January 24, 2017
Oscars 2017

Which Cameras Were Used on the Oscar-Nominated Films of 2017?

Moonlight
Find out which cameras captured all of the Academy Award nominated films for Best Picture and Cinematography this year.

The Oscar nominations were finally announced this morning, which, for film fans, answered one of two burning questions they've had all year. The other is, of course, which cameras were used to shoot each of those nominated films and for that we have an answer!

Now, we do this list every year and every year we say the same thing: "The list isn't all that surprising." Guess what? Same deal this year. The majority of filmmakers decided to go digital with the reigning champion camera, at least for these lists, the ARRI Alexa, while a few on the fringe, like Theodore Melfi for Hidden Figures, Denzel Washington for Fences, and Damien Chazelle for La La Land, shot on film cameras.

You can find out which cameras and lenses were used in the Oscar-nominated films below:

Arrival

Nominated for Best Picture (Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde), Best Director (Denis Villeneuve), and Best Cinematography (Bradford Young).

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT M/Plus

Lenses: Camtech Vintage Ultra Prime, Kowa Cine Prominar, and Zeiss Super Speed

Hacksaw Ridge

Nominated for Best Picture (Bill Mechanic and David Permut) and Best Director (Mel Gibson).

Cameras:  ARRI Alexa XT Plus, RED Epic Dragon

Lenses:Panavision Primo, Primo V, Leica Summilux-C, and Angenieux Optimo lenses

Hidden Figures

Nominated for Best Picture (Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, and Theodore Melfi).

Cameras: Arriflex 416, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision Ultra Speed MKII, Panavision Primo, E-, T-Series, ATZ and Canon lenses

Lion

Nominated for Best Picture (Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder), and Best Cinematography (Greig Fraser).

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT/XT M, RED Dragon (aerial shots)

Moonlight

Nominated for Best Picture (Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner), Best Director (Barry Jenkins), and Best Cinematography (James Laxton).

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT Plus

Lenses: Hawk V-Lite and Angenieux Optimo A2S lenses

Fences

Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black).

Cameras: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Lenses: Panavision C-Series, ATZ, and AWZ2 lenses

Hell or High Water

Nominated for Best Picture (Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn).

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT Studio

Lenses: Hawk V-Lite, Angenieux Optimo, and Optimo A2S lenses

La La Land

Nominated for Best Picture (Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt), Best Director (Damien Chazelle), and Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren)

Cameras: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2, Aaton A-Minima

Lenses: Panavision E-, C-Series, custom lens

Manchester by the Sea

Nominated for Best Picture (Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, and Kevin J. Walsh) and Best Director (Kenneth Lonergan)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa XT

Lenses: Canon K35 and Angenieux Optimo lenses

Silence

Nominated for Best Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)

Cameras: ARRI Alexa Studio, Arricam LT

Lenses: Zeiss Master Anamorphic and Angenieux Optimo lenses

I know what some of you might be thinking—that last year was all about DPs taking huge chances and pushing the limits of the craft, like Dariusz Wolski using GoPros in The Martian, Chivo Lubezki shooting all those sweeping long shots on the Alexa, and John Seale being a literal cinematic magician on Mad Max: Fury Road and utilizing five different cameras, including the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

But before you write this off as a boring year in cinematography, at least compared to last year, consider for a second how powerful these nominees are in the story department. We've got stories of great diversity, stories about individuals that don't usually get a chance to show people their side of life. We may not have films with masterful long shots and expertly choreographed high-speed chase sequences, but we've got some of the most captivating and challenging drama we've seen in a while.      

Featured image: 'Moonlight', credit: A24

Your Comment

36 Comments

Oh, poor RED.

January 24, 2017 at 2:07PM, Edited January 24, 2:07PM

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Last post on Red chief FB page is about their camera being 19-20 stops of DR now. Red didn't make the first 4k digital camera but they for sure invented the alternative facts thing. And their users will probably claim that the absence of Red in the Oscar list is some sort of conspiracy from those cinematographers who don't know anything about cinematography. Too bad there is not a "best backyard, slowmo kids and dogs camera test movie" category at the Oscar, Red would have won it for sure.

January 24, 2017 at 5:34PM

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JoachimV
331

red users just belong in a massive circle jerk

January 24, 2017 at 5:45PM

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1) JoachimV, you should learn how to read a Xyla chart before commenting. Just because the chart goes to 21 stops doesn't mean anyone is claiming their camera does.

2) RED just won a technical Oscar.

3) Hating on RED still? How very 2012 of you all.

