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Alexa Studio... thoughts from an operating perspective?


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#1 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 08:30 AM

Hi guys,

 

I have a feature coming up later in the year and I'm liking the idea of using an Alexa Studio for it. We'll have quite a lot of practical light flashes in the film, so I like the idea of the mirror shutter to avoid the partial exposure frames that a conventional rolling shutter yields. 

 

However I haven't seen the Studio model up close before, and haven't shot through an optical viewfinder since shooting 16mm short films at uni a **gulp** decade ago.

 

I was wondering if anyone could comment on their experiences using the Studio compared to a conventional Alexa?

 

- How did you find the optical viewfinder after becoming used to what-you-see-is-what-you-get with electronic viewfinders?

- Did the extra weight of the camera make much of a difference on set?

- Was 800 ISO a problem outdoors having to put so much ND in front of the lens (and therefore darken the image coming into the optical viewfinder)?

- Did the noise from the mirror shutter cause any issues for sound recording?

 

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Cheers,

Mark


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#2 Miguel Angel

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 08:07 PM

Hi there, 

 

I have used the Alexa Studio on a commercial where I was the b cam operator and everything was hand-held on Cooke S4.

 

It is heavier than the Plus, just by a tad but I'm really fit so it didn't make a difference when it was all barebones... now, once you start adding bits and pieces (and the Cookes :D) you feel it at the end of the day.

Said that, if you play always on a tripod or a dolly, it doesn't make a difference at all! :D

 

As for the noise, no problems! if the sound guy can hear the mirror spinning inside the camera then you need to change his mic ha!

 

Regarding ND's, I can't comment on it as we were on studio, I'd say tho that it won't be a problem as I have used many 35mm cameras with ND2.1 filters in the matte box and I could see perfectly. 

 

Shooting through an optical viewfinder is great though, I could feel my eye more relaxed and less tired than when I work with an electronic viewfinder so definitely that's a thing to consider.

 

You still have the option of attaching an onboard monitor so the "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" image is still there if you need to see it at any stage.

 

All in all I like the Studio very much but if I were going to shoot a movie where everything were hand-held, it wouldn't be my chosen camera as it is heavy, however, if I were going to shoot everything on a tripod or on a dolly, it is a fantastic camera and the spinning mirror adds the extra thing! 

 

I would say that it is the Arri 535 of the Alexa family! :D that would be my comparison! haha. 

 

Have a good day!.


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#3 Neal Norton

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 08:20 PM

Hi Mark:

 

I used the Alexa XT Studio for a film I shot last year.  We spec'd this camera because we were shooting a bunch of projected images and the regular Alexa would consistently have some kind of image problems with projected video (banding, tearing, etc.)  We tested for months and even considered using a Sony F65 with a mechanical shutter.  The Alexa studio won the hearts of the visual effects supervisor for the best results with the projectors.

 

We were shooting "Open Gate" and the optical finder will not show the whole image as recorded so the optical finder was pretty useless for this job.  We capped the optical finder and used the regular EVF-1 and an on-board monitor to operate.

 

After a while I figured out that the studio camera handles motion and flicker issues better than the non-mechanical shutter Alexa.  I ended up shooting the studio whenever I could - the pictures are simply better.  If you don't have both cameras side by side then the small improvement in image quality is very hard to see - but it is there.  The mechanical shutter is really of benefit if you can afford to shoot the camera.

 

FYI I also worked on a film where the DP operated "A" camera and he also used the on-board monitor to operate the Alexa Studio even though it was not "Open Gate".  I would use the optical finder when I was on that camera and liked it.

 

We had no problems with shutter noise.  The camera is very quiet.

 

The studio cameras are not a great option for steadicam or a lot of hand held.  It is heavier and the wider shape is a liability.

 

If you are stacking filters up front instead of the internal filters I think you might like the EVF-1 better... but I never had much of a problem with that.

 

Regards,

 

Neal Norton

Director of Photography


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#4 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 07:09 AM

Thanks guys, that's really helpful. Appreciate the advice.
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#5 Bruce Greene

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Posted 01 April 2016 - 10:30 PM

I used the Alexa studio on a picture a couple years ago. At first I thought I'd like the optical finder, but just found it too dark for judging lighting, even without ND filters being used. The rental house had no electronic finder available.

Also, the built in ND 1.2 filter did not have IR compensation and it effected the skin tones in sunlight. .. . That's my experience :)
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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 07:04 AM

Thanks Bruce, I've read a few things about IR contamination issues that people have had with the internal ND. While I've never had IR issues before with only four stops of ND up front, beyond that you really need an IR cut filter, so I'll certainly make a point of using IRNDs for any additional ND that we put in front of the lens.

 

Cheers


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#7 Giray Izcan

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 07:01 PM

Bruce, how's the optical finder in comparison to a 535 or an Arricam? In terms of brightness.
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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 10:38 PM

Giray, the finder is similar to a 535...
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#9 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 05:42 AM

I've just watched an introduction session that Rule Boston Camera held with the Studio, and it was mentioned that you can't run the mirror shutter above 30fps with onboard batteries (apparently it needs 18v to power the camera and shutter at 31-60fps). Can anyone confirm or debunk this? (I can't find that same caveat listed anywhere else online).

 

Cheers


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