Daniel Haggett

London based Lighting Cameraman / DoP 

There are so many different cameras coming onto the market at the moment, I thought now would be a good time for a brief overview of what is out there.  Here is what you get for your money.

 

Make Model

Price USD

4K Slow mo   Colour
Sony  A7Sii   3,000  120@HD 4:2:0 
Sony FS5   5,600 Y  240@HD 4:2:2
Sony  FS7   8,000  180@HD 4:2:2
Sony F5  16,500 Y **  180@HD 4:4:4 
Sony F55  29,000   180@HD 4:4:4 
Canon C100ii  5,000 N  60@HD 4:2:0
Canon  C300ii  16,000  120@HD*  4:4:4 
Black magic Ursamini 4.6 5,000 Y 160@HD 4:4:4
Panasonic VariCam 35 LT 18,000 Y 240@HD* 4:4:4
Panasonic VariCam 35 55,000 Y 120@4K 4:4:4 
Arri 

Amira

40,000 N 200@HD 4:4:4
Red

Raven

10,000 Y 240@HD* Raw
Red  Scarlet dragon  26,000  150@HD  Raw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Crop sensor

**With upgrade

It wasn't that many years ago when there was really only one choice if you worked in TV, you bought a Beta SP camera and that was that.  These days the camera options out there are mind blowing.

This table only represents a small fraction of what is out there.  I have hardly touched on the options from RED.  This is because, firstly the article would go on forever as there are so many options, and secondly, because most of the RED specs go way beyond the specs set out in this table (as do the prices).

Sony have historically been pretty much alone in this market.  Canon then made a suprise entry with the 5D markii, eventually following it up with the Cinema EOS range.  The Canon C300 was a massive hit for Canon and so Sony have struck back.  

If you look at the C100 markii and then compare it to the Sony FS5, the price is pretty similar, but the Sony blows Canon out of the water on the specs.

The next model up, you look at the C300 Mark ii and the Sony FS7 is half the price, but has better slow motion.  The C300 ii does have a nice look straight out of the box in my opinion, but again the Sony is half the price.  

New to the market is the Ursa mini 4.6K.  This isn't even availble to buy yet, but in the specs for price war, its looking pretty strong. Aimed right at that mid range where vast numbers of cameras are sold, it looks like a steal at just 5,000 USD.

RED produce a lot of cameras that are well above this mid range price.  The brains themselves aren't too bad in terms of price, but the cost really starts to add up when you tack on the accessories to make it into a fully functioning camera.  The new Raven however goes for just 6,000 USD for the brain.  I put 10k in the table above as that is the basic packag to get you up and running.

Arri have also brought out the Alexa mini and the Amira, although still expensive, the prices are lower than the Alexa.  The offerings from both Arri and RED will certainly tempt camera buyers in the mid range to pay a bit more to get top end pictures.

So what to choose?

At the top end 30k + will get you a Sony F55, An Arri Amira (or an Alexa Mini) or A good setup with many options for RED.

At the mid range 16k will get you a C300ii or RED Raven or a Sony F5.

Below that price there are a massive range of cameras, many of which have specs that out perform cameras in the 16 k bracket.

In the end it comes down more to functionality and usability than specs.  If you need to mount the camera on your shoulder and access all the necessary buttons quickly then ergonomics are going to be more important than just specs.

The other issue is production work flow.  If you need to get your camera onto lots of jobs where there is a production workflow already in place, then this needs to be considered.  As you go up the price range, cameras will spit out whatever codec you ask them to.  This is where spending more money on a more versatile camera could save you money in the long run.