The best cinema cameras are typically quite different to regular mirrorless cameras. The outright specifications may look similar, but cinema cameras are designed for high-end professional video work which demands connectivity, modular design and a collaborative production workflow. As the prices of 'industry standard' cine cameras drop, more and more videographers are choosing to use them. While the ability to shoot in 6K, 8K or even 12K is a welcome feature, the form factor, video codecs and connections a cine camera has are very important.
The company that's really blurring the boundaries between consumer and cinema cameras is Blackmagic. Its latest camera, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 can capture 6K Raw or Apple ProRes, with built-in support for custom user LUTs and Blackmagic's Davinci Resolve Studio software as part of the package. This program is right up with Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro as the three top-tier best video editing software programs of all. And yet, you can get this camera for less that $2000/£2000!
We've excluded Arri and Red cameras from our list of best cinema cameras due to the fact they sell seriously high-end bits of kit that are a little out of the price range for most commercial filmmakers. While many mirrorless cameras also offer very high-quality video, they are slightly different from cine cameras so they also haven't been included. For anyone looking for a stills camera that offers excellent video recording features, check out our guides on the best cameras for 4K video and the best cameras for video.
There's also the DJI Ronin 4D (opens in new tab) - an 8K or 6K cinema camera that is basically a flightless drone. It's the first cinema camera to include 4-axis stabilization which means it will absorb a lot of the movement from walking and running shots and it won't be so necessary to record sliding shots on a dolly. This latest release from DJI goes to show how varied cine camera designs.
To make the guide easier to digest, we've split it into two sections that cover different types of cinema cameras. They are:
• Full size cinema cameras: What you would expect to see on a film or TV set, these cameras are pretty big once you add a lens, monitor, handle etc and have lots of connections ports and mounting points for professional needs.
• Portable cinema cameras: Pioneered by Blackmagic, these professional-grade cameras may be smaller than a 'proper' cine cam but they are still mighty. Canon and Sony have also jumped on the bandwagon and released their own versions of a pint-sized cine cam.
Best cinema cameras in 2022
Full size cinema cameras
Despite the Sony FX6 not having 6 or 8K capabilities, we think the stunning 4K it outputs still makes it deserve the top spot. After all, unless you're cropping into the footage most TVs won't display it in all its glory anyway. It has the same sensor as the Sony A7S III only it's been improved to give better low-light performance, the ability to shoot DCI 17:9 CRK (rather than just 4K) plus it has an XLR input and built in filters.
It also benefits from the traditional cine camera style handling so you can easily mount the best external monitors or one of the best mics. Even at high ISO's, it can shoot stunning, noise-free 4K, it has incredibly fast video AF and shoots 10-bit internally. If you're looking for something to travel with, the portability of the A7S III would be better but if it's for professional projects close to home we think the Sony FX6 is pretty unbeatable.
Read more: Sony FX6 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Since the release of the C300 Mark II it was the go-to camera for many cinematographers but the release of the Mark III completely overshadows it. The Canon C300 Mark III (opens in new tab) is the first camera to benefit from Canon's Dual Gain Output technology (in other words, dual native ISO) which results in a remarkably clean, low light picture quality, HDR acquisition and an enormous 16 stops of dynamic range. It's capable of recording up to 120fps in 4K Super35 or 180fps in 2K Super16. Internal recording options include 4K Cinema RAW Light at 10-bit or 12-bit, 2K Raw at 10-bit or 12-bit and XF-AVC (MXF) at 4:2:2 10-but ALL-I or LongGOP. It benefits from a modular design that extends to the lens mount and can be changed between EF, PL or EF Cinema Lock without needing to take it to be serviced. While it is a great camera, a lot of these features can be found in cheaper alternatives.(opens in new tab)
If you want a camera you can brag about, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K has earnt bragging rights thanks to its astonishing 79.6-megapixel sensor, In fact, it's the highest resolution cinema camera on the market and is capable of shooting 12K Blackmagic Raw files with 14 stops of dynamic range and a very filmic look. If like us, the thought of the 12K file sizes sends a shiver down your spine, drop the resolution down to a more reasonable 8 or 6K and not only is the quality still incredible but it can shoot at frame rates no other camera can. Based on the original Ursa Mini Pro it does have a few features it's lacking such as IBIS, phase-detection AF, continuous AF and no other codecs except RAW. It's definitely a camera aimed at experienced cinematographers who want complete control when shooting rather than someone who wants a camera to suit everything.
