5 Affordable Netflix Approved Cinema Cameras for 2023

Netflix approval is a badge of honor for many camera companies. Recently, we have seen a big push in marketing as well as updates for existing cameras that are designed get them on the list.

If you are working on your own this might not mean much, but if you aspire to work on Netflix-funded productions you’ll need to be aware of the requirements and have a camera that fits the bill.

These, fortunately, don’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Though they may not be the cheapest cameras out there, there are plenty of Netflix-approved cinema cameras are are accessible to most filmmakers. For a list of five affordable options here’s a video from Alex Zarfati.

Something quick to understand about Netflix approval is that it isn’t necessary if you are shooting on your own or with another production company.

Netflix will still pick up plenty of content that wasn’t shot on Netflix-approved cameras (the regular ARRI ALEXA isn’t approved, for example, and that is used on tons of excellent content). You’ll only need an approved camera for a Netflix-funded production.

Still, Netflix approval is a good baseline for knowing that a camera is capable of delivering footage at standards acceptable to the biggest streaming network in the industry. Probably a good place to start if you aren’t sure what you will end up shooting.

1. Sony FS7

We are going to start with an oldie but a goodie: the Sony FS7. Not a current offering, the FS7 and FS7 II were class-leading product offerings at the time of release. It was a 4K Super 35mm camera with 14+ stops of dynamic range and recording in DCI 4K up to 60p. It also featured built-in ND filters.

Sony FS7 Cinema Camera

Image Credit: Sony

The best part about this camera is that if you want to pick it up today you can find it used for as little as $1,300. You are going to be getting a great deal with this camera and it uses the E mount so if you add cameras or upgrade later you can take your glass with you.

It’s a great option that can go handheld or be configured as a shoulder-mounted rig very comfortably.

2. Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

Late to the cinema camera game, Blackmagic has finally proven themselves with a camera that a lot of people seem to love, including Netflix.

The URSA Mini Pro, including the 4.6K G2 and 12K OLPF, gained Netflix-approved status and reinforced that quality cinema cameras can be made at much more affordable price points.

Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

The standard URSA Minis are equipped with a 4.6K Super 35mm sensor capable of 15 stops of dynamic range. It is a well-sized camera and comes with built-in ND filters and a couple XLR inputs for quality audio.

It’ll also record at up to 60 fps in 4K and can shoot ProRes along with some other codecs, including Blackmagic RAW if you go for the G2 model.

If you are lucky you could find an original version for a steal on used shops. A new G2 will cost a decent amount at around $6,000.

Looking at this camera it is a bigger and bulkier option, especially when rigged up. The camera also isn’t the best in low-light conditions compared to a lot of the competition.

3. Panasonic Lumix BS1H

Now for something a little different. The Panasonic BS1H is part of a new trend of “box” cameras that were traditionally more common in industrial or installed applications.

That shouldn’t stop you from loving it as it has the internals of the venerable S1H.

Image Credit: Panasonic

We are now entering the world of full-frame. The BS1H has a 6K full-frame sensor complete with 14 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISO. It’ll even shoot up to 120 fps in 4K. Brand new this camera will run you about $2,500.

It isn’t a perfect camera. The lack of built-in ND filters and less traditional body design are good places to start. You’ll definitely be looking to rig it up. Another aspect is that it features the L-Mount.

This is a good mount, but there is certainly less support than the more common Canon or Sony cameras.

4. Sony FX3

It took a few updates to get there, but the Sony FX3 is finally Netflix approved and now all that spectacular image quality that people have been applauding can be found in a tiny body on a Netflix production.

This camera is known for its low-light capabilities thanks to a stellar 4K, full-frame sensor. and delivers 15 stops of dynamic range.

It’ll record in 4K at up to 120p and also features an incredibly good autofocus system. All this has made it good enough to show up on Hollywood sets.

Sony FX3 Cinema Camera

Image Credit: Sony

Coming in at $3,900 it certainly isn’t the cheapest here but it also is far from the most expensive on the list.

Being so small and on the more affordable end does mean there are some downsides to the FX3. It doesn’t feature built-in ND filters, the Sony menu system isn’t exactly the most loved, and sometimes you’ll run into odd roadblocks with certain combinations of settings.

5. Canon EOS C70

You didn’t think we would leave Canon off this list did you? They are coming in with the EOS C70.

Taking the tech from the bigger C300 series and cramming it into a slim, almost mirrorless-like design you end up with a portable and more affordable Netflix-ready option.

Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera

Image Credit: Canon

I would say this is the most complete compact cinema camera here. It features the same Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor as the C300 III and will do 4K up to 120p.

Plus, it does have the built-in ND filters many cheaper cinema cameras lack. The C70 can even record in a raw format.

Canon continues to deliver good-looking imagery with their cameras featuring the color science.

It is a touch pricier at $5,500. It’s very worth it if you can afford it.

So, which camera would/did you end up picking for your starter cinema camera?

[source: Alex Zarfati]

Order Links:

  • Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)
  • Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K OLPF (B&H, Amazon)
  • Panasonic Lumix BS1H Box Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)
  • Sony FX3 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)
  • Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate partner and participant in B&H and Adorama Affiliate programmes, we earn a small comission from each purchase made through the affiliate links listed above at no additional cost to you.

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