Almost two years ago now, Canon brought the C300 to the market and totally dominated. In 2013 the most rented camera according to a Televisual survey was the C300 (Incidentally the Arri Alexa was second on that list.) Since then Sony has launched the F5, and now Arri are launching the Amira. All of these major companies are clearly aiming at the same place: a mid range camera, cheaper than the Alexa, but more usable than the black magic camera , C100, or Sony's FS700.
The Arri Alexa is obviously a fantastic camera when it comes to picture quality, but it has loads of issues with usability when it comes to documentaries or any run and gun work. The first of these is weight, it is a heavy lump of a camera to lug around without a large crew to help. The second issue is power, the Arri Alexa sucks through batteries which can be a pain when you are out and about. In order for the Arri Amira to be a contender in that mid range arena for the owner operator, it needs to look at both of these issues.
There is certainly a lot of excitement about the Amira, so what is all the fuss about. Firstly, Arri know what they are doing when it comes to making cameras, they have one of the most reputable names in the industry, and they promise a massive 14 stops of dynamic range with the new Amira. The idea seems to be the quality of the Alexa in a rugged ENG body.
Secondly, they are deliberately aiming at the owner operator, ergonomically the camera looks like it makes a lot of sense. Canon tried this too with the C300, but the body shape is still a bit odd, it is quite top heavy and once the camera is off the tripod, put it on the floor and it easily topels over. The Arri website shows a much more balanced camera with a dove tail shoulder mount, sitting happily on an operator's shoulder and on a dusty road, clearly Arri have thought about who they are marketing to. Sony also went a long way to solve the ergonomic issue with the f5, but Arri appear to be going one step further with the Amira.
What about lenses? According to Arri the Amira will have three different mounts the B-4, EOS or PL.
And the best bit? The chip of the Amira is going to give the same picture quality as the Alexa, essentially a cinema camera. If a client is unsure about your camera, you just tell them Roger Deakins shot Skyfall on it, and that should be enough. Additionally the Arri Amira will shoot 200 frames per second at full 1080 or 2k, far better than the c300 with 60 frames at 720.
Some people may be concerned about 4k and about future of a 2k camera, but realistically how many people do you know with a 4k TV and how many channels do you know that broadcast in 4k? Another point about this is many films are shot on the Alexa, and then blown up in 4k cinemas, and so far I haven't heard of many people asking for their money back.
So the big question, how much? As yet this hasn't been announced, although CVP in England are guessing at 25K. Since the c500 sells for 17k I would guess that somewhere between 17 and 25k would makes sense.