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Mike Krumlauf

Pros/Cons of owning ALEXA Classic?

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So I am looking at possibly purchasing an ARRI ALEXA Classic sometime in the coming month or so (if all pans out) and I was just curious from current or previous owners what the pros and cons were? Is it any heavier than an ENG Cinema Camera like the old F900? Are their companies who make nikon or ef mounts for the body or am I stuck with PL Glass? I've wanted to dive into the ARRI pool as an owner since the beginning of my film journey in 1999, but just never had the resources to get one.

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I did shoot some b roll on an Alexa Mini with a EF mount adapter and Canon EF mount cinema lenses.  I didn't trust the footage scale though on the lenses...  But it did work, so there is a mount or adapter for EF lenses out there somewhere 🙂

The camera with a prime lens is probably about the same weight as an F900 with a zoom lens.  And it's not a camera you would want to hand hold more than 4 minutes at a time from my experience. So, maybe a little heavier than the F900.

Of course, the image quality of the camera is sufficient to win an Oscar... if you're up to it!

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Big, heavy, slow to start, power hungry, no mic inputs. In the end, it has considerably less actual imaging performance (frame rates, resolution, sensitivity) than even a quite middle-of-the-road modern camera and uses rolling shutter. The viewfinder is not particularly great by current lights (I've heard people say the Blackmagic finder is actually better, but I've too little time on Alexa to really say.) No internal filter wheel.

It is not like shooting an FS7. It will require a lot more support - the weight means a bigger tripod, and lightweight grip gear (sliders, etc) may not be adequate. The power consumption means bigger batteries and more of them. It is a crew-served weapon.

P

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14 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Big, heavy, slow to start, power hungry, no mic inputs. In the end, it has considerably less actual imaging performance (frame rates, resolution, sensitivity) than even a quite middle-of-the-road modern camera and uses rolling shutter. The viewfinder is not particularly great by current lights (I've heard people say the Blackmagic finder is actually better, but I've too little time on Alexa to really say.) No internal filter wheel.

It is not like shooting an FS7. It will require a lot more support - the weight means a bigger tripod, and lightweight grip gear (sliders, etc) may not be adequate. The power consumption means bigger batteries and more of them. It is a crew-served weapon.

P

Thanks for the info. To be fair, im coming from the tape varicam, f900, and sony f23 with srw world, so the weight should not be an issue for me. I know its lighter by a bit than the F23/SRW combo.. that camera is a tank. I'll be sure to let you guys know what I end up purchasing when that time comes. 

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18 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Big, heavy, slow to start, power hungry, no mic inputs. In the end, it has considerably less actual imaging performance (frame rates, resolution, sensitivity) than even a quite middle-of-the-road modern camera and uses rolling shutter. The viewfinder is not particularly great by current lights (I've heard people say the Blackmagic finder is actually better, but I've too little time on Alexa to really say.) No internal filter wheel.

It is not like shooting an FS7. It will require a lot more support - the weight means a bigger tripod, and lightweight grip gear (sliders, etc) may not be adequate. The power consumption means bigger batteries and more of them. It is a crew-served weapon.

P

I think, with the proper license, you can shoot up to 96fps in HD, but not 2k.  It's not a big deal, but I think you need to re-boot the camera for high speed shooting.  Rolling shutter is the same as the newer Alexa cameras, and the sensitivity and resolution of the sensor is the same, but I'm not sure you'll have a RAW option without an external recorder.  I think in ProRes LogC you will be limited to shooting 2048x1152 pixels, which is fine for cinema / DCP.  If you set your white balance anywhere near correctly, you will have almost all the data you could have gathered if you shot RAW.  In fact, when color correcting RAW, the first step is to convert to LogC for grading, so you really get to the same place for all practical purposes.

The biggest issue is the lack of built in ND filters.  Many of the IRND filters available have strong color casts that are not so easy to color correct.  And each strength of ND filter has a different amount of color cast making matching shots time consuming.  You would be well served to research the latest IRND filters for effective filters with minimal color cast. Don't buy old Tiffen IRND for example.  I would expect to pay $400+ for each IRND filter.

The viewfinder, if I recall, is not the highest contrast, so not the best to judge lighting by.  But, compared to the BlackMagic viewfinders, there is much less delay so your operating will be more accurate than with an Ursa.

The camera itself is not really designed for hand holding, so you will need some shoulder mounting kit and handles.  I think an Amira would be better for hand holding in general.  In fact, if you can find an Amira for a similar price, you might just prefer it.

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I bought an Alexa classic last summer because someone was selling it ridiculously low and did a couple shoots with it. You will not find a better looking camera in terms of skin tones and color science period (unless it's another Arri product). Also doesn't overheat like RED.

Far more suited for a studio setting than anything else.

Hit me up if you want to buy, I might need spare cash this month.

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On 12/5/2019 at 11:47 AM, Max Field said:

I bought an Alexa classic last summer because someone was selling it ridiculously low and did a couple shoots with it. You will not find a better looking camera in terms of skin tones and color science period (unless it's another Arri product). Also doesn't overheat like RED.

Far more suited for a studio setting than anything else.

Hit me up if you want to buy, I might need spare cash this month.

PMing you now. 

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Back to the topic.. since the alexa was released in 2010, it really did sway my ultimate dream from having a 35mm camera on my shoulder to having an alexa on my shoulder. While I still find beauty in film, I can not for any reason justify the costs involved in shooting it or even owning a film camera kit. Seeing how unbelievably low the classic is listing now and how much all my gear together is valued at, it seemed like the time to finally try to pull the trigger on owning my "dream camera". 20 years and 60 cameras later, I really hope all of this pans out and I can finally create with the "gold standard". Im sure the camera (like all the ones before it) will teach me things about myself as a filmmaker and technology as a whole. Thats been one of the best parts about working with so many different cameras in the past two decades, each one gives you something the other one didnt, but it also can take away at times, all depends on the content and situation. 

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It does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

You know Arri will do a service and tune-up on them, reset the dead pixel masking and so on? 

P

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6 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

It does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

You know Arri will do a service and tune-up on them, reset the dead pixel masking and so on? 

P

I figured ARRI would have something like that. I will def look into it if i get my hands on an ALEXA in the coming weeks.

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