Creativity knows no bounds, but you have to start somewhere. If you have decided to pick filmmaking as a hobby, you must be looking for recommendations to buy a camera that suits your needs. Here’s a complete guide of Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget.
If you are an aspiring filmmaker or just buying a gift for a loved one who wants to start a YouTube channel, you must be looking for a basic camera that can get the job done.
These days, you can get an amazing camera for filming at a very affordable rate. Over the years, filming cameras have become more accessible to the masses. You can partly thank smartphone cameras for that. However, most mobile cameras are pretty bad at recording videos.
If you are serious about taking filmmaking as a hobby, you should check this list of cheapest cameras for filmmaking.
Best Filming Cameras Under $1,000
In this article, we have curated a list of best filmmaking cameras under $1,000. It’s a fact that decent filmmaking cameras cost more than a thousand dollars, but there are several photography-focused cameras that you can use for vlogging and filmmaking.
If you are pretty serious about filmmaking, then you should invest in a camera with interchangeable lenses. Alternatively, you can also consider a premium pocket or bridge camera.
In this article, we have listed the best camera model in different categories. We hope our recommendations will help you in starting your creative journey.
Panasonic Lumix FZ82 – Best Bridge Camera
One of the most amazing features on the FZ82 is the way it does video. For an affordably priced bridge camera, the FZ82 is a delight for newbie filmmakers from Panasonic. The 18.1-megapixel sensor captures video in full vibrance with close-to-life contrast and realistic tones.
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 MP|
The camera not only records video in 4K UHD but also offers a wide variety of video recording capabilities. The Panasonic FZ82 captures 4K UHD videos at up to thirty frames with a compression rate of 100Mbps. The time duration of 4K UHD video recording is 15 minutes.
Besides 4K UHD video clip recording, the FZ82 can capture Full HD videos at up to 60 fps and 720p video during 120 fps as well as 640 x 480 video clips at 240 fps.
The Lumix FZ82 offers easy access to a variety of shooting modes for recording videos, including full auto, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, and manual mode. Such features are rarely available in superzoom cameras. Even though the camera has a dedicated movie record button, you can start and stop recording a video using the shutter release button from any shooting mode.
However, the FZ82 leaves out a few essentials. It’s sad to see the camera does not include a headphone or mic input. The 60X optical zoom is excellent for imaging; however, the same cannot be said for video performance. You get noticeable shake and noise if you try to zoom while recording. Zoom performance using a tripod is slightly better.
Superzoom bridge cameras are rarely made for night time shooting. The same is the case with FZ82. Even with all of its compromises, the FZ82 is one of the best cheap video cameras for filmmaking in 4K resolution. However, many of its shortcomings can be circumvented by using creative shortcuts.
- 4K Video recording
- 60X Optical Zoom
- Affordable Price
- No headphone or mic input
Canon EOS 70D (Body Only) – Best DSLR
Released in 2013, the Canon 70D is still favored by many for its video recording capabilities. At the time of its release, Canon mainly marketed this model as a first-class photography camera. Still, it quickly gained favor with amateur and expert filmmakers for its user-friendly features.
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 MP|
The industry raved about the camera’s ability to autofocus. With Dual Pixel CMOS AF, video makers were able to switch focus between subjects with a few taps. Yes, the 70D has a built-in touchscreen, allowing you to change focus by tapping on the subject.
The magic does not end here. The Movie Servo AF mode comes with predictive processing where once a focus is set on a subject, it gets locked to track movements. The camera can automatically search for faces within the 64% boundary. This makes motion tracking a breeze for movie makers.
Since it’s a DSLR, you will have to buy lenses separately. But that’s a good thing as it allows you to experiment with your skill more openly. When coupled with Canon’s EF lenses, the 70D is capable of recording cinema-grade videos.
The camera has a “vari-angle” 3-inch LCD screen, which can be rotated at 180-degree for self-portrait films or vlogging. Many love this camera for its tilting screen as it allows them to capture shots at awkward angles with precision and finesse.
Needless to say, the quality of video capture is remarkable. The 70D captures Full HD video at 1080p30, 1080p24, or perhaps 720p60 resolution that gets stored in Quicktime MOV format. The footage is sharp and crisp, but it all depends on the lens you use. There is a jack available for attaching an external mic. However, you don’t get an audio jack. So, forget about audio monitoring.
There are not too many compromises to make when you buy the Canon 70D for budget filmmaking. Yes, there is the expense of buying your lenses. However, you can always sell the lenses later if you change your mind about filmmaking.
- Pro-grade performance
- Predictive processing
- External mic output available
- Interchangeable lenses
- Heavy and bulky
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera – Best Pocket Camera
As a mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha a6000 does not come with the bulk of a DSLR. Yet, it does not skimp on video features.
|Sensor Resolution||24 MP|
The A6000 has your basic set of Full HD video recording capabilities such as 1,920 x 1,080 resolution videos with 60p, 60i, and 24p frame rates. The videos are stored in AVCHD format with support for MP4 at lower resolutions. The dedicated video recording button allows you to record video in any exposure setting. This feature comes in handy when you quickly want to capture some footage. Obviously, the camera has a dedicated Movie mode.
You get only two types of focus options: manual or continuous AF. While recording in continuous AF, the a6000 performs without any significant complaints. You can manually set AF drive speed and AF tracking duration. If you are recording something fast-moving, then set both the options to AF. Slow-moving subjects can be captured flawlessly with slow or normal AF drive speed with normal tracking duration.
Performance is excellent in bright-light as the autofocus keeps up with your subjects’ movements without any rolling shutter or “wobblecam.” The night-time performance is decent too. However, you might have to experiment a little with your frame rates.
