If you want an incredible cinema experience it is very hard to beat IMAX. The big screen, extra resolution, and serious sound just make watching movies in a proper IMAX theater even more immersive.
Back in the day, shooting in IMAX meant working with specialized cameras and tons of expensive and large film reels. Since digital has taken over there are now a bunch of interesting cameras certified to deliver for IMAX productions.
Making a camera ready for IMAX shooting is difficult and because of that it can be hard for many filmmakers to get their hands on. If you want to check out some of these IMAX-certified cameras (some you might be able to get yourself) here’s a list from the Camera Zone.
1. Sony VENICE
It should be no surprise that the Sony VENICE made it on the list. This is Sony’s flagship cinema offering and you have probably seen it used in behind the scenes footage of movies like Top Gun: Maverick. It’s designed to create big screen spectacle.
The full-frame sensor is optimized for high-end video at either 6K or 8K, depending on the sensor you choose on the VENICE 2 model. The versatility of the sensor makes it easy to change your crop settings to shoot 16mm, anamorphic, and other modes.
Dynamic range is rated to over 15 stops and uses the X-OCN codec as a close-to-raw 16-bit format. It’s a great pick but it’ll run you around $50,000 for the body alone.
2. ARRI ALEXA LF
IMAX is all about large format and that is what ARRI delivered with the ALEXA LF. By taking two of their ALEXA sensors and putting them together they created an incredibly large-format imaging system with over 4K resolution.
You can use that whole sensor with open gate recording or choose from plenty of other formats like 16:9 and 2.39:1.
ARRIRAW and ProRes options will provide you all the quality options you need and the ALEXA benefits from ARRI’s legendary color science.
Dynamic range and color reproduction are incredibly. It can even get you good slow motion with up to 90 fps recording in ARRIRAW and 40 fps in ProRes 4444 XQ – two quite impressive formats.
It features an LPL mount so it can use the latest high-end primes that are optimized to cover the large-format sensor.
This camera is one of the more expensive at around $100,000.
3. ARRI ALEXA Mini LF
If the standard LF body was a bit too big for you then you should look at the ALEXA Mini LF. It takes that same big sensor and stuffs it into a much smaller body.
This setup is much easier for someone to use handheld. The connectors have been minimized and changed up a bit to make the smaller body work.
It does save you some money at around $58,000.
4. Panavision Millennium DXL2
We can’t forget about the name Panavision when it comes to high-end cinema systems. The Millennium DXL2 is a premium option that you’ll only find on the biggest productions.
It features the RED MONSTRO sensor for 16-bit color and 35MP resolution. It’ll even record at up to 60 fps and has some of the cleanest footage with outstanding performance in challenging light.
To increase versatility, the DXL2 features a unique mount that is designed to be adaptable to other mounts. That way you can use System 65, PV35, or PL mount lenses.
It takes the modularity of Panavision and compactness of RED to create a solid camera package.
You actually can’t purchase this as Panavision as they are rental only with rates starting at $1,000/day and is valued at around $300,000.
5. RED V-RAPTOR 8K-VV
The RED V-RAPTOR 8K-VV you might actually be able to get your hands on and it is impressive. A 35.4MP full-frame sensor is at the heart of this compact and boxy DSMC3 camera.
That allows it to record in 8K, VistaVision, 6K Super 35mm, anamorphic, and more.
Being so compact does make it possible for independent shooters to pick them up and use them on their jobs. Plus, it’s super easy to be carried around and to shoot handheld or on a gimbal.
The new locking RF lens mount helps ensure stability with heavy lenses. It’ll record in RECODE RAW for top-notch image quality and 17+ stops of dynamic range. Plus, there are two SDI outputs, phase-detection AF, and more.
RED has streamlined the camera quite a bit with the DSMC3 series with more easily understood LQ, MQ, and HQ formats to choose from.
It’ll run you around $25,000 for the body.
6. RED RANGER MONSTRO
RED’s original stab at 8K large-format imaging came with the RANGER MONSTRO 8K. This was a larger body with PL mount and has tons of connections and controls for working on all types of productions. This system also uses an 8K full-frame sensor with 17+ stops of dynamic range.
It has REDCODE RAW as you would expect and can do 8K at up to 60 fps and has various compression options for getting the quality you need for each shot.
Original cost for this camera was about $60,000.
7. ARRI ALEXA 65
Capturing in up to 6.5K resolution we have the top-of-the-line ARRI option with the ALEXA 65. This camera has been used on some of the biggest and most popular films of the past decade. It is the biggest sensor option here that matches up most closely with 65mm film.
If you want that grand, ultra-wide look it’ll be hard to beat the incredible performance of this IMAX-specific digital camera system. You saw it on movies like The Revenant, Avengers, Joker, and likely tons more.
If you could get one it would cost around $150,000.
Have you ever had the opportunity to use one of these camera systems?
[source: Camera Zone]
- Sony VENICE 2 Digital Cinema Camera (B&H)
- ARRI ALEXA LF Cinema Camera (B&H)
- ARRI ALEXA Mini LF Cinema Camera (B&H)
- RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV DSMC3 Cinema Camera (B&H)
- RED RANGER MONSTRO 8K VV Cinema Camera (B&H)
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