Read more: Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Blackmagic’s cinema cameras are an industry favourite, and the URSA Mini Pro is a shining example as to why its products get so much love from filmmakers. Despite costing significantly less than a Canon C300 II, it delivers the same 15 stops of dynamic range, as well as up to 4.6K resolution shooting at a staggering 150fps when shooting RAW. The inbuilt ND filter at two, four or six stops is combined with IR compensation. Like the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (below), the Mini Pro G2 can record directly to an SSD through its USB-C port, and it also features two SDXC cards and two CFast cards as well. Pick one up one of these excellent cinema cameras and you even get a free copy of DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic’s excellent video editing suite, which now comes loaded with audio and graphics software to elevate your footage beyond simple edits and grading.
Should we consider this a full-size or a portable cinema camera? It's designed for portable use, but it's quite a size. The DJI Ronin 4D 6K is unlike any other cinema camera out there. You almost have to think about it in two parts - the body which consist of all the camera controls, screen and gimbal arm and then the DJI Zenmuse X9 camera. It's not a light bit of kit weighing almost 5kg but you've got to remember you won't need to add much weight to it like you would with other cinema cameras as it has a gimbal with 4-axis of stabilisation built in.
It's definitely a different type of camera to get used to that will require some learning but for cinematographers who find themselves always using a gimbal or stabilisation rig it's well worth looking into. It's also available in an 8K version for those who want even better resolution although is still able to record in ProRes 422 HQ and H.264 4:2:0 10-bit at various different frame rates (check out the review to see the full list).
Perhaps this is the future of cinema cameras, taking a more hybrid approach rather than needing modular systems where you need additional kit. If you're new to videography and looking for an all-in-one package, it's certainly a good way of entering the world of film with a camera that can shoot anything, anywhere.
The Z cam E2 offers features that top-end brands such as Arri and Red cameras offer such as its own raw codec known as Z Raw and ProRes. It can shoot DCI and UHD 4K at 160fps for slow-motion shots as well as full HD at 240fps for super slow-motion recording. It's able to shoot 10-bit ProRes 4:2:2 as well as H.265 and H.264 codecs so you can compress your footage but maintain the quality. It has 13 stops of dynamic range using ZLog or 16 stops of dynamic range in WDR mode and is compatible with lots of lenses due to its popular Micro Four Thirds mount. The camera can easily be controlled by an app on your smartphone and use it to enable a live view feature via Wifi or a USB cable - a welcome feature considering it has no screen. It's powered by a Sony L series battery which unfortunately is not included, you can however connect it to an AC adapter and power it from the mains. For the money, you get a lot of professional features that you won't get on other cameras, especially for less than £2000/$2761.(opens in new tab)
For serious video shooters, the Panasonic Lumix BSH1 boxcam can make a lot of sense as it can be rigged up for a multitude of different uses. It has a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor with Dual Native ISO technology, 14+ stops of dynamic range and an OLPH (Optical Low Pass Filter) which helps to suppress moire and false colors and make it excellent in low light. It's capable of recording 6K 24p or 4K 60p 10 bit when using an image area equivalent to Super 35mm. If you're using the entire 35mm sensor area, it can shoot 4K 30p 10-bit 4.2.2 in H.264.
With live streaming growing increasingly popular, the BS1H is capable of transmitting high-quality footage to social streaming platforms over a wired LAN collection. It can stream 4K 60p video in H.265 which means the bit rate is halved and the image quality is kept the same. The lack of a screen may be off-putting but its modular system means you can easily attach an external recorder such as the Atmos Ninja V which will also make it capable of outputting 12-bit raw video.(opens in new tab)
The Panasonic EVA1 is Netflix-approved, something you don’t usually find in such a small cinema camera. It’s just 1.2Kg without a lens, so is a great run and gun option, and even fits on a gimbal, especially if you’re shooting with a pancake lens. The 3.5-inch screen goes a step beyond articulating – you can detach it and reposition it depending on what you’re shooting, though outdoor viewability isn’t great. As for its 5.7K CMOS sensor, it oversamples to create excellent 4K results, and just like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (below), the EVA1 also has a dual native ISO, giving it two sweet spots, one at an ISO of 800, the other at 2500. This results in less grain and more dynamic range. With a compatible recorder such as the Atomos Shogun, the camera can output 5.7K RAW or 240fps at 2K resolution, so while the slow-motion capabilities might not be class-leading when working with the out-of-the-box kit, couple it with a few accessories and you can get stellar results that are ready for the big and small screen alike.
