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professional level digital video cameras


  • historically, industry standard cinema film is based upon Super 35 (S35) format which is 24.9 x 14mm in 16:9 aspect ratio giving a diagonal of 28.5mm, while the industry standard lens mount is the PL mount
  • full frame 35mm such as in some dSLRs is NOT normal for movies
  • APS-C dSLRs such as a Canon 7D uses 22.3mm x 12.5mm crop of the sensor for 16:9 HD video giving a diagonal of 26.8mm
  • Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds size sensor is a little smaller than S35 at 18mm x 13.5 when used in 4:3 still mode, but uses a slightly larger 16:9 aspect sensor in their GH cameras. The AF 100 pro video camera uses 17.8mm x 10mm in HD video mode giving a diagonal of 20.1mm.
  • the 1/2“ Sony EX1/EX3 camcorder uses a much smaller sensor of 7mm x 3.9mm giving a diagonal of 8mm.
  • when shooting video, a large sensor offers options of shallow depth of field but a full frame sensor may be too large for many video requirements as the depth of field may be too shallow - one does not always want shallow depth of field in video!
  • S35 sensor size is generally accepted as the best compromise and makes it easy for those used to shooting in S35 film to migrate to digital using same lens thinking processes.
  • as solid state memory has increased in capacity and data transfer rates, digital video cameras have migrated to solid state memory over the past 10 years replacing earlier digital tape such as Hi-8 (late 1990's) or DVD disc recording (early 2000's).
  • if you cannot afford the pro cameras or you want a smaller kit, many of the digital SLR cameras and mirrorless camera systems will provide excellent results (albeit, usually limited to 29min max. or 4Gb max. recording) such as:

2012 quick comparison

Panasonic AG-AF100 Sony NEX FS100 Sony F3 Canon C300 Canon 1D C Red Scarlet X Red Epic
price $6000 $6550 $14500 $20,000 $15,000 $14,500 kit ?$70,000
sensor MFT "almost S35" S35 2464 x 1394 S35 S35 FF but 1.3x crop video S35 5120×2700 S35
lens mount MFT, adapters for almost any other Sony E, adapters for almost any other PL EF or PL model EF EF/PL/other EF/PL/other
video file H.264 Hi Profile AVCHD + raw external recording AVCHD RAW-out motion-jpeg motion-jpeg RAW RAW
video size 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 500Mbit 4K 1.3x crop; 1080/60p full frame 1-5K with 4K at S35 but smaller are cropped 1-5K
frame rates 60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) 24p, 30p, 60p, 60i 23.98p, 29.97p, 59.94i 59.41i, 50.00i, 29.97P, 25.00P and 23.98P (plus 24.00p in the PL camera) no 4K 25p; 1080/60p 5k at 12fps max, 4k at 30fps max, 3k at 48fps max, 2k at 60ps max, 1k or 120fps max, 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 48, 50, 59.97, HDRx on 12fps max at 4K 5k at 96fps max, 4K at 120fps max.
video bit rate 24mbps 28mbps 35mbps 50mbps
in-camera playback yes yes no? yes ? yes no
still images MFT S35? 8mp S35? 18mp full frame APS-H 14mp?

other cameras

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro

  • announced Feb 2021
  • Super 35 sensor (23.10mm x 12.99mm) with 1 stops dynamic range and Dual Native ISO of 400 and 3200
  • 6K 12 bit raw recording internally at 6144 X 3456 up to 50 fps and up to 60 fps at 6144 X 2560 resolution in BlackMagic Raw. You can also shoot at 120 fps at 2.8 cropped.
  • Canon EF Lens Mount.
  • switched from Canon LP-E6 batteries to Sony NP-F570 style batteries for better battery life
  • improved grip
  • 5-inch adjustable screen with 1500 nits of brightness which makes the screen easy to see in bright sunlight.
  • built-in IR ND filters of 2 stops, 4 stops, and 6 stops
  • now records with Generation 5 color science which is used in the high-end URSA Mini Pro 12K model.
  • addition of a second Mini Xlr input
  • exposed fan vents at the top of the camera so it doesn’t provide much weather sealing
  • optional EVF
  • 1238 grams

