Best Video Cameras for Indie Filmmakers
Have you ever wanted to get two cinematographers into a verbal smack-down. It’s easy, just ask them what camera currently on the market is the best. That may be an exagerration, but one thing is true, the market is flooded with tons of amazing cameras and unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all camera body for everyone. Luckily, there are a number of cameras that have risen to the top this year.
Here are my pics for the best cameras in both high and low ends of the spectrum. If there are any cameras I didn’t mention that you really like, feel free to list them below.
What RED says:
With the 6K RED DRAGON® sensor, you can capture over 9x more pixels than HD. Unrivaled 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.
What Arri says:
The ALEXA XT Plus (XT = Xtended Technology) is the most versatile and flexible of the ALEXA XT camera range, and thus a true allrounder. With an integrated wireless receiver for camera and lens remote control, built-in tilt and roll sensors, a DNxHD license and additional connectors for camera and lens control, signal output and accessory power supply, the ALEXA XT Plus offers the best value for anyone who can live without an optical viewfinder.
What Sony says?
Affordable 4K/2K RAW options with 4K Super35mm sensor and Super slow motion. The NEX-FS700R is an NXCAM camcorder with a superior 4K Super35mm CMOS sensor, super slow motion capability and an interchangeable E-mount lens system, offering unrivalled flexibility and creative expression.
If you like this article, you may also like my pics for the best lenses for new filmmakers.
What Canon says?
The Canon EOS C100 Mark II Digital HD Camera offers all of the advantages of its predecessor while adding advanced new imaging and operational features by popular demand. Optimized for one-person use and compatible with the full range of Canon EF, EF-S, and EF-mount CN-E Cinema lenses, this greatly evolved camera integrates the same Emmy®-Award winning Canon Super 35mm CMOS Sensor used in all of Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras, but now replaces the Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor with the more sophisticated Canon DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor. In addition to improved RGB video processing, the camera’s dual codec capability supports simultaneous AVCHD and MP4 recording, including 59.94P capture along with slow and fast motion recording. Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Face AF, wireless FTP video transfer, a built-in Canon Log LUT, GPS support and support for an extensive range of workflows, are additional operational features that have been added. A re-designed 270-degree rotating 3.5-inch OLED panel, and a tiltable large-size EVF with large-size eyecup, further empower the camera operator.
What does Blackmagic say?
the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K models feature a large Super 35 size sensor and professional PL or EF lens mounts, so is the perfect choice. You get incredible Ultra HD images with 12 stops of dynamic range for feature film quality shooting. The minimal crop factor lets you shoot with super wide angle lenses so you get images that are big and beautiful, plus have the dynamic range to capture highlight and shadow details far beyond that of any traditional video camera.
What Canon says:
With supercharged EOS performance and stunning full frame, high-resolution image capture, the EOS 5D Mark III is designed to perform. Special optical technologies like the 61-Point High Density Reticular AF and an extended ISO range of 100–25600 (expandable to 50 (L), 51200 (H1) and 102400 (H2) make the EOS 5D Mark III ideal for shooting weddings in the studio or out in the field, and great for still photography. Advanced professional-level high definition video capabilities (that includes a host of industry-standard recording protocols and enhanced performance) make it possible to capture beautiful cinematic movies in EOS HD quality. A newly designed 22.3 Megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, Canon DIGIC 5+ Image Processor, and shooting performance up to 6.0 fps provide exceptional clarity and sharpness, even when capturing rapidly-unfolding scenes. Additional technological advancements include an Intelligent Viewfinder, Canon’s advanced iFCL metering system, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Multiple Exposure mode-all of which help make the EOS 5D Mark III the perfect multimedia tool.
What Sony says:
Test the limits of your creativity with The World’s Fastest Focusing Camera1. Every artistic shot you take – from fast-action to candids – benefits from 24.3MP detail and BIONZ X processor. For capturing crucial moments that go by in a blink, the α6000 can shoot 11 photos in one second. It’s easy to use too, with two quick-access dials and custom buttons that let you change settings on the fly. Very intuitive.
What Sony says:
Presenting the α7S, the world’s smallest full frame interchangeable lens camera. Images and video come alive with a breakthrough 15.3 stops of dynamic range. ISO sensitivity up to 409,600 reveals astonishing detail and color even in the dead of night. Video excels with Full Pixel Readout, a 4K-optimized sensor and uncompressed 4K output via HDMI.
What Panasonic says:
Key features include: Professional photo performance with exceptional moiré suppression, 4K 24p cinematic video (4096×2160), plus 4K 3840×2160 30p/24p, High speed 49 area auto focusing in photo or video, perfect for hybrid photography, and Durable magnesium alloy body and exceptional shutter life meets the demands of professional use.
What Blackmagic says:
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design is a compact Super 16 format camera designed for digital film production. The Super 16 sized sensor has an effective resolution of 1920 x 1080 and is capable of capturing 13 stops of dynamic range. The Pocket Cinema Camera records Full HD video in either the lossless CinemaDNG RAW or Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) format. The active Micro Four Thirds lens mount can accommodate a growing range of MFT format lenses as well as a host of excellent legacy lenses via optional adapters. Blackmagic Design has packed all of these impressive features into a remarkably compact (5 x 2.6 x 1.5″) and lightweight (12.5 oz) magnesium alloy chassis.
What Canon says:
The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and Canon’s superb DIGIC 5 Image Processor. Combined with an extensive ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode), the EOS Rebel T5i boasts crisp, detailed images, even in low-light situations. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance. EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF makes shooting high quality movies easy, and the brilliant Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II makes composing fun.
Honorable Mention: Canon 70D, Canon 7D, Canon 60D, Canon GX1, Sony NEX-7, Sony A5100