Choosing the Right Camera


By Bob Caniglia, Blackmagic Design, Director of Sales Operations, Americas

Step one to becoming a filmmaker is having the drive, the passion, and the inspiration to begin. A practical, but equally important next step, is to find your camera. Selecting a camera can be a daunting task for those just starting out in the industry, and even for those with a few projects under their belt. With so many options available in today’s market, it can be hard to know where to begin. Consider making a selection that is not only based on your current needs (and restrictions), but that can also grow with you and does not limit you as your needs change. 

Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you won’t need the biggest and the fanciest camera available. Flashy does not necessarily mean best, and this remains true for even the most experienced of filmmakers. Start with something affordable and intuitive. There are plenty of options out there that are high quality, yet manageable from a budget perspective. 

While there are what may feel like, and very well might be, hundreds of camera features to consider, there are a few that you should pay close attention to. 

LENS MOUNTS – Versatility in a lens mount is an ideal feature for filmmakers of all experience levels. For beginners, cameras that feature interchangeable lens mounts will let you easily switch between EF, PL, F and sometimes even B4 mount lenses, meaning you can use whatever lenses you already own or have access to. In addition, different types of projects require different lenses, so as you gain experience and add to your lens repertoire, you’ll benefit from an interchangeable lens mount to be able to use the widest range of lenses possible without having to switch your camera.

RESOLUTION – As technologies have advanced over the years, digital film camera resolutions have improved dramatically, and today’s filmmakers have numerous options to choose from. There are affordable cameras on the market that provide wide dynamic range and large sensors, so even beginners can achieve high quality images and create professional looking films. A Hollywood-quality image is more attainable at a lower price point than ever before. 

RECORDING – Make sure the camera’s recording format provides an easy workflow without sacrificing quality. For example, cameras that use standard open file formats will make sure that you don’t lose time transcoding media. Files should be compatible with the post production software you plan to use. Also, you’ll want to choose your preferred type of media, such as CFast cards, SSD cards, or SD cards, and make sure your camera allows you to use the media that works best for your project. Some cameras let you use more than one type of media, and can even automatically record to a second card when the first one is full so you never have to stop shooting.

GEAR DESIGN & ADAPTABILITY – When working with just one or two cameras, there are several non-technical features that are important, such as durability and portability. You should make sure whatever camera you choose will hold up in your intended filming locations. And if you invest in a camera that has everything you need built right in, such as monitoring, audio recording, etc., you not only save money on buying or renting additional, expensive accessories, you can also avoid lugging around extra production equipment. This is especially important for a single person crew, and it means you’ll have more time and money to put back into your project.

Don’t dive headfirst into the deep end of a complex camera without understanding the features and capabilities as they compare to your needs. Chances are, you can achieve or even exceed your goals with something that is much more affordable than you may have imagined. 


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