The Best Cinema Cameras for Filmmakers in 2021

Top Picked Cinema Cameras for Filmmakers

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Highlights

n this article, we take a look at the best cinema cameras available to filmmakers in 2021, broken down into different price categories of budget-friendly, middle-ground and high-end
Take a glance at specs, as well as the pros and cons for each
We highlight some of the best things about each camera and why it may be the right one for you

Table of Contents

When it comes to the cinema camera, there’s never been a better time to be a filmmaker than right now. In 2021, it’s pretty amazing what you can achieve with the gear available.

In this competitive, growing market, manufacturers have all been busy vying for our attention (and money) with the latest and greatest digital movie cameras. Prices have come down while quality has gone up. So, whether you’re looking for a budget cinema camera or can afford to splash the cash, there are plenty of incredible cine cameras out there that will satisfy all of your cinema camera needs. With so many options, it can be a little daunting to choose the one that’s right for you!

Below, we’ve put together a list of the very best cinema cameras available for filmmakers in 2021. To make things even easier, we’ve broken the sections down into budget-friendly options, middle-ground film cameras and the all-out high-end options.

Budget-friendly options

Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro

Cinematic camera Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro

source: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/

Type Mirrorless
Sensor Super 35
Megapixels 21.2 (Effective)
Lens mount Canon EF
4K/6K frame rates Up to 60/50fps
ISO Range 400 – 3,200
Memory cards 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II, 1x CFast

 

Positives Negatives
Excellent value for the specs Quite large
ND filters built-in No continuous AF, AE or IBIS
Instant access to Canon EF mount family Tilt-only screen

Blackmagic have been busy making a name for themselves over the past few years with their line of amazing pocket cine cameras. When you look at the price tag, their new Blackmagic Pocket Camera 6K Pro is quite simply one of the best cinema cameras on the market right now – at least for budget options. It comes with a wide array of features and impressive specs that all culminate in a beautiful image. The small details such as the built-in ND filters let you know that this is a cine camera that’s been designed with filmmakers in mind. If you’re looking for the best film camera available to you on a budget, this Blackmagic cinema camera is it.

PS – you may want to read about the Blackmagic 7.3 update.

Sony FX3

Sony FX3 Best Cinema Cameras

source: https://electronics.sony.com/

Type Mirrorless
Sensor Full frame
Megapixels 10.2
Lens mount Sony FE
4K/6K frame rates No 6K

4K at 120fps

ISO Range 80 – 102,400
Memory cards 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II)/CFexpress Type A

 

Positives Negatives
Included handle is very useful No physical viewfinder
120p at 4K is impressive No built-in ND filter
Very small and portable No internal LUT preview

The Sony FX3 is Sony’s latest release in their cine camera line. It looks to pack a real punch, taking many of the great features seen in the FX6 (more on that soon) and cramming them into a very small, durable body. With the astonishing ability to shoot 120p 4K, one would worry about overheating but fear not! The active cooling system works wonders here. The film camera also comes with a handle, which proves very useful in getting some beautifully low, swooping shots, as well as extending the camera’s audio capabilities. This is a winner – certainly one of Sony’s best movie cameras. If you want to learn more about the FX3, our article covering the FX3 vs A7S III is well worth checking out.

Panasonic LUMIX GH5

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 camera

source: https://www.panasonic.com/

Type Mirrorless
Sensor CMOS
Megapixels 20.3
Lens mount MFT
4K/6K frame rates No 6K (only in photo burst mode)
4K at 60fps 4:2:0 8-bit4K up to 30fps 4:2:2 10-bit
ISO Range 200 – 25,600
Memory cards 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II

 

Positives Negatives
Great build quality that makes it durable Can fall short in low-light conditions
Near-perfect video specification AF is not brilliant
Very well implemented IBIS Some decrease in quality when shooting high frame rates (180p)

The Panasonic GH5 was originally released in 2017, so the fact that it’s still making this list in 2021 tells you everything you need to know. This cinema camera is a truly remarkable beast – a reliable workhorse that won’t ever let you down. Particularly attractive features include its durability, exquisite image quality and a fantastic IBIS system that enables you to shoot pretty much everything handheld. The LUMIX GH5 set the affordable digital movie camera benchmark for years and continues to hold its own as one of the best movie cameras around. Well worth the investment.

There are plenty more options on the budget-friendly side of things. We’ve put together these articles on the best cameras for YouTubers as well as the best mirrorless cameras for 2021.

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Middle-ground film cameras

Canon EOS C300 Mark III

Recommended cinema cameras: Canon EOS C300 Mark III

source: https://www.usa.canon.com/

Sensor Super 35
Megapixels 8.85
Lens mount EF / PL
4K/6K frame rates No 6K,

4K up to 120p

Display size 4.3 inches
Memory cards CFexpress x 2, SDXC x 1

 

Positives Negatives
Amazing dual pixel AF New battery format may be frustrating for existing Canon EOS C300 Mark II owners
Dynamic range is second to none When rigged up, it can feel tall
Canon Cinema RAW light profile included No timelapse function

The Canon EOS C300 Mark II has been the go-to Canon cinema camera for many filmmakers over the past few years. This latest release, the Mark III, blows that out of the water. Boasting ‘dual gain output’ (basically dual native ISO), the image quality in low light is exceptional. There are 16 stops of dynamic range, along with the option to shoot in Canon’s ‘Cinema RAW light’ profile, which combine to make the image quality of this cine camera something truly beautiful. If you have the money to invest, this is one of Canon’s best film cameras out there right now.

