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The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History  

Ranker Film
695 votes 283 voters 2k views

Who is the best cinematographer in the history of film? This list of the great cinematographers in movie history includes some of the top directors of photography to ever step foot behind a camera. From pioneers like Kazuo Miyagawa, Vittorio Storaro, Gregg Toland, Conrad Howe, and James Wong Howe to modern movie masters like Darius Wolski, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Hoyte van Hoytema, this list of great directors of photography includes some of the most skilled cinematographers ever.

Film is a visual medium. Though they're always behind the scenes and often unheralded, without cinematographers, there would be no movies. The best DPs help bring the vision of a director, writer, and countless others to life, painting with light to create the unforgettable images onscreen.

Vote for the cinematographer you think is the best in the list below and if you see anyone missing from the list, feel free to add them so that other movie fans and Rankers can vote on your additions!
list ordered by
1
Roger Deakins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Personal Services, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Jarhead
2
Emmanuel Lubezki is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Tree of Life, Ali, Like Water for Chocolate
3
Vittorio Storaro is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Footprints on the Moon, The Fifth Cord, Bulworth
4
Sven Nykvist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Ox, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Chaplin
5
Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Stimulantia, Images from the Playground
6
Gregg Toland is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
One Heavenly Night, The Goldwyn Follies, Street Scene
7
Christopher Doyle is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The White Countess, Three, Red Rose White Rose
8
Freddie Young is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Time Bomb, Escape, Rough Cut
9
Robert Richardson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Born on the Fourth of July, U Turn, Casino
10
Néstor Almendros is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Improper Conduct, Love on the Run, Perceval le Gallois
11
Vilmos Zsigmond is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Obsession, Futz, Summer Children
12
Asakazu Nakai is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Asakazu Nakai Dersu Uzala, High and Low, Seven Samurai
13
James Wong Howe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Flame Within, Hello, Sister!
14
John Alcott is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Beastmaster, Overlord, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?
15
Hoyte van Hoytema is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Brothers Lionheart, The Black Lapp, Tinker
16
Gordon Willis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Broadway Danny Rose, Klute, The Money Pit
17
Wally Pfister is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Hi-Line, Marley, Slow Burn
18
Conrad L. Hall is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Incubus, Without Limits, Marathon Man
19
Janusz Kamiński is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Dictator, Jerry Maguire, Munich
20
Raoul Coutard is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
La Difficulté d'être infidèle, Breathless, The Little Soldier
21
Kazuo Miyagawa is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Kazuo Miyagawa Floating Weeds, Tokyo Olympiad, Rashomon
22
Jack Cardiff is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Last Days of Pompeii, Black Narcissus, Ghost Story
23
Jeff Cronenweth is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
K-19: The Widowmaker, Hitchcock, Fight Club
24
Robert Elswit is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Runaway Jury, Trick or Treat, Boogie Nights
25
Darius Khondji is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Ruins, Midnight in Paris, The Interpreter