BlackMagic Ursa Mini Pro

  • announced July 2020
  • 80mp Super 35 sensor
  • 12K 60p RAW
  • 8K DCI full sensor 110p
  • 4K DCI full sensor 110p
  • 8K 2.4:1 and 4K 2.4:1 up to 140fps
  • DCI full sensor
  • 4K Super 16 up to 220fps
  • PL mount or Canon EF mount
  • 4 card slots incl. 2 Cfast and 2 UHS-II SD
  • $US9995

Canon C300 mark III

  • announced Apr 2020
  • 4K 120p Cinema RAW light

Canon C500 mark II

  • announced Sept 2019
  • 5.9K full frame sensor, dual pixel AF, 5-axis electronic stabilisation, dual CFExpress card slots, user-swappable lens mounts
  • $US16,000

Canon C700FF

  • full frame
  • $US33,000

BlackMagic Design 6K EF mount BMPCC6K Cinema Camera

  • announced Aug 2019
  • 6K Super 35 (S35) sensor with Dual Native ISO (400 and 25,600)
  • 21mp stills
  • 13 stops of dynamic range. It can shoot in 10-bit ProRes or 12-bit Blackmagic RAW formats
  • 50 fps at 6144 x 3456 16:9 or 60 fps at 6144 x 2560 2.4:1 and 60 fps at 5744 x 3024 1.9:1
  • 120 fps at 2.8K 2868 x 1512 1.9:1
  • a true anamorphic 6:5 mode that shoots in 3.7K 60 fps (3728 x 3104)
  • Canon-style LP-E6 battery which can be charged via external battery packs through the onboard USB-C connection
  • can use regular SD cards for HD or higher performance UHS-II and CFast cards for native 4K or 6K when using Blackmagic RAW
  • full-size HDMI connection is included for monitoring footage and outputting 10-bit video
  • mini XLR connection with 48 volt phantom power, a 3.5mm microphone input, a 3.5mm headphone output and a locking DC power connection
  • Blackmagic Design’s Generation 4 Color Science, first introduced on the URSA Mini Pro G2
  • $US2,495

Sony Handycam AX100

  • announced Jan 2014 at $US2000
  • 1st consumer level 4K camcorder
  • 14mp 1” BSI CMOS sensor (same as the Sony RX100)
  • 12x optical zoom f/2.8-4.5 lens
  • 30p or 24p movies

Kinefinity KineRaw S35

  • 2013
  • 4K S35 sensor but at present only 2K output
  • 13 stops dynamic range
  • Uncompressed CinemaDNG (12 bit) or 10:1 compressed Cineform RAW (12 bit)
  • Dual SSD slots for simultaneous recording of CinemaDNG and CineForm RAW
  • Steel FFD Kine-Mount or active Canon EF-Mount
  • 3.7kg
  • ~$6000 body only

Vision Research AbelCine Phantom Flex 4K

  • late 2013
  • RRP ~ $140,000 with 2TB CineMag
  • 4K at up to 1000fps, uncompressed RAW, Super 35mm format sensor
  • can record for hours in industry standard 23.98fps mode in uncompressed RAW
  • accepts PL, Canon EF and Nikon F/G lenses


  • late 2013
  • 4K at up to 900fps (but only 9.4secs at this frame rate, or 141secs at 60fps), Super35mm sensor, ISO 640
  • global shutter; a 180 degrees shutter at 900fps would be 1/1800th sec; 2x 2TB SSD drives;
  • PL mount
  • 7.5kg

Panasonic 4K VariCam

  • announced Feb 2014 as a high end pro video camera
  • 4K Super 35mm sensor with PL mount
  • consists of a camera head and a processing / recording unit but quite small form factor
  • recording media is Panasonic’s proprietary P2
  • 4K AVC Ultra, 4K raw (likely output via 6G-SDI), 120fps slow-mo, 14+ stops dynamic range
  • Four 3G-HD-SDI Outputs for 4K QUAD
  • Two 3G-HD-SDI Outputs for RAW
  • HD-SDI out for monitoring (down-converting from 4K)
  • Two XLR inputs can record four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio
  • optional alternative camera head with a smaller 2/3″ sensor for ENG work and for use with ENG broadcast lenses and the ability to record proxy files simultaneously for faster editing turn-arounds

