Alexa Alternative Offers Similar Image Quality in a Run-and-Gun Config with ProRes Recording Options

ARRI began taking orders today for its new Amira camera, a documentary-style version of the ARRI Alexa that's become a standard for feature-film and television work. Most importantly, the company put an end to speculation on the camera's price. The basic configuration of the Amira, including viewfinder, will list for $39,999.

Aimed at corporate, online, and television users, that camera will offer Alexa-style image quality in a practical configuration for run-and-gun shooters. It records Rec. 709 ProRes 422 at up to 100 fps. The next step up adds Log C, ProRes 422 (HQ) recording at up to 200 fps, in-camera grading, and pre-record. Finally, the fully loaded Amira will be a worthy B camera on an Alexa shoot, with ProRes 4444 and 2K recording at up to 200 fps and support for custom 3D LUTs.

The only difference between the three camera models is price. Whichever model of Amira you buy, a license to upgrade the camera firmware to enable a higher level of functionality will be available through the ARRI website, the company said. ARRI did not immediately announce U.S. pricing for the more expensive cameras, but at least one dealer in the U.K. announced prices earlier today in Euros (€25,980, €28,980, and €32,980) that would suggest U.S. prices in the neighborhood of $45,000 and $50,000.

Some image enthusiasts have scoffed at the idea of a new ARRI camera that won't shoot 4K images or record raw footage, but the Alexa is a proven performer among pro users, and ARRI is banking that there's a significant market for a less-expensive option that can be easily used in run-and-gun mode but delivers Alexa image quality in the edit-ready ProRes format.

Shipments of the Amira are slated to begin in early Q2, ARRI said, meaning you may be able to try out a production model on the show floor at NAB if the company hits its target. Stay tuned.