Why are Cinema Cameras so Expensive? (2023 Updated)

why are cinema cameras so expensive

Hey, it’s Mehmood, and I welcome you to Camlense. In this post, I will be discussing the price of the cinema cameras and will give my opinion on why these cinema cameras are so expensive. The cinema camera and digital camera have some glaring differences which we will discuss too.

Why are Cinema Cameras so Expensive?

Cinema cameras are more expensive because they offer higher resolution, a wider dynamic range, and better colors. Another key reason for the high price of cinema cameras is their demand since they are used in blockbuster movies.

Price Difference Between Cinema Cameras and Digital Cameras

The standard digital cameras are way more affordable than cinema cameras. The cameras from Sony, Canon, and Nikon have features like high resolution, impressive autofocus, and instant use but things are different with movie cameras.

You just cannot start shooting with the camera alone. You might have observed that a cinema camera usually lacks a viewfinder and has no display or even batteries. You have to buy them all separately on top of that.

In most high-end cinema cameras, you won’t find any autofocus or stabilization. Then why are cinema cameras so expensive if they don’t have any of those features?

What is a Cinema Camera?

The cinema camera is a special type of camera that is used to record when shooting for movies and series. These cameras have very high specifications besides the high price. Every component of this camera is adjustable. The batteries, viewfinder, etc. are removable and installed where needed.

Reasons Why Cinema Cameras are so Expensive

High Dynamic Range

One of the Major Reasons for cinema cameras being insanely expensive is their high dynamic range which is the number of colors a camera between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. Most consumers-end cameras tend to blow away the highlight or make the shadows pitch black but cinema cameras like the Aerial Alexa and Red come with a much higher dynamic range.

These cameras are capable enough to find details even in the brightest and darkest part of the footage. Besides that, in a typical DSLR or mirrorless camera, the footage looks sharper than what we see on cinema cameras because of internal processing. Those cameras might be sharper but not as detailed as cinema cameras.

Cinema cameras are not unrealistically sharp. You will rather get soft-looking footage out of it, but they are very detailed which a DSLR or any other digital camera cannot match. Cinema cameras are also most capable of producing the most natural skin tone to be watched in movies which a standard digital camera cannot offer.

Target Customers

Standard DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are usually marketed targeting a customer base having an affordable buying ability. Most of the cameras in the market have a price tag ranging from as low as $500 to $6500. On the other hand, the Aerial Alexa Mini camera body which is one of the cheapest cameras will cost you over $30,000.

Of course, nobody can afford that much except big production houses. They still buy those cameras because when it is a big-budget movie, a movie is never an issue. For example, Christopher Nolan and his team wrecked about 3 Imax cameras while shooting the Dark Knight, Dunkirk, and The Dark Knight Rises and each camera had insurance coverage of about $500,000.

We can also find the differences in the design of standard and cinema cameras. Standard cameras are made keeping in mind the ease of use. All the features are given in DSLRs, and Mirrorless cameras are basically for the ease of customers and to speed up their workflow because it is what they want. These cameras have autofocus, touch screen, image stabilization, and other features which are important in everyday shooting.

On the other hand, most cinema cameras come with a modular design. You can take off the display, the viewfinder, and even the battery. You can also redesign the whole setting according to your need. Moreover, the manual autofocus of a cinema camera gives a cinematographer the flexibility to choose focus based on the demand of the film.

Video Specifications

The most tracking point of a cinema camera is its video specs. Two major factors separate a cinema camera from a regular digital camera. One is the framerate, and the other is the ability to shoot in RAW.

Typical digital cameras do offer a higher framerate but there are other trade-offs for that for example cropped view or lower resolution to achieve the higher frame rate.

On the other hand, the cinema cameras are capable enough to offer you higher framerates per second without compromising on resolution or getting a cropped view.

Another prominent feature of cinema cameras is their ability to shoot in RAW. Manipulating RAW files in post-production is the same as you are shooting right now on the set. You can tweak any setting you like and still get the most natural-looking output with RAW recording.

Apart from that cinema cameras lets you shoot in RAW without compromising on quality which is often not possible for many consumer-end digital cameras.

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Frequently Asked Question

What makes a cinema camera expensive?

The key reason that makes the cinema camera expensive, is the quality. These cameras are used to make high-budget movies and for that, they require expensive high-quality stuff. That kind of picture quality, resolution, details, and colors can be obtained only with a cinema camera.

Why do cinema cameras look so good?

The thing that makes the cinema camera better is its quality. The footage is clear, perfectly adjusted in terms of colors, and is recorded in higher resolution.

Why are cinema cameras better than DSLRs?

Cinema cameras are better in DSLRs because the recording quality of DSLRs is not even near the cinema cameras. The color balance, tones, resolution, and details are a few of the things that make a cinema camera better than a DSLR.

Final Verdict

So that was all about why cinema cameras are so expensive. In short, the cinema cameras offer the colors, details, and quality that a standard camera cannot match. So, why do they lack stabilization, autofocus, and other features?

Well, as people shift from being camera enthusiasts to professional cinematographers, those features appear less important and only the image quality becomes the thing of highest priority, and cinema picture quality deserves a high price.

What are Your thoughts about Cinema cameras? Let us know in the comment section. Thank You for staying so long.

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