Sony FX6

Sony FX6 Cinematic Camera

source: https://pro.sony/

Sensor Full frame
Megapixels 10.2
Lens mount Sony FE
4K/6K frame rates No 6K

10-bit 4:2:2 4K up to 120p

Display size 3.5 inches
Memory cards 2x CFexpress Type A or SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots

 

Positives Negatives
Advanced hybrid AF is brilliant SD Cards are very expensive
Great value for the specs No IBIS
10-bit 4:2:2 4K up to 120fps is impressive No internal RAW recording

When it comes to the best value full-frame cine camera on the market right now, the Sony FX6 is very hard to beat. Taking the beautiful sensor of the A7SIII, the FX6 is a dream for filmmakers everywhere, boasting fantastic low-light performance, XLR audio options, built-in ND filters and the ability to shoot 10-bit 4:2:2 4K up to 120fps. With no overheating issues and long battery life, this thing is made for the job. Truly one of the best cine cameras out there.

Red Komodo

Red Komodo Camera

source: https://www.red.com/

Sensor Super 35
Megapixels 19.9
Lens mount Canon RF
4K/6K frame rates 6K full frame at 40fps

4K at 60 fps

Display size N/A – the monitor only allows for preview and camera operations
Memory cards CFast 2.0

 

Positives Negatives
Great battery life Software and integrated app a little flakey
Beautiful image quality Similar specs to some cameras that are much cheaper
Very small and portable Lots of add-ons needed before it works

The ‘Red look’ has always been an iconic, awe-inspiring vision that every filmmaker lusts for. We associate it with big-budget films and high-quality documentary work. It’s the color, the contrast and the subtle qualities throughout the highlights and shadows. The Red Komodo is a beautiful cine camera that delivers this coveted image quality at a very affordable price point. The ability to shoot in 6K and Red’s brilliant Redcode RAW codec (including the advanced compression technology and means your file sizes remain small, despite the high-quality images) all make for one of the best film cameras available in the mid-price market.

High-end pricey options

Blackmagic Ursa Mini 12K

Blackmagic Ursa Mini 12K

source: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/

Sensor Super 35
Megapixels 79.6
Lens mount PL, or options EF / F
4K/6K frame rates It shoots up to 12K!
Display size 4 inches
Memory cards 2x CFast 2.0 slots, 2 x SD UHS-II slots

 

Positives Negatives
It shoots up to 12K!! Limited to only recording in Blackmagic RAW
Built to last with real durability AF is poor
Extraordinary image quality Super 35 is not full frame

Blackmagic really pulled out all the stops for this one. The Ursa Mini 12K is a cinema camera that’s caused quite a stir, and rightfully so. While the debate over whether we actually need 12K footage continues, there’s no doubt that this particular cine camera provides some of the most extraordinary image quality out there right now, especially when shooting 8K and 4K. Quite simply, they’ve set a new benchmark here. While your bank account may be displeased, this is one of the best cinema cameras you can buy, no doubt.

Sony PXW-FX9 XDCAM Full-Frame Camera System, Cranberry

Sony PXW-FX9 XDCAM Full-Frame Camera System, Cranberry

source: https://pro.sony/

Sensor Full frame
Megapixels 20.5
Lens mount Sony E
4K/6K frame rates No 6K

4K up to 60fps

4K up to 120fps (external)

Display size 3.5 inches
Memory cards 2 x XQD slots, 1x SD data slot

 

Positives Negatives
Relatively good price point SD cards can be pricey
Advanced hybrid AF is very welcome No 6K is disappointing
Dual native ISO sensor gives amazing low-light performance No internal RAW recording

The guys at Sony know how to make a great digital movie camera, don’t they? The FX9 comes with all the professional controls associated with the best cine cameras, including your XLR audio and large battery life, before going even further by adding a beautiful full-frame sensor as well as hybrid AF (borrowed from the popular Alpha mirrorless series). It’s really a beautiful thing to behold. Given all of these features (wait until you see the colors and low-light performance), it’s quite remarkable that this high-end performer sits at the price it does. This is one of the best movie cameras available on the market right now.

ARRI Alexa Mini

Cinematic Camera ARRI Alexa Mini

source: https://www.arri.com/

Sensor  Super 35mm ALEV III CMOS
Megapixels  7.5
Lens mount  PL / EF
4K/6K frame rates  No 6K

4K up to 60fps

Display size  3.2” flip-out monitor (from viewfinder)
Memory cards  CFast 2.0

 

Positives Negatives
Compact and lightweight The price is eye-watering
Interchangeable lens mounts are great No high frame rates
Very versatile Can become bulky with all accessories

Given the price tag of the ARRI Alexa Mini, you’d be universally backed by every filmmaker by expecting this to be one of the best cinema cameras available. The good news: it is. The bad news: it still costs somewhere north of $40,000 USD. Interestingly, by ARRI’s standards (the gold standard for TV and film production), this isn’t actually too pricey compared to their other models. The ARRI Alexa Mini is a fantastic high-end cinema camera option for anyone with the appropriate budget. It’s compact and lightweight and has proven very versatile over the years. With so many rigging options, you can use this camera body as the foundation for building your perfect digital movie camera. We doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Final thoughts

So, that’s our guide to the best cinema cameras available on the market right now.

It’s a fascinating time to be a filmmaker right now. Prices continue to come down while quality increases. There are now so many brilliant film cameras out there, covering a wide range of price points – from budget-friendly options that allow amateurs and budding professionals to take their first steps into the industry, all the way to the high-end mind-blowing gear that’s used at the pinnacle of Hollywood. The only thing that’s certain right now is that the industry will continue to experiment, develop and evolve, producing ever-better cinema cameras. We can’t wait.

Cine cameras not for you? There are still plenty of great digital movie camera options out there. We’ve written up this useful guide covering mirrorless or DSLR cameras, as well as an in-depth look at the best DSLRs for 2021.

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About Josh Edwards

Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.

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