Let’s face it: every now and again, we all find ourselves gazing through the lens of time, laughing at the old ways of life, poking fun at the culture that defined an era. Just like any good bottle of wine, each decade must undergo a period of fermentation before it can be reflected on fondly. But once in a blue moon, there are certain aspects of a time period that transcend our criticism, and carry on through the future. The 2000s, in particular, has endured its fair share of scornful commentary, best evidenced by the stylings and fashion choices of one time Hollywood power couple, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears—aka Justiney Timberspears.
In any event, the point is that some things are destined to stick around, and others, well, are not. The late 90s and early 2000s saw a tremendous amount of innovation, as the digital renaissance picked up steam and, before we knew it, technology became embedded in our day-to-day lives. And while smartphones, laptops, and television sets continue to evolve at a seemingly exponential rate, the fundamentals of digital photography have remained stable. Admittedly, the technology is much more powerful today than it was at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. But on the whole, our approach to framing, composition, and formatting hasn’t really changed. It’s pretty remarkably, really, considering how fast these things tend to move.
Now that the stage has been adequately set, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter: digital camera technology. Or rather, the most tried-and-true, best-of-the-best, honest-to-goodness digital cameras that are currently available to the 2017 photographer. To aid our research, we decided to pose the following question to the Flixel cinemagraph community: what are the best digital cameras out there, for creating cinemagraphs or otherwise? And guess what? We received a ton of great responses (and sparked quite the discussion, too)!
Unlike the VMAs, these picks were made by you. So, I suppose this is more like the People’s Choice Awards. Or the Teen Choice awards. Or pretty much any awards show where the winners are decided by the public. Ok, enough foreword—read on below to discover the top 5 digital cameras for making cinemagraphs in 2017.
Top Digital Cameras for Making Cinemagraphs
1. Sony Alpha A7S II
If you don’t got anything nice to say, then don’t say nothing. Remember that old proverb? Well, forget about it. Because the Sony A7S II is a hugely popular camera that’s adored by virtually everyone we spoke to—Flixel staff and the cinemagraph community included.
Clocking in at just 1.38 pounds, Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera is a lightweight powerhouse, capable of shooting extremely vivid, 4K resolution video that’ll take your breath away. Despite its humble 12.2 megapixel sensor, the Sony A7S II more than compensates through its low light capabilities, offering users with a tremendous degree of latitude when out and about, capturing footage. Obviously, the only thing standing between you and this wonder product is its decidedly steep price tag, which would set you back about USD $2,698.00 just for the body. But I mean, what else is money for, right?
Flixel’s very own Anthony Banh is a proud A7S II owner. When asked to share his favourite part of the Sony product, Anthony replied, “Hands down, the low light functionality. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is—with the A7S II, you can capture stunning images and video, anywhere and anytime.” Cinemagraph community member Armand Dijcks also had some nice words to offer, “I love shooting on the Sony A7R II because of it’s compactness/lightness, plus the image has that nice full frame sensor look to it.”
Both the A7S II and the A7R II are great choices for cinemagraph creators.
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Whoop whoop, the king has arrived! Or rather, the prom king, because the Canon 5D has got to be one of the most recognizable cameras out there. Remember when the original Mark I debuted on the marketplace? You know, just over a decade ago—all the way back in 2005—spearheading an entirely new era of digital photography?
Even today, the 5D is as pervasive as ever, largely, in part, because of its robust ecosystem of lenses, add-ons, and other accessories. And, well, it can produce some top-of-the-line 4K video, which will radically transform the look and feel of any cinemagraph.
Many members of the Flixel community are major proponents of the 5D, having used the camera since their earliest days of taking pictures. Mario Sahe-Lacheante, for instance, offered up a suggestion for all of those shooting on the 5D Mark IV, “If you really feel super adventurous, you can look up Magic Lantern and learn about installing that on your cards.
“That will allow you to shoot RAW video, which is the same concept as raw stills, and is pretty phenomenal.”
Valuable advice indeed!
3. Fuji X-T2
Another high-end, much-lauded and uniquely-powerful camera is the Fuji X-T2. And if you’re equipped with the right gear, who knows what kind of material you can produce. But don’t take my word for it—listen to a real X-T2 owner, Gastón Oliva, who remarked on the camera’s HD capacity, “I’m currently shooting on a Fujifilm X-T2 with a 35mm lens and the 4K is great.”
The first of Fuji’s acclaimed X-Series to shoot 4K, the X-T2 is jam-packed with sophisticated tech: a 24 megapixel sensor—dubbed the X Trans II—which affords its users with more flexibility when capturing footage in low light settings, while reducing the effects of moiré pattern. Also, the X-T2 has something called the Vertical Power Booster that’s got everyone singing its praises online. Apparently, the VPB is modernized take on the grip, where the battery can remain within the body, stabilizing the camera’s handling, and tripling the amount of time you can spend recording in 4K. Tripling!
4. Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
Purported to offer some of the best still image and video capabilities for a single compact camera, the Panasonic GH5 is a widely adored, mirrorless beast. Thanks to a slew of new modular upgrades—including the Venus Engine processor—this latest-and-greatest effort from Panasonic makes shooting in 4K a simple and downright enjoyable experience. Flixel community member Willemien Den Oudsten is perhaps its most vocal advocate, having published an extensive review of the camera’s many features, “The GH5 has a new target group, a combination of an experienced photographer and pro videographer. As such, you won’t be surprised to learn that both [its] still image and video capture performs extremely well.”
Interestingly enough, Willemien suggests that the GH5 could be the very first professional camera that is specifically designed for capturing cinemagraph footage. That, of course, would mark a shift in Panasonic’s focus; to better accommodate this entirely new breed of visual storytelling, which Willemien calls, “The hybrid photographer.”
Sure, Panasonic may not have mentioned cinemagraphs or the cinemagraph medium explicitly. Conjecture or not—for all we know, the GH5 might indicate a growing awareness in manufacturing industry, as companies strive to better adapt to the new media landscape.
5. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Rounding out the professional-level camera options is Olympus’ new flagship product, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. As the most recent edition to the company’s Micro Four Thirds banner, Olympus has dramatically improved virtually every aspect of the preceding model. Most notably, however, is the OM-D EM1’s movie mode, which can now record in ultra-freaking-HD, 30fps 4K resolution. Needless to say, its video output is absolutely stunning—and the cinemagraphs, well, perhaps even more so.
In addition to ultra HD, users of the new Olympus product can also capture cinema-standard 4K video at an enchanting 24fps. So whatever your preference is, the OM-D E-M1 is yet another fantastic camera option for video and, in turn, cinemagraphs.
Blessed we are, huh? Every year, camera technology just gets better and better. And honestly, no one camera is definitively better than another—it all depends on you, your craft, and how you work. As always, if you agree or disagree with the products featured on this list, feel free to leave us a comment.
Transform your video footage into epic cinemagraphs using our software, Cinemagraph Pro, which is available via macOS and iOS devices. Need some inspiration? Visit the Flixel gallery to check out some more incredible cinemagraphs.