Education

July 2, 2019

Top 3 Cameras for Pro footage

Unless you’ve been trapped under an ice sheet in the Antarctic for the past decade, you’ve likely noticed a huge rise in online video content across all digital media outlets. And with the abundance of powerful cameras on the market, shooting high-quality, professional grade video has never been more accessible for creating high-quality stock footage. Available as cameras may be though, choosing the right one from a sea of options can be an overwhelming endeavor.

So, to help you along your video odyssey, we consulted our top cinematographers and Stocksy’s video team to whittle all of the options down to our three favorites. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, our round-up offers options in a wide range of price tags and functionality so you can choose the camera that fits your project, budget, and style.

We’ve also added a handy glossary to help those of you that may find that the following terminology sounds like it’s being transmitted from one of Jupiter’s moons.


Best Digital Video Camera — Beginner + All Levels

Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Released September 2018, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k (or the BMPCC4K for short) is Black Magic’s top-of-the-line Micro 4/3rds camera. It has become the rarely disputed superstar of the video world. And why not? With outstanding image quality and color science, the BMPCC4K has the addition of an impressive dynamic range with Blackmagic Design’s groundbreaking 12 BIT RAW technology.

This means that it no longer records to Cinema DNGs but instead captures individual self-contained files per video. Translation — this camera will save an incredible amount of time and hassle during the import process in post-production without compromising quality. Point blank, the BMPCC4K is the most affordable way to get cinematic looking RAW 12BIT 4K video that can be compared to the bigger video behemoths like ARRI and RED.

BMPCC 4K Strengths

  • 13 stops of dynamic range and quality with BMD 12 BIT RAW
  • Dual ISO 400 / 3200
  • Full 4K 4096 x 2160
  • 60FPS @4K, 120FPS @1080p
  • Can use 5” LCD or EVF to compose and focus
  • Peaking, Zebras, and focus magnification while recording
  • Nearly any lens can be adapted to mount onto the camera
  • User friendly menus and set up configuration with a 5 inch Touch Screen LCD
  • Build in Full HDMI, USB-C, Mini XLR
  • SD & CFAST Support

BMPCC 4K Weaknesses

  • Poor battery life (30-40 minutes per battery)
  • For those with existing glass for APS-C will crop in on the Micro 4/3 Sensor.

Price tag: $1300+ (USD)


Runner-Up Mirrorless Video Camera — Intermediate

Sony A7RIII / A7SII

The breakneck speed with which Sony has been releasing cameras can make it hard to keep up, but the A7R III (Sony’s flagship stills camera) shoots excellent 1080P and 4K video with lots of dynamic range. The A7SII adds slow motion in 4K and better full-frame performance but at the cost of compromised autofocus and 12MP stills. The built-in stabilizer is incredibly effective for hand-held footage, or while shooting from a vehicle.

It is important to note that with this camera you will be able to take great photos along with the video, but the quality and color output will not be on the same level as the BMPCC 4K. The pay off is in the option to shoot photos and have an ability to autofocus with Sony glass.

Sony A7RIII Strengths

  • Up to 12.3 stops of latitude when shooting S-Log2
  • Decent low-light performance
  • Autofocus with Sony glass
  • Can use LCD or excellent EVF to compose and focus
  • Peaking, Zebras, and focus magnification while recording
  • Nearly any lens can be adapted to mount onto the camera using a metabones adapter
  • Excellent built in image stabilization / Still requires a gimbal for a perfectly smooth shot

Sony A7RIII Weaknesses

  • Poor battery life (45-60 minutes per battery)
  • Lesser video quality output compared to BMPCC4K

Price tag: $3500+ (USD)


Best Professional Digital Video Camera

RED DRAGON X 5K S35

Now you’re getting into Hollywood territory. Red started with the goal of making digital video cameras that could really compete with film at an accessible price point. A starting price of $24,000 may not sound realistic to a lot of shooters, but before Red came around, 1080p cinema cameras were in the $100,000+ range. Red set a new bar for quality in 2007 – one that independent filmmakers previously could not get a hold of and they continue to push the limits today.

The best place to start with a Red camera is to use someone else’s—either rent, borrow or hire a DP who owns one to get a feel for it. Its dynamic range, colors, and image quality are in an entirely separate class from other digital video camera listed and is definitely the Everest of camera aspirations.

Red Dragon Strengths

  • World-class image quality with 16.5+ stops of dynamic range
  • 12BIT RED RAW
  • Shoots up to 5K
  • 96FPS @5K, 300fps @2K
  • Built-in HMDI, SDI, XLR
  • Interchangeable mounts for any lens including PL for cinema glass
  • Fully customizable in the build, color output, custom lut settings, etc.
  • Premium image quality that meets commercial industry standard, beyond what a DSLR can do

Red Dragon Weaknesses

  • Requires larger camera support
  • In addition to the body price, storage and accessories are pricey too
  • No auto focus

Price tag: $24000+ (USD)


Honorable Mentions

If none of the above are floating your boat, these 4 cameras will run a price tag between 3K-15K and are a solid middle ground for commercial shoots. Each comes with its own version of LOG and some even include 4K RAW at different frame rates. In terms of choice, it all depends on what you are used to working with, what kind of files, and which log are you most comfortable to grade with.

CANON C200

  • Full 4K Available
  • Built-in ND Filters
  • RAW Light 12BIT
  • SDI, HDMI, XLR Available
  • CLOG

 

PANASONIC EVA 1

  • Full 5K Available
  • Built-in ND Filters
  • VLOG 10BIT 422
  • SDI, HDMI, XLR Available

 

BM URSA

  • 4.6K Available
  • Built-in ND Filters
  • BM RAW 12 BIT
  • SDI, HDMI, XLR Available

 

SONY FS Series

  • Full 4K Available
  • Built-in ND Filters
  • SLOG 10BIT 422
  • SDI, HDMI, XLR Available

Time to Get in The Game

The world of filmmaking is constantly evolving with new, more advanced gear coming out at a lightspeed pace. With all the options offered in the current market, it’s easier than ever to start on the filmmaking path. Whether you begin with an introductory level camera or jump right up to renting or owning one of the bigwigs, high-quality cameras are readily available to make your wildest visions come to life in cinema-worthy motion picture.

Just starting out? Check out our Making The Fourth Wall video tutorial series and get pointers from the video pros. Go make some magic!


APS-C

APS-C is an image sensor size of 25.1×16.7 mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2—considerably smaller than 35mm standard film which measures 36×24mm. Because of this, devices with APS-C sensors are known as “cropped frame.” Compared to a full-frame sensor, image quality is lower, particularly when shooting with little light.

Full Frame

The term full frame is DSLR shorthand for an image sensor format which is the same size as 35mm negative (36×24mm) film. They tend to be more expensive when compared to APS-C cameras.

S-LOG2

Ok, without going down a mathematical rabbit hole, S-Log2 is a type of *Log gamma (don’t ask) that allows the camera to capture a much greater dynamic range of light than possible when shooting with conventional television gamma. So basically, you can capture a wide range of light and minimize dark spots and blow out.

*LOG GAMMA

I said, don’t ask. But if you’re really ready to kill some time nerding out, read this article.

STANDARD, HD AND 4K RESOLUTION

Basically the number of pixels that are packed into a display dictates what resolution you are playing with. 4K resolution, also called 4K or Ultra HD, refers to a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels and vertical resolution of 2,000 pixels.

High Definition (HD) is a step down from 4K resolution and is usually in 720p or 1080p format.

Standard definition is anything lower than HD.

LCD

Liquid crystal display. Shows you a digital rendering of the picture you just took!

EFV

Electronic Viewfinder. Shows you the picture you’re about to take on your little screen rather than using an optical viewfinder.

PEAKING

A feature that highlights areas in focus, enabling rapid image capture.

ZEBRAS

A feature that overlays a striped pattern, indicating when an element is close to being over-exposed.



Stocksy United is an art-forward, royalty-free stock photography + footage agency founded on creative integrity and respect for artists. With our exceptionally high curation standards, discovering unique, beautifully authentic imagery is effortless. Explore Stocksy’s collection🤘


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