very much a love/hate divide in the industry. It comes with an EF mount with slow motion, 4K/UHD/HD and RAW – the main thing to watch out for is the HD recording is only 8-bit rather than the industry standard 10-bit. For C300 lovers this still very much ticks all the right boxes so long as you’re looking towards online content or a RAW workflow.


  • Super 35 Sensor
  • Canon RAW
  • MP4
  • 8-Bit
  • CFast or SD Cards depending on your workflow
  • No timecode or genlock

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Cooke S7/i Prime Lens

Show: NAB 2017

The enthusiasm for full and medium frame formats continues to be encouraged with Cooke introducing their latest spherical lenses, the S7/i range.  Boasting coverage of a 46.31mm image circle of which belongs to the RED Weapon 8K sensor.  Matching the S4 line for T-stop of T2.0 and colour matched to all other modern Cooke lenses.  The S7 line initially consists of 8 focal lengths; 18, 25, 32, 40, 50, 75, 100 and 135mm and promise to be another beautiful addition to the Cooke family.

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Angenieux New EZ Range


Show: IBC 2016

The EZ-1 S35 is 30-90mm T2

Angenieux have released two new zoom lenses specifically for broadcast rather than film. This new range is unlike any other as it has new “Interchangeable Rear Optics” (IRO) technology. This allows you to change the back end/elements of the lens, effectively giving you two lenses in one – S35mm or FullFrame/Vistavision. This gives you complete flexibility across most cameras and future-proofing your purchase. 

They also come with PL, Canon EF and now E Mount options. 

There are two lenses in this new style, EZ-1 and EZ-2. 

EZ-1 S35 is 30-90mm T2, then FF/VV is 45-135mm T3

EZ-2 S35 is 15-40mm T2, then FF/VV is 22-60mm T3

Both are lightweight lenses ideal for shooting on the go, weighing in at no more than 2.15kg each. They have the angenieux look and style, though perhaps slightly cheaper and not quite as rigorously crafted as the cine zooms. They will also work with a detachable END style zoom from MOVCAM. 


  • S35 or FullFrame/Vistavision back options for both lenses
  • Lightweight
  • Colormetry matched with Optimo lenses

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Panasonic AU-EVA1

Panasonic AU-EVA1

Show: In Between Shows

The latest camera from Panasonic was the real surprise of Cinegear 2017, compact, versatile and designed for the new wave of broadcast television. It takes tips from the ever-popular Canon C300ef and Sony FS5 but delivers a unique Dual Native ISO previously only available with the Panasonic Varicam. Panasonic have not been heavily used in UK Digital and Broadcast filming in recent times it will be a shame if this impressive camera was overlooked.


  • Super 35 Sensor – 5.7K
  • EF Mount
  • Removable IR Filter
  • Dual Native ISO
  • ND Filter
  • 422 10Bit
  • 4K 60p
  • 2K up to 240p
  • 1.2kg

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Angenieux 44-440 A-2s Anamorphic Lens

Show: NAB 2016

Release Date – July 2016

Estimated Price – €65,000 with an additional €10,000 for the rear spherical element

Announced at NAB 2016, this is a beautiful lens and the third in their range. Angenieux is calling this ‘the renaissance of the long range anamorphic zoom’. The Optimo has a hefty range of 44-440mm with an aperture of T4.5 across the range with a close focus of 4ft 1in and comes in at a light or heavy (depending on the way you look at it) 16.6lbs. 

While it has all the precision focus scales and minimal breathing you would expect from an Angenieux lens, this long range anamorphic has one more trick up it’s sleeve – the ability to (by a skilled engineer) change the back optical element from 44-440mm anamorphic to 25-250mm spherical T3.5! Just change the focus scales over and the lens becomes a fully functional 25-250mm, identical to the standard lens of the same length, giving you two options in one lens. 

Key Features

  • 44-440mm Range
  • T4.5 across the zoom
  • Can be converted into 25-250mm

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Cooke Anamorphic 35-140mm

Cooke Anamorphic 35-140mm

Show: NAB 2016

Released: June 2016

Price: ~£40,000

Cooke had their impressive new anamorphic zoom, the 35-140mm T3.5, on their stand at NAB. With a 4 x zoom ratio and a constant T3.1 it is an impressive range and T stop, especially when compared to the Angenieux lenses that are T4 and cover shorter focal lengths. However, the Angenieuxs, which cover 30-72mm and 56-152mm, weigh in at 2.2 and 2.4kg whilst the Cooke weighs in at just over 10kg, so you can see how covering the whole of the range really adds to the weight. That being said when did weight ever deter anyone from using the classic 24-290mm Angenieux – mainly it comes down to having the right tool for the job and Cooke are giving you one amazing option with this lens and its newly announced sister lens, the 45-405mm Anamorphic Zoom (coming soon).

One key difference between Angenieux and Cooke anamorphic lenses is Cooke have their anamorphic elements at the front of the lens, giving a much more traditional anamorphic look with more characteristic oval bokeh and flares. 

Of course the new zoom lenses have been designed to work and match seamlessly with their Anamorphic Prime lenses, giving you maximum flexibility and all the Cooke lenses have their i technology giving you lens data for focus, T stop and depth of field for every frame. 

Cooke have long been an institution in our lens history and it was great to get our hands on their latest design and we can’t wait to take one out for some test shoots.

Key Features:

  • 35-140mm 2x Anamorphic
  • T3.1
  • Front Anamorphic Elements
  • 10kg

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