Which cinema camera has the best dynamic range? Here's a complete list of all cinema cameras and their listed sensor latitude.
One of the things that make more expensive cinema cameras stand out from consumer cameras is their ability to capture moving images with a wide dynamic range.
Dynamic Range List
Below you'll find a complete list of cinema cameras and their respective dynamic range as measured in stops.
|RED Weapon Monstro 8K VV||17|
|Panavision Millennium DXL2||16|
|RED Epic-W Gemini||15.2|
|Canon EOS C300 Mark 2||15|
|Canon EOS C700||15|
|Canon EOS C700 FF||15|
|Sony CineAlta Venice||15|
|Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2||15|
|ARRI Alexa XT Plus||14.5|
|Panavision Millennium DXL||14|
|Canon EOS C700 GS PL||14|
|Digital Bolex D16 Monochrome||13|
|Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K||13|
|Digital Bolex D16||12|
|Canon EOS C100||12|
|Canon EOS C100 Mark 2||12|
|Canon EOS C300||12|
|Canon EOS C500||12|
Please note that all of these numbers are the manufacturer's communicated numbers, which means they are probably measured under controlled conditions and not in real-life scenarios. Nevertheless, it gives us a good sense of each sensor's actual latitude.
List Last Updated: April 24, 2020.
What is Dynamic Range?
When people talk about dynamic range, they're talking about the difference between the darkest and brightest areas in the image captured by the sensor, which is measured in stops.
An increase or decrease of one stop equals the amount of light doubling or halving. This is the same thing as raising your ISO from 400 to 800, or by opening your lens' aperture from 2.8 to 2 — there's a difference of 1 stop, and your light has doubled.
This means that a captured image with a dynamic range of 15 stops has twice as much information as an image of 14 stops.
Yes, that's right. Twice as much.
This does not, however, mean that the image is twice as bright; it just contains more information. This phenomenon can be read in the table below.
This means that a camera with 10 stops of dynamic range can store an image where the black and white points are 1024 hypothetical "values" apart.
These numbers by themself represent nothing, instead the importance is the difference between the dynamic range capabilities of each sensor.
Again, this does not mean that the images are brighter. It means that more information is stored in the image, like the highlights of the sky or the shades of your talent's skin.
When you read about the specifications of the cameras, it doesn't sound like 15 stops of dynamic range is that much more than 13 stops — when in reality it's not even a competition.
How much do I need?
What does matter, though, is that you make the most of the stops that you actually do have — and learn to light and compose your shot in a way that favors the abilities of whatever camera you have at your disposal.