February 17, 2015

Which Cameras Were Used on the Oscar-Nominated Films of 2015?

This year's Academy Awards is filled with exciting pieces of cinema, from the unique cinematography of Birdman and Ida to the peculiar aesthetic of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Though a camera alone doesn't make or break the look of a film, it's still interesting to know which ones were used on Oscar-nominated films.

As you look at the list below, you might feel a strange sense of déjà vu, because this year, just like last year, ARRI was the go-to brand. The ARRI Alexa was used on most of the films nominated for not only Best Cinematography, but for Best Director and Best Picture. In fact, the Alexa was used on every single film nominated for Best Cinematography, except for The Grand Budapest Hotel. (We should've expected this, since Wes Anderson favors shooting on film.) Speaking of film, there was also a healthy number of filmmakers who opted out of shooting on digital in favor of using the Arriflex, Arricam, and Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2, like Boyhood, Foxcatcher, and The Imitation Game.

Last year's nominated filmmakers seemed to have a little bit more of a varied taste, utilizing Canon's C-series (C300 and C500) as well as GoPros and the Phantom Flex. This year, however, there seems to be clear favorites not only in terms of cameras, but lenses as well. (Zeiss' Ultra and Master primes are quite popular -- for obvious reasons.) And once again, RED is nowhere to be found.

Okay, without further ado, here's the list of cameras and lenses used on the films nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Picture:

Birdman

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), and Best Picture (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole).

Cameras: Arri Alexa M, Arri Alexa XT

Lenses: Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Robert Yeoman), Best Director (Wes Anderson), and Best Picture (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson).

Camera: Arricam ST

Lenses: Technovision/Cooke, Cooke S4, Varotal and Angenieux Optimo Lenses

Ida

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski) and Best Foreign Language Film (Pawel Pawlikowski).

Camera: Arri Alexa Plus 4:3

Lenses: Zeiss Ultra Prime Lenses

Mr. Turner

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Dick Pope).

Cameras: Arri Alexa Plus, Canon EOS C500

Lenses: Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses

Unbroken

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins).

Cameras: Arri Alexa XT M, Arri Alexa XT Plus, Arri Alexa XT Studio, Arri Alexa XT

Lenses: Zeiss Master Prime Lenses

Boyhood

Nominated for Best Director (Richard Linklater) and Best Picture (Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland).

Cameras: Moviecam Compact, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision Primo Lenses, Zeiss Super Speed Lenses 

Foxcatcher

Nominated for Best Director (Bennett Miller).

Cameras: Arriflex 235, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision Primo and Ultra Speed MKII Lenses

The Imitation Game

Nominated for Best Director (Morten Tyldum) and Best Picture (Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman).

Cameras: Arricam LT, Arricam ST

Lenses: Zeiss Master Prime Lenses

American Sniper

Nominated for Best Picture (Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan).

Camera: Arri Alexa XT

Lenses: Panavision Primo, C-, E- and G-Series Lenses

Selma

Nominated for Best Picture (Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner).

Camera: Arri Alexa XT Plus

Lenses: Hawk C-Series, V-Lite, V-Series and Angenieux HR Lenses

The Theory of Everything

Nominated for Best Picture (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten).

Cameras: Arri Alexa, Arriflex 16 SR3 

Lenses: Leica Summilux-C Lenses

Whiplash

Nominated for Best Picture (Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster).

Cameras: Arri Alexa, Canon EOS 7D

Lenses:  Cooke Speed Panchro, Leica Summilux-C and Angenieux Optimo Lenses

If you want to learn more about the tech side of each of the listed nominees, including compression formats, aspect ratios, and sound mixes, just click on the titles to be taken to each of their respective technical specifications pages on IMDb.     

Edit: an earlier version of this post omitted the nominees names, which we have added.

Your Comment

40 Comments

Whiplash was partially shot on a 7D? Impressive is an understatement.

