Amira Up-Close

In the cinematography community, there’s cause for celebration anytime ARRI releases a new camera. Founded in Munich, Germany, by August Arnold and Robert Richter in 1917, ARRI has been on the cutting edge of camera and lighting technology for almost 100 years. Cameras like the ARRIFLEX 16BL, SR, 535 and ARRICAM have been workhorses for cinematographers for decades.

The AMIRA’s body is what ARRI calls "environmentally sealed" from dust and light moisture.

But after the demise of motion-picture film, it took ARRI some trial-and-error time to find its place in the digital world. The ARRIFLEX D-20/21, released in 2005, never took off, unlike the Sony F23/35 and RED ONE. But it wasn’t until 2010, when they released the ALEXA, with its modular camera design, Super 35-sized CMOS sensor and support of ARRIRAW, that ARRI made a splash with DPs around the world. If you need proof, take a look at the 2014 Oscar® nominees, with ARRI sweeping both the Best Picture and Cinematography categories, with the majority of the projects being shot with the ALEXA and the rest shot on 35mm film with ARRI film cameras. The ARRI ALEXA is the gold standard for digital motion-picture cameras.

AMIRA Highlights
Same sensor as ALEXA
HD 1080/2K; Log C/Rec. 709
ProRes up to 4444 to CFast 2.0 memory cards
Dynamic range of 14+ stops
Can capture up to 200 fps with full-sensor area
Adjustable looks for on-set color control

THE NEW NONFICTION

The documentary and ENG-style marketplace has changed dramatically since the arrival of large-sensor digital cameras, and as a result, shooters are often being asked to capture cinematic shallow depth of field on location. The cameras leading this new trend have been the Canon EOS C300 and the Sony F5/55 cameras, which both contain Super 35-sized sensors and are easy to set up and shoot in the field.

In late 2013, ARRI announced the AMIRA, which they’re billing as a versatile documentary-style camera. We ran a story on the AMIRA in the February 2014 issue, but at the time, much of the story was based on early tech specs and speculation. HDVP recently met with ARRI Product Specialist–Broadcast Jim Davis, who gave us a rundown on the new AMIRA, including the camera’s specs, workflow and target audience.

"Single-operator documentary-style camera is how we’re describing it," says Davis. "The image quality of the ALEXA is its primary feature, with the same sensor, same base sensitivity, identical in every way to the image quality of the ALEXA, the exact color science and so on."

DESIGNED FOR THE SINGLE OPERATOR

Seeing the AMIRA in person initially, the first thing you notice is how sleek the camera looks. Unlike the boxy style of the C300/500 or F5/55, the AMIRA is longer, thinner and built for comfortable shoulder-mount operation. Another feature you’ll notice right away is that you can see right through the camera body. The AMIRA’s body is what ARRI calls "environmentally sealed" from dust and light moisture. According to Davis, the camera’s cooling airflow is actually channeled through the center of the camera, away from the electronics.

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