The past year I've had the same reoccurring thought about cameras that aren't worth the price of a luxury sedan. That thought is: "Why are cameras so boring?"

Am I right to think that? Or am I just a jaded creative in an industry currently suffering two separate strikes? Well, PetaPixel's State of the Union, Camera Edition has some thoughts on each different camera brand. We have some rebuttals, agreements, and thoughts to add.

Let's get started.

PetaPixel, Photography, and Hot Takes

Chris Niccolls gave us 11 minutes of the worst things he thought brands have been doing and how to fix them. While these thoughts are focused on the photography aspects of each camera (and even some brands are photography focused), they also make sense for the video side of things. Give the video a look before we get into our debate.

Sony: The 800lb Gorilla

Sony is a behemoth in the camera industry. Not only do they make the camera movies are shot on, but they also own the studios that produce those films, the LED technology for volume sets, and even the TVs you use to watch said content. But even so, Sony is a small company compared to the likes of Microsoft (the two have currently concluded a battle over the acquisition of Activision/Blizzard).

For Niccolls, his problem lies with the wide range of cameras Sony has on offer and the issues the company has in supporting their older gear. While we agree, that support for older technology is paramount, we have a different view on the matter.

Sony has been careening full speed ahead on their cinema and photography line. While the lines between the two have blurred a bit, the amount of gear on offer is staggering, leading to a bloated product line that is hard to manage. From APS-C to full frame offerings even two versions of the same model, the Sony lineup can be daunting for a newcomer.

But what we do like is how Sony is offering a solution for every filmmaker. In the FX line alone, there is a camera for every price point, sensor size, and production, be it a documentary, narrative film, or weekly social content.

Canon: The Walled Garden

Speaking of bloated, we have to talk about Canon next.

Niccolls' thoughts range from minute changes to the UI to the fact that Canon no longer allows third-party manufacturers to make lenses with an RF mount. The latter has to be one of the strangest decisions, given how popular the EF mount has become. Perhaps Canon thinks the RF mount will follow the same path and wants to capitalize on it.

But for us, the real issue like in the products Canon has on offer. As the king of video (at least during the DSRL era), Canon should be miles ahead of the competition. Yet, it feels like there are three different companies making Canon cameras. A photo consumer department, a professional photography division, and the cinema camera team. What's strange, is that it doesn't feel like these three groups talk to each other. If they do, information feels like it's lost in translation.

From a company that once owned the video market (thanks to the initial success of the Canon 5D), Canon seems to be playing catch up to everyone else, even if the Canon R5 C is such an incredible hybrid camera. Sure the RF mount is widely used in cinema cameras, but it's no longer THE mount like EF was.

Fujifilm: King of APS-C

Speaking of hybrid cameras, we have to touch on Fujifilm. While I try to remain camera-agnostic, this one brand has really started to inspire me as a creative.

For Niccolls, the issues with the entire line of cameras lie with the menu system, which has been clunky to use, according to Niccolls. There's also the issue of memory card compatibility. And... that's it.

Honestly, these are small issues in the grand scheme of things. Fujifilm has designed cameras that are not only easy to use (barring the menu) but also fun to use. Film Emulations are great for getting amazing photos and video straight out of the camera, while the new sensors are just brilliant to use. According to Gerald Undone, the Fujifilm X-H2s can pump out 14 stops of usable dynamic range, no matter the signal-to-noise ratio.

picture of a Fujifilm x-series camera

Fujifilm X-series camera

Credit: Fujifilm

So, what issue do we as filmmakers have?

From where I'm standing, I just want Fujifilm to make more. As much as I love a hybrid camera, like the X-H2s, or the more affordable Fujifilm X-T5 (or the more expensive Fujifilm GFX100s), what I really want is a fully-fledged cinema camera.

Fujifilm not only has the pedigree to make a dedicated cinema camera but also the technology. Its sensors produce gorgeous imagery and the design language of its products leads people to pick up its camera more often. At least to me, and I own five different brands of cameras.

Dedicated Cinema Cameras

While the above is only a selection of what Niccolls talked about, they're the most relevant brands to filmmakers like. What he didn't mention were the dedicated cameras used for making movies.

RED, ARRI, and Blackmagic Design. These three titans of the cinema camera space have all chiseled out a perfect price point for themselves. ARRI is the uber-expensive luxury car with all the bells and whistles, RED is the sporty yet less expensive luxury underdog, and BMD is the hotrod you put together in your garage that not only keeps up with the competition but, at times, can leave it in the dust.

camera operator using an ARRI Alexa 35

ARRI Alexa 35

Credit: ARRI

But with that lies the issues. ARRI has always been an expensive product, even used. But in an age where equity is a goal for the creative industry, it's hard to justify the purchase of an $80,000 camera. This almost limits one's ability to train on the camera as the gate for entry isn't always as accessible as with Blackmagic Design cameras.

We'd love to see ARRI tackle affordability, even though that's not even a twinkle in the eye of its business plan.

As for BMD, its affordability stems from its efficient manufacturing process and build quality. But therein also lies the issue.

There's only so low you can price a camera, and companies with more capital to lean on can (and are) putting the squeeze on BMD. Just look at the Sony FX30.

How BMD will fight back the competition remains to be seen. But how any future changes will affect the price point and quilty, that's the thing to worry about. The issue for us is that BMD was too good and too affordable. Now the big players want a piece of that pie. So where is BMD to go from here?

picture of a\u200b Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K

Credit: Blackmagic Design

Interestingly enough, RED seems to be the poster child for what to do with your camera line. Since the DSMC3 was released, creatives now have a durable, high-quality cinema camera that is affordable and capable of shooting full-fledged productions. We're talking about the RED Komodo. Want something with a bit more oomph? The RED Raptor is the production camera you want to look at.

But has RED tripped up with the shift to a new platform? Well, the transition could have been done with a bit more support for the camera of the previous generation. The sudden shift has left some feeling upset. However, RED has claimed to continue support for DMSC2 cameras until they hit EOL (end of life).

With only looking at cinema cameras, only RED and Sony seem to be leading the pack when it comes to usability and affordability. For me, Blackmagic Design hasn't released anything lately and isn't in a position to compete with all the new offerings on the market. Yet it's still in third place.

"But what about ARRI?" I hear you say. What is there to say? That is the standard by which we judge every other camera. It's stupid expensive and stupid good. We only need a more affordable version so every filmmaker can get their hands on one.

Camera people using ARRI camera.

The industry standard.

Credit: ARRI

Which Camera Brand Is Right For You?

Each brand makes amazing cameras and while your choice will often be dictated by the project you're currently on, the second purchasing factor will always be the ecosystem.

Fujifilm, Sony, and Canon, all have their own unique wall garden they want you to remain in. Even RED and ARRI don't seem to want you to leave their accessory line. Heck, even BMD wants you to use its cameras, editing software, panels, and cards.

picture of hand hold a Blackmagic 2110 IP Converter

Blackmagic 2110 IP Converter

Credit: Blackmagic Design

Finding the right product stack will most likely mean which ecosystem you'd want to spend your time in. Sure, adapters and third-party gear exist, but if Canon has anything to say, you'll be staying with Canon, capeesh?

For us as filmmakers, the issues each brand has aren't deal breakers as much as they are quirks of the system. But the bigger issues lie not in the cameras but in the fundamental business decisions that drive each company. Sure you can update a menu, but updating a business mandate is difficult, especially for a huge corporation.