Best digital cameras for creating cinemagraphs?


Community members often ask us for advice when buying a new digital camera. Last year we published a blog post on the top 5 digital cameras for making cinemagraphs but it’s time for an update! What are your favourite digital cameras for creating cinemagraphs and why?


I myself am a huge Sony fan. I currently use the a6300 (crop sensor) and the new A7riii (full frame). Just depends which I have with me at the time and what lens I want to use. Both are great in low light and Sony’s are amazing with video in my opinion. You are also able to shoot at high ISO with out generating too much color noise. I have the brand new A7iii (full frame) on preorder and very excited to try it out. Supposedly it captures at 6k and then downsamples it to 4k for extra sharp video. I will let you guys know how it looks after I get.


A part of me feels that the camera doesn’t matter so much as learning to get the most from it but in reality that’s probably coming from my early days shooting film where it was more down to the lens and the film stock that played a big part in the final image quality (not to mention the photographer knowing how to compose, focus and expose well). Sure there have always been settings like shutter speed for creative control for both stills and moving pictures… but when it comes to digital cameras it’s the sensor built into that camera and the colour science developed around that which is a large factor in quality. Unlike film stock you can’t just swap it out. However with digital and software comes more freedom to grade in post, the drawback being that for video we’ve got less dynamic range to push and pull compared to film (or raw stills) but as raw video formats become more and more accessible to prosumers and lower budget professionals (along with storage and processing power) that will change too. Now we have the next best thing which is Log profiles and I think for capturing cinemagraphs that certainly helps to achieve that ‘photographic’ or cinematic look with a sense of more dynamic range when graded well in post. Sony and Panasonic cameras like the LUMIX GH4/5/5S or Sony’s Alpha lineup have really good log profiles but they don’t suit every scene. I was shooting on the GH4 for years without Log, using either natural profiles or Cine-D and getting great results.

Ultimately the best camera is the right camera for you’re style of shooting. I like Micro 4/3 because I often just use it’s native lenses which are much smaller than full frame glass. I can just a few in my man-bag along with a portable/foldable tripod and capture cinemagraphs through my everyday life. That was the best way to learn as well, always having a camera on hand to capture those moments and experiment. Sony’s APS-C cameras are probably a great compromise for that style of run and gun or travel too. However if you shoot a lot of planned work then a Full Frame kit would be great. I’ve been very tempted to go full frame like the new Sony A7III because the aesthetic of the format reminds me more of the 35mm film I learned to shoot on. When I can afford to I’ll own both a full frame kit and keep my M43 kit for different shoots! The smaller format has some advantages like the GH5 or the new GH5S of shooting higher bitrates and higher frame rates such as 60p in 4K or up to 240fps in HD. The full frame camera to date have not been able to do this because they simply have more data to process from the larger sensor and that’s has proven too hard to achieve without overheating I suspect. However if you like to shoot in low light without lighting your shots then full frame has had the upper hand. However the new GH5S has made a huge leap in low light quality with much reduced noise, not quite as good as the full frame Sony’s but not far off. That has come with the compromise of no IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) and much lower pixel count meaning for stills the image is much smaller.

I’m not going to go into lenses because this topic is more about the cameras themselves but I honestly think you’re better off investing more in good glass than the camera body itself. Also remember you’re nowadays not limited to lenses for just the format of camera you shoot. Adapater and speedboosters are giving us so much choice like the Sigma Art series which for a very reasonable price can produce incredibly nice images. I’ve got an Metabones Speedbooster XL (for mounting full frame lenses on M43) and on the GH5S with it’s multi aspect sensor capturing a wider field of view than the GH5 it only crops the full frame lens image by 1.149 so suddenly I can get very close to the full frame look when it suits.

So I now shoot on the Panasonic GH5S and almost exclusively for cinemagraphs, so for me it’s perfect, I use a tripod so don’t need IBIS and because I often shoot on the go I need the low light capabilities which limited my GH4 on so many occasions. It’s the perfect camera for me, for now. But that’s also because I now know the Panasonic camera and image structure inside out… so I know how to get the best out of it. I’d like to think if you gave me any camera I could do the same with time to learn it.

So make the most of what you’ve got, get excited about where technology is going but don’t get too caught up in the next best camera to get released, there will always be something better and more expensive by the time you save up for it :wink:


That new A7III looks awesome @rockymontezcarr can’t wait to see what you create with that! :wink:


The new A7III does look amazing. I bet the quality will be outstanding.


I’ve started the Cinemagraph Adventure with a canon 5DMKII, then went to the MKIII version, but said bye bye to Canon, because of the 4K features (1DC) was a lot expensive, bulky, and with a time consuming codec…and went to the marvelous Sony mirrorless world, with the A7SII, because of the fullframe and the amazing lowlight iso’s, which even enables to shoot distant star light on 4K video mode…so far I’m waiting for the new S version, to see what will it be improved…but I’m satisfied with what the A7SII enables to capture and accomplish :wink:


I am looking into Sony more and more. I love my 5D mk iii but the lack of 4k is something that is starting to become an issue.


Sony, Sony, Sony.

Did I say Sony? :slight_smile:

I had the Sony A7Sii, and recently upgraded to the A9, and I love it to the moon and back. Not sure there’s a full frame camera in the same league and price range at the moment.

The only thing I think Panasonic has done that has me just a teeny bit jealous, is the 4k60 option. But I rarely use slow motion so it’s not a deal breaker for me.