The Arriflex-S (also Arri-S) is a small professional camera. It's pin registration creates very steady images compared to the Bolex, Auricon, CP-16, and Krasnogorsk 16mm cameras. And it's reflex viewing make a camera that is fast to set focus and frame shots.
In it's most basic state the camera is an MOS camera that makes a significant amount of noise. It makes even more noise when the optional 400' magazine is attached. The 400' magazine has an additional torque motor that is very loud.
The arri standard lens mount has a specific lens orientation so the focus marks and the f or t stop marks are always in the same upright and easily viewable position. The mount is fairly strong and is certainly robust enough for small prime lenses. The camera was manufactured with a three lens mount rotating turret. But the turret is sometimes replaced with a single lens mount hard front. When this conversion is done a PL mount or a Nikon mount is usually the mount of choice for the replacement. The hard front lens mount replacement give an even stronger base from which heavy zoom lenses can be mounted.
Variable speed motors, constant speed motor, AC sync motors, and crystal sync motors are all available for this camera. Without special modification this camera does not shoot faster than 48fps. The motor mount for the Arriflex-M is the same as the Arriflex-S so motors are interchangeable between the two. The motor is easily user changed and requires no tools.
Variants of the camera include the SB (bayonet lens mount), and the ST (pilot tone output for synchronous audio recording). The Arriflex-SB has one of it's three lens mounts fitted with a stainless steel bayonet mount. This mount is backwards compatible with arri standard mount lenses and is stronger and has a more precise flange focal distance than the regular arri standard mount. The Arriflex-ST includes a pilotone output so the cameras running speed may recorded onto a properly equipped audio recorder like a stellavox or a nagra. This system allows for lip sync accurate audio recording.
Because the camera can otherwise be so useful for audio recording it is sometimes placed in a sound proofing blimp so it may be used for studio recording. When in a blimp the camera become very heavy and is no longer useable as a hand held camera. It also require special support, tripods and gimbals that allow for easy movement of heavy equipment.
The camera that is most similar to the Arriflex-S that is not made by Arri is the Russian camera Kinor 16CX-1M.
To view some films shot with an Arriflex-S visit these pages:
The Little Man
Prospector Pete No. 1
While the Arriflex-S has been modified in several ways like including a video tap, fitting into underwater housing and being converted to a super-16mm gate these conversions are not common and are somewhat difficult and expensive.