Mirrorless camera fans with a focus on video waited it out. And it appears it was indeed worth the wait.
The Sony a7S III finally hit the market late last year, and reviews have been — as we expected — universally positive. If you predominantly shoot video, this mirrorless powerhouse should be on your short list. Anything from wedding and music videos, to corporate work and indie filmmaking and just about anything else that requires a flexible, clean and detailed 4K image would do benefit from the full-frame sensor and high frame rates (4K/120 10-bit 4:2:2) that Sony brings to the table here.
While not scientific by any means, a quick scan of the best selling Digital Cine Cameras on the B&H Photo Video web site reveal the Sony a7S III (with Sony E Mount) as the sales leader. Meantime buyers seemed enamored. Current average review score for the full-frame a7S III sits at a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. In fact, the top review says “Wow! Sold my RED.”
And it looks like Sony isn’t slowing down in 2021.
In the #2 spot for best sellers is the recently announced and soon to ship Sony FX3 full-frame cinema camera (Sony E Mount). Essentially this one appears to pretty much be a rehoused a7S III with additional features added for those focused exclusively on cinematography.
Blackmagic also does well in terms of top 10 sellers — at least according to B&H.
Top 10 Cinema Camera List: Blackmagic Design cinema cameras are selling well
Spots #3 through #5 are held by Blackmagic cameras, respectively as follows:
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (Canon EF Mount)
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (Canon EF Mount)
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Micro Four Thirds Mount)
Not much of a surprise given the Australian company’s focus on price-to-performance. If you’re looking for a dedicated video camera that shoots RAW and gives you advanced filmmaking tools (including a license for the excellent editing and color grading DaVinci Resolve software) then Blackmagics should be on your short list, especially if budgets are tight.
Last week I wrote about the new Pocket 6K Pro here on Stark Insider and shared my enthusiasm for a great cinema camera made even better. It’s as if someone offered us a helping of tiramisu as a chaser to a decadent serving of crème brûlée. Is this reality?
Top 10 Cinema Camera List: Canon, Sony, Z CAM and RED round out the B&H top 10
And rounding out the top 10 best selling cameras:
- Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera (Canon RF Mount)
- Sony FX6 Full-Frame Cinema Camera (Sony E Mount)
- Z CAM E2-M4 Professional 4K Cinema Camera (Micro Four Thirds)
- RED Digital Cinema Komodo 6K Digital Cinema Camera (Canon RF Mount)
- Z CAM E2-S6 Super 35 6K Cinema Camera (Canon EF Mount)
Top 10 Cinema Camera List: From $1,995 to $5,995 there’s lots of choices, lens mounts, price points
All told it’s quite an interesting top 10 list. You have expensive Japanese offerings such as the C70 and FX6 mixed in with bargain plays from China made by well regarded Z CAM. And you have the American-made RED Komodo in addition to the Blackmagics from Australian.
In addition, it’s worth pointing out there’s a variety of lens mounts represented here including the ubiquitous Canon EF mounts and Sony E mounts. But also the newer Canon RF mount and the still-hanging-in-there Micro Four Thirds mount.
Prices run the gamut.
At $1,995 USD the most affordable cinema camera listed here is the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K.
And at the top end at $5,995 you have the new RED Komodo — RED’s latest and lowest priced cinema camera.
Top 10 Cinema Camera List: What cameras are missing?
What’s conspicuously missing from this top 10 list?
You might suggest the new RF mount full-frame models from Canon such as the R5. I’d argue that with a 45MP detail-rich sensor, that the flagship R5 is best suited for photography first missions; with high-end video available when needed as a side effort. Here I’m thinking photojournalism.
But perhaps a more interesting absence is the video-centric models from Panasonic. The Panasonic S1, S1H and S5 are all extremely capable and relatively competitively priced models (especially the S5). I suspect Panasonic plays second fiddle when it comes to larger, better known brands in this space, notably Canon and Sony. Which is too bad. I found the S5 to be a spectacular camera for video projects — though, not so much for photography because of its poor auto-focus.
In any case that’s a quick snapshot of some of the cinema cameras that appear to be selling well, at least in the U.S.
There’s no doubt something here for everyone. Hopefully on the back half of 2021 the video business picks up again as wedding ceremonies resume and independent film and music video production pick up once again. Thankfully there’s no shortage of phenomenal tools to help us get the job done.