5 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget (Reviews 2018)

My team and I have spent few weeks on a search for the best camera for filmmaking on a budget and we have finalized Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera as the best filmmaking camera in the market.

We have considered a good number of factors before finalizing this camera. We considered these factors before choosing the camera: Price, Lens compatibility, Connectivity, Production Quality, Recording Format, Sound, and Manual control.

Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera

20.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5+ image processor, Camera can shoot videos at 1080p at (30, 25, 24) fps and 720p at (60, 50) fps as well as HD video in H.264/MPEG-4/MOV format, and High-quality sound recording.

Picking the right camera is a daunting task especially if you are into advanced use such as filmmaking. Filmmaking comes in levels, but all will need a relatively pleasant camera to work with. The best camera will come with a lot of research and if possible, experience. Filmmaking projects are not only about the most creative productions but the best looking regarding quality. Cameras that can do this within a budget are quite a bargain. They are also not easy to find if you do not know what you are looking for. Despite the fact that you will be enhancing regarding camera gear does not mean that you start with a limp.

Picking the best camera despite your budget when it comes to filmmaking will not only make your work easier but better. Some of the considerations in play will include the price, connectivity, production quality and format as well as the compatibility of the camera. Filmmaking cameras have to have god sensors and exposes, and so these will need to be well researched on. After having spent days fishing for the best camera, we came up with a list of five that we are satisfied will be a good place to start for you as a beginner or professional looking for a replacement.

Our 5 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget

Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera

The Nikon D3400 DSLR camera tops our list thanks to a list of features that seems to go on and on. The Camera comes with a snap bridge Bluetooth connectivity that is ideal for sharing and transferring your films and videos to other devices fast and easy. You also get a 24.2 MP sensor that does a splendid job when it comes to processing photos and videos to excellent quality. The DX-format CMOS sensor is also ideal for the cameras 4K video shooting, HD photos and Raw formats for editing. This is also aided by the EXPEED 4 image processor for quality films. The camera does not come with a low pass optical filter, and so the photos are crystal clear.

The camera comes with an impressive Native ISO 100 to 25600 mode that supports up to 5fps shooting. It is also compatible with C firmware and lots of lenses for those looking for the more exquisite detail in the field. The camera also shoots 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and 1280 x 720 (HD). The focus type works for both manual and auto functions and is pretty easy to use. The camera also allows you to enjoy excellent sound quality during video recording. The camera is compact and portable fitting in small spaces without the added lenses of course. You get a 3 inch LCD screen that can tilt to your convenience for better shots. This is the perfect traveling companion and filmmaking projects.

FeatureDescription
PricingThe camera is the cheapest on our list yet with some of the best attributes when it comes to filmmaking.
Lens compatibilityThe camera is compatible with most EF lenses and will work with an adapter in case you come across one that is not. Extra lenses are ideal if you want to improve the quality of production you are after.
ConnectivityEnjoy Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to share data with the people around you for faster processing. Faster connectivity also makes it easier to access more space onto the camera storage disks.
Production QualityThe 24.2MP enables you to shoot for 4K films though this may not be a huge factor at times as long as you can shoot in HD. The camera does not have a low pass filter, which eliminates the tough of blurriness.
Recording FormatThe camera records in MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and Audio: Monaural Linear PCM)
SoundYou get a sound quality with a monaural Linear PCM system.
Manual controlThe camera comes with both automatic and manual control settings for the user to choose from.

Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera!


Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera

The second best option is the Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR camera. Not only does the camera come in handy for filming but works perfectly well for photography. This is made possible by the 20.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 5+ image processor.  You get a 19 point cross-type AF system and up to 7fps shooting. The camera quickly shoots like an areal camcorder with manual and auto capabilities. The ISO 100 to 12800 set up is expandable to 25600 for better imaging. A dual pixel CMOS AF is ideal for a quick focus and live view and filmmaking. The camera is compact and easily portable with a built-in flash that has an integrated Speedlite transmitter and clips to a hot shoe.

You also get an intelligent viewfinder enhanced by an electronic overlay. The camera can shoot videos at 1080 at 30, 25, 24 fps and 720 at 60, 50 fps as well as HD video in H.264/MPEG-4/MOV format. Connectivity is aided by Wi-Fi sharing to peripheral devices for transfer of files, processing of photos and films, printing and so much more. The camera comes with extras such as GPS compatibility that can be acquired separately, a full manual video mode as well as a fully functional built-in external microphone port or stereo. You are sure about good quality sound during recording. The camera is compatible with most lenses and is perfect for those that want to enhance their filmmaking skills. Storage is done on an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card.

