October 24, 2019

Life Through the Lens

The most technologically advanced film cameras in the world are available for hire in South Africa, thanks to our diligent, reliable and innovative suppliers. Katie Reynolds-Da Silva explores in more detail.

Visual Impact offers a comprehensive rental service for all of their clients’ needs, complimented by an unmatchable sales department offering a wide variety of products for sale. Visual Impact SA has branches in Cape Town and Johannesburg and provide equipment and support throughout Africa and productions leaving from South Africa to Europe and America. We have one of the few, full engineering workshops in South Africa. We are able to offer a wide range of equipment from high speed cameras to grips, lighting, HD cameras and 3D rigs and workflow support. Visual Impact provides mobile editing suits, DIT or media wrangling vehicles. The company provides detailed workflow solutions and provide carnet services and support to assist clients shooting across borders.

Some of Visual Impact’s specialised projects include You Deserve It, X-Factor Nigeria, Idols Africa, The MTN Gladiators, The Apprentice, Survivor Series and Fear Factor series. The company has a proven track record servicing both local and international clients.

New Kid on the Block

On the camera front, all eyes are currently on the eagerly anticipated arrival – the Alexa Mini LF.

The Alexa LF vs the Alexa Mini LF


Sensor Size 36.7 x 25.54 36.7 x 25.54
Max Resolution 4448 x 3096 4448 x 3096
Media SXR Drive Codex Compact Drive
Codec ARRIRAW, ProRes 4444 XQ ARRIRAW, ProRes 4444 XQ
Max FPS 90 40
DR 14.5 stops 14.5 stops
Data Rate 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
Weight 7.8kgs 2.6kgs
Price $98 000 $54 000


Features of the Alexa Mini LF:

·         Best overall image quality in large format

·         Immersive large-format look

·         Lower noise with higher usable sensitivity

·         Highest dynamic range of any production camera

·         ARRI colour science for natural skin tones, easy colour correction and clean VFX

·         Perfect for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) displays

Additional new features:

·         Three internal, motorized large-format FSND filters: ND 0.6, 1.2 and 1.8

·         New dedicated, regulated 12 V and 24 V accessory power outputs

·         New SYNC IN and improved AUDIO connectors

·         Two built-in microphones

·         Six user buttons on camera’s left side

·         One LOCK button each for camera and viewfinder

·         Additional external Wi-Fi antenna

·         Easier access to media, VF and TC connectors

Great system compatibility:

·         Same sensor and recording formats as ALEXA LF

·         Compatible with LPL and PL mount lenses, Super 35 and full frame

·         Supports all anamorphic de-squeeze ratios

·         Compatible with almost all ALEXA Mini accessories

·         Compatible with ARRI and cmotion wireless remote systems

·         Works with 12 V and 24 V on-board batteries (∼65 W power draw)

Internal recording to new Codex Compact Drive:

·         Uncompressed and unencrypted MXF/ARRIRAW

·         Fast and efficient MXF/Apple ProRes

·         New Codex Compact Drive 1TB is small, tough and cost-efficient

·         Affordable Compact Drive Reader works without license or extra software

·         Compact Drive Adapter is compatible with SXR Capture Drive Docks

Crowd Favourites

For R16 000 a day, you can rent the Sony Venice, which features an all-new Full-Frame sensor with the classic 36 x 24mm dimensions that have been a staple of photography for over 100 years. Designed exclusively for high-end cinematography, this sensor can capture images up to a maximum resolution of 6048 x 4032. Switchable imager modes mean Venice can support an unprecedented number of cinematic aspect ratios for complete creative freedom

·         Full Frame Sensor

·         15+ stops of latitude

·         PL lens mount

·         Lever lock type E-mount

·         Anamorphic look

·         6K high resolution

·         8-step mechanical ND Filters


Compact, lightweight and self-contained, the ARRI ALEXA Mini is a versatile additional tool in the ALEXA camera range. Crews will find that the ALEXA Mini perfectly complements their ALEXA shooting kit, eliminating the complications of working with third-party cameras for specialized shots and keeping everything within a single system that is trusted all over the world.

·         35mm format ARRI ALEV III CMOS with Bayer pattern colour filter array

·         Electronic shutter, 5.0° to 356.0°

·         ProRes 4444XQ, 4444, 422 (HQ), 422, 422(LT), ARRIRAW

·         Titanium PL mount with L-Bus connector and LDS EF mount

·         4K UHD 3840×2160

·         Built-in Wi-Fi interface and web-based remote control from phones, tablets and laptops

The kit includes:

·         19 mm or 15 mm support

·         ARRI viewfinder

·         3 x 128g C fast cards and reader

·         Sony DVF – Onboard monitor

·         Shape batteries

·         ARRI or Wooden Camera top handle

·         Wooden Camera handheld support

Media Film Service

Media Film Service is one of the most well-known and trusted companies in the field of camera rentals.

