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Review: - App Zapper - App Delete

May, 2006




Arriflex 416, First Look


by Tim Carroll

Got a chance to play with the Arriflex 416 this past week at NAB and talk with Klemens Kehrer, the 416's design engineer and Marc Shipman-Mueller, its product manager. Here's what I found out.

ARRI began work on the camera in late 2004 because of the resurgence in Super 16. The indicators were; increased sales of the SR3 Advanced cameras, increased footage sales of Kodak Vision2 16mm film stock, the scarcity of camera rental stock as the cameras were continuously rented out, the introduction of the new Cooke and Canon lenses, the refinement of the DI process allowing Super 16 capture and 35mm release, and the leap forward in film scanning brought about by the introduction of the Spirit telecine and the ARRISCAN.

ARRI started with a series of focus groups, asking cinematographers what they didn't like about the SR3 and other Super 16 cameras and what they would like to see in a new camera. Three issues became apparent.

The first issue was with the viewfinder. The SR3 viewfinder interfered with some wide diameter lenses, including the new Master Prime lenses, and equally important, cinematographers wanted a viewfinder that was brighter and easier to use for critical focus. ARRI addressed the issue by taking the mechanical design of the Arriflex 235 viewfinder and creating a new optical design from scratch. The new viewfinder has completely new glass and gives a brighter, higher resolution and higher contrast image, and frees up the front of the camera to accept all the new lenses available. The camera also comes standard with RGB ARRIGLOW to make framing in difficult light situations easier. Trying the camera at the ARRI booth, I found the viewfinder very crisp with a 9.5 Ultra 16 prime mounted.

The second issue was camera noise. The SR3 Advanced had a noise specification of between 20 dbA and 22 dbA. The 416 has a noise specification of below 20 dbA. This was accomplished by using rubber insulators to hold the camera body's inner skeleton and by having the internal skeleton of the magazine also held by rubber insulators. The magazine is also not driven anymore by a gear from the camera, but by its own silent motor. Running the camera containing a 400 foot load running at 24 fps, I had to press my ear against the side of the camera to tell if it was running, and even then I could barely discern a whispered purr. The camera is amazingly quiet.

The third issue was camera ergonomics. Cinematographers wanted a camera that was lighter weight, easier to hand hold, and would fit on their shoulder much better than the SR design. ARRI realized that the electronics had to be moved from the base of the camera, as in the SR's, so they relocated them to the right side of the body. The display was kept on the left side of the body but with the electronics change, the camera was now too wide. The throat of the old SR magazine design did not allow for narrowing, so ARRI designed a new magazine from scratch.

With the new design, when the film travels through the magazine throat, it is now traveling in a straight up and down line, instead of at a diagonal line as with the SR. To accomplish this ARRI had to reversed the feed and take-up sides of the magazine. Feed is now on the left side and take-up is on the right. As mentioned earlier, each magazine contains its own silent motor so there is no gear connection between the magazine and camera body. The front edges of the magazine throat have been reinforced so that the magazine can be "slapped" into the camera without fear of damage.

The magazine loads differently than the SR but after a brief instructional demonstration, I was able to load one almost as quickly as I can load my SR. While I was at the ARRI booth Jon Fauer was also there going over the camera with Marc and Klemens so I hope to see an Arriflex 416 Book in the near future.

As far as weight, the stock 416 is 25% lighter than the stock SR3. The 416 Plus is 28% lighter than the SR3 and the UMC-3.

While discussing the magazine design with Klemens, I discovered the following. The entire 416 is CNC machined from solid blocks of aircraft grade aluminum, there are no castings used in the camera or magazine. The movement from the SR3, the SR3 fiber screens and SR3 timecode system are the only parts from the old camera to carry over to the 416. The camera runs crystal sync from 1 - 75 fps with speed ramping throughout the range.

The new Lithium Ion 24 volt battery is three times more powerful than the SR3 battery and can run five 400 foot magazines and power the camera in standby mode for two hours on one charge. The battery can also communicate with the camera which measures power draw and displays how many magazines can be run with the remaining power in the battery.

The viewfinder and video tap are totally separate systems, so you can shoot on a tripod with the viewfinder and the video tap running, then for a Steadicam shot, just take the camera off the tripod, pop off the viewfinder, put on the little cover, and attach the camera to a Steadicam. The video tap, (or IVS in ARRI-speak) is an improved version of the one used on the 235 which uses electronic sharpening (increase in contrast) to give a sharper, clearer picture.

There are no plans to make an 800 foot magazine or a High Speed version of the camera and the SR3 Advanced High Speed will still be sold.

The stock 416 is without the electronics for the lens motors and wireless remote control modem. The 416 Plus includes these electronics.

Right now, the goal is to sell the stock 416 for the same price as the stock SR3, and the 416 Plus for somewhat less than the SR3 plus UMC-3.

Having played with the camera for about thirty minutes I can say that it is noticeably lighter than the SR, fits your shoulder quite nicely, has a great viewfinder, is practically noiseless, and loads as simply as my old SR.

The camera should be available by the end of the year.

For more information about the camera, go to:

Tim Carroll splits his time between directing, cinematography and motion picture camera repair. He also runs the web site.

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