What Types of Cameras Does Hollywood Use for Its Blockbusters?

The most common types of cameras in Hollywood
Ranking of the most popular film cameras in Hollywood, 2015-2017.

No pictures, no film. For this article, FILMPULS researched which types of cameras are most successful in Hollywood. Because: no camera, no pictures. Animated films confirm the rule as the exception.

Blockbuster. These are the names of the feature films with which Hollywood repeatedly sets new standards in terms of audience success. Blockbusters are the Rolls-Royces of the film industry.

In film technology, few pieces of equipment reflect the digitalization of film production as clearly as camera technology. And for Hollywood, only the best is good enough in this regard.

So which are the most popular movie cameras in Hollywood?

What types of cameras are used in Hollywood?

The easiest way to determine a film camera’s success in the real world is through the Oscars. The Goldman is still considered the most important trophy in the global film industry.

Two categories were meaningful for us. The nomination for the Oscar for Best Picture and for the Oscar for Best Cinematography. Both over a total period of three years (2015-2017).

2017: The most frequently used feature film cameras

Camera types 2017
Movie titleCamera typeObjectiveArt
ArrivalARRI Alexa XT M/PlusCamtech Vintage Ultra Prime, Kowa Cine Prominar, Zeiss Super Speed HeroDigital
Hacksaw RidgeARRI Alexa XT Plus, RED Epic DragonPanavision Primo, Primo V, Leica Summilux-C, Angenieux OptimoDigital
hidden figuresArriflex 416, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2Panavision Ultra Speed MKII, Panavision Primo, E-, T-Series, ATZ, CanonAnalog
LionARRI Alexa XT/XT M, RED Dragon (aerial shots)n.d.Digital
MoonlightARRI Alexa XT PlusHawk V-Lite, Angenieux Optimo A2SDigital
FencesPanavision Panaflex Millennium XL2Panavision C-Series, ATZ, AWZ2Analog
Hell or High WaterARRI Alexa XT StudioHawk V-Lite, Angenieux Optimo, Optimo A2SDigital
La La LandPanavision Panaflex Millennium XL2, Aaton A-MinimaPanavision E-, C-series and special lenses developed for filmAnalog
Manchester by the SeaARRI Alexa XTCanon K35, Angenieux OptimoDigital
SilenceARRI Alexa Studio, Arricam LTZeiss Master Anamorphic and Angenieux Optimo lensesDigital

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, IMDB and Wikipedia

Analysis

among the 2017 Oscar-nominated films, one type of camera clearly dominates. The ARRI Alexa from Munich. The majority of Hollywood filmmakers rely on successful models that have already topped the rankings of the most popular and most frequently used camera models in previous years. The Californian camera manufacturer Panavision follows in second place.

Two further trends

Less than in other years, the 2017 nominated films used small cameras (action cams like GoPro) for select shots. These were responsible for a significant part of the extraordinary look of “The Martian”. Unlike previous years, 2017’s award-winning films did not use various different types of cameras, as Cinematographer John Seale demonstrated in the remake of “Mad Max.”

2016: The most used feature film cameras by Hollywood

Camera types 2016
Movie titleCamera typeObjectiveArt
The Big ShortArricam LT, Canon EOS C500Angenieux Optimo Lenses, Panavision PrimoAnalog
Bridge of SpiesArricam LT, Arricam ST, Arriflex 235, Arriflex 435 AdvancedHawk V-Lite, V-Lite Vintage ’74, V-PlusAnalog
BrooklynArri Alexa XTZeiss Master Prime, Super Speed and Leica Summilux-CDigital
Mad Max: Fury RoadArri Alexa M, Arri Alexa Plus, Blackmagic Cinema Camera (individual camera settings), Canon EOS 5D Mark II (individual settings), Olympus P5 (individual settings)igital
The MartianGoPro HERO4, Red Epic Dragon, Red Scarlet DragonFujinon Premier Cabrio, Angenieux Optimo and Optimo DPDigital
The RevenantArri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa XT M, Arri Alexa XT, Red Epic Dragon (individual settings)Hasselblad Prime 65, Panavision Primo, C-Series, Leica Summilux-C and ZeissDigital
RoomRed Epic DragonPanavision Primo, Ultra Speed MKIIDigital
SpotlightArri Alexa XT, Panavision LightweightPCZ, Super Speed Z-Series MKII, Ultra Speed Z-Series MKII, Angenieux OptimoDigital
CarolArriflex 416Cooke Speed Panchro, Varopanchro, Zeiss Master Zoom, Angenieux HR Cooke S4/iDigital
The Hateful EightArri Alexa XT M, Arri Alexa XT Plus, Arri Alexa XT StudioZeiss Master PrimeAnalog

