10 cameras that changed budget cinema

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It’s fair to say that budget cinema has seen many “revolutions” over the years. From the advent of inexpensive compressed tape to the digital SLR that changed everything in the 2000s, movie making has been democratized by cheaper cameras and systems that have made consumer video more accessible than ever.

YouTuber wolfcrow, the alias of filmmaker Sareesh Sudhakaran, has compiled a list of the top ten cameras that changed cinema forever. From the 1990s through the 2020s, Wolfcrow’s List examines all of the major changes in mainstream cinema and how they influenced not only the amateur end of the spectrum, but the professional world of cinema.

• Find out more: The best cameras for video

You can watch the full video below and read on for a preview of the first cameras selected by Sudhakaran…

1. Sony DigiBeta

(Image credit: Sony)

Also known as Sony Digital Betacam, this camera arrived in 1993. It recorded video in a compressed format onto a tape that could hold around 40 minutes of footage. The setup required you to purchase Digital Betacam decks to offload the 10-bit 4: 2: 2 footage so while it was complicated and expensive, it was significantly cheaper than previous Betacam formats.

Where the revolution really happened is in television as well as in low budget cinema, as it has become much cheaper to shoot large volumes of footage. In the video, wolfcrow says he remembers the film crews in India working with Digibeta until the 2000s!

2. Sony PD150

Once the DV (digital video) standard arrived, low-budget movie making became cheaper and more accessible than ever – that’s a big part of why there was such a boom in family movies after 1996. The one of the more notable DV cameras, and number two on the list, was the Sony PD150, which had XLR inputs and a 1/3-inch CCD sensor, yet was small enough to take anywhere.

Filmmakers like David Lynch and Michael Winterbottom tried out the Sony PD150 in the early to mid-2000s, and for many it was the kind of interstitial springboard that took them from film to digital. Many, like Lynch, have never looked back.

3. Panasonic DVX100B

(Image credit: Panasonic)

After DV gave way to miniDV, the Panasonic DVX100B arrived, giving digital filmmakers something they craved: true 24p frame rate. Twenty-four frames per second is so loved by filmmakers as it is considered the true “kinematic” frame rate (because that’s the same frame rate provided by motion pictures).

The Panasonic DVX100B was the camcorder that offered 24p frame rate shortly before the advent of high definition. While many amateur filmmakers loved the camera for its ability to provide a cinematic look, it also found its way into the industry proper – the first seasons of It’s always nice in Philadelphia were shot with this camera.

4. JVC HD110U / 111E

(Image credit: YouTube: wolfcrow)

As mentioned, the HD revolution was upon us and one of the most popular cameras of this era was the JVC HD110U / 111E. While there were a lot of cameras scrambling for the competition in this space, the JVC HD110U / 111E had a big advantage in that it offered interchangeable lenses, giving filmmakers a lot more flexibility.

5. Canon EOS 5D Mark II

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Less expensive than comparable digital SLRs, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II changed the world of cinema by giving photographers the means to create photos with a shallow depth of field. It was the first EOS camera to provide video recording and the first full-frame DSLR to shoot at 1080p.

After years of dreaming of shallow depth of field, filmmakers flocked to the 5D Mark II. Many big budget 2010s movies and TV shows include shots from this camera – including everything from MD House To Marvel’s Avengers – and later its successor the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

The rest of the top ten include some interesting picks – and controversial picks, like the Canon EOS R5, which some commentators on the video disagree with. To see everything that was included, be sure to watch the rest of the video!

Read more:

The best cinema cameras
The best 4K cameras
Canon EOS R5 review


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