Sony NEX FS700E

  • expected to be released June 2012
  • NEX E-mount
  • rumoured features1):
    • RRP ~$8000
    • 3 internal ND filters
    • 4K tethered recording via 3G HD-SDI to an external recorder (although none are available as yet)
    • reduced resolution slo-mo at 960fps (also 120, 240 and 480 fps)
    • 8mp still mode?
    • ?only 1080p internal recording

Sony PMW-F3

  • introduced early 2010 with MSRP $16,000
  • S35 sensor, PL lens mount, SxS memory card, 1080p 35mbps 23.98p, 29.97p, 59.94i with 200min record time
  • optional RGB 4:4:4 S-Log “raw” output or standard 4:2:2 1080 50/59.94p uncompressed signal output for external recording via HD-SDI Dual-link Output
  • XDCAM EX Workflow
  • 2.4kg

Sony NEX VG-30 APS-C

  • introduced late 2012
  • $2,700 with 18-200mm or $1,800 body-only

Sony NEX-VG900 full frame

  • introduced late 2012
  • same 24mp sensor as in the SLT A99 and RX1
  • uses Sony E-mount but as Sony E lenses are not full frame, one needs an adapter to use full frame lenses to match the sensor
  • $3,300 with A-mount adapter

BlackMagic Production Camera 4K

  • announced April 2013 at $3995 body only
  • this is just $1000 more than the Design Cinema Camera of 2012 and you get 4K AND a larger sensor AND a global shutter AND compressed Cinema DNG

BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

  • announced Apr 2013 for Micro Four Thirds system
  • compact pocket version of the Cinema Camera with a few changes including electronic control of MFT lenses at last.
  • $995 for body only - if you want high quality RAW or ProRes video at budget price - this might suit your needs!

BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera

  • announced April 2012
  • 2.5K RAW Cinema camera, 2.3x crop sensor with Canon EF mount or Micro Four Thirds mount for only $3000!!
    • the smaller mount is far more versatile in lens selection than the EF mount!
  • at last brings high quality RAW mode to an affordable camera BUT a camera with MANY compromises and issues, plus RAW movie processing will be very costly and time consuming!
  • manual focus and manual aperture only (there is aperture control on the EF version but aperture is not displayed).
  • has shutter angle and not shutter speed which can be problematic in certain lighting conditions as it limits your options to avoid flourecent flickering
  • shooting RAW 2.5K onto a 240Gb SSD will give you about 35min shoot length (in the 10bit ProRes HQ mode you will get about 2hrs)
  • the fixed internal battery appears to last about 1.5hrs but you can supply external power
  • initial firmware only gives 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 10% battery then it just stops working, so using an external battery solution is a must.
  • to add an external EVF or screen you need to use the HDSDI port as there is no HDMI out
  • mic sockets are 1/4“ plugs not XSL and there is no Phantom power
  • rolling shutter artefacts can be problematic
  • zebra exposure controls but no inbuilt ND filter
  • manual focus peaking does not seem to work well on initial firmware, nor does the camera tell you how much recording space is left on the SSD
  • no visual audio meters must rely on headphones
  • LCD touch screen is very reflective and hard to use in sunlight, plus it does not tilt.
  • cannot format the SSD within the camera nor can one delete clips from the SSD within the camera!
  • no 50/60p only 23.97/24/25/29.97/30p
  • you will need a very powerful iMac to run the software well to edit RAW movies and lots of disk storage ⇒ shooting RAW becomes very expensive and time consuming
  • for $2995 for body only you get 13 stops dynamic range 2.5K sensor, 12-bit RAW, ProRes and DNxHD Formats, 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30p Frame Rates, LCD Touchscreen with Metadata Entry, SDI Video Output and Thunderbolt Port, recording to removable SSD Drives, full version of DaVinci Resolve, its premier color correcting software for Mac and Windows - now that is amazing video quality and specs which will suit the pro videographers out there.

Panasonic AG-AF100A

  • announced Nov 2012 as an upgraded version of the AG-AF100A
  • new features include 10-bit HD output via SDI port, 18Mps data rate, Full 1080/60p recording, new focus assist and 16bit LPCM audio.
photo/video_pro.txt · Last modified: 2021/05/12 09:09 by gary1

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