FeatureDescription
Pricing The camera is not as cheap as our first option but fits the bill when you put the features it comes with into consideration.
Lens compatibility It is well compatible with some lenses and also works with an adapter for lenses that will not usually fit.
Connectivity The camera allows you to share information instantly with built-in Wi-Fi and a neat EOS Remote app.
Production Quality You are sure to enjoy high-resolution video coverage with HD and 4K qualities.
Recording Format The camera can record effectively on 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps) and 720 (60, 50 fps) HD video (H.264/MPEG-4/MOV) format.
Sound The camera has a built-in stereo/ external microphone terminal for peripheral sound inputs and gives high-quality sound recording.
Manual control You get the best of both worlds to accentuate the level of your prowess.

Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera!


Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Camera

The Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR kit comes with remarkable features which is why it makes it on our list at the third position. Filmmaking has never been easier thanks to the 45 point all cross type AF set up that not only allows you to make films in low light but using some presets such as single point AF, Large Zone AF, Zone AF and 45 point AF auto selection. This is excellent when using the optical viewfinder allowing you to focus on selected modes.

The intelligent viewer produces almost perfect viewfinder coverage aided by a 24.2 MP dual CMOS. This also creates remarkable high-resolution videos and photographs. The camera also the sensor is also designed to give you a smooth, fast and accurate autofocus stilling the images with an instant and precise AF. The microphone is sensitive and comes with an input for excellent audio quality. The camera is also compatible with most EF lenses. It is compact and easily fits in small spaces making it an ideal option for travel filmmaking.

FeatureDescription
Pricing This is the most expensive option we have but gives excellent filmmaking options for the professional and novice user.
Lens compatibility The camera is compatible with all EF-S lenses and also works across the board with an adapter if you want something of more quality.
Connectivity The camera supports Wi-Fi connectivity enabling sharing within a huge number of peripheral devices. You also get LAN sharing for improved connectivity between devices.
Production Quality A 24.2 MP sensor helps you get high-quality videos and also allows faster and smoother shooting that is also accurate. You are sure to get HD quality videos as well as 4K.
Recording Format You get H.264, MOV and a Maximum Video Resolution of 1920 x 1080.
Sound High-quality sound with an external microphone input.
Manual control The camera is both manual and auto enabled for preference.

Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Camera!


Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR Camera

The Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR comes in fourth with an affordable price tag and great performance when it comes to filmmaking. The camera harbors a 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS dual sensor without a low pass filter for crisp videos and photos. An impressive 39 point autofocus allows for fast captures and processing as well as taking films in low light. The camera is capable of continuous shooting supported by the five frames per second shutter. The camera comes with an expandable ISO that enables high resolution shooting for 4K videos and HD photos. The LCD screen tilts for convenient coverage and a touchscreen capability.

The ISO 100 – 25,600 is expandable and ideal for high-resolution coverage with slow-motion effects and fast moving objects. The camera is excellent for sharing data with Wi-Fi and Smartphone compatibility ideal for instant sharing. The camera is compact and easy to carry around fitting in most spaces. It is also compatible with a varied number of lenses for professionals that want to widen their scope in filmmaking.

FeatureDescription
Pricing This one of the most reasonably priced cameras in the list.
Lens compatibility The camera is compatible with EF lenses and will also work with an adapter if need be.
Connectivity The Device comes with a built-in Wi-Fi and convenient smartphone compatibility for instant sharing.
Production Quality Impressive 1080/60p HD video enables the user to capture fast-moving subjects and even creating slow-motion effects. This is made possible by the availability of a 24.2 MP DX-format dual CMOS sensor without an optical low-pass filter.
Recording Format MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and a Linear Stereo PCM) for Audio.
Sound Excellent quality sound with an external microphone input.
Manual control Manual and automatic capabilities are available for both professional and intermediate users.

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR Camera!


Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR Camera

Our final entry is the Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR. The camera is perfect for filmmaking projects due to its high ratings in resolution and versatility. You get a 24.2 CMOS APS-C sensor with an expandable ISO of 100 to 12800. The EOS full HD mode enables you to shoot high-resolution videos in MP4 format. 5.0fps makes the camera capable or burst shots and continuous shooting for fast action moments. The autofocus comes with a remarkable 19 point all cross type AF system for great performance. The camera is a hub of connectivity with a built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for sharing clips and images across some platforms. The camera is compatible with some lenses including EF-S lenses other than Canon EF lenses. It is also compact and light to carry around whether you plan to travel or walk around your neighborhood.

FeatureDescription
Pricing The camera is reasonably priced with remarkable video recording features.
Lens compatibility The camera is compatible with most lenses.
Connectivity You get a Built-in NFC and Wi-Fi for ease of connectivity and sharing with family and friends.
Production Quality The camera shoots in high-quality formats including HD and 4k for great film production.
Recording Format The camera can record EOS Full HD Movie mode helps perfect videos in MP4 format.
Sound You get a high-quality sound recording with an audio input port.
Manual control The camera comes with both auto and manual control properties.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR Camera!


