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Alexa Bargain


Tim Sewell
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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

Nice! Guessing the original ARRI ALEXA Classic, or maaaaybe an ALEXA Plus? With a high speed license? What accessories, SxS cards, the EVF, etc?

It's the Classic, just the body with the gold mount plate. I already got a PIX E5 that I am going to use to record rather than try to get SXS cards. I am not a big EVF guy so I am ok without it. It does have the high speed license. 

I do have an XT coming from Russia with all the goodies. I kind of want to cancel it, as it was rejected at customs. I just don't want to deal with it at this point now that I have the Classic inbound. My only real desire for the XT is the Prores 3.2k. In reality the difference between the 2k on the Classic and the 3.2k on the XT is almost nothing. 

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WARNING: Stupid question alert.

So... what would an Alexa classic (or other model available used for under $5K) give me over my Panasonic S1 and S5 bodies? (Especially now that I COULD record in BRAW if I pony up for a BMD 12G recorder)

Do those older models have the same 15 stops of DR that something like the Alexa LF or newer models have? 

Are the codecs that much better than anything I could get out of the S1 / S5?

Further Off Topic: It's funny to me how good Arri colors look AFTER they have been graded, but when they are SOOC, they just look so green. I've seen videos where they compare the (reddish cast ) Canon cameras to the (greenish tint) Alexa cameras, and they absolutely look like they were using color filters over the lenses since they were so differeing.

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Alexa Classic will give you 1 stop more dynamic range, better rolling shutter and a lot more weight 🙂 , compared to Panasonic S Series. cined.com has the measurements of Alexa Classic and some of Panasonic S Series in their reviews section. Nobody will notice 1 stop of difference in DR, when export format is REC709 with only 6 to 7 stops of DR. Difference in rolling shutter may be noticeable.

Alexa codecs are ProRes at 1080p and ArriRaw at 2.8K. You'll get 95% of Alexa image quality with Panasonic S1/S5/S1H and a lot more in terms of IBIS, some sort of autofocus, much larger lens selection, 6K RAW, etc. There are even LUTs that will give you ARRI look / color science or at least very close to it.     

 

Some people don't realize that movies shot on Alexa are a result of the work done by a lot of high skilled professionals including colorists. Some just want to have this legendary weapon at their side. Can't blame them 🙂  But it will cost more than 4K in the long run, that's for sure. It's good to have this experience if you want to enter the industry at the higher end (movies, commercials, etc.).

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10 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

WARNING: Stupid question alert.

So... what would an Alexa classic (or other model available used for under $5K) give me over my Panasonic S1 and S5 bodies? (Especially now that I COULD record in BRAW if I pony up for a BMD 12G recorder)

Do those older models have the same 15 stops of DR that something like the Alexa LF or newer models have? 

Are the codecs that much better than anything I could get out of the S1 / S5?

Further Off Topic: It's funny to me how good Arri colors look AFTER they have been graded, but when they are SOOC, they just look so green. I've seen videos where they compare the (reddish cast ) Canon cameras to the (greenish tint) Alexa cameras, and they absolutely look like they were using color filters over the lenses since they were so differeing.

All Arri cameras have the same dynamic range essentially. They all have the same sensor even the Alexa 65. They essentially stitch the sensors together. While RED for example uses completely different sensors for each camera. Its one of the great things about Arri, you know exactly what you are getting. The benefit is more the color than the dynamic range in my opinion. 

 Arri 444 is 12 bit log which has more color information than 10 bit log or 12 bit linear RAW that Panasonic offers. 

Its 2.8k vs 6k if we are talking Classic vs Panasonic S1 though. I really don't care a lot about resolution which is why I am getting the Classic. 

6 hours ago, stephen said:

Alexa Classic will give you 1 stop more dynamic range, better rolling shutter and a lot more weight 🙂 , compared to Panasonic S Series. cined.com has the measurements of Alexa Classic and some of Panasonic S Series in their reviews section. Nobody will notice 1 stop of difference in DR, when export format is REC709 with only 6 to 7 stops of DR. Difference in rolling shutter may be noticeable.

Alexa codecs are ProRes at 1080p and ArriRaw at 2.8K. You'll get 95% of Alexa image quality with Panasonic S1/S5/S1H and a lot more in terms of IBIS, some sort of autofocus, much larger lens selection, 6K RAW, etc. There are even LUTs that will give you ARRI look / color science or at least very close to it.     

 

Some people don't realize that movies shot on Alexa are a result of the work done by a lot of high skilled professionals including colorists. Some just want to have this legendary weapon at their side. Can't blame them 🙂  But it will cost more than 4K in the long run, that's for sure. It's good to have this experience if you want to enter the industry at the higher end (movies, commercials, etc.).

Certain luts do a great job of getting close or even matching Arri 100%. It is kind of situation dependent though. Emotive color does a great job. Even with his luts though they are made to match specific light sources. The internal codecs are limited and ARRI imitations luts are pushing the color really far from its original starting point, often resulting in artifacts. RAW makes a big difference on the Panasonic cameras though and is really awesome to work with. 

I certainly wouldn't suggest most go out and buy an ARRI or any other camera, especially not if you are a hobbyist. As an owner/operator DP it was the right move for me and my specific goals. 

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Thank you both very much, @stephen and @TomTheDP for the explanation and the video of the 55 Luts. 

The footage did look pretty "close" although both cameras did show off their characteristic tint differences. (Well... they seem to be characteristic in my mind since it seems like most Alexa footage has that green tint and most Panasonic V-LOG has that magenta tint.

@TomTheDP Are you using ProRes RAW or BRAW (which I understand is technically not RAW)??? 

