Gene Nagata of Potato Jet, a self-described “professionally unprofessional potato with way too many cameras,” traveled to Germany to visit Arri and learn more about the company’s extremely professional cameras, lenses, and other cinema gear.
Potato Jet kicked off its tour of Arri’s headquarters in Munich, Germany, by putting an Arri Alexa 35 camera through a stress test. Nagata released a weight, letting it smash into the camera — a few times. Nagata didn’t seem to enjoy hitting a $65,000 camera very much.
Next, Nagata chatted with some of Arri’s apprentices. For the first six months, apprentices only work with hand files to shape titanium blocks, meticulously honing their craft.
The raw titanium eventually becomes important components of Arri’s cameras. Throughout each step of the production process, there’s rigorous quality control. For example, assembled cameras are shaken for 20 minutes on each axis to see if there are any issues with the glue or screws holding the cameras together.
As evidenced by the stress test at the beginning of the video, Arri builds its cameras to withstand extreme situations and the rigors of professional workflows. While users are often careful, Arri works hard to ensure its cameras can survive the inevitable accidents that occur in studios and out in the field.
In addition to being hit and shaken, cameras are tested in controllable temperature chambers to ensure they work as expected when exposed to ambient temperatures ranging from -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). The cameras must work at maximum performance throughout the temperature range to pass muster.
The next step was the Arri Rental building, where Arri employees prepare rental cameras and lenses for cinematographers worldwide. Arri Rental facilities across North America, continental Europe, and the United Kingdom provide equipment to award-winning filmmakers, including exclusive cameras like the Alexa 65, Alexa Monochrome, and Arriflex 765.
Arri can also tune lenses for specific purposes, adapting its exclusive optics to cinematographers’ requirements. Lenses are adjusted by technicians to different demands, tested in an in-house theater, and then adjusted further if needed.
Potato Jet also tested equipment, visited different manufacturing areas, and chatted with various Arri employees.
A lot of care and attention goes into Arri’s cameras and lenses, but just how good are cameras like the Arri Alexa? PetaPixel featured another of Potato Jet’s videos before comparing the Canon 80D DSLR to an $80,000 Arri Alexa. Another YouTube channel, Film Riot, recently pitted one of Arri’s $26,000 Master Prime lenses against a $500 Rokinon lens to see what sort of benefits videographers achieve by spending an extra $25,500.