The best cinema cameras are specifically built for professional video work, where 6K or 8K headline-grabbing takes a back seat to the correct connections, form factor, and video codecs.
We have left out two camera groups. We did not add Arri or Red cameras because they are extremely high-end instruments that are out of most users’ price ranges. We also excluded most mirrorless cameras because they lack the same movie focus as the cameras featured here.
But it’s true that advanced video-oriented mirrorless cameras are eating into the movie camera market, and there is now a lot of crossover — not just with the camera technology, but also with the filmmakers who use it. With this ever-expanding range of cameras in mind, we’ve divided this guide into three sections:
- Full-frame cinema cameras: Designed for professional studio or location shooting, these cameras include all of the connectors, mounting points, and audio inputs required by professional productions.
- Portable cinema cameras: A new species pioneered by Blackmagic but now imitated by Canon and Sony – pint-sized cinema cameras that are only slightly larger than mirrorless models.
- Mirrorless cinema camera crossovers: Mirrorless cameras that have been substantially customized for filmmaking. For filmmakers who also need to shoot stills, this is possibly the best method to get started.
Mirrorless cameras vs. cinema cameras
So, when does a video camera transform into a cinema camera? Some may argue that it occurs when the camera is clearly geared for video capture rather than stills; others may argue that it occurs when the cameras transition to a much larger, modular, cinema-focused form factor.
- Cinema versus crossover: A few cameras bring this into clear light (sorry). Is the new Panasonic Lumix GH5 II a hybrid stills/video camera or a true video camera? We’ve decided that it’s just one step away from being a proper cine tool and that the Lumix BGH1 comes closer.
- New form factors: In this regard, the Sigma fp and the new Sigma fp L are both quite fascinating. They’re both stills/video hybrids, but they have a modular physical factor and a cine-focused UI, so they’re both eligible for this guide.
- 8K isn’t everything: Obviously, the 8K capture of the Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 has gotten a lot of attention, but these are both stills cameras that can shoot video, not dedicated cine cameras. There are two options for this: the Canon EOS C70 and the Sony FX3.
- Cinematography vs. filmmaking vs. vlogging: There is some overlap, but they are not synonymous. A cinema camera may not be necessary if you are a vlogger or a one-man filmmaker. Some of the best mirrorless cameras on this list are also the best cameras for vlogging or the best 4K cameras for video in general.
In this article, we’ll only look at cameras built for professional filmmaking and television production. We have a section for full-size, modular movie cameras, a part for portable cinema cameras, and a section for hybrid mirrorless cinema cameras.
Consider the first list to be ‘A’ cameras and the second to be backup ‘B’ cameras. But this is in a professional filmmaking environment. Any of these ‘B’ cameras could be suitable for independent filmmakers or single-handed video shooters who have progressed beyond vlogging and are ready to invest time and effort in their production.
10 Best Cinema Cameras in 2021
1. Sony FX6
- Bundle Includes: 1 x Sony FX6 Full-Frame Cinema Camera (Body Only), 1 x Sony 128GB SF-M Tough Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card , 1 x Sony BP-U35 Battery, 1 x Pro Camcorder Case, 1 x Deluxe Cleaning Set, 1 x HDMI Cable, 1 x Memory Card Wallet
- VERSATILE: The FX6 Full-Frame Camera from Sony was developed to offer versatile, cine-style imaging in a truly compact form. With the ability to capture up to 15+ stops of dynamic range, Sony's S-Cinetone gamma for filmlike skin tones, and up to 10-bit, 4:2:2 XAVC-I recording, the FX6 is poised to both supplement your FX9 or VENICE capture and to nimbly take on documentary, gimbal, and drone shoots on its own.
It has many of the same high-end features as the FX9, such as a full-frame sensor, S-Cinetone Profile, and professional UI. But in the same form factor as its predecessor, the FS5 Mark II. Nonetheless, given their similarities in basic imaging properties, it looks to be generally identical to the A7S Mark III. However, this does not appear to be a terrible thing.
On the surface, it appears to strike an interesting mix between mobility, utility, and control. And it outperformed its predecessor by leaps and bounds. So much so that Sony intends for this camera to complement existing FX9 or VENICE owners looking for a powerful b-cam for run-and-gun scenarios. And it’s a camera aimed at competing with Canon’s C70.
2. Canon EOS C300 Mark III
- Super 35mm CMOS Sensor 4K,1920x1080 60/50i, 23.98/25p True 24p
- Canon XF AVC H.264 Codec EF Lens Mount
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF Technology Rotating 4" LCD Monitor
- 2 x 3G-SDI Output, 2x XLR Inputs 2 x CFast Card Slots
- Timecode I/O, Genlock In & Sync Out Canon Log 3 Gamma
The sensor is linked with the Canon Digic DV7 image processor, which processes the sensor’s raw data for a variety of applications including high frame rate recording, raw recording, HDR-PQ output, electronic image stabilization (EIS), and proxy recording. The camera records up to DCI 4K definition video to dual CFexpress cards and has an SD card slot for additional image storage. In 4K raw mode, high frame rates of up to 120 fps can be recorded, while in 2K cropped mode, high frame rates of up to 180 fps can be recorded. Canon’s Cinema RAW Light and XF-AVC recording formats are supported, with DCI 4K images delivered using a 10-bit, 4:2:2 Long GOP codec. The proxy recording is now available, allowing for a significant increase in post-production efficiency.
The camera also includes Canon’s Log 2 and Log 3 gamma settings for greater post-production versatility, resulting in superb tone reproduction in the highlight and low-light parts of an image, as well as an enlarged dynamic range. The C300 Mark III also supports custom user LUTs, which may be used to provide the most accurate color on monitors, LCDs, and viewfinders. Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF (focusing) capability enables you to give not only accurate autofocus but also touch AF and facial identification.
