Updated 14 August 2019
Cinema cameras are large sensor cameras with many of the advantages of both pro camcorders and system still cameras. The big sensors and interchangeable lenses make for really good image quality. Most of them also have pro sound features, handle better than DSLRs, and record in formats that stand up better to being manipulated ‘in post’ (at the editing stage) than basic DSLR footage. And they don’t suffer the ‘moiré’ effect which results from shooting video with a sensor designed for high resolution still photography.
The Canon C100 is popular with professionals, and an obvious next step for Canon DSLR users, though it only records 1080p HD. You can pick up the Mark I version used at a bargain price.
If you want a Canon cinema camera with 4K recording you’ll need the much more expensive Canon C200 or C300 MkII.
The Sony FS5 is lighter and more ergonomic than the C100 and can shoot 240fps slow motion HD and 4K. It has a better viewfinder but its video autofocus isn’t as advanced.
The BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K can record high quality 4K RAW and ProRes files at up to 60fps and has an MFT lens mount. At $1295/£1200 it’s very good value, though it’s unlikely to be as robust as the Canon and Sony alternatives.
The new 6K version has a bigger ‘Super 35’ sensor (like the Canon C series) and a more useful Canon EF lens mount, but it’s almost twice the price.
- Excellent image quality
- Lots of creative control
- Good in low light
- Most are big
Serious filmmakers, news and documentary filmmakers who can afford them.
I teach all kinds of people to make films. I provide training for businesses, arts organisations, nonprofits and education. I’ve worked on film education projects with Apple Education, the British Film Institute, Film Education, Film: 21st Century Literacy and many more. My publications include Making Movies Make Sense and Editshots.