February 17, 2015 at 7:12PM

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Roberto G. Clerici
Writer/Director/DSLR Operator
86

well... not really. just for some mounted drumkit shots. Probably good for 3% of the entire movie. Weird to use a 7d in this day and age though...

February 17, 2015 at 8:08PM

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Michael Van Ostade
Director
206

I don't get why the pocket cam hasn't had better market penetration for this sort of thing. Smaller, cheaper, and vastly higher image quality and grade-ability.

February 19, 2015 at 5:14PM

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Derek Means
Director of Photography
319

Where is RED? Interesting..

February 17, 2015 at 8:53PM, Edited February 17, 8:53PM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
1122

When you can afford the best camera on the market(aka Alexa). They always choose that!

February 18, 2015 at 3:35PM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
601

Look up the cinematographers, a good chunk of them were Arri guys all along, it's only natural they will choose Alexa.

Best camera on the market? Okay, for 2K maybe.

February 21, 2015 at 4:55PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
949

Pretty sure the 4k examples from the Alexa have proven otherwise. Just sayin'

February 22, 2015 at 2:41PM

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Here is what I notice about that. Taylor Swift's new video has almost 575 MILLION views. Shot on RED Dragon. Do you think all these films combine even come close?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-ORhEE9VVg

February 27, 2015 at 10:04PM

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Scot Yount
Director/Editor/Photographer/Motion Graphic Artist
380

Over 800M now but most were just for the bloopers :)

April 30, 2015 at 7:06PM

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Great resource for digging deeper: https://shotonwhat.com/

February 17, 2015 at 10:29PM, Edited February 17, 10:29PM

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Kevin Campbell
Creative Director
74

And even better view of the cameras and lenses for the Oscar Nominations
https://shotonwhat.com/oscars

February 17, 2015 at 10:50PM

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...I know, the point of the article is which camera was used but just one additional line with the dop wouldn't be s too bad...

February 18, 2015 at 2:46AM, Edited February 18, 2:46AM

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So, basically what we the ones who have been doing cinematography for decades have been saying already for 6 years: that the only serious alternatives for a cinematographer, are Arri Alexa, Film Stock, Zeiss Ultra Primes, Master Primes, Cooks S4s and S5s, Panavision Primos, and just a few other tools.
So, this is exactly the same landscape than 15 years ago (just with a few additions and little change). So much for the digital revolution. A huge marketing scheme with just a little bit of true.

February 18, 2015 at 9:50AM, Edited February 18, 9:50AM

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ivanguar
168

Ummm... Of the 12 films listed here, 7 were shot digital ONLY, 4 were shot film-stock ONLY, and 1 was split between Super35 digital and 16mm film-stock. So in summary, roughly 2/3rds of the films listed here were shot digital, with the MINORITY shot on film-stock.

February 18, 2015 at 11:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32235

Thanks for the feedback.

February 22, 2015 at 11:22PM

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John Kaweske
Film Student
156

Don't be so ridiculous, they choose to shoot on this for whatever reason, they could've shot on red if they chose, or a sony, or a potato if they wanted - there are reasons they choose to shoot with these cameras - and it's not because they're part of the 'elite' guarding the industry from people breaking in so they keep it all for them selves.
You set the standard. We all do. If you want to shoot on a DSLR or a fs7 or an iphone its up to you - the cameras don't make these films the story does all together, this article is simply hi-lighting the oscar nominated film area. It has no real reflection other than personal tastes of the respective DP's

February 19, 2015 at 6:51AM

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The camera matters, you can't afford to be a $50mil film and have camera issues and over heating etc. DPs chose Alexa as its a great camera with a great look and is reliable and very intuitive to use and they trust it.

February 19, 2015 at 4:13PM

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Hunter Senftner
Director/DP/Editor
130

Oh, the 8 years old overheating argument strikes again. Well meme'd, old sport!

