Affordable cinematic cameras

    Affordable cinematic cameras

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The industry is dominated by professional cinema cameras such as RED, Sony Venice, Panavision DXL2 and Alexa, but with the release of more high-end video cameras we have more choices than ever. Could we expect the same visual quality in a model that costs way less than the industry-leading cinema cameras?
 

Z CAM E2-F6

Z CAM is a small and powerful cube-style cinema camera system that disrupted the market because of its impressive cinematic qualities. It slowly finds its place in the professional industry and has lately been used as both main and actions cameras in big budget Hollywood productions like A Day to Die and Mission Impossible 7.

Both their entrance level camera Z CAM E2-M4 and full frame alternative Z CAM E2-F6 is equipped with sensors that give a textured and painterly feel to the footage and it nicely emulates many of the qualities of motion picture film right out of the box.

Both are definitely up there with the big boys when it comes to color science.

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Warner Bros, De Lane Lea Studios in Los Angeles were responsible for the dailies on Mission Impossible 7 and were impressed by how well it performed. The small form factor and outstanding image quality made it a perfect match for action scenes especially with car chasing action outside of trains and plains.

I think the Z CAM cameras did pretty well with the quality compared to the high-end cameras when implementing them into our Truelight ACES workflow on the set of Mission Impossible 7. A lot had to be done in terms of adding the correct LUT, and the dailies colourist putting more of an effort in matching the colour to the other cameras, but the end result was quite rewarding and can compare to the more high end cameras.
 
- Yogi Patel, Dailies Operator at Warner Bros De Lane Lea

Their line-up ranges from MFT to Full-frame and Super 35 sensors and can deliver up to 8K and 15 stops of dynamic range. Their top models have extraordinary performance in low light, and like Panasonic, Z CAM have also partnered with Atomos to transform their cameras into a complete RAW shooting system.

Ravengrade just announced support for Z-log2 and makes cinematic looks designed by some of the most successful colorists and color scientists available for Z CAM and DaVinci Resolve users.

Even though this is a very affordable camera system, it's also a modular system and requires a set of basic accessories to become fully usable. Read more about that in our how to build the ultimate Z CAM guide.

Panasonic S1H

Panasonic S1H made headlines in the film industry for its cinematic qualities and being the first mirrorless camera approved by Netflix. It promise to deliver everything a VariCam does and opens up a cinematic palette that can compare to the high-end models.

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Not only does it import the renowned colorimetry of the VariCam lineup, it also offers V-Log/V-Gamut capture to deliver high dynamic range and broad colors.

The S1H does not require additional accessories, but when using a Ninja V HDR monitor, you can record 6K Apple ProRes RAW files direct from the camera's sensor and the result is the highest quality video images ever seen from a mirrorless camera. There are other cinema range mirrorless cameras in the same price range such as the Sony A7s iii, but in terms of cinematic quality, none of them come anywhere close.

Red Komodo

Back in 2007, RED redefined Digital Cinema with their game changing RED ONE camera. The cameras are known for their distinctive characteristics and are used to create some of the best looking movies in the history.

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RED Komodo 6K is their entry level alternative, and the small global shutter camera brings unparalleled color science into a compact box that weight almost nothing, for an affordable price.

Many of the industry's leading filmmakers have tested the camera and left good reviews.

The sensor is beautiful. I always wanted something this small, this sophisticated in terms of a high-quality image. It's very lightweight; very handheld.
- Michael Bay, renowned director


To take advantage of the incredible dynamic range in the camera and achieve superior image quality with the right post-production process, watch this training series from Lowepost. The RED Post Production training is designed for beginners and no post-production experience is necessary. 
 

It's exciting times, good luck with you camera choice!

Lowepost

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