January 24, 2017 at 6:50PM

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Arri and Sony also won a technical Oscar as well this year.... your point? "Just because the chart goes to 21 stops doesn't mean anyone is claiming their camera does".... Actually if you go on reduser, alot of folks are claiming their RED does including some folks who work for RED. Honestly, I'm over RED. Jim Jannard did his job in changing the digital camera industry and moved on. The people and culture that the company breeds has not really improved and they seem to be stuck in hard place with lower priced competition taking away demand and higher priced outperforming cameras taking the other end of the demand market. So with that and the fact that film, Alexa, and the Panasonic Varicams are still better cinema cameras makes it easy to not choose RED.

January 26, 2017 at 2:40AM

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My point is Andreas wrote, "Oh, poor RED." as if not being the primary camera used on a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar meant they were somehow failing. My mention of their technical Oscar win was to inform people that the Academy recognized their contribution to the industry in another way. That's NOT the same thing as implying they were the only ones to receive a technical award.

Besides, what happened to the "it's the artist, not the tool" philosophy that so many people like to throw around on this site? The truth is, any one of these DPs could've shot on a Scarlet-W and achieved virtually the same results. If the Scarlet-W isn't a good enough camera for you to tell your story you suck as a DP. That goes for the URSA Mini 4.6K as well.

Nick, as far as RED employees claiming their cameras achieve 21 stops of DR based on these new (or any, for that matter) Xyla charts, would you be so kind as to provide a link to that? And, please, no one drudge up Jim's post from when Dragon first came out years ago that people love to partially quote. He clarified that a few hours and pages later and ultimately stated that after calibrations and color science were incorporated, the improvement over MX would be about 4 stops. But, no one likes to mention that. Regardless, that's OLD news.

For years, people on this site have talked about how RED is getting squeezed out of the market but I'm just not seeing evidence of that. Things change and every camera company makes adjustments to price and features. From what I can tell, they're doing better than ever. To me, RED fanboyism has died down to the level of regular camera company fanboyism. It used to be BAD, but it's way better now.

And, poor RED? Why not poor Sony? Or, poor Panasonic? Or, poor Canon? Or, poor Blackmagic? Or, poor AJA? If Arri rules the nominations and your first mind is to ask where's RED, I'd imagine they'd be pretty pleased with that. An argument could be made that those other cameras aren't seriously considered to be in the running in most people's minds. Again, that's NOT saying they shouldn't be, only that if one of them did dominate the nominations, it would come as a bigger surprise than if RED finally did.

January 26, 2017 at 8:42AM, Edited January 26, 8:51AM

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Red claims 16.5+ stops of DR for years. Every test I saw online shows that the Alexa is below that but beats Red cameras. The Varicam beats the Scarlet-W too and is said to be 14 stops by Panasonic.
Reading the comments on Jarred Land FB page shows that people don't really understand what this test really means.
I owned Red cameras and hated them. I think that most Red users never tried an Alexa or a Varicam in their life. Or they would understand why most talented DPs choose the Alexa instead of a 8k camera with sick looking skins, bad color separation/accuracy, and average DR and rolloff (in less than a year there will be a new Red camera and people will - as always since the Red One - claim that it so much better in term of colors, skins and DR although they think it's 100% perfect now, and it will still be below Arri's colors and DR). Yes, with a lot of work you can get decent result on a Red, but you start from gorgeous with an Alexa or a Varicam.

January 26, 2017 at 12:58PM

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JoachimV
331

Every camera manufacturer on the market is known for embellishing DR specs, except for Arri and Kodak, no need to put down Red. At least they actually supply the charts to back their claims up. The problem with DR is that what's useable is highly subjective. The Dragon can certainly see that DR and the Alexa can too, but the images are much noisier than the Alexa, so in real world use it's worse (this might change with helium sensor considering the lack of noise). Same thing can be said about Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and Blackmagic, except they don't back their claims up at all.

I think most people who own a $50k camera have shot on the Alexa. If you look over on Reduser, plenty of people own both Arri and Red.

Sick looking skin tones and average DR? Seriously dude, what planet are you living on. I'll be the first guy to admit I prefer shooting on the Alexa, but the differences these days are pretty marginal. If you need a lot more work in post when shooting red, you're doing it wrong.

