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Phil Jackson

Arri Alexa Super 35

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Posted (edited)

Anyone catch Arri's (sort of) announcement about the Alexa S35 coming out next year sometime? Supposedly a new true 4K Super 35 sensor in a Mini LF body. They seem to think (and they're right) that there's still a huge market for Super 35 for TV and movies that's not really being served in all the resolution and large format posturing.

It's buried at the 34:40 mark of this Arri Tech Talk from last week. The entire talk is actually quite good.

Edited by Phil Jackson

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It makes a lot of sense, there's a lot of wonderful spherical and anamorphic lens options lost to larger formats, and the higher datarates of these 6k+ sensors cause a lot of grief too.

Given a little bit of time, I think people are going to realise that the only difference larger formats really give you are (potentially) shallower DoF and improvements in overall image quality that can only be seen in a few (quite specific) viewing environments.

I just hope they have the good sense to make this one a unibody design (with the battery plate integrated), and include 1-8 stops of internal ND and a significantly faster boot times (like the Venice), so that operation can become a bit smoother and faster.

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46 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

This makes perfect sense for TV production and VOD. They should have done it years ago.

Well, quite. Alexa was ten years old in April. It's about time.

Another subfactoid: people tore Sony a structurally superfluous new behind for releasing F35 soon after the rental houses had paid top dollar for F23. Meanwhile, Arri has on average released one model of Alexa every year since launch, containing much the same underlying sensor tech every time and everyone's still clapping like a plasticine penguin.

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"a new true 4K Super 35 sensor in a Mini LF body. "

Confused ..true 4K meaning an over sampled image from a larger than s35 sensor ..  like the  fx9.. and so in a LF body .. ? 

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12 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

"a new true 4K Super 35 sensor in a Mini LF body. "

Confused ..true 4K meaning an over sampled image from a larger than s35 sensor ..  like the  fx9.. and so in a LF body .. ? 

Here's the actual quote from the video:

Quote

"We have a new camera in development right now. It will probably be released sometime next year. This is a Super 35 camera. We strongly believe that there's a place in the world for large format and there's a place in the world for Super 35. So we have a large format camera in place now, now we're working on a Super 35 camera. This camera will have a Super 35 4K sensor. And we've always said we're only going to come out with a new Super 35 4K camera if we can make the image quality as good or better than the Alexa image quality. The camera will be about the same size as the Mini LF. It will use the same viewfinder as the Mini LF and it will also be able to accept the same media as the Mini LF uses."

Marc Shipman-Meuller

 

It sounds to me like they're cooking up something other than their current ALEV III sensor.

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15 minutes ago, Phil Jackson said:

Here's the actual quote from the video:

It sounds to me like they're cooking up something other than their current ALEV III sensor.

The problem has always been maintaining the pixel pitch that gives Alexa its sensitivity and dynamic range, while trying to squeeze ever more pixels onto a s35 sized sensor. They'd already increased the sensor size as far as they could and still reasonably call it Super 35, so I guess they must have solved it another way.

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Well, the Sony Venice has a smaller pixel pitch than Alexa and looks wonderful to my eye. I think it's safe to assume Arri will succeed in mantaining the Alexa quality -if not higher- with smaller pixels after all these years since the original Alexa was released. The camera was originally scheduled for the first half of this year; if they have another year for development the final product should show additional improvements. 

Dual ISO (800 and 2500 or 3200) and a whole set of internal NDs should be a must.

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13 hours ago, Phil Jackson said:

Here's the actual quote from the video:

It sounds to me like they're cooking up something other than their current ALEV III sensor.

Ok thanks.. yes I had a look at the video too.. what threw me was the" true  4k " in your comment ..Ive only seen that term used in the way that its an over sample image ,down sample to 4K .. eg the Fx9 6K sensor that doesn't record 6K files but only down sampled  4K.... the idea being that the down sampled 6k to 4K .. is a "true " 4K, as they call it ..as the debayering process will lose you about 20% resolution .. so  a 4K s35 4096 sensor will actually give you around 3200K, not 4K or UHD.. all just a bunch of numbers that doesn't make one camera better than the other of course .. I just wondered if Arri was starting out with a larger sensor to down sample to a "true" 4K image .. but yes they are due a new sensor thats for sure .. dual ISO is a very handy feature these days..and I agree .. built in ND,s will be the norm even in high end cine camera,s ..   AF is coming hard on the heels too ..  Arri could be in danger of missing the boat here, compared to Canon and especially Sony.. but I guess the Arnold Richter Scope engineers are hard at work in the bunkers .. 

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Posted (edited)

The jump from a 2.8k sensor to a 4k sensor (assuming they don't maintain the downsampling ratios that work so well for Alev III - i.e. 6k sensor for a 4k image) is only 30%. I don't think they'll struggle too much to make that work whilst incorporating the dual-gain architecture that's given them the edge in dynamic range for so long.

What will be very interesting though, is whether they're able to actually extend the dynamic range further, or whether it comes out essentially the same as Alev III but with a slightly tighter pixel pitch to meet 4k requirements.

To be fair I don't really consider MORE dynamic range than Arri already offer all that big of a deal (since what we already have is so easy to work with) but I'm very interested to see if they can do it.  

Edited by Mark Kenfield

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Bear in mind a lot of sensors now have dual gain designs; it's been necessary to make the output amplifiers achievable for some time. It's actually a fairly common fault on Ursa Mini that it can lose its sensor calibration and the banding between the high and low gain parts of the image becomes visible.

I think they could push it to a true 4K. There's been enough development in sensor design in the last decade that they could go from 3.4K to 4.1K without losing anything. However, I also think that some of the reason people like Alexa is that it had excess resolution, just as you say. It massively helps with both level of noise and the appearance of what noise there is. Doing that would maybe not require 6K, but it might require five and a half, and that's a slightly bigger ask. 

My biggest request would be true global shutter, but that's really tricky to do.

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3 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Bear in mind a lot of sensors now have dual gain designs;

Really? As far as I knew, the new C300iii was the first camera outside of Arri to incorporate it.
 

3 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

My biggest request would be true global shutter, but that's really tricky to do.

The F55 I've got sitting in my gear lockers has a true global shutter. It's marvellous. And even today still doesn't lack much to the more recent cameras. Push it through Sony's updated colour science for the Venice and you get even prettier pictures.

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3 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Bear in mind a lot of sensors now have dual gain designs; it's been necessary to make the output amplifiers achievable for some time. It's actually a fairly common fault on Ursa Mini that it can lose its sensor calibration and the banding between the high and low gain parts of the image becomes visible.

I think they could push it to a true 4K. There's been enough development in sensor design in the last decade that they could go from 3.4K to 4.1K without losing anything. However, I also think that some of the reason people like Alexa is that it had excess resolution, just as you say. It massively helps with both level of noise and the appearance of what noise there is. Doing that would maybe not require 6K, but it might require five and a half, and that's a slightly bigger ask. 

My biggest request would be true global shutter, but that's really tricky to do.

we can always hope they do a spinning mirror shutter model

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1 hour ago, Robin Phillips said:

we can always hope they do a spinning mirror shutter model

You mean like the Alexa Studio? The camera that everyone asked for, but very few used?

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

You mean like the Alexa Studio? The camera that everyone asked for, but very few used?

yup. hell even just a rotary shutter version without the optical viewfinder would be nice, but is probably not to be

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4 hours ago, Robin Phillips said:

yup. hell even just a rotary shutter version without the optical viewfinder would be nice, but is probably not to be

Sony's F65 has a (non-mirrored) rotary shutter. Works great. It's a shame that manufacturers have decided that it's just not that big of a deal.

I think I might be a global shutter snob though. I've had an F35, Alexa Studio and F55.

I don't think I'm ready for that jelly. 🤷‍♂️

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To be fair, Alexa doesn't suffer from a lot of what you might call jelly; it's got a respectably fast rolling shutter. It does suffer from flash banding. I was astounded to see it prominently featured in the Terminator Genisys trailer.

rsn_rollingshutter_terminator_2-1.png?wi

rsn_rollingshutter_terminator_1-1.png

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3 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

flash banding seems to be pretty much excepted now .. no one cares ..

I'm sticking with "it looks like half price shit."

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Next time I do muzzle flare vfx I'm going to add flash banding to make it look practical.

To be fair to Arri, the rolling shutter on the Alexa is very well-controlled. I've seen a hint of it in whip pans but it's vanishingly low compared with other cameras (excepting F55/F35 etc.).

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10 hours ago, M Joel W said:

Next time I do muzzle flare vfx I'm going to add flash banding to make it look practical.

To be fair to Arri, the rolling shutter on the Alexa is very well-controlled. I've seen a hint of it in whip pans but it's vanishingly low compared with other cameras (excepting F55/F35 etc.).

You have seen rolling shutter effect in the Venice camera too .. ? 

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22 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

You have seen rolling shutter effect in the Venice camera too .. ? 

The Venice is amazing. There’s zero perceptible skew, I haven’t seen how it handles flash banding though. Would be good to know. 

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I think sometimes the banding can look cool. 

Remember before easy rider when lens flares where though of as mistakes? 

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6 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

The Venice is amazing. There’s zero perceptible skew, I haven’t seen how it handles flash banding though. Would be good to know. 

Yes that was my feeling  too..   I mean with these super fast refresh rates .. I think the global shutter camera could be on the way out .. "Gone Girl "  had a ton of flash banding and neither audience of reviewers cared .. 

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The only think I know for sure is that S35 isn't going anywhere. Red makes both VV and S35 cameras. So does Sony etc. Same now with Arri. The GH5s is a very popular camera, and that has a sub-S35 sensor. Lots of people will make the Komodo 6K their A camera, etc.

As others have already said, the only thing you'll gain is better low light performance - which on modern S35 cameras is pretty good anyway. But you're going to lose DOF with VV. So you win some, you lose some.

I think both formats can do deep focus pretty well, and the deeper stop required for VV is balanced by the diffraction limit on S35. Though for tight shots, the smaller the sensor the better, IIRC.

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