Portable cinema cameras(opens in new tab)
The Canon EOS C70 is like a remixed C300 Mark III. It packs the same Super35 sensor, Dual Gain Output, 16 stops of dynamic range and 4K 120fps / 2K 180fps performance into a compact form factor more like a traditional stills camera. It also packs a touchscreen that changes the game for Cinema EOS cameras, with touch control making it so much easier to maintain focus. For lone shooters, the C70 boasts the iTR AFX system from the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, with head detection and spookily accurate autofocus. The only cinema camera to use Canon's RF mount, it opens up a world of cutting-edge optics – and not only can you still use EF lenses, but a new Canon speed booster enables you to use them with an extra f-stop and a full-frame angle of view! However, it doesn't record in raw and there's no option to use PL lenses – for that, you'll need to step up to the C300.
Read more: Canon EOS C70 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
We've just finished reviewing the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2, the new, 'entry level' 6K model, and it boasts many of the features in this Pro version. However, it's still the Pro model we would go for because for a little extra outlay it offers a brighter screen and built-in ND filters. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is an evolution of the original 6K model, but while it might look like a mirrorless camera in its shape, you do have to get used to the handling from the odd size and large shape of the Super35mm Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro – which is certainly far from being pocket size. And the lack of continuous autofocus, image stabilization or any auto-exposure can be an issue for some. It’s definitely not a run and gun camera. But if you use it as a tool for considered, cinematic shooting then it’s a bit of a steal as it produces rich, detailed files in raw or ProRes from its dual native ISO sensor.(opens in new tab)
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K looks great value for money today and it's an intriguing alternative for Olympus or Panasonic users who've already invested in MFT lenses. It has some disadvantages, such as no continuous AF and a fixed screen, but this is a cinema camera not a vlogging camera. It always comes back to bang for buck with the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. When you consider the fact you have a mini XLR audio input as well as USB-C storage support for recording to hard drives, a full sized HDMI port and dual card slots, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K leapfrogs the competition in almost every video-centric area. Consider that the camera also ships with a full licence for Davinci Resolve, an excellent bit of pro video-editing software that normally costs $295/£239, the Pocket Cinema 4K is quite a bargain.
Read more: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
What sets the Sony FX3 apart from other video-centric Sony cameras such as the Sony A7S III (opens in new tab)is the speckled grey color of the casing. We have a sneaky suspicion that the FX3 is what the A7S III should've been all along and despite being part of the FX family it very much looks like the Alpha series cameras. However, the FX3 is without a doubt a certified movie camera complete with Sony Cinetone0S color science, a detachable handle with XLR audio input, integrated mounting points and a movie-specific control layout that is a complete change to what we know on existing Alpha models. It's so new that we still haven't been able to test it yet due to high demand but we suspect that once we've had the chance to put it through its paces it's likely to appear much higher on this list.
Mirrorless vs cinema cameras: what's the difference?
So what makes a cinema camera a cinema camera? Some argue it's when it's clearly designed to capture video rather than stills while others could argue it comes down to size, the lens mount it has and whether or not it has capabilities of shooting in raw or ProRes.
• New form factors: The Sigma fp (opens in new tab) and the new Sigma fp L (opens in new tab) are both very interesting indeed in this context. They are both stills/video hybrids, but both have a modular form factor and a cine-focused interface that qualifies them for this guide.
• 8K isn't everything: Obviously the 8K capture of the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and Sony A1 (opens in new tab) have made the headlines, but they are both stills cameras that can shoot video and not purpose-made cine cameras. For that, there's the Canon EOS C70 (opens in new tab) or the Sony FX3 (opens in new tab).
• Cinematography vs filmmaking vs vlogging: If you're looking for the best camera for vlogging (opens in new tab) you might find the cameras on this list a bit overkill. Not only are most of them very expensive but they require a lot of technical knowledge in order to get the best out of them. If you're looking for more of an all-round camera, our guides on the best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab) or best camera for video (opens in new tab) will be more helpful.
In this guide, we're sticking to cameras designed for professional film and tv production. There is one section for your top-end, high spec, modular cinema cameras and one for the more portable cinema cameras capable of 4K and 6K.
You can think of the first list as 'A' cameras and the second as backup 'B' cameras if you were in a professional filmmaking environment. However, any of these 'B' cameras could be ideal for independent filmmakers or single-handed video shooters who have moved beyond vlogging and are ready to put time and effort into their filmmaking.
How we test cameras
We test cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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