5 Best Cine Cameras of 2019

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As we prepare to usher in 2020, let’s look at five of the best new cine cameras released in 2019 by some major manufacturers. Including large format and Super 35 options, these picks range from ultra-pro and broadcast-friendly models to a DSLR-style 6K option. Features sported by individual cameras include large format sensors, up to 8K recording, interchangeable-lens mounts, high-speed frame rates, and a dial-in variable ND filter. We’ve also noticed some brands using the same sensor in larger and more compact models, and the introduction of fast new media for handling beefy data rates.

Starting off in the increasingly popular full-frame realm, the ALEXA Mini LF Camera was originally envisioned by ARRI as a compact version of its ALEXA LF, but is quickly evolving into an “A camera” choice in its own right. Hailed by Roger Deakins, ASC, as capturing “more like what my eyes see than anything else I experienced so far,” and used for his upcoming WWI film, 1917, the ALEXA Mini LF uses the same sensor as the ALEXA LF to capture subtle, nuanced tones in 4K. Combining the immersive large-format look of the ALEXA LF with the compact size of the popular ALEXA Mini, the ALEXA Mini LF is natively compatible with large-format LPL-mount lenses and it can be used with an adapter for widely available PL-mount lenses. The ALEX Mini LF records in ARRIRAW and three Apple ProRes LF choices including Open Gate, 16:9, and 2.39:1 anamorphic. Befitting its smaller form, the Mini LF records to 2 x 3" 1 TB Codex Compact Drives and can record ARRIRAW and ProRes files to the same card.

ARRI ALEXA Mini LF

Modularity and versatility are keywords for the Canon EOS C500 Mark II, another compact, full-frame camera. This successor to the popular C500 features a 5.9K sensor and offers full-frame 6K60 12-bit in-camera recording in Cinema RAW Light plus up to DCI 4K60 10-bit 4:2:2 in XF-AVC with Super 35 and Super 16 options and up to 120 fps in 2K and HD. A user-swappable lens mount enables you to switch from the standard EF mount to a locking EF Cinema mount or PL mount. Sharing select features with the C700 and the C300 Mk II, the C500 Mk II can be used in its base form for gimbal or handheld work. For studio and broadcast work, you can add an optional OLED EVF and/or one of two expansion units to add features like genlock, third and fourth XLR audio inputs, a V-mount battery plate, and more. The C500 Mk II uses fast CFexpress cards to handle Cinema RAW Light files and SD cards for proxy recordings.

Canon EOS C500 Mark II

Sony’s full-frame PXW-FX9 melds technology from the FX7 series, the VENICE and the a7 series in a run-and-gun form. A new 6K Exmor R sensor enables dual 800/4000 ISO modes, adjustable phase-detection autofocus options, and oversampled UHD 4K30 in full-frame or UHD 4K60, in Super 35, with additional rates up to DCI 4K coming with future updates. Look-wise, you can choose between the new S-Cinetone mode for natural skin tones and smooth highlight roll-off out of the box or add your own custom LUTs. New features include a dial-in, electronically variable ND new to 6K cameras, additional pots for manually adjusting the third and fourth audio channels, and a one-piece EVF tube and sunshade combo. For simpler multi-cam setups, TC and genlock are now built into the camera body, not in an extension. Selectable, sensor-based image stabilization can be applied or removed on a shot-by-shot basis using Sony’s Catalyst Brose software. Form-wise, the FX9’s smart handgrip is a hybrid of the PWX-FS5 grip and the PXW-FS7M2 arm; there is now a quick dial for white balance or ISO adjustment, and the LCD panel’s resolution has been increased.

Sony PXW-FX-9

With an all-new Super 35 4K sensor and overhauled electronics, the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 camera comes with Blackmagic RAW installed and features faster 3200 ISO, 15 stops of dynamic range, slo-mo rates up to 120 fps in 4.6K and up to 300 fps in 1080p, single cable 12G-SDI, and the ability to record to external devices via a USB Type-C port. As with the BMPCC 4K, you have a choice of recording to superfast CFast 2.0 cards or widely available SDXC UHS-II cards, depending on your capture rate. Or use the optional SSD recorder to record to 2.5" SSD drives via the 6G-SDI link. Color accuracy is enhanced by the wide color gamut of the Blackmagic Design Gen 4 color science, which is more expansive than Rec. 2020. To increase your lens choices, the user-interchangeable EF mount can be swapped for an optional PL, B4, or Nikon F mount. The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 body retains the same form as the original so you can still use your existing URSA Mini Pro lens mount adapters and other accessories.

URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2

Blackmagic Design also released the more entry-level, compact Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, aka the BMPCC 6K. This camera updates the BMPCC 4K with a Super 35 sensor, an EF mount, and the same built-in Gen 4 color science as the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 for lovely skin tones and better highlight handling. It retains the same connections, Blackmagic raw capture, and sharp imaging of its predecessor. Like the BMPCC 4K, the BMPCC 6K is designed for quick capture with a large built-in display, touchscreen menus, and a small, lightweight form. A new Blackmagic cable set includes D-Tap, 2.5mm barrel, and flying lead options for adding longer-lasting power to your BMPCC 6K rig.

Blackmagic BMPCC 6K

In addition to the five new models above, RED Digital Cinema also released its RED RANGER line. While they’re not new cameras per se, the RED RANGERs now (some might say finally) offer pre-packaged cameras incorporating an 8K or 5K sensor plus essentials such as a PL lens mount, in/out ports, top handle, distro box with Gold or V-mount battery plate, power supply, 15mm rod brackets, and 7" display. The RED RANGER HELIUM 8K S35 and RED RANGER GEMININ 5K S35 versions are available to all RED aficionados, but the RED RANGER 8K VV MONSTRO is reserved for sale to authorized rental houses only.

RED RANGER MONSTRO 8K VV, RED RANGER HELIUM 8K S35 and RED RANGER GEMINI 5K S35

Do you think large format is on its way to becoming the new cine standard? Share your thoughts below and be sure to check out all the pro video gear available on the B&H Photo website and in the B&H SuperStore in New York City.

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