February 21, 2015 at 4:58PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
949

Facts that I actually find interesting.....
1. Most of the films shot with Alexa captured onto Codex in ARRIRAW. (14.2GB/sec vs 1.9GB/sec)
2. All but one film, whether shot on film or with an Alexa, mastered in 2K, not 4K.

February 18, 2015 at 10:15AM, Edited February 18, 10:15AM

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Arthur Cooper csc
Director of Photography
157

2K huh? I think these cinematographers could really do with an afternoon reading DV internet message boards.

February 18, 2015 at 3:02PM

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Justin Hearn
Multimedia Producer
131

Why shoot 4K if every cinema and TV station is HD. Explain. 4 times more data for what?

February 20, 2015 at 8:41AM

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Futureproofing seems like a pretty good reason to shoot in 4K.

February 20, 2015 at 3:46PM

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Proper 35mm negative is worth of 4K. Theres a reason why old films are being rescanned and remastered decades after the original release.

Imagine that your super important critically acclaimed masterpiece is only available in SD DVD quality for new generations to come. We're talking Oscars here, not cheap shit zombindie horror.

February 21, 2015 at 5:04PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
949

Resolution is not everything. The Alexa is king!

February 18, 2015 at 3:33PM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
601

DPs don't like 4k it makes things look video-ish to crisp and changes depth of field so then all your lens settings change

February 19, 2015 at 10:47PM

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Hunter Senftner
Director/DP/Editor
130

How does shooting 4k change depth of field? Please explain...

February 20, 2015 at 5:06AM

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Willard
Director of Photography
154

It does change depth of field, unless your lens is coated with Unobtainium.

February 20, 2015 at 4:25PM

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i shot my film in 4k in the GH4, 8k, 4k, 2k, hd, sd, it doesnt matter, what matters is the size of your sensor. If anyone knows different please comment.

July 22, 2015 at 9:10PM

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Arri must be pleased. Also almost no 4k. Interesting.

February 18, 2015 at 8:15PM, Edited February 18, 8:15PM

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Stu Mannion
writer/dir/dp
579

More theatres are compatible with 2K projection, but 4K projection is slowly taking over. Nothing wrong with a high quality 2K image.

February 18, 2015 at 11:13PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32235

That is because all theatres in the world screen at HD. And all TV stations too.

February 20, 2015 at 8:38AM

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There's massive differences in HD, from bit depth and colour etc. A cinema 2K projector projects at a very high quality apart from the pixel count.

February 23, 2015 at 11:26AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1500

... and cinematographers not mentioned?

February 20, 2015 at 8:33AM, Edited February 20, 8:33AM

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It doesn't matter what camera was used to shoot a film, it matters about the finished product and whether the audience likes it or not. As much as I enjoyed reading this post, you shouldn't let it discourage you from making your own films on a cheaper camera like a DSLR.

These are big budget films (at least bigger than what we have in our pockets) and they will use big budget equipment because they can. Normal people who aren't film makers don't care about dynamic range or resolution (as long as it's decent) So just focus on making good films with what you got, and one day you'll be shooting on an Arri yourself.

February 21, 2015 at 9:27AM, Edited February 21, 9:27AM

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Frogy
Director / Shooter / Cutter
186

Perfectly put.

February 22, 2015 at 2:43PM

1
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Good call Frogy.

Asking a cinematographer what you shot your film on is like asking a costume designer what brand of sewing machine they use.

If it works for your audience, it doesn't matter.

February 22, 2015 at 7:10PM

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Emre Tufekci
Director
228

Well Linklater made a conscious decision to shoot film for continuity, for 12 years. It looks seamless this way, which is a testament to the quality of celluloid. Digital video was so inferior to film 12-15 years ago and it progressed at such rapid pace it would've looked all over the place should the filmmaker opt out of 35mm.

February 21, 2015 at 4:51PM, Edited February 21, 4:51PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
949

Alexa FTW!

February 24, 2015 at 8:22PM, Edited February 24, 8:22PM

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Principal of Serif Creative
95

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