Today's cameras for filmmakers.
One large advantage that content creators have compared to the years before is that the price quality balance of cameras has exploded, so you get so many professional features and high end quality for an evermore affordable price point. Not so long ago, specialized cinema cameras were either too pricey and also difficult to rent (not so many rental houses closeby). Yet, the latest mirrorless and DSLR cameras can deliver an almost professional quality for a fraction of the price of a cinematic camera. Full-HD is not the standard anymore, today's cameras deliver a 4K and 8K by default. So all in all, which camera do you go for, when your intention is to create the best videos possible.
Cinematic cameras still offer a higher picture quality than smaller cameras such as mirrorless or DSLR. It is the continuous goal of the most dominant camera manufacturers to push the limit when it comes to image capture and colour fidelity. The budgets are larger, the stakes are higher (and the projection screens are bigger) so the quality must be the absolute best. However, much like the cine lenses
you can rent on Gearbooker – the difference in image quality will not always so easy to determine for the untrained viewer. However, there are several other more tangible characteristics of cine cameras.
The image data processed by a DSLR camera is typically compressed to a high degree. The camera simply encodes the image information in a much rougher way and it throws away more data to have smaller data files as a result. Cine cameras on the other hand let you store 'lossless' meaning the image stream is saved without compression (also known as ‘RAW’) or with minimal compression (often called ‘log’).
The advantages? The data that is captured allows for much greater bandwidth in the post-production colour grade and color correction. Compare that with smaller, highly compressed images that degrade quickly when graded in post even when you've carefully exposed, set the right colour space, etcetera, you will inevitably still need to make some sort of colour correction in post-production, not least in terms of colour-matching different shots.
Dynamic Range of the camera
Dynamic range describes to what extent your camera's sensor can record the light and dark tones on the low and high extremes of your image. The range within which useful image data can be captured is defined in Exposure Values (EVs) or 'stops'. The wider the dynamic range of a camera, the better the image is for post production. Simply put, you have much more details in both the highlights and the shadows (without them being blown-out or completely underexposed). DSLR or mirrorless cameras typically have a much smaller dynamic range than cine cameras have.
The ISO performance of digital cinema cameras is usually much better than DSLR or mirrorless sensors. This means, with an equal ISO value, the image is cleaner and contains less noise. Yet, even within the two classes of camera there is much variation. For example, on a APS-C (consumer camera) sensor, you will want to avoid shooting film above IS0 400 (and certainly stay away from ISO 800) for video. Whereas on a large-sensor professional camera, such as a full frame sensor to be found on some higher end DSLR or mirrorless cameras but for sure on professional cine bodies, you can safely shoot as high up as ISO 1600, 3200 (and even ISO 6400 results in surprisingly good image quality).
Most non-professional cameras expose the sensor in such a way that 'rolling shutter' becomes an issue, especially with (quickly) moving subjects or when the camera is moving while shooting. This can lead to unwanted artefacts in the image. Some cine cameras have solved this this problem by using a global shutter – which lets the sensor capture all the image data of a single frame at once instead of line-by-line.
Dedicated for the job
Cine cameras are fundamentally built for the purpose of capturing video content (and not still images). Not only are these cameras ergonomically equipped for this goal (think of having the buttons and connections in the right places for filmmaking), but they can handle overheating much better than other cameras by have a better cooling system in place. Cine cameras are also equipped with built-in ND filters and focus peaking displays, which save the purchase (or rent) of separate equipment when shooting with a DSLR camera or mirrorless body.