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film cinematographers The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History  

Ranker Film
504 votes 244 voters 1.3k 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!

1
34 12
Roger Deakins is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Roger Deakins Personal Services, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Jarhead

2
31 10
Emmanuel Lubezki is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Emmanuel Lubezki The Tree of Life, Ali, Like Water for Chocolate

3
23 8
Vittorio Storaro is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Vittorio Storaro 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
Sven Nykvist 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
Gregg Toland 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
John Alcott The Beastmaster, Overlord, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

8
12 4
Néstor Almendros is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Néstor Almendros Improper Conduct, Love on the Run, Perceval le Gallois

9
8 1
Christopher Doyle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Christopher Doyle The White Countess, Three, Red Rose White Rose

10
9 2
Jack Cardiff is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Jack Cardiff The Last Days of Pompeii, Black Narcissus, Ghost Story

11
7 1
Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Ingmar Bergman Stimulantia, Images from the Playground

12
8 2
Hoyte van Hoytema is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Hoyte van Hoytema The Brothers Lionheart, The Black Lapp, Tinker^! Tailor^! Soldier^! Spy

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

14
11 5
Conrad L. Hall is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Conrad L. Hall Incubus, Without Limits, Marathon Man

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15
5 0
Raoul Coutard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Raoul Coutard La Difficulté d'être infidèle, Breathless, The Little Soldier

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

17
12 7
Janusz Kamiński is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Janusz Kamiński The Dictator, Jerry Maguire, Munich

18
9 4
Robert Richardson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Robert Richardson Born on the Fourth of July, U Turn, Casino

19
11 6
Vilmos Zsigmond is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Vilmos Zsigmond Obsession, Futz, Summer Children

20
10 5
Darius Khondji is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Darius Khondji The Ruins, Midnight in Paris, The Interpreter

21
4 0
Freddie Young is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Freddie Young Time Bomb, Escape, Rough Cut

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22
4 0
Charles Lang is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Charles Lang It Should Happen to You, Autumn Leaves, How to Steal a Million

23
7 4
Robert Elswit is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Robert Elswit Runaway Jury, Trick or Treat, Boogie Nights

24
5 2
Freddie Francis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Freddie Francis Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Elephant Man

25
4 1
Geoffrey Unsworth is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Geoffrey Unsworth The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom, North West Frontier, The Abdication

26
4 1
Kazuo Miyagawa is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Kazuo Miyagawa Floating Weeds, Tokyo Olympiad, Rashomon

27
8 6
John Toll is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
John Toll Wind, Legends of the Fall, Iron Man 3

28
8 6
Wally Pfister is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Wally Pfister The Hi-Line, Marley, Slow Burn

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29
6 4
Haskell Wexler is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Haskell Wexler Canadian Bacon, Matewan, Bound for Glory

30
5 3
Chris Menges is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Chris Menges Concert for George, The Good Thief, Gumshoe

31
5 3
Jeff Cronenweth is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Jeff Cronenweth K-19: The Widowmaker, Hitchcock, Fight Club

32
4 2
Claudio Miranda is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Claudio Miranda Life of Pi, Oblivion, Battle for Terra

33
3 1
John Seale is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
John Seale Dead Poets Society, City of Angels, Cold Mountain

34
3 1
Anthony Dod Mantle is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Anthony Dod Mantle Dogville, Dredd, Strumpet

35
4 3
William A. Fraker is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
William A. Fraker Incubus, An Innocent Man, Protocol

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36
4 3
Robert Burks is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Robert Burks The Fountainhead, The Desert Song, Vertigo

37
3 2
Andrew Lesnie is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Andrew Lesnie The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Doing Time for Patsy Cline, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

38
2 1
Gunnar Fischer is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Gunnar Fischer 491, Secrets of Women, The Magician

39
2 1
Rodrigo Prieto is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Rodrigo Prieto Water for Elephants, Lust^! Caution, 25th Hour

40
5 5
Bruno Delbonnel is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Bruno Delbonnel Paris, je t'aime, Dark Shadows

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

42
2 3
Matthew Libatique is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Matthew Libatique 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
Michael Ballhaus What Planet Are You From?, Wild Wild West, The Marriage of Maria Braun

44
1 2
Subrata Mitra is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Subrata Mitra The Lonely Wife, The Big City, The Householder

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

46
0 2
Harris Savides is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Harris Savides Heaven's Prisoners, The Key to Reserva, Lake Consequence

47
0 2
Dion Beebe is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Dion Beebe Collateral, The Zen of Bennett, Land of the Lost

48
1 4
Caleb Deschanel is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Caleb Deschanel Timeline, Hope Floats, Lanton Mills

49
1 4
Robert Surtees is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Cinematographers in Movie History
Robert Surtees A Date With Judy, A Star Is Born, Mogambo