The camera supports up to 12G-SDI output over a single BNC cable, as well as timecode I/O and genlocks input BNCs. It can handle up to four channels of audio via the internal mic, mini-mic input, and XLR ports, and an expansion unit may be added to handle up to four XLR inputs. The body has a modular design that allows it to be totally disassembled or assembled using the provided handle, 4.3″ rotating touchscreen LCD unit with full controls, grip, and thumb rest.
3. Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K
The URSA Mini Pro 12K has an adaptable PL lens mount on the front, allowing you to use a variety of current and vintage pro cine lenses from various manufacturers. For shooters using their own lenses, Canon EF and Nikon F mounts are available separately.
The new Super35 sensor at the core of the URSA Mini Pro 12K has been optimized for numerous resolutions and has equal amounts of red, green, and blue pixels. Shoot at 12K for seamless oversampling, or use the in-sensor scaling of the URSA Mini Pro 4K to capture 8K or 4K Raw at rates up to 120 fps without cropping or changing your field of vision. The huge 12K sensor may also be utilized to choose 8K or 4K pictures, thereby offering a multicamera look by reframing from a single camera output.
The dual CFast or UHS-II SD card option divides the recording across two cards, allowing you to capture up to 12K or 8K raw even at greater frame rates. The URSA Mini Pro 12K supports constant-quality compression rates, as well as numerous constant bit-rate choices for predictable file sizes, with Blackmagic Raw. Blackmagic Raw offers exceptional resolution for compositing, keying, tracking, and other tasks. Blackmagic Raw is also tuned to work with the raw data from the URSA Mini Pro 12K, eliminating the need to generate proxies.
Blackmagic’s new Generation 5 Color Science includes a revised film curve that allows the URSA Mini Pro 12K to capture more natural skin tones and create richly saturated colors in high-contrast sequences.
Despite having nearly ten times the resolution of UHD 4K, this versatile pro cine camera offers three recording possibilities. Record to the dual CFast or UHS-II SD card recorders embedded in the unit, or use the SuperSpeed USB Type-C expansion connection to record to fast SATA and NVMe storage.
The URSA Mini Pro 12K’s evenly weighted, lightweight yet sturdy magnesium alloy build makes it ideal for handheld work or tripod-based images. 12G-SDI input and output, a 4″ fold-out monitor, built-in ND filters, ergonomic controls, timecode and reference input, and 48V phantom power XLR audio are among the additional camera features. A digital slate function and lens metadata collection make the transition from capture to post-production easier with the URSA Mini Pro 12K. Blackmagic Raw stills capture and broadcast lens capability are included in Camera Setup 7.0.
4. Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro G2
2 used from $5,600.00
- Effective Sensor Size: 25.34 x 14.25 millimeter (Super35)
- Lens Mount: EF mount included. Interchangeable with optional PL, B4 and F lens mounts
- Lens Control: Electronic control via EF mount pins or 12pin broadcast connector for compatible lenses
- Dynamic Range: 15 Stops
- Shooting Resolutions: 4608 x 2592, 4608 x 1920 (4.6K 2.40:1), 4096 x 2304 (4K 16:9), 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI), 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD), 3072 x 2560 (3K Anamorphic), 2048 x 1152 (2K 16:9), 2048 x 1080 (2K DCI), 1920 x 1080
5. Panasonic Lumix BGH1
1 used from $2,359.99
- A BOX CAMERA PERFECT FOR LIVESTREAMS, BROADCASTS AND CINEMA: The high-performance BGH1 is small and light, with expandability and multi-camera control with Wi-Fi, Ethernet PoE+ and 3G-SDI.
- ASTONISHING IMAGE QUALITY: Camera provides superior low-light performance using a high sensitivity, 10.2MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor with Dual Native ISO technology to minimize noise.
- EXCEPTIONAL VIDEO CAPABILITY: C4K/4K 60p 4:2:0 10-bit, 4:2:2 30p 10-bit ALL-Intra 400Mbps recording, V-Log L with 13 stops of dynamic range.
6. Panasonic AU-EVA1 5.7K
- Super 35mm 5.7K Sensor | Dual Native ISO
- EF Lens Mount | Records 4K up to 60 fps
- Records 2K up to 240 fps | 5.7K Raw Output via BNC
- 10-Bit, 4:2:2 Processing | Records to SD Cards
- 1 x Panasonic AU-EVA1 Compact 5.7K Super 35mm Cinema Camera | 1 x High Quality Dust Cleaner Blower | 1 x Deluxe Cleaning Kit | 1 x Microfiber Cloth | 1 x 3-Piece LCD Screen Protector Kit
7. Canon EOS C70
- Dual SD Card Slots / Multiple Recording Options
- High Frame Rate; 4K 120p and 2K Crop 180p
- RC-V100 Support and LANC Compatible
- EIS with Coordinated Control
- Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus with Touch AF and Face Detection
8. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro
9. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
3 used from $1,250.00
- Full-size 4/3 sensor/ 4096x2160 resolution
- 4K DKI video recording at 60 fps / 13 stop Dynamic Range
- Carbon fiber composite build / Black magic operating system
- 5" touchscreen LCD / 4 built-in microphones
- Authorized Black magic Design Dealer - Includes 12 Month Limited manufacturer's
10. Sony FX3
2 used from $4,499.99
- 4K full-frame sensor w/ 15+ stop dynamic range and high sensitivity
- S-Cinetone for expressive cinematic look inspired by VENICE colorimetry
- Up to 4K 120p 10-bit 4:2:2 and full pixel readout in all recording modes
- Compact cage free design w/ ¼”-20 mounting points and XLR top handle
- Uninterrupted 4K 60p recording with inbody cooling fan