10 Best Cinema Cameras in 2021

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

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Sony’s FX6 is a full-frame cinema camera that will be released in the fall of 2020. It is designed to provide high-end image quality in a really tiny shape. It’s a camera that sits between the A7S Mark III and the more expensive FX9 and VENICE. However, one that comes to market to supplement Sony’s present cinema roster.

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

$4,505.00 in stock
4 used from $4,505.00
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The Canon EOS C300 Mark III Digital Cinema Camera boasts a Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor with up to 16 stops of high dynamic range performance for enhanced HDR recording and reduced noise. The EF lens mount is compatible not just with Canon’s existing DSLR lens lineup, but also with their line of EF-mount cinema primes, zooms, and even 2.0 and 1.33 anamorphic lenses. The end-user can also swap out the mount for a separately supplied PL mount.

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

$5,995.00 in stock
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Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini Pro 12K Digital Cinema Camera raises the bar for cine-style video recording to 12K resolution. To capture exceptionally detailed images, this professional video camera has a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super35 sensor, revolutionary color science, and up to 14 stops of dynamic range. The URSA Mini Pro 12K records in Blackmagic Raw at up to 80MP per frame and has a variety of recording options, including dual CFAST card capture and high-speed USB Type-C output. Recording rates range from 60 frames per second in 12K 17:9 full sensor to 75 frames per second in 12K 2.4:1, 120 frames per second in 8K, and 240 frames per second in 4K Super16.

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

$5,995.00 in stock
2 new from $5,995.00
1 used from $5,600.00
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Blackmagic Design’s cinema cameras are industry favorites, and the URSA Mini Pro is a clear example of why. Despite being substantially less expensive than the Canon C300 II, it offers the same 15 stops of dynamic range as well as up to 4.6K resolution shooting at an astounding 150fps when shooting RAW. The built-in ND filter with two, four, or six stops of sensitivity is paired with IR correction. The Mini Pro G2, like the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (below), can record straight to an SSD through its USB-C interface, and it also has two SDXC cards and two CFast cards. If you purchase one of these superb cinema cameras, you will also receive a free copy of DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic’s renowned video editing package, which now includes audio and graphics software to enhance your film above simple edits and grading.

5. Panasonic Lumix BGH1

$1,997.99 in stock
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1 used from $2,359.99
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Panasonic Lumix BGH1 boxcam makes a lot of sense for serious video shooters because it can be hooked up for a variety of different uses. With the sensor technology and 10-bit recording of the popular Lumix GH5S, Varicam color science, and Dual Native ISO sensor found in high-end Panasonic camcorders, and a small modular body, it may be used for a wide range of high-quality productions. The BGH1 may be utilized for almost whatever a professional filmmaker might need, from documentary to full-fledged theatrical films, event coverage, and live streaming. However, it is not a walk-around hybrid camera for folks who prefer to capture both stills and video.

6. Panasonic AU-EVA1 5.7K

$6,134.95 in stock
1 new from $6,134.95
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Panasonic EVA1 is Netflix-approved, which is unusual for such a small cinema camera. It weighs only 1.2Kg without a lens, making it an excellent run-and-gun alternative. It also fits on a gimbal, which is very useful if you’re shooting with a pancake lens. The 3.5-inch screen goes beyond articulating by allowing you to detach and reposition it depending on what you’re recording, albeit outdoor visibility is limited. The EVA1’s 5.7K CMOS sensor oversamples to produce great 4K output, and like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (below), it boasts a dual native ISO, giving it two sweet spots, one at 800 and the other at 2500. As a result, there is less grain and a wider 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 may not be class-leading out of the box, pair it with a few accessories and you can get stellar results that are ready for the big and small screen alike.

7. Canon EOS C70

$5,229.95 $5,499.00 in stock
2 used from $5,229.95
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Canon EOS C70 is essentially a reworked C300 Mark III. It has the same Super35 sensor, Dual Gain Output, 16 stops of dynamic range, and 4K 120fps / 2K 180fps capabilities as a typical stills camera in a more compact size factor. It also includes a touchscreen, which changes the game for Cinema EOS cameras by making it much easier to keep focus. For lone photographers, the C70 features the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III’s iTR AFX technology, which includes head detection and eerily accurate autofocus. The only cinema camera to employ Canon’s RF mount, it opens up a world of cutting-edge optics – yet you can still use EF lenses with an extra f-stop and a full-frame angle of view thanks to a new Canon speed booster! However, it does not record in raw and does not support PL lenses — for that, you must upgrade to the C300.

8. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro

$2,443.99 in stock
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is an upgrade of the original 6K model that includes capabilities not seen on the original, such as built-in ND filters. First and foremost, you must adjust to the unusual size and huge shape of the Super35mm Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, which is far from pocket-sized. Some may find the lack of continuous autofocus, picture stabilization, or auto-exposure to be a concern. It’s not a point-and-shoot camera. However, if you utilize it as a tool for deliberate, dramatic shooting, it’s a bit of a steal because its dual native ISO sensor delivers rich, detailed files in raw or ProRes.

9. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

$1,295.00 in stock
29 new from $1,295.00
10 used from $1,110.75
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K appears to be of excellent value at the moment, and it’s an intriguing alternative for Olympus or Panasonic customers who have already invested in MFT lenses. There are certain drawbacks, such as no continuous AF and a fixed screen, but this is a cinema camera, not a vlogging camera. With the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, it’s all about the bang for your dollars. With a small XLR audio input, USB-C storage capability for recording to hard drives, a full-sized HDMI connector, and two card slots, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K outperforms the competition in practically every video-centric category. When you consider that the camera comes with a complete license for Davinci Resolve, an amazing piece of professional video editing software that normally costs $295/£239, the Pocket Cinema 4K is a steal.

10. Sony FX3

$4,919.95 in stock
1 used from $4,919.95
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Last update was on: November 29, 2021 1:29 am

The Sony FX3 may be what the Sony A7S III should have been all along. Although it is a member of the Sony FX movie camera family, it is clearly a descendant of the Alpha line and appears to be a bridge between Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras and its box-shaped cinema camera. Despite its Alpha appearance, the FX3 is a dedicated movie camera, including Sony’s Cinetone-S color science, a detachable grip with XLR audio input, integrated mounting points, and a movie-specific control arrangement unlike anything on Sony’s existing Alpha models. It’s still very new, and we haven’t been able to test a sample yet, but we have a hunch that as soon as we do, this camera will be considerably higher on our list.

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