With the rise in popularity in filmmaking, more and more camera brands started to integrate video features into their cameras. And those are just good for casual shooters and most of the content creators out there. But as you advance to professional filmmaking, the need for a cinema camera gets more prevalent. Despite having all the high-end video features, why can’t a DSLR or the Mirrorless camera provide you the same cinematic performance as a cinema camera? In this article, we will dig into this very topic.
If you look at the built quality of a regular DSLR or mirrorless camera, you will notice that it is not made for shooting moving objects. Instead, it is more of still image-taking equipment.
There was a time when cameras were built for photography only. Now many changes have been introduced. There are many hybrid cameras in the market. However, the design and construction of cameras are still almost the same. No video-centric ergonomics have been implemented yet in most hybrid cameras.
Now, if you look at a cinema camera, you would find tons of features to rig all the necessary tools, rigs, and cages to shoot from different angles. So when you are shooting a fast-moving object and want absolute freedom, a cinema camera is the only choice for you.
Apart from that, have you noticed that most cinema cameras have lots of buttons on the body? Those buttons are convenient to speed up your workflow. However, as most hybrid cameras are aimed at non-professional users, there are only a few buttons to keep the minimalistic look. For example: just take a look at the Sony FX 6, and its button and dial layout. If you compare it with the Sony a7-3, you will understand how much the a7-3 lacks ease of use when shooting videos.
Another downside of a Typical hybrid camera is the lack of enough inputs and outputs. Most cinema cameras feature SDI, timecode, gencode, power outputs, and other connectivity options. But it is not the case with most DSLR and mirrorless cameras out there. So when you are shooting in a production setup, a cinema camera would handle things much easier than a hybrid camera.
Video and Other Specs
Another vital drawback while working with the most non-cinema cameras is the recording limitations. Most video shooting DSLR and mirrorless cameras come with a recording time limit. For example, Canon R5 is an excellent camera for shooting videos. It can shoot 8k videos. But there is a 30 minute recording time limit. On the other hand, most cinema cameras don’t have recording time constraints.
One of the most crucial issues when shooting videos is the dynamic range. High dynamic range is the prerequisite for any professional filmmaking. Though most camera makers claim to have a high dynamic range in their cameras, in reality, those regular digital cameras aren’t capable enough to capture incredible details in the highlights and shadows. For example: where most mirrorless and DLSR cameras usually feature 10 to 13 stops of dynamic range, Red V raptor can retain about 17 stops of dynamic range.
Besides, the sensor in a consumer-end hybrid camera is made for both stills and videos. And in most cases, more megapixel counts and other features are included, which might hurt the video quality. For example, an increase in resolution will increase the rolling shutter effect. But for a hybrid camera, sometimes manufacturers are bound to keep the resolution high for the photographers. On the other hand, cinema cameras are made only for capturing videos and nothing more. Thus cinema camera makers have the freedom to include an optimized sensor for capturing videos only. The final output of a cinema camera and a hybrid camera will never be the same. For instance, the cinematic look you will get from an ARRI Alexa won’t match any typical hybrid cameras out there.
Additionally, most consumer end cameras apply some sort of compressions on videos, such as the H.264 or H.265, which might limit you from editing your videos according to your needs in post-production. On the other hand, cinema cameras can shoot in RAW and thus let you edit in whatever way you want.
On top of that, you will also get improved audio in a cinema camera as most of them feature Full-size XLRs, mini XLRs. Plus, the audio controlling buttons and dials also help to make your audio stand out.
Besides, when comparing the battery of a cinema camera with that of a regular digital camera, you will find that the consumer end DSLR and mirrorless cameras usually come with smaller batteries. But, on the other hand, most cinema cameras come with high-end batteries that let you shoot for long hours. Apart from that, most cinema cameras also support hot-swapping the batteries and DC connection for uninterrupted recording.
So those are all the reasons why you should upgrade to a dedicated cinema camera. It is not like you can’t shoot with a hybrid camera. But when it comes to quality, production environment, and that cinematic look, the Cinema camera is the only way to go. So do you think it is worth upgrading to a cinema camera?