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, IMDB and Wikipedia

Analysis

2016 was far more diverse than the previous year in terms of the types of cameras used. Here they experimented (at the highest level) with new camera models. Unlike previous years, the feature film is getting back to its cinema look. Generating great images for great moments is the most important and noble task a feature film camera has to perform in 2016.

2015: Feature film camera types used in Hollywood.

Camera types 2015
Movie titleCamera typeObjectiveArt
BirdmanArri Alexa M, Arri Alexa XTLeica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master PrimeDigital
The Grand Budapest HotelArricam STTechnovision/Cooke, Cooke S4, Varotal, Angenieux OptimoDigital
IdaArri Alexa Plus 4:3Zeiss Ultra PrimeDigital
Mr. TurnerArri Alexa Plus, Canon EOS C500Cooke Speed PanchroDigital
UnbrokenArri Alexa XT M, Arri Alexa XT Plus, Arri Alexa XT Studio, Arri Alexa XTZeiss Master PrimeDigital
BoyhoodMoviecam Compact, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2Panavision Primo, Zeiss Super SpeedAnalog
FoxcatcherArriflex 235, Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2Panavision Primo, Ultra Speed MKIIAnalog
The Imitation GameArricam LT, Arricam STZeiss Master PrimeAnalog
American SniperArri Alexa XTPanavision Primo, C-, E- and G-SeriesDigital
SelmaArri Alexa XT PlusHawk C-Series, V-Lite, V-Series, Angenieux HRDigital
The Theory of EverythingArri Alexa, Arriflex 16 SR3Leica Summilux-CDigital
WhiplashArri Alexa, Canon EOS 7DCooke Speed Panchro, Leica Summilux-C, Angenieux OptimoDigital

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, IMDB and Wikipedia

Analysis

2015 is again a year of the German manufacturer ARRI from Munich. That’s remarkable. Already in the previous year, the charts of the most frequently used film cameras were – not surprisingly – clearly dominated by the camera manufacturer in Munich. In 2014, the Alexa and the 35MM Arriflex were used in almost every film. It’s no wonder that the majority of the nominated feature films were shot with ARRI cameras.

Graphic: Development Digital vs Analog

Englishman Stephen Follows analyzed all available data on feature film cameras used in Hollywood movies over a 20-year period (1996 to 2015). His graphics charts speak for themselves.

Typen von Kameras: Digitalkameras in Hollywood | filmpuls
Digital cameras in Hollywood | © Stephen Follows
Digitale und analoge Kameratypen | Filmpuls Artikel
Digital and analogue cameras | © Stephen Follows
Anteil Digitalkameras in Hollywood | filmpuls kameratypen
Share of digital cameras | © Stephen Follows

The following applies to recording technology: no rule without exception. Camera types are many. ARRI from Munich seems to be the measure of all things at the moment. However: not only the camera, but also the cameraman and all the other people involved contribute with their talent to make camera shots more than the sum of their parts.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Carlo P. Olsson
About Carlo P. Olsson 138 Articles
Carlo P. Olsson accompanies the production of films, videos and TV series on behalf of companies, agencies and production companies. In his spare time he plays ice hockey and is engaged in baroque sound drama.

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