How I picked the best

Picking the best camera for filmmaking camera on a budget was not an easy task because there are very many options in the market. This, however, was the easier part because my friends and I had some experience when it came to what was already working for us. Picking the bets involved putting in a month of research and hours of testing some cameras. Having worked as a camera salesman had already put me and some of my friends on the map with camera stores and so getting our hands on most was not a challenge. We also put together a group of professionals running projects and got some of the cameras to be part of some of them. These were both professionals and beginners. The beginners gave us a realistic view of the novice user which included fumbling through the devices as they handled some filmmaking projects.

The professionals gave us a mastery level field of view where we compared the projects the camera did with the high-end camcorders. We were confident by the end of the day that the cameras we picked had the best chances if you are looking for something within a budget that will sort you out. Choosing very cheap cameras that will compromise certain aspects is a risky affair if you are serious about filmmaking. Picking costly ones does not also mean that you are at an advantage unless you are very good at using them. The cameras we picked came with options such as manual and auto controls that would work perfectly well for intermediate users and professionals alike. All these cameras also came with powerful processors that can produce full HD videos. We also considered the connectivity and the compatibility to other accessories in case you need to expand in the same area.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Camera for Filmmaking (Buying Guide)

Pricing

It is almost impossible to overemphasize how much pricing should not be the determining factor when buying any camera. It is also a daunting fact that it will always be an issue. Balancing the tow issues then has to be done in a very smart way. The first thing you need to understand is that camera production will not entirely be determined by the camera but by other accessories that are available and some will cost a fortune. It is still crucial that you pick a camera that will play ball with most of these accessories while providing you with the best basic needs when it comes to filmmaking.

The five cameras in this least are the best at what they do when it comes to budget cameras. They will still need support if you want to advance in the filmmaking field. Take the time to shop around for the cameras with the best features in line with what you need, and you will not be disappointed. Cheap cameras are not necessarily the best and expensive ones will not undoubtedly be what you need. A middle ground is essential.

Lens compatibility

It is a fact that you will not need to start buying lenses for you small project at the beginner level. It is also a fact that you might not even know to use them that well. This does not negate the fact that you will need to use them at some point. Buying a camera that does not support the use of lenses will be a waste especially when you get to appoint where you need to advance your skills. The compatibility of lenses is essential for future projects in filmmaking. It will save you from buying another camera and help you develop slowly as you get one lens after another.

You will soon realize that you own quite a large gear of filmmaking devices. Some camera lenses may come in handy yet unusable. Not to worry; lenses nowadays come with adapters that allow you to use those that are not compatible with your camera across the board. This then means that you can use one camera to create amazing films. Take time and research on the type of lenses compatible with the camera you buy to avoid being too off when it comes to making these purchases.

Connectivity

Connections make the world go around and so cameras with the best connections will be the most preferable. Gone are the days when getting a way to transfer data from your camera to the computer was a nightmare. You can now easily transfer all your data fast with a simple wireless connection across some platforms. Apps have also made this easier with some coming with the ability to control the camera itself during shots. Some of the camera firmware is also upgradable from the peripheral devices.

Wi-Fi allows you to connect to the internet to other devices and send data across the world. This has opened up a world of filmmaking communities that can share their films and ideas without having to move away from their cameras. NFC has also come in handy enabling devices to send information across the board with a single click. Connectivity has also allowed cameras to do simple jobs such as printing and live previews while shooting. Connectivity enables you to share what you are doing fast and easy also making the time taken to do processing bliss.

Production Quality

The quality of film the camera produces will determine how good the camera is. One of the things you need to note at this point is that 4K features will not be needful for small filmmaking features. These are ideal for cinemas and tremendous documentaries. The cameras on our list will do well in full HD capabilities which is more than sufficient for typical filmmaking projects. High video quality formats will also take up a lot of space and take longer to process. Lower qualities will be smaller but will not also look as lovely when presenting. You need to ensure that your camera allows you to pick the level of quality you want. The ability of the camera to shoot great videos is affected by the number of fps it can handle as well as the processor.

Recording Format

Most cameras nowadays will shoot incompatible modes reducing the time taken to process and convert the clips. One of the most common production formats is MOV in 1080p at 20, 40 and 60P. Some cameras will also do mp4 and MOV at the same time. Cameras that allow you to pick different recording formats are the best at the end of the day. This is well indicated on their manuals or merely make an inquiry before making the purchase. It is for this reason that taking the time to study the camera before buying is essential.

