Cameras are one of those few things that every filmmaker needs. And if you are like most filmmakers, we overestimate just how much a camera tells a story versus us, the person operating the camera.

As we set out to choose the best cameras for Ninja Filmmaking, we always went back to one question: Which cameras are the best at helping you be proactive instead of reactive? Always staying a step ahead?

So the cameras here are strategic. They will help in a variety of situations and conditions. They are stealth. They will help you blend in, become one with your story, and capture real life right in front of you. And they are so quick to operate that they help you stay a step ahead.

Skill-Level-Intermediate

 

The best sub $3,000 camera available. We still can’t believe that this camera is real.

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This camera is ideal for a ninja because it is one of the smallest, yet most powerful cameras out there. It is the ultimate in stealth, an absolute blast to travel with, and its form factor means that it’s super versatile in terms of the tools it works well with. It works with smaller tools and that means quicker setup times and a small investment in purchasing those tools (ex. this works with an M5, versus the M10 you might need for a larger camera). And a ninja certainly ain’t no fool when it comes to using his resources wisely.

The Sony A7S uses its full-frame sensor for absolutely beautiful images and incredible depth-of-field. If you, like us, were using cameras with smaller sensors for a few years, it can be a real shock when you start using full frame again. Despite its small size and massive sensor, it also offers some powerful features you might not expect, such as the ability to record to 50 MBPS XAVC S, 60P slow motion at 1920×1080, and the ability for 4K if you connect to an external recorder.

And this camera is tops when it comes to shooting in low-light. While the ninja might not find himself shooting in low-light all that frequently, this camera’s sensitivity allows you to shoot with slower lenses or higher shutter speeds in environments that you never could have before. That means a zoom lens with an F/4 or F/5.6 aperture is now going to work great even in a dimly lit environment.


sonya7sWhy we love it:

  • Absolutely incredible value—the investment compared to the feature set is just bananas
  • Incredibly small form factor that works with a wide arrange of small sliders, stabilizers, and jibs
  • Great 50MBPS compression option out of the box, plus 4k ability with a recorder
  • Option for full 1920 slow motion at 60p, and up to 120p if you can handle 720 resolution
  • The batteries get knocked for not lasting too long, and they don’t, but it’s all very manageable
  • The low-light ability is beyond anything we’ve seen in any camera—anywhere—ever
  • Wide dynamic range and options for SLOG to retain a ton of detail while shooting in harsh environments
  • A swivel screen makes it easy to operate at different angles and on different tools

We have no films to share that were shot with the A7S at the moment but we are working on our full review. Check back shortly!

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thumbnail-2Price-5000-10000Skill-Level-Intermediate

 

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This handles the widest range of scenarios out there; if we could only pick one camera—this would be it.

A ninja will find himself in completely different shooting environments from one day to the next, and the C100 is the camera that is stealth in its form factor, but also allows you to be very strategic through its host of features. Its bag of tricks includes 13-plus stops of dynamic range to help you take on just about any lighting conditions, a bunch of advanced built-in features for focus (peaking, magnification) and exposure (zebra bars, waveform), and a solid out-of-the-box audio solution that lets you add or remove XLR inputs as needed—all of this in a tiny package with a great form factor to help you always stay a step ahead.

The C100 Mark II is the new model that replaces our old favorite C100. Improving on the current version, it comes with a much better articulating LCD screen and most exciting of all—and a huge plus in the frame rate department—the capability to shoot up to 60fps in 1080p, something that completes this camera as the ultimate ninja camera that essentially does it all.


canon-c100Why we love it:

  • Highly versatile camera that has advanced features that can handle a ton of different challenges
  • Zebra bars and waveform to help you keep your exposure in check easily
  • Peaking and magnification to help you nail focus quickly without the aid of additional accessories
  • Built-in ND filters help keep exposure without having to physically add a filter, stop down, or shutter up
  • Easy, quick audio solution with removable handle with XLR inputs; perfect for small crews who are responsible for both audio and video
  • Shoots up to 60fps at 1080p, giving you the option of standard 24fps and slow motion in full HD
  • Paired with inexpensive 32GB SD cards (it holds two), a long-life battery, and a zoom lens, you can shoot all day (or night) without needing anything else
  • It’s so versatile we use it for everything from documentaries to weddings to small commercials

We helped Canon launch the original C100 with this film, shot entirely on the C100. This is Pulse.

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Canon-EOS-70d-DSLR

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It’s easy and inexpensive to get started in video with this camera, perfect for ninjas who are looking for a solid DSLR to begin their training.

Ninja school starts with the basics and this camera has it all, and then some. The last thing you’d want is to get caught in the middle of a shoot fiddling with settings and trying to catch up with the action. The Canon 70D is an easy-to-learn camera in a familiar DSLR format that you’re probably already used to, especially if you come from a photography background. It’s incredibly small and lightweight—a key strategic choice if you want to blend in and disappear behind the camera. It has a convenient quick-to-navigate touchscreen LCD that makes it super easy to stay a step ahead, all the time.