When it comes to external audio capture, the a6000 comes with a few bells and whistles. You don’t get a standard 3.5mm jack for external microphones. However, there is support for recording external audio through Sony’s hot-shoe-mounted ECM-XYST1M stereo mic. This limitation may sound like a deal-breaker. However, you need to consider that a6000 is an entry-level mirrorless camera. It’s not as bulky as a DSLR. So, adding a few accessories to enhance its capabilities should not be a problem.
- More compact than a DSLR
- Full HD video
- Advanced AF options
- Interchangeable lens
- External audio recording is limited to a single microphone model.
GoPro HERO7 Black – Best Waterproof Camera
Adventurists usually consider GoPro cameras to film their adventures. However, with features like Hyper Smooth stabilization, voice control, and advanced audio processing, the HERO7 is a great camera for budget filmmaking as any. Don’t fall for its compact size. This small action camera can capture crisp, professional-grade videos anytime, anywhere.
|Sensor Resolution||12 MP|
|Optical Zoom||Optical Zoom|
Let’s talk a little more about Hyper Smooth. Why? This stabilization technology from GoPro removes the need to use a gimbal to shoot super cool, yet stable videos at 4K resolution. Although limited to 60fps, this type of compression is rarely found in affordable filmmaking cameras.
If you are a fan of creating time-lapse videos, you will love the TimeWarp mode. With the GoPro HERO7 Black, you will be able to create a super smooth time-lapse video with Hyper Smooth stabilization at different speeds ranging from 2X to 30X. This is again a feature that is unique to this camera.
Now, let’s talk about size. The GoPro HERO7 Black is as compact as a deck of cards. Carrying dimensions of 1.75 by 2.44 by 1.26 inches, the HERO7 Black is a lightweight camera that can be used by a single hand. The device has a rugged, waterproof body that can survive a dip of 10ft easily. If you want to go deeper or shoot some salty sea waves, then you should use the SuperSuit housing (sold separately) for added protection.
The camera has a 2-inch LCD installed in it, which is not as responsive as you like, but it automatically activates the portrait mode if you hold the device for vertical shooting. Voice commands are a fun feature that allows you to capture video by saying, “Go Pro, turn on.”
While the HERO7 Black is an excellent camera for outdoor shooting, it performs poorly in low-light conditions. Furthermore, the camera does not come with a microphone jack. This means you will have to use the internal audio recording system, which captures jerk-free, lag-free audio.
- Hyper Smooth stabilization
- Small size
- Bad low-light performance
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II – Best Vlogging Camera
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II is a darling of Youtubers and vlogging community due to compact size and worry-free video recording performance.
|Sensor Resolution||20.1 MP|
First things first, the PowerShot G7X Mark II is a premium pocket camera that gives smartphone cameras a tough time with its big 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor. This means the camera will capture more light, and therefore, the resulting footage would be brighter and more realistic than what you get with an iPhone XS.
Since it’s a pocket camera, it works on the point-and-shoot mechanism where it’s compact enough to be carried around and has a fixed lens. Some may frown on this camera’s inability to change lenses; however, let’s not forget that this camera is known for its robust image stabilization and 4.2X optical zoom.
When it comes to video performance, the wide aperture zoom lens not only performs excellently in daylight, but it also works great in dim light conditions. The optical image stabilization works marvelously in the video mode.
If you were hoping for 4K resolution support, then you will be disappointed to know that the G7X II maxes out at 1080p, ample enough for budget filmmakers. The innovative tilting 3-inch screen can flip 180-degrees for some selfie-style video shoots.
Sadly, there is no audio jack, but it seems Canon left this feature out on purpose as they wanted this camera to be photography focused. The G7X II does not disappoint on the battery timing front as it can record videos for up to 30 minutes on a single charge.
- Compact in size
- Excellent imaging performance
- Industry’s best autofocus
- No option to record audio from an external mic
Sony Alpha a6400 – Best Mirrorless Camera
Thanks to the rise of mirrorless cameras, filmmaking is not as cumbersome as it was before. Gone are the bulky camera bodies. They are replaced with the compact body of mirrorless cameras like Sony a6400.
|Sensor Resolution||24.2 MP|
The a6400 is an excellent mirrorless camera with the industry’s best autofocus and tracking technology. You get the option to record in 4K at 30fps with 100 Mb/s bitrate using XAVC S codec. In simple English, you get a very basic 4K recording experience with a6400. Quite amazingly, the only other video resolution you will find is the crowd-favorite 1080p full HD. That’s also the resolution where you can record 120 frames per second.
Now, let’s talk about Real-time Eye AF and Tracking autofocus features. While shooting videos, you mostly want to follow a subject. The a6400 makes this job easy for you as it can automatically track your desired subject without losing focus. It continues to monitor faces even if they turn their heads and then look back towards the camera. The tracking system can also monitor animals if chosen as filming subjects. This will help owners in making pet videos.
For some very odd reason, Sony shied away from including in-body stabilization in this camera. You can prevent this by filming your video with one of three dozen Sony lenses with built-in stabilization.
The a6400 has a titling 180-degree screen with a hinge design. It’s a clever addition to the camera till you decide to fix an external mic on the hot shoe. The microphone will cover up the screen, making the display useless. This design flaw should not discourage you from buying the a6400. Instead focus on its positive attributes. It’s a lightweight camera that allows you to shoot 4K videos.
- 4K video
- Interchangeable lenses
- No in-body stabilization
- Badly designed for vlogging
Buying a camera for filmmaking is a big decision. Therefore, we would recommend that you should make a list of requirements before purchasing. This way, you will exactly know what type of camera you can buy.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Therefore, if you are confused about buying your first camera for filmmaking, you should start small.