At each of the last three Oscars, there has been a trio of first-time nominees for Best Cinematography. Of this year's leading contenders only Guillaume Schiffmanis, who lensed "The Artist," is new to the game. Past champs in the mix include Janusz Kaminski, Chris Menges, Wally Pfister and Robert Richardson. And there are plenty of past nominees, led by Emmanuel Lubezki, looking for their first win.
Kaminski, who regularly collaborates with Steven Spielberg, is a contender for "War Horse." He won Oscars for Spielberg's war epics "Schindler's List" (1993) and "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) and was a nominee for "Amistad" (1997) and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007).
Back in 2008, Menges was cited (alongside Roger Deakins) for Stephen Daldry's "The Reader." He and Daldry have worked together again on "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." This would be his fifth nod with wins for "The Killing Fields" (1984) and "The Mission" (1986).
Last year's champ Wally Pfister ("Inception") could be slated for "Moneyball."
Richardson could reap his seventh bid for "Hugo," the latest film from Martin Scorsese. Richardson won in 2004 for Scorsese's "The Aviator" and previously prevailed for "JFK" (1991). His most recent nod was for "Inglourious Basterds" (2009).
Terrence Malick's last three films -- "Days of Heaven" (1978), "The Thin Red Line" (1998), and "The New World" (2005) -- broke into the Best Cinematography race with "Days" winning. Lubezki, his "New World" collaborator, is a virtual lock for this year's "The Tree of Life." This would be his fifth nomination.
Clint Eastwood's longtime lenser Tom Stern got his first nod back in 2008 for "Changeling." The period drama "J. Edgar" has similarly moody lighting and Oscar voters might favor him again.
A surprise nominee in 2009 was "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." That film's cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel was replaced by three-time Oscar nominee Eduardo Serra who shot the series' final chapter "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
Newcomers in the hunt besides Schiffman include Manuel Alberto Claro ("Melancholia"), Phedon Papmichael ("The Ides of March"), Newton Thomas Sigel ("Drive") and Hoyte Van Hoytema ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy").
Can Ewan McGregor, Carey Mulligan & Ezra Miller ride coattails of co-stars to Oscars?
Sorry, Pixar: 'Cars 2' won't win Animated Feature at Oscars
10 Golden Globe upsets that COULD happen
Can "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" contend for Best Picture at the Oscars?
How 'Midnight in Paris' could win Best Picture at the Oscars