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Photography The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History  

Ranker Film
528 votes 254 voters 1.5k 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
34 10
Emmanuel Lubezki is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Tree of Life, Ali, Like Water for Chocolate

2
37 14
Roger Deakins is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Personal Services, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Jarhead

3
24 8
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
17 5
Sven Nykvist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Ox, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Chaplin

5
6 0
Asakazu Nakai is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Asakazu Nakai Dersu Uzala, High and Low, Seven Samurai

6
12 2
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
10 1
John Alcott is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Beastmaster, Overlord, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

8
13 4
Néstor Almendros is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Improper Conduct, Love on the Run, Perceval le Gallois

9
9 1
Christopher Doyle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The White Countess, Three, Red Rose White Rose

10
10 2
Hoyte van Hoytema is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Brothers Lionheart, The Black Lapp, Tinker

11
8 1
Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Stimulantia, Images from the Playground

12
9 2
Jack Cardiff is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Last Days of Pompeii, Black Narcissus, Ghost Story

13
9 3
Gordon Willis is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Broadway Danny Rose, Klute, The Money Pit

14
12 6
Vilmos Zsigmond is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Obsession, Futz, Summer Children

15
12 7
Janusz Kamiński is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Dictator, Jerry Maguire, Munich

16
7 2
James Wong Howe is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Flame Within, Hello, Sister!

17
5 0
Raoul Coutard is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
La Difficulté d'être infidèle, Breathless, The Little Soldier

18
11 6
Conrad L. Hall is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Incubus, Without Limits, Marathon Man

19
10 5
Darius Khondji is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Ruins, Midnight in Paris, The Interpreter

20
9 4
Robert Richardson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Born on the Fourth of July, U Turn, Casino

21
10 6
Wally Pfister is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Hi-Line, Marley, Slow Burn

22
4 0
Freddie Young is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Time Bomb, Escape, Rough Cut

23
4 0
Charles Lang is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
It Should Happen to You, Autumn Leaves, How to Steal a Million

24
7 4
Robert Elswit is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Runaway Jury, Trick or Treat, Boogie Nights

25
6 3
Jeff Cronenweth is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
K-19: The Widowmaker, Hitchcock, Fight Club

26
5 2
Freddie Francis is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Elephant Man

27
4 1
Kazuo Miyagawa is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Kazuo Miyagawa Floating Weeds, Tokyo Olympiad, Rashomon

28
4 1
Anthony Dod Mantle is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Dogville, Dredd, Strumpet

29
4 1
Geoffrey Unsworth is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom, North West Frontier, The Abdication

30
8 6
John Toll is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Wind, Legends of the Fall, Iron Man 3

31
6 4
Haskell Wexler is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Canadian Bacon, Matewan, Bound for Glory

32
5 3
Chris Menges is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Concert for George, The Good Thief, Gumshoe

33
4 2
Claudio Miranda is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Life of Pi, Oblivion, Battle for Terra

34
3 1
John Seale is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Dead Poets Society, City of Angels, Cold Mountain

35
3 1
Rodrigo Prieto is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Water for Elephants, Lust, Caution

36
6 5
Bruno Delbonnel is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Paris, je t'aime, Dark Shadows

37
4 3
Robert Burks is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Fountainhead, The Desert Song, Vertigo

38
4 3
William A. Fraker is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Incubus, An Innocent Man, Protocol

39
3 2
Andrew Lesnie is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Doing Time for Patsy Cline, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

40
2 1
Gunnar Fischer is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Gunnar Fischer 491, Secrets of Women, The Magician

41
2 2
Santosh Sivan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Jaanam Samjha Karo, Ananthabhadram, Thalapathi

42
2 3
Matthew Libatique is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Never Die Alone, Cosmic Coffee, Iron Man

43
2 3
Michael Ballhaus is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
What Planet Are You From?, Wild Wild West, The Marriage of Maria Braun

44
1 2
Harris Savides is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Heaven's Prisoners, The Key to Reserva, Lake Consequence

45
1 2
Charles Rosher is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Incubus, Sparrows, After Tonight

46
1 2
Subrata Mitra is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Subrata Mitra The Lonely Wife, The Big City, The Householder

47
2 4
Robert Surtees is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Robert Surtees A Date With Judy, A Star Is Born, Mogambo

48
0 2
Dion Beebe is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Collateral, The Zen of Bennett, Land of the Lost

49
1 4
Caleb Deschanel is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Timeline, Hope Floats, Lanton Mills