Sound

The fact that you will be recording films means that sound will be everything. Sound can be edited, but even the raw feature needs to be good enough. The best cameras will also allow you to input external audio devices to enhance sound capture. A better sound will mean lesser editing. A lot of noise and disruptions in the sound will cost you long hours of sound editing especially if what you are capturing will not have voice-overs. You can quickly do trial recordings at the store to ensure that you pick the best camera for you. It is wise to note that sound will work differently in different environments. Some cameras will have extra settings for sound for the purpose of enhancing the quality. This may come in handy if you know what you are doing.

Manual control

The camera controls are all about preference. These auto features are best for beginners that have not mastered much about the camera. They are also used by professionals that can do their own presets for quick shooting. The manual setting is much more complex but works perfectly well in the hands of a good user. These are ideal when you want to affect certain parts of the film directly from the camera. They also enhance or change the quality of the films immensely. Learning how to use both will not only put you at an advantage but make your choices easier when buying these cameras, Ensure you go for one that has both so that you can have the ability to choose between the two.

Read More: Best Canon Lens for Portraits and Wedding Photography

Is this for me?

This piece is for everyone looking to step into the world of filmmaking at both the beginner and professional level. The first thing you will need is a camera besides knowing the basics of how to use one. Just like most hobbies, you can only get better with time, research and interest. We have picked these five cameras because they play nice in both fields. By both fields here I mean photography and filmmaking. These cameras are excellent for beginners that need something easy enough to navigate and learn and professional enough to run with the big boys if well mastered. Navigating the world of cameras is so confusing that making a mistake is easy. The salespersons will not make this more comfortable with attractive pitches and great adverts running all over.

The many discounts posted all over the online stores also make it hard to choose primarily if you are working on a budget. The first piece of advice I would give anyone looking to enter this field is to avoid working with a budget solely. The reason for this is because filmmaking is an expensive venture. You will soon realize that the camera was the least of your worries when it comes to cost. It will constitute a very small fraction of your needs with the gear taking the most of it. The idea is to ensure that you balance all your purchases well enough to get started. This piece is also for the professional looking for a camera that will be great for some things besides filmmaking. It is also a great extra device for travel photography if you are looking for something that will be close to the edge yet provide great shots along the way.

Why trust me?

Filmmaking for me has been more of an obsession for as long As I can remember. It did not always start with videography but began with a keen interest in how the movies are made. Filmmaking is an art that takes time to develop for those that it does not come naturally to and a while to master even for those that have a natural eye for the camera.  I have also spent a very large amount of time in photography with motion photography being my favorite. Every film makes will have a bit of photography mastery in them because one develops into another. Working with a large number of enthusiasts over time has also helped me deepen my roots in filmmaking and especially in professional documentaries.

I have also spent a good part of my life retailing cameras for photographers and videographers which has taught me immense lessons on what cameras to buy and what to stay clear of. All this wealth of knowledge has opened up a world of understanding on what the best cameras are when it comes to filmmaking and what the best cameras are when it comes to photography. What some of the most visible mistakes people will make is budgeting for cameras without a clear understanding of what they want at the end of the day. Unlike photography, filmmaking is extensive and needs mastery whichever way you look at it if you’re going to make some money out of it. You may not need to do so if all you want to do is shoot our family and friends over a barbeque.

Recommendations

I would recommend that every buyer take some time and do good research before making any purchase when it comes to budget filmmaking cameras. It is possible to get an excellent camera at a bargain, but this will need proper investigation a little knowledge in the area which is why this article is useful. The guidance of a professional will also come in handy at this point. Professionals will have walked the path and will understand the level you are at as well as your desire to grow.

Attending a master class for professional and taking recommendations or a beginner’s class and also making suggestions is also a great way to ensure that you get a good camera at the end of the day. Buying from the stores is the best option as you will take time to navigate through the camera. This time is still not enough to decide if you have not done any prior research. Knowing what field, you are walking into will help you pick the specific camera. Camera preference will differ from one person to another even for professionals, and that is why you will find one with many, yet using them all.

Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera

20.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5+ image processor, Camera can shoot videos at 1080p at (30, 25, 24) fps and 720p at (60, 50) fps as well as HD video in H.264/MPEG-4/MOV format, and High-quality sound recording.

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

Photography is my life and I have taken it as my profession after my graduation.

I cover life and motion through my Canon 5D Mark IV.

But when I am a professional, I almost cover everything from fashion, architectural, editorial topics, and corporate lifestyle.

I have worked with clients such as CNN, Alabama State University, Steelcase, LiveStrong and more.

I'm based in Alabama. If you need my service, just feel free to contact me.