My team and I have spent a few weeks on a search for the best camera for filmmaking on a budget and we have finalized Sony Alpha a6500 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.
🏆 Best camera for filmmaking on a budget
- 24MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
- BIONZ X Processor
- Support 4k video recording
- 4K UHD at 30, 25, 24fps
- 5-axis in body image stabilization
- 4D Focus with 425 Phase-Detect Points
Filmmakers and video professionals have a challenge in need of acquiring the best performance cameras that suit their professional needs on a budget, without having to overstretch beyond their capabilities. Moreover, the rapid growth in development in innovations and inventions seeing the domination of DSLR cameras enables the filmmakers to have a wide variety of options to choose from. The DSLR cameras are the embraced camera companions in the film maker’s arsenal of the best cameras on a budget. Therefore, in looking for the best cameras, then individuals should have a selection of the following best performance filmmaking cameras:
Compare Features Before Buy
Our Selected 5 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
Panasonic Lumix GH4
In selecting the best mirrorless filmmaking cameras in the market, then the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is the best selection to meet the needs of a video professional on a budget. It is a mirrorless camera guaranteeing high speeds with autofocus features both in taking a photo and video imaging.
Moreover, it also guarantees a professional photo performance experience alongside an exceptional suppression. The Lumix GH4 also boasts the fitted 16.05 megapixels with 4K 24p cinematic video among its primary features. The high speeds are of 49 area in autofocusing. Therefore, it is without a doubt that it is ideal for ideal hybrid photography.
Of the notable features of the Lumix GH4 is the 4K video recording that boasts concurrent high resolution 8.8 megapixels image capture. The still frames can also be recorded in the course of recording or video capture therein promising of future hybrid photography for filmmakers. More3over, the megapixels see to the achievement of high quality and sensitivity images from the quick response even to objects in motion. The video recording feature also allows a 29 minute and 59 second record time depending on the format of recording.
Finally, the shutter feature champions in professionally graded durability, delivering about 200,000 release times. GH4 also sees to the compatibility with memory cards therein increasing the storage of the camera for professional needs. The always evolving DMC of the GH4 delivers professional, high-quality videos alongside the magnesium alloy body that is tough enough to withstand both indoor and outdoor use, with dustproof features sealing most of the joints, dials, and buttons. Therefore, the GH4 is one among the best cameras in filmmaking that a video professional can have on a budget.
- The GH4 has extraordinarily fast autofocus suiting all the video professional’s needs on a budget
- The battery life duration is above average therein assuring of a lengthened usage time
- While working in the dark, the camera guarantees a good flash range, necessary in videography
- The built-in Wi-Fi is without a doubt a step up in transferring files from the camera
- The quality of the video in the aftermath is of quality with excellent video detail, colors and dynamic range
- It has a lower shutter lag as compared to its predecessors
- Incompatibility, its body size is not as expected to be comparable to the smaller DSLR’s
- Seen is a slower and sluggish nature when dealing with RAW files
- It has a single memory card slot therein limited storage as compared to its competitors
Sony Alpha a6500
With the DSLR mirrorless cameras dominating the contemporary filmmaking industry, the Sony Alpha mirrorless camera has been among the top providers of quality images and videos. The 24.2-megapixel sensor with a wide variety of 425 phase detections of points to autofocus competitively meet the needs of filmmakers and video professionals. Given that Sony is one of the renowned suppliers of the best digital devices, it is evident that the Sony alpha camera makes its way among the top Sony devices. It has a 4D focus that contains the best fast autofocus points that can have subjects in as low as 0.05 seconds focused on. Besides the unmatched autofocus, it has high-speed continuous shooting mode. One can easily navigate through the speeds they intend to capture the subject under focus, with an auto exposure feature that adapts to the constant shooting option for the best performance in quality shots.
Among the features that make the camera ideal for consideration for individuals on budgets include the high contrast resolution equipped in the camera. The high-resolution XGA OLED provides visibility termed as corner-to-corner, in its Tru-finder with about 2.4 million dots. The feature is accompanied with the feature allowing the display of smooth actions, having the Tru-Finder subject tracking easier. The last 4K movie recording feature in recording, as well as the secure connectivity to smartphones or other media devices from Wi-Fi, enables easy control in the transfers without the need of computