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News from IBC: The New ARRI AMIRA

590 amiraApparently ARRI Inc. had enough confidence in its new AMIRA camera to unveil it on Friday the 13th during IBC in Amsterdam — and, so far, good luck has prevailed. The AMIRA has apparently generated a good vibe at the event, and promises to create an interesting horse race among mid-higher-end digital cine cameras. For starters, the AMIRA appears to be designed as an “ALEXA Light,” as it’s a more compact camera at roughly two-thirds the weight of an ALEXA with a viewfinder and mounting bracket (equaling 17+ pounds). More importantly, it has an ALEXA sensor and thus has its 14.5+ stop dynamic range, light sensitivity, low noise, and the ability to handle subtle highlights while rendering natural-looking colors and complex skin tones — all key ALEXA details. 

There are several other ALEXA similarities: the AMIRA is an Ultra-HD camera with four-channel audio recording. It can exceed 2K image sizes at 2880x1620 as well as 1080p (both with 16:9 aspect ratio), and it records Rec 709 or Log C images using ProRes LT, 422, 422HQ or 444 codecs. It will also feature in-camera grading and an assortment of “looks” based on 3D LUTs. Unlike the ALEXA, the AMIRA can achieve maximum frame rates of 200fps just like an ARRI high-speed, super 16mm film camera, thanks to advanced digital processing. The camera will not record to SxS cards. Instead, it will record to brand-new CFast 2.0 flash memory cards with ultra-fast data rates. CFast 2.0 is a new, open format for handling the high data rates of Ultra-HD and high frame-rate digital video. It also offers long recording capacity at high resolutions (beyond-broadcast quality) and includes IT compatibility. 

Besides having many impressive capabilities and tech specs, the AMIRA is being touted as a “shooter’s camera.” According to ARRI, the AMIRA is designed for solo operation, including over-the-shoulder ENG and doc-style operation, as it is lighter and more compact than an ALEXA. Moreover, the AMIRA is designed for easy adjustment while shooting with menus and key functions on the left side of the camera for easy access by cinematographers (versus on the right side of the ALEXA, which is a “crew” camera). 

While no firm retail price has been announced, the AMIRA will presumably be competitive with other mid-priced digital-cine cameras, like an EPIC or Sony F55. It’s likely to be priced somewhere in the mid-$20K range, but will be packaged ready to shoot, minus the lens, battery and media. Delivery dates also haven’t been announced, as the AMIRA is still in development. One issue still in flux is lensing: While PL mounts are a given, EF mount lenses are also likely, but Nikon and B4 mount lenses and the like are still under consideration. In fact, ARRI actively solicited feedback from shooters at IBC and may still be open to suggestions. Hopefully, there’s still some time left to help the ARRI design team with its “dream camera” for solo shooters.  

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