As much as we can come out and say that most filmmaking is not about the gear, we have to also admit that a tiny bit of it is definitely about the gear. There is a reason that equipment like the ARRI ALEXA are selected for high-end productions. That isn’t to say that affordable gear can’t produce images that are on par with equipment multiple times its cost – it absolutely can.
It is still nice to see some of these options put head to head. Today we have one such comparison from filmmaker Blaine Westropp. He took an ARRI ALEXA Mini LF and did tests against a Sony FX3. There’s a price difference of tens of thousands of dollars between them.
Both cameras are set to ISO 640, 5600K, and with no tint. The lens was a DZOFilm Vespid 35mm T2.1 used wide open with an ARRI .3 ND and a 1/125 second shutter speed. Also the same between the two cameras is a UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution. Where they differ is in the codec and gamma. ARRI uses ProRes 4444 in Log-C while the FX3 is internal XAVC S-I with S-Log3.
This was all with the lighting of the scene, which features large windows in the background effectively backlighting the subject. This is a tough scene to handle well once graded, and Westropp aimed to start clipping the highlights slightly to see how they are handled. In Rec.709 there was slight clipping but in log the information was retained.
Anyway, it does seem again that a sub-$4,000 camera is competing with one that breaks the $20,000 mark.
The FX3 delivers in terms of pure image quality. Plenty of dynamic range and decent color handling throughout the whole scene – both ungraded and graded.
The ARRI ALEXA has some subtle differences and appears to have a slightly more neutral color, but that’s a huge jump in price for a minor gain. Don’t get me wrong, these differences matter, just not to your everyday shooter.
What is curious is that Blaine points out that it is difficult to match the two cameras. So, while the FX3 is an amazing camera, it might not be the best if you are aiming to add a B camera to your ARRI kit.
What are your thoughts after watching the footage?
[source: Blaine Westropp]