The company is unrivalled in supplying high-end equipment, advice and support through a staff of knowledgeable professionals. They offer a full suite of modern products and services, including a full suite of familiar favourites, all maintained to the highest standard by internationally trained technicians. These include:

Phantom Flex

The Phantom Flex is a 2.5K digital cinema camera providing exceptional flexibility in all areas of high-speed image capture. Depending on the shooting mode and resolution, the Flex is capable of shooting from 5 frames-per-second (fps) to over 10,750 fps.

·         Up to 2 570 fps at 1920×1080 in Standard Mode

·         12-bit pixel depth

·         HQ Mode provides the ultimate in image stability under changing shooting conditions

·         Phantom CineMag & CineMag II compatible, CineMag interface has field-replaceable pin array

Phantom Flex 4K

 The Phantom Flex 4K is a full-featured digital cinema camera, capable of speeds that range from standard frames up to 1000 frames per second at 4K and almost 2000 frames per second at 2K.

At 4K resolution the flex4K offers super 35mm depth of field.

Onboard Anton Bauer batteries allow for handheld run and gun untethered to a PC.

  • 4096 x 2160 @ 1000 fps
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 1975 fps
  • 64gb internal RAM
  • 1TB CineMag IV
  • 6.3kg

6K Red Dragon

With the 6K RED DRAGON® sensor, you can capture over 9x more pixels than HD.

Unrivalled detail and impressive native exposure eclipse 35mm film in both latitude and image density.

Industry-leading specs distinguish the EPIC DRAGON as a model for image innovation, helming the evolution of digital cinema technology.

Sony F55

 Here is a camera engineered to reward its owners now and far into the future. The Sony 4K image sensor incorporates a remarkable electronic frame image scan. You get superb dynamic range, the widest colour gamut, and pristine image quality whether you shoot in HD, 2K or 4K.

With the optional AXS-R5 recorder, you can even make the jump to incredibly precise 16-bit Linear RAW in both 2K and 4K. 2K RAW High Frame Rate has arrived with the free v2.0 upgrade.

Alexa XT

All ALEXA XT cameras come with the new XR Module (Xtended Recording), a side panel that was co-developed with Codex to replace the previous SxS Module. The XR Module allows in-camera ARRIRAW recording up to 120 fps onto exceptionally fast and rugged 512 GB XR Capture Drives.

In addition to ARRIRAW it is also possible to capture ProRes or DNxHD to an XR Capture Drive for significantly longer recording times as well as ProRes 4444 recording at 120 fps. ProRes 4444 at 24 fps can be recorded for a total time of 107 minutes.

For the most effective use of anamorphic lenses, each ALEXA XT model is equipped with a 4:3 sensor of the same size and shape as a Super 35 mm film frame.


The ARRI AMIRA a versatile documentary-style camera that combines exceptional image quality and affordable CFast 2.0 workflows with an ergonomic design optimized for single-operator use and extended shoulder-mounted operation. Ready to pick up and shoot straight out of the camera bag.


  • 16:9 Sensor (Same Sensor as Other 16:9 ALEXA’s)
  • 2K/1080 Rec 709/Log C using ProRes LT, 422, 422HQ, or 444 codecs
  • Up to 200fps at ProRes 4444
  • Internal ND filters


Visual Impact: Camera Rental Rates 2019

ARRI ALEXA Mini R16 500 / day

ARRI LF R23 000 / day

SONY PMW-F55 R5 500 / day

CANON EOS C300 MK II R4 500 / day

CANON EOS C300 R 3000 / day

CANON EOS C200 R 3000 / day

SONY PXW-FS7 MKII R4 000 / day

SONY PXW-FS5 MK II R3 000 / day

SONY PMW 400 R4 500 / day

SONY PMW X400 R5 500 / day

Sony PXW-Z280 R3 500 / day

SONY PMW 300 R2 500 / day

Why We’re Tops

 South Africa’s reputation as a leading destination for all manner of film and TV production is thanks in no small part to its incredibly dedicated and hard-working service providers, such as Media Film Service and Visual Impact. We salute these teams, and the multitudes of others, who work tirelessly to ensure that local and international filmmakers have access to the perfect gear for each production. It is little wonder that South Africa remains top-of-mind for producers worldwide.

*Technical specifications kindly provided by the companies mentioned above.

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