Announces Partnership with Zeiss on High-Quality Anamorphic Lens

ARRI expanded its digital cinema camera line-up at NAB last week with the announcement of the ALEXA Plus 4:3 — it's basically an ALEXA Plus with a 4:3 Super-35 sensor and built-in anamorphic, high-speed, and DNxHD capabilities.

A 4:3 aspect ratio means the full area of the sensor can be used with anamorphic lenses, which "squeeze" the image horizontally during capture to generate a widescreen image with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. When used with spherical lenses, the company noted, the taller sensor gives post-production more latitude to reframe the image by moving the top and bottom framelines up or down.

ARRI currently offers a DNxHD license that enables recording in 8-bit 4:2:2 and 10-bit 4:2:2 modes to SxS PRO cards. In the fourth quarter, DNxHD 444 will be available as a free update.

The ALEXA Plus 4:3 is scheduled to ship next month at a price of €67,900 ($89,696).

ARRI's Marc Shipman-Mueller said the ALEXA M, announced at last year's NAB, will finally ship in May for $100,290, calling it "a specialist camera for specialist applications" such as helicopter shoots and dashboard cameras. He also said customer feedback had inspired the development of a "D bracket," named for its shape, that will allow users of the modular M camera to put its two parts back together in a single rig when they want a single-piece system.

For existing users, a slate of firmware upgrades will add new features to the ALEXA camera series in 2012, including a new Debayer algorithm, two new ProRes recording formats (4:3 and 2K), vertical image-mirroring for low-mode Steadicam shots, card spanning, Cooke /i lens system compatibility, and more. What's more, ARRI says the upgrades will be free of charge.

Also at NAB, ARRI's product manager for lenses, Thorsten Meywald, revealed that ARRI and Zeiss are working together on what he called a "completely new lens design … with never-before-seen image quality" for anamorphic cinematography. Details were sparse, but keep an eye out for more information coming out of IBC in September.