February 9, 2017 at 8:07AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
911

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?137883-RED-Weapon-Dynamic-Ra... "Weapon can indeed "see" all 21 stops amazingly" There's your link. the man has worked for RED and has a pretty nice deal with them. RED fanboyism has died down, but this is due to way more competition in the market and many folks who have used RED moving to ARRI or finding a cheaper competitor that pretty much does about 4/5 of what the cameras do. But trust me you still got the hardcore fanyboys and girls out there. I totally agree with the "it's the artist, not the tool", but that's a different conversation and topic. Nonetheless, I'm surprised you're bringing that up, since you actually started defending RED on the comments. If you believe the tool doesn't matter as much as the artist, why does it bother you so much to see people put down RED cameras? Just food for thought. Take care

January 27, 2017 at 1:30AM, Edited January 27, 1:31AM

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As usual, people only quote the part that supports their argument and ignore the rest. The very NEXT sentence is, "Are those "Usable Stops"? No, not exactly, but it does tell a bit of the story." Why wouldn't you include that, Nick? You had to have seen it. Also, the word "see" is in quotations. Even before that: "I wanted to see exactly what I could dig out of a Weapon image and the Xyla-21. Which led to a rather ludicrous ISO 102400 pushed test using Frame Averaging." Frame Averaging. ISO 102400. The camera only goes to ISO 12800. He's clearly NOT talking about real-world use and you know it. And while Phil Holland has a close relationship with RED, I don't think he's ever been an employee.

I'm not bothered by people calling RED out when they deserve it. I've got posts on Reduser where I'm doing that. They're not perfect. I do tend to have a problem with bias and misinformation. I'll defend any camera against those. Wouldn't you?

What's happening in these comments is another scenario where Arri does something laudable and people see that as an opportunity to bash RED, as if one thing has something to do with the other, which has never made much sense to me. It's like people are stuck in a 5 year old loop. I guess I'm surprised that's still a thing.

I'll put it this way. JVC has never a made a camera I was even remotely interested in, for any type of shooting. However, I don't feel the need to harp on it every chance I get. Not so with the RED haters. I don't get on their case to defend RED. I get on their case because they're being irrational about RED. In this case I'm merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the logic in these comments. It doesn't follow. If RED sucks because they don't have the nominations, then so should every other camera that wasn't nominated, right? Not to some folks, apparently.

At the end of the day, RED makes options. There's no reason to get upset that they came out with an 8K camera. If you don't need 8K, you don't have to buy it or shoot on it. When Kodak announced a new Super8 film camera last year, people lost their shit over the cost of the media versus the recording time. Huh? Don't buy one. Problem solved. That's the thing about options - they're optional.

January 27, 2017 at 4:35AM

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So he is not claiming that "you can see 21 stops" on a Xlya-21 chart? Which pretty much means the camera is achieving by actually seeing those stops. Now you want me to find someone that says useable stops for the claim to be relevant? K. By the way he HAS worked for RED, he even has a book he wrote for them. It still kind of sounds like you're defending RED.... I mean you're going this far into it. Idk anyone who is pissed off at RED for making an 8k camera.... I just know people who still prefer Arri or other manufacturer cameras and are over the RED train. Just opinions... if you don't agree with it, move on. And with that, I'm done. Cheers mate.

January 28, 2017 at 2:05AM

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What he's saying is, as an exercise, after performing an extreme (and impractical, btw) set of operations, he could get the sensor to register ("see" - in quotes like he originally wrote it) all 21 stops of the Xyla chart. I'm sure, given the procedure, the same outcome could be achieved for the Alexa. But, how many people do you know that frame average their footage? I think it's assumed the reader would take the context in which this specific test was performed into consideration. I guess some people got the wrong idea about what it represents. Still, how can one blame some RED fans for doing that when some RED critics are guilty of the same thing?

I said I don't think Phil Holland was an EMPLOYEE of RED. He may have been contracted out or compensated for work he's done with them over the years, but those aren't the same thing. Just because you DP a spot for Pepsi doesn't mean you're an employee of theirs or OFFICIALLY represent the company in any capacity. By your logic, the majority of the film and video industry officially speaks for every company they've been contracted to do work for.

I haven't really been defending RED. I'm challenging what I believe to be flawed arguments, including yours. RED is just the topic of conversation. You tend to treat statements as if they were NECESSARILY made to the exclusion of all other possibilities. In effect, you're arguing a point that was never made, which makes me want to address that flaw in addition to making actual points of my own. I just don't think your points are as salient as you think they are. What can I say? I like a good debate, but that's all this is to me.

January 28, 2017 at 3:07PM, Edited January 28, 3:09PM

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January 29, 2017 at 1:02AM, Edited January 29, 1:04AM

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It's ok Brian, it's ok. (In my most soothing, calming voice)

March 1, 2017 at 5:13PM

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James Manson
Photographer
180

Figured it was ARRI as usual.

