ARRI has done very well with the ALEXA system. Now over 10 years old, the ALEXA Classic still finds homes with enthusiastic cinematographers who love the quality of image it can produce.
Still, it hasn’t quite held up to the changes in the industry, specifically the increased demand for native 4K imaging from places like Netflix. That’s where the LF series comes in as it takes the ~2K resolution of the ALEXA Classic and bumps it up over 4K to meet those needs.
Still, is the difference dramatic? Filmmaker Hugo Will actually went hands-on with both an ALEXA Classic and the current ALEXA Mini LF. Considering the Classic today sits at only 10% the current cost of the Mini LF, it’s nice to see.
Using the exact same lenses and settings on both cameras, Hugo shot both ALEXA cameras and placed the footage side-by-side. On first glance, the differences are small. The colors are slightly different, though. It’s not unsurprising that cameras this far apart are a bit different. The Mini LF appears to have a slightly more magenta hue.
One thing to think about is the type of lenses you are using. The ALEXA Mini LF will squeak out a noticeable amount more sharpness since it is a 4K image.
However, if you opt for classic lenses with a distinct look and less emphasis on resolving power then you may not see a huge difference at all. That is what I suspect is happening here as the images looks a little softer on both.
In general, it does hold that resolution is far from the end of the conversation. A good ALEXA camera from 10 years ago is going to still be a good camera today because of things like color rendering, dynamic range, and formats. It’s a great camera and worthy of an investment if you want to capture that ARRI look.
- ARRI ALEXA Mini LF Cinema Camera (B&H)