October 7, 2016 at 9:09AM


"That" film look: which camera and lenses?


I've been trying to decide for a Digital Cinema Camera for a while now but it hasn't been easy. Two years to be more precise.

In my opinion, digital cinematography is years away from achieving film format quality and patine. It's definitely not there yet. Not impressed with RED, Alexa XT and no high expectations about the new 6K Super 35mm ALEXA they've been talking abound either (maybe I'm being too pessimistic). I usually shoot with ALEXA and a Cook S4 kit because I have too. Budget is always a concern, even for commercials.

The reason why I'm looking for a camera is because a lot of times some clients ask me if I can shoot little fashion films for the internet or even MOF with a cool look. Although they're low budget little films and MOF, we're talking about fashion. I feel they should look as professional as possible.

Also, because digital format changes at a fast pace, should I buy a good camera body, and invest on lenses to get closer to the feel I want to achieve?

Blackmagic Cinema Pocket Camera's footage I've been checking looks interesting, specially with speedbooster metabones bmpcc incorporated, but which lenses?

On the 35mm end, there's CANON 5D Mark III and CANON 1DC, what would you recommend? Again, which lenses to get a film look? Of course there are other PANAVISION, LEICA and HASSELBLAD options but those are just too expensive (plus lenses).

Sorry if I sound pretentious or too romantic for these days, but I find the diference between both formats too obvious. This makes this little decision a bit more complicated.

Many thanks for taking the time to read me and answer,



Definitely not pretentious or too romantic. :-)

Shooting on film is expensive. Is film better than digital? There are a thousand discussions on this. The important question is who is your audience. Will they care? Film has a very pleasing aesthetic (grain, rich colors and highlight rolloff) and it is a worthwhile goal to see how close you an get to that with limited resources.

I have made shorts with Canon DSLR, BMCC and BMPCC. Blackmagic comes the closest to the film look. It shoots raw and the grain is quite organic. You can expose to the right (over expose slightly) which grades really well in post. But shooting with Blackmagic cameras are not as easy as DSLRs. You have to really understand how to expose them and know their limits (fixed pattern noise, rolling shutter, moire, battery life, sensor size etc).

Having said all that, the film look is really not just about the camera. Its your lighting, production design, composition, cam movement, blocking and shot choices. A cinematically lit scene will look great even with an iPhone.

If you're debating on what to invest in, rent cameras and lenses until you find your comfort zone. Then you can set the goal of owning them long term.

October 7, 2016 at 10:58AM

Rajesh Naroth

What experience do you have with RED? I find the DSMC2 Weapons quite excellent. Helium looks exciting, but I have a hard time imagining better than what I have now.

October 8, 2016 at 6:50AM


90% of this last years reel is BMD Ursa Mini 4k and I felt I got some really filmic stuff. https://vimeo.com/198271130

January 9, 2017 at 2:16PM

Colton Williams
DP / Editor

"A photographer went to a socialite party in New York.
As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’
The photographer said nothing until dinner was finished, then he said to the host:
‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific Stove."

January 31, 2018 at 8:42AM

Tobias N
Director of Photography

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