January 24, 2017 at 2:42PM, Edited January 24, 2:42PM

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David Prokopchuk
Photographer / Film Maker
191

Interesting that Scorcese shot on digital. I mean, I get it, but I figured he would go old school.

January 24, 2017 at 3:09PM, Edited January 24, 3:09PM

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Marcelo Teson
Filmmaking Instructor/Sound Editor
303

Apparently they needed digital sensors for the night shots lit only with candlelight.

January 24, 2017 at 5:13PM

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Stephen Schaffer
Artist. Writer. Filmmaker.
74

Well they didn't have to shoot digital to get the candle light shots. Kubrick shot with candle light for Barry Lyndon.

January 25, 2017 at 1:20PM

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with T 0.7 lenses. You can achieve even better low-light shots since Vision 3 500T exist.

January 26, 2017 at 2:47AM, Edited January 26, 2:47AM

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Of course they didn't 'have to' but it made it a hell of a lot easier...

January 26, 2017 at 4:23AM

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grain might interfere unfortunately

January 28, 2017 at 2:20AM

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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems this is the Oscars with the lowest budgets in history:
Arrival: US$ 47M
Hacksaw Ridge: US$ 40M
Silence: US$ 40M
La La Land: US$ 30M
Hidden Figures: US$ 25M
Fences: US$ 24M
Lion: US$ 12M
Hell of High Water: US$ 12M
Manchester by the Sea: US$ 8.5M
Moonlight: US$ 5M

(According to IMDB)

January 24, 2017 at 7:20PM, Edited January 24, 7:20PM

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Thales Banzai
Director; Screenwriter
210

This Year as Stated above was all about story telling and thats what film making should be about... i Am going to Imagine that The RED fanboys are like "whaaaat!?" lol. At the end of the day... Resolution is a Fad, not a standard.

January 25, 2017 at 1:14PM, Edited January 25, 1:14PM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
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"Resolution is a fad, not a standard."

I'm not so sure about that. 35mm film has a scanned resolution of around 4K, which is why that number was settled upon. In that sense, it's very much a standard. In my mind, resolution is part of the holy trinity of image capture, along with dynamic range and color. People may order these three differently, with many putting resolution last, but calling it a fad is going way too far in my opinion. Increased resolution can make your image appear smoother because curves and contours are more accurately represented. It reduces the need for sharpening, which always looks worse than actual resolution.

January 26, 2017 at 9:07AM, Edited January 26, 9:23AM

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why are most films still finished at 2k, even though some are shot at 4k or 6k????

January 27, 2017 at 1:32AM

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Why do professional recording studios record audio at 24 bit, 96KHz when CDs are 16 bit, 44.1KHz and AACs and MP3s are highly compressed formats?

Having a high quality, high resolution master is never a bad idea, regardless of how it will be distributed. "I Love Lucy" was shot on film but destined for 1950s NTSC television. Those film masters can be scanned at 4K and look way better than any shot-on-video Norman Lear sitcom of the 1970s when viewed on a UHD set.

Yours is a question for the movie studios but I imagine they'll claim it has to do with costs. That doesn't change the fact that scanned S35mm film comes in around 4K and its resolution is what the film industry primarily standardized on a long time ago.

January 27, 2017 at 5:01AM

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I agree with everything you say here. I would add that S35 can be scanned at 6k. Most movies, shows, commercials that are shot on film and digital are still finished at 2k. For costs, color grading, visual effects reasons, and even to make the actor look good (film is more forgiving to the actor's appearance even in 4k because of the grain. where as digital is not, even though filters or certain olpfs can help). But what is the standard? There's other things that come into play with image capture other than the "holy trinity".... motion cadence, skintone rendering and color, highlight falloff, global shutter, how the sensors handles different light temperatures at once, color response, amount of cmos smearing, olpf that does not interfere with sensor, etc. Since Imax 15/70 has 36k of resolution (12k for each 5 perfs) does that make it the standard? Or is it what the majority of films finish in, which is still 2k? Not sure, but at the moment I would say the latter, even though I hope it jumps up

January 28, 2017 at 2:19AM

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You seem to be treating the word "standard" as if there can only be one. It's true for something that has "the only game in town" status. There are two standards for HD - 720p and 1080p. Whatever camera you prefer to shoot on records at 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps, all of which are standard frame rates. 2K for theatrical projection is a standard. 4K, when it reaches critical mass, will also be a standard. I guess what determines the standard status is the degree to which it's used in relationship to whatever else is available that accomplishes the same (or similar) thing. Once 4K rules the roost, 2K may eventually be known as an old standard.