I guess I am a bit confused on this. For some reason I thought the HDMI out of the S1 / S1H / S5 was only 10-bit... but I guess it would have to be 12-bit out to have actual RAW output.

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BRAW is not technically RAW. That's correct ! It is partially debayred in camera to workaround the RED patent and not pay royalties. But if you are not satisfied with BRAW, ProRes RAW is technically RAW and this option is available too for Panasonic S series. Don't see visually differences between BRAW and ProRes RAW. Colors are the same. Prefer to work with BRAW because it is integrated in Davinci Resolve so well. And has more options for compression. This review shows some of the differences between BRAW and ProRes RAW.

 

BRAW coming out of Panasonic S1/S5/S1H + Blackmagic Video Assist 12G is 12 bit Panasonic V-Log. Colors should be 444, because it is RAW. Of course it's not possible to match Alexa Colors and S curve 1 to 1 with a LUT. Also noticed the magenta tint in the video comparison above. But it's close enough. And am not saying that Panasonic S1/S5/S1H is as good as Alexa. Agree with TomTheDP and already said that if you are in the industry or entering it, having Alexa experience will be beneficial. But for the rest of us Panasonic S1/S5/S1H + external recorder is more than enough.  🙂

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7 hours ago, IronFilm said:

What was the problem at customs?

I export a LOT from the USA to NZ, but I've never tried to do the reverse. 

The shipping said it was in customs then afterwards it said "returned to sender" now it says "ready for pickup" at the same city it originated from. I assume that means it was rejected by customs and sent back. There has been no update to the shipping or contact from the seller since Sept 23rd so I am just trying to get a refund at this point. I am somewhat bummed though the Alexa Classic realistically gives me everything I'd want in a slightly smaller package. 

 

13 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Thank you both very much, @stephen and @TomTheDP for the explanation and the video of the 55 Luts. 

The footage did look pretty "close" although both cameras did show off their characteristic tint differences. (Well... they seem to be characteristic in my mind since it seems like most Alexa footage has that green tint and most Panasonic V-LOG has that magenta tint.

@TomTheDP Are you using ProRes RAW or BRAW (which I understand is technically not RAW)??? 

I guess I am a bit confused on this. For some reason I thought the HDMI out of the S1 / S1H / S5 was only 10-bit... but I guess it would have to be 12-bit out to have actual RAW output.

I was using ProRes RAW which is virtually lossless. It's not as hard to match cameras it normal conditions but becomes trickier with mixed lighting or more difficult situations. That is where high end tends to shine more. 

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16 minutes ago, TomTheDP said:

The shipping said it was in customs then afterwards it said "returned to sender" now it says "ready for pickup" at the same city it originated from. I assume that means it was rejected by customs and sent back. There has been no update to the shipping or contact from the seller since Sept 23rd so I am just trying to get a refund at this point. I am somewhat bummed though the Alexa Classic realistically gives me everything I'd want in a slightly smaller package. 

 

I was using ProRes RAW which is virtually lossless. It's not as hard to match cameras it normal conditions but becomes trickier with mixed lighting or more difficult situations. That is where high end tends to shine more. 

Thank you.

Yeah, for the Panasonic S-series of Cameras, it seems like ProRes RAW is the way to go for ultimate quality / flexibility, if one has the time to put in the work. 

Wish that Resolve could work with ProRes RAW. Don't really want to convert to Mac's and Final Cut just to work with ProRes RAW.

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1 hour ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Thank you.

Yeah, for the Panasonic S-series of Cameras, it seems like ProRes RAW is the way to go for ultimate quality / flexibility, if one has the time to put in the work. 

Wish that Resolve could work with ProRes RAW. Don't really want to convert to Mac's and Final Cut just to work with ProRes RAW.

BRAW is definitely a good alternative though. I am not a big fan of shooting 6k, though you can always opt for S35 4k. 

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I'm as obsessed with the Alexa look as just about anyone. I had a major shoot on Friday, I was toying with renting the Amira, as it is very affordable in my area. I don't have a lot of experience actually using it though, so ultimately, despite having plenty of budget available to rent a big boy camera, I decided to just shoot it on my tried-and-true S1. I didn't even use pro res raw, just regular 5.9k internal hevc. I monitor using the GHAlex LUT on my ninja v, so I can nail the look "in-camera" before I grade. I think it's pretty dang close. This screengrab has zero adjustments or color alterations besides just dropping on the lut. 

If I can get 95% of the way there, and have higher resolution to boot, at the cost of maybe a stop or so of extreme highlight retention in certain situations, I think it really starts to be hard to justify, beyond just impressing clients and feeling super cool and hollywood. 

HarnessLead_unsharpened.thumb.jpg.e9c69b4cb805d731bcbb7c2ea0fb6739.jpg

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21 hours ago, Parker said:

If I can get 95% of the way there, and have higher resolution to boot, at the cost of maybe a stop or so of extreme highlight retention in certain situations, I think it really starts to be hard to justify, beyond just impressing clients and feeling super cool and hollywood. 

That last sentence segment is key. 

  1. Let's say each shoot has a small $1K profit margin.
  2. Assume there is only a marginal 10% improvement on extra future business from that client or their network (let's assume we're starting with a baseline 1:1 ratio, of each well done job leads to another) because you shoot with an ALEXA vs showing up on location with a "mirrorless toy". 
  3. You do fifty shoots per year (thus making a modest $50K/yr profit for you to live on). 

If an ARRI Alexa Classic costs $5K, then even under these very modest assumptions, you'll break even on that investment after just one single year of shooting. 

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