And although this belongs in the junior ninja toolkit it has some advanced features of its big brothers, like the Dual-Pixel CMOS AutoFocus that provides quick and precise autofocus, similar to the old camcorders, but with the gorgeous large sensor shallow depth of field capabilities of today’s DSLRs. Its ability to track subjects and maintain focus in a busy environment is a ninja trick every filmmaker would want in their repertoire.


canon-eos-70dWhy we love it:

  • Convenient and familiar DSLR form factor that keeps your rig small, increasing the chances of you blending in and being strategic with your approach
  • Its large sensor provides beautiful imagery in full HD resolution, 24fps in 1080p, and even shoots up to 60fps in 720p
  • Has a kickass autofocus feature that’s similar to that of its older, more experienced brother—the C100 Mark II—which recognizes subjects, quickly and precisely tracking their focus
  • Takes the same EF and EF-S lenses that you either already own or can purchase and continue using as you graduate to bigger, more advanced cameras in the future
  • Includes some manual audio controls should you want to explore beyond the automatic settings
  • And yes, for you photographers who are switching over or adding video—this DSLR shoots high resolution raw images as well

No videos by us–yet. Check back soon!

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About Patrick Moreau

I love stories that challenge the way we see things.

14 Comments

  • Sheldon says:

    What are your thoughts on the Lumix GH4?

    • We don’t have a ton of experience with it, so that’s probably the best thing I could say. The shoot I did use it for, I wasn’t all that impressed. It felt overcomplicated to do simple things and it felt far from natural.

      Perhaps with practice I could dial that out or work with the settings, but I place a lot of value in your first day with a camera and how intuitive it is. Pulse was shot with the C100 days after receiving it. The Sony A7s felt much more like that. But the G4 didn’t for us.

      That said, clearly it’s a great value with a strong feature set.

      P.

      • Schy says:

        GH4 lightweight great battery life. flip out touch screen monitor, shoots 96fps and 4k. Mounts great on a Movi and has live wifi to your ipad as a external moitor. I’ve taken it over seas and it’s held up well in the field and in studio.

  • Scott says:

    Hi, are you using canon lenses with the sony cam?

  • Joji Johnson says:

    Hey thanks for all this options. Can you suggest if Nikon D750 a good option to buy or not..

    • We definitely can’t offer you an unbiased opinion there. We started in Nikon 10 years ago and switched to Canon early on. It’s been Canon ever since. We’ve tried a few Nikons for video but it never felt like it held up. BUT, and this is a huge but, we really didn’t give it a long time to get used to and there was no thorough testing

      P.

  • Hey everyone, I actually applied for a job that you had opened last year, and ended up moving to Bend instead.
    I’ve always been impressed with the rise of your company, so I’d love to give your whole staff props. Simply amazing the trajectory of your clan!!!!
    My question is this, I’m shooting with a Sony FS700- awesome in over cranking – I’d love to have my new staff fall in love with the Canon camera’s, since we use Zeiss and Canon lenses. In your experience, does any of the Canon’s do a excellent job of overcranking/slo motion? All I need to do is convince one shooter.
    Thank you. Again, I’m very in awe and a bit jealous (in a good way) of what you folks have done.
    Keep on Keepin’ on…..

    Jeffrey in Bend, OR

    If you ever need someone in Central Oregon…………..

    • Hey Jeffrey,

      Great to hear from you. We love the new C100 MK2 for its 60P at 1080. If we really need to crank it, we’ve used the 1DC in the past. Anything more than that has been Red Epic for us. But, it is very rare, for us, that the story needs more than 60P.

      P.

  • Daniel Crowe says:

    With the C100 – were you shooting AVCHD or MP4? I’ve just got the new C100 II and I’m pairing it with the Atmos Ninja, but wasn’t sure what’s the best format to leave the camera on? Thanks!

  • Pavel says:

    Hello! How can I use lenses canon EF with Sony a7s?

  • Jeff Handel says:

    Hi guys!

    First – I LOVE your website. LOVE. Thank you!

    Second, I bought a Nikon D810 fairly recently and I’d like to hear your thoughts on the camera. Part of the reason I made the purchase is because I shoot a lot of timelapses and very much appreciate the built-in intervalometer. Also, I’ve owned many Nikon cameras in the past and am very familiar with how they operate. However, as I do more research, I am beginning to think I may have made a bad purchase. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Best,

    Jeff

  • Bryce Koh Zhiyong says:

    Hi guys
    for the power issues for the a7s, do you guys use more of the original battery or powerbank/v-mount battery option?

  • Hi Patrick, thank you so much for sharing, I’ve learnt so much thank to you guys. I’m currently using a 5d mark III, do you think would be worth for me to switch to an A7s considering that I film weddings?

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