Btw, I believe skintone rendering and color, how the sensor handles different light temperatures at once and color response all fall under color. And highlight falloff can be filed under DR. But yes, the other things you mention are important considerations. However, I'd argue none of them take precedence over color, dynamic range and (a suitable minimum, depending on the need) resolution when designing or choosing a cinema camera. A camera's motion cadence may be a deal breaker, but only after it satisfies the "holy trinity" first, in the vast majority of cases, methinks.

January 28, 2017 at 3:35PM, Edited January 28, 3:48PM

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sure, good

January 29, 2017 at 1:06AM

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Phil Holland has never worked for Red. He's held a lot of workshops about shooting red and he has an uncannily close relationship with them but he hasn't been an employee.

Most films are finished at 2k still, mostly because VFX work is very expensive in higher resolutions and the fact that most theaters don't support 4k still.

Where did you get that Imax has 36k equivalent resolving power? Kodak themselves state 18k and imax says it's more like 12k. The frame is about 9 times as large as a S35 frame so that makes sense.

Those 5 perforations are vertical in a normal 65mm frame and 65mm is generally scanned at 12k for around 8k horizontal resolution. In imax they're fed horizontally. So the width is about 3 times the height of a 65mm frame.

February 9, 2017 at 8:39AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
911

Where did you get the 36k of resolution for IMAX?
5 perf 65 is typically between 6k and 8k. 15perf is normally 12~13k

February 27, 2017 at 5:27PM

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I'm betting that next year this list will be filled with films using the new Panavision Millennium DXL.

January 25, 2017 at 1:56PM, Edited January 25, 1:56PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
229

Don't bet anything, the camera is essentially still a RED camera (but more industry focused), it still uses the same proprietary RED (mini-mags), has the weird highlight bokeh that comes out in other RED sensors with other digital artifacts, same RED color (but with light-iron luts), same compressed Raw files, the DR isn't as nice as the Alexa, the highlight rolloff isn't as smooth as the Alexa, etc. I already know industry camera men who after testing it and seeing it, including seeing the actual footage, still prefer the look of the Alexa.

January 26, 2017 at 2:45AM

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It may take another year as films in production now using the camera won't be out of post until next year. The DXL is a great camera.

February 27, 2017 at 5:46PM

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Very interesting how this thread is filled with people bagging on red and their so called fanboys, yet no one here is fanboying over red. Ah, the other side of the coin...

February 9, 2017 at 7:54AM, Edited February 9, 7:54AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
911

It's interesting to see so many ARRI camera's in the nomination. A lot of people are talking about camera specifications.

I think the main reason that ARRI both film and digital has influence is the operator centered design. Although they are starting to get more options, the camera has way fewer options than other cameras on market. It may sounds like problem but in effect it makes it easier to get consistent results and creates less potential for problems.

The colorspaces in the camera have 2 options and one log curve. There are a few viewing lut options, but none are so different that they cause a shot to be unusable if the wrong one is selected. The camera is designed to be rigged and has a great eco system of support gear. Menus are simple to navigate and easy as is reasonable for a cinema camera.

All cinema cameras are complicated but the ARRI feels just complicated enough for most shooting types. All of the other cameras have great strengths, but ARRI shoots straight down the center very well. If you need a 'generic movie camera' ARRI almost always fills the bill.

February 27, 2017 at 5:43PM, Edited February 27, 5:43PM

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Alexa, VariCam and Leica SL sensors are somehow sons of the same mother (Tower Jazz).

"The coveted winged Emmy award statue was presented to ARRI during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in early January. When accepting the award, Mr. Kraus specifically thanked two of its product development partners, ON Semiconductor and Tower Jazz, for their contributions. Bob Klosterboer, senior vice president of ON Semiconductor’s Applications Products Group, accompanied ARRI’s executives on stage during the award ceremony to accept the Emmy".
http://m.onsemi.com/news/article?id=2878

"TPSCo is a newly established company, 51% owned by Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (NASDAQ: TSEM, TASE: TSEM) and 49% owned by Panasonic Corporation (NASDAQ ADS: PCRFY, TYO: 6752)".
http://www.towerjazz.com/jv.html

Also Leica SL sensor is made by Tower Jazz as well as the "old" Red Mysterium- X one

February 27, 2017 at 8:48PM, Edited February 27, 8:48PM

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Shouldn't you also mention the stock for the ones shot on film?

March 4, 2017 at 1:44AM, Edited March 4, 1:44AM

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Vic Barrett
Screenwriter l Unit Stills Photographer l Beginner Filmmaker
44