The art of capturing moving images has been around for over a century, and has evolved into two distinct forms: videography vs cinematography. Although both involve the use of cameras to record visual imagery, there are several differences between the two. In this article, we’ll explore the main differences between videography and cinematography, the situations in which you would need a videographer versus a cinematographer, the differences in skills required to be successful in each field, and differences in equipment.

Videography vs cinematography: main differences

The biggest difference between videography vs. cinematography is the approach to capturing footage. Videography is typically used to capture live events, such as weddings, conferences, and sports events. It involves using a video camera to record footage in a straightforward, documentary-style manner. The focus is on capturing the event as it happens – there usually isn’t a staging or choreography in videography.

Cinematography, on the other hand, is the more artistic approach to capturing footage. It involves the use of a cinematic camera to create a visual narrative. The focus is on creating a visually stunning piece of work that tells a story or evokes an emotion. Cinematographers use techniques such as lighting, framing, and camera movement to create a cinematic look and feel.

Another key difference between videography vs. cinematography is the level of production involved. Videography is typically a one-person operation, with a single camera operator capturing footage in real-time.

Cinematography, on the other hand, is a more collaborative process that involves a team of professionals, including a director, cinematographer, lighting technician, and sound engineer.

The equipment used in videography and cinematography also differs. Videographers typically use handheld or tripod-mounted video cameras, while cinematographers use cinematic cameras that are capable of shooting high-quality footage in a cinematic style. Cinematographers also use a range of equipment, including dollies, cranes, and sliders, to create dynamic camera movements.

Situations in which you’d need a videographer vs a cinematographer

The type of camera work you need depends on the purpose of the project. If you’re looking to capture a live event, such as a wedding or conference, you would typically need a videographer. A videographer would be able to capture the event as it unfolds in a documentary-style manner. This would involve setting up a single camera to capture the event from start to finish, without any staging or choreography.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to create a cinematic masterpiece such as a short film or music video, you would need a cinematographer. A cinematographer would be able to bring a creative vision to the project, using lighting, framing, and camera movement to create a visually stunning piece of work.

You need to keep in mind though, that there are situations where the line between videography and cinematography is blurred. For example, if you are creating a promotional video for a business, you may want to use a combination of both techniques. You could use videography to capture footage of the business in action, while using cinematography to create a more visually striking introduction or conclusion to the video.

Cinematography vs videography skills

The skills required to be a successful cinematographer or videographer differ greatly. While both professions require a strong understanding of camera technology and visual storytelling, cinematography requires a higher level of creativity, technical expertise, and collaboration.

Cinematographers must be able to work collaboratively with directors, producers, and other members of the production team to bring a creative vision to life. They must also have a deep understanding of lighting and camera technology, as well as the ability to use these tools to create a specific look and feel.

Cinematography vs videography equipment

Videographers typically use handheld or tripod-mounted video cameras that are designed for ease of use and portability. These cameras are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for capturing live events on the go. They also typically have a zoom lens, which allows the videographer to quickly adjust the framing of the shot.

Cinematographers use cinematic cameras that are designed for high-quality footage in a cinematic style. These cameras are typically larger and heavier than video cameras, and they require a more complex setup with additional equipment, such as external monitors and audio recorders. Cinematic cameras also have larger sensors, which allows for greater depth of field and a more cinematic look. Cinematographers often use prime lenses that offer a wider aperture and better image quality. Prime lenses are also preferred for their ability to create a shallow depth of field, which can be used to draw attention to a specific subject in the shot.

Differences in ancillary equipment & lighting

Cinematographers also use a range of additional equipment to achieve their desired look, including dollies, cranes, and sliders. These tools allow for smooth camera movements, which can create a more dynamic and visually interesting shot. Cinematographers use a range of lighting equipment as well, including studio lights and portable LED panels, in order to create a specific mood or atmosphere in the shot.

Main takeaways

Videography and cinematography are two distinct disciplines that require different skillsets, equipment, and approaches. While both involve capturing moving images, the main difference lies in their respective goals and intended outcomes:

  • Videography is typically used to capture live events or document reality.
  • Cinematography is used for more artistic and visually striking projects, such as films or music videos.


  • Videographers need to be able to work quickly, be flexible, and adapt to changing conditions
  • Cinematographers require a more specialized and technical skillset, such as knowledge of lighting, camera angles, and composition.


  • Videographers rely on lightweight, portable cameras and simple setups.
  • Cinematographers require more complex, high-quality cinematic cameras, along with additional ancillary equipment such as dollies, cranes, and lighting.


Overall, whether you need a videographer or a cinematographer depends on the nature of your project and your desired outcome. If you need to capture a live event or document reality, a videographer may be the best choice.

But if you want to create a visually striking and artistic project, or a film, a cinematographer may be the better option. Ultimately, both videography and cinematography require a high level of skill, expertise, and creativity to produce compelling and impactful visual content.