Best Cinema Cameras of 2021

Looking to upgrade your video capture as we bid adieu to 2020? Here’s our roundup of the top cine-style cameras introduced during 2020, perfect for creating narrative video content like an indie feature, crafting a documentary, or producing a film-look industrial piece. Each of these cine-style machines has its own feature touches, so read on to see which best suits your capture needs.

What exactly makes a camera ‚Äúcine-style‚ÄĚ? Simply put, these cameras maintain the modular configuration and high resolution of the film cameras successfully used in cinema production for decades. Cine-style features include a lens mount that accommodates interchangeable lenses, a robust sensor with a wide dynamic range, the ability to mount a variety of add-on components such as a follow focus and matte box, pro level connectors for outputting video for viewing and/or recording, removable recording media, and perhaps an integrated filter wheel.

These new cine-style camera choices range from compact, box-style cameras and a mirrorless-style entry to a more full-fledged 12K workhorse. Several offer interchangeable lens mounts for true lens versatility, and (unlike most of us after months of work-from-home grazing) a couple of these new cameras feature a pared-down, lightweight form. While not all the big players released new cameras this past year, there are offerings from industry biggies like Blackmagic Design, Canon, Panasonic, Sony, RED DIGITAL CINEMA, and Z CAM.

12K and the Whole Raw Shebang

Like the rest of the Blackmagic Design camera line, the URSA Mini Pro 12K is built to fit seamlessly into the Blackmagic raw pipeline, storing camera data, lens metadata, LUTs, color information, and more for downstream use in post-production. The efficient Blackmagic Raw codec lets you edit in multiple resolutions on select laptops, even in 12K. The URSA Pro 12K’s 12,288 x 6480 sensor gives you the resolution to reframe and zoom into your 12K footage to choose 8K, 6K, or 4K shots in post-production, perfect for selecting the best bits after a concert or another event when you have more time. The in-sensor scaling provides native 8/6/4K capture options without a loss in resolution, and dual CFast and SDXC UHS-I card slots enable you to record a redundant copy of your footage for security or a proxy for quicker post-production. Versatile, high frame-rate recording options feature up to 60 fps in 12K 17:9 full sensor, up to 75 fps in 12K 2.4:1, 120 fps in 8K/4K, and up to 240 fps in 4K Super16. The URSA Mini Pro 12K also boasts a user-interchangeable lens mount, a USB Type-C expansion port for recording to external drives, a new Gen 5 color science, and an integrated ND filter wheel.

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K

DSLR Form with Cine Function

The Canon EOS C70 melds high-end video functions with a compact DSLR-style form sporting an RF lens mount. Chief among the video features are unlimited video recording (unlike the time-limited recording found with many DSLRs), dual pixel autofocus, an ND filter wheel for quick, hands-on exposure changes, and a timecode input/output BNC port for syncing multi-camera footage. The EOS C70’s dual mini-XLR audio inputs are also a cut above standard DSLR audio capabilities. A key feature for capturing nuanced video or still photos is the C70’s Dual Gain Output sensor. This sensor combines separate readings for the brighter and darker areas of your image, resulting in up to 16+ stops of dynamic range. Assistants and operators alike will appreciate the C70’s touchscreen display that lets you quickly adjust settings without needing to use control buttons, and jog wheels scroll through multiple menus. The new RF mount not only offers a shorter flange depth for a more compact design but can be used with a separately available Canon EF adapter for compatibility with your EF lenses.

Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera

Compact and Boxy New LUMIX Look

The compact Panasonic LUMIX BGH1 Cinema 4K Box Camera packs a lot into a small package that is ideal for gimbal or drone usage, vlogging, or streaming. Since this Micro Four Thirds mount camera supports V-Log L and cinelike workflows, it’s also a perfect B or C camera VariCam companion. Capturing video rates up to 4K60 and featuring a dual native ISO, the BGH1 outputs up to 4K via HDMI 2.0 and up to 1080p via 3G-SDI. Simultaneous HDMI and 3G-SDI output lets you designate one signal for monitoring and the other for recording. In addition to timecode and genlock, the BGH1’s multi-camera features include versatile control options like an RJ45 Gigabit LAN port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C input for use with the LUMIX Tether app, a 2.5mm LANC input, and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions.

Panasonic LUMIX BGH1

Ready to Go Anywhere, Global Shutter Included

RED DIGITAL CINEMA‚Äôs KOMODO camera retains RED‚Äôs signature modular design but tucks it into a petite 2.1-lb form with 16+ stops dynamic range and a global shutter that eliminates rolling shutter artifacts. This Micro Four Thirds-mount camera uses a 19.9MP Super35 CMOS sensor to capture up to 6K at 40 fps, 5K at 48 fps, 4K at 60 fps, and 2K at 120 fps in REDCODE RAW. Available as the¬†basic KOMODO brain, the¬†KOMODO Starter Pack, and the¬†KOMODO Production Pack, the KOMODO features Phase-Detect Autofocus (PDAF) with compatible lenses and CFast card recording. Control options include an integrated 2.9″ touchscreen, the RED Control system with your iOS or Android device, and a USB Type-C port for wired control. The KOMODO also features built-in stereo mics, a 3.5mm input for audio, and a 9-pin EXT port for genlock/timecode/GPIO/RS232 support. Power options include a DC power input and hot-swappable Canon BP-9xx type battery plates.

RED DIGITAL CINEMA KOMODO 6K

FX6 and the Sony Cinema Line

While details are scarce, we know that the yet-to-be-released Sony FX6 camera is scheduled to join Sony’s dedicated Cinema Line by the end of 2020. FX6 product images hint at ND filter controls, a Sony E lens mount, at least 4K capture, and a compact form.

Sony FX6

Interchangeable Mounts and Compact Form

And rounding out the 2020 bunch is the Z CAM E2-M4, the latest in Z CAM’s line of small, boxy cameras that can record DCI and UHD 4K at up to 160 fps, HD up to 240 fps, and 12-bit ProRes RAW when used with select Atomos recorder/monitors. The E2-M4 comes with a Micro Four Thirds mount that can be swapped out with separately available ARRI PL and Leica M lens mounts, providing compatibility with a wide array of lenses. Camera control options include serial ports, a 2.5mm LANC connector, a USB Type-C port, an Ethernet port, and the Z Camera iOS app. Direct streaming from the camera without requiring a computer lends the E2-M4 suitability for vlogging, live events, and more. Additional features packed into this compact camera include 13-15 stops of dynamic range with Z-Log2, 16 stops of dynamic range in WDR mode, CFast 2.0 card capture, and both L-Series-type battery and AC power options.

Z CAM E2-M4

We hope you’ve enjoyed this cine camera review way more than 2020 in general and are ready to get creative in 2021! Explore these cine-style cameras in further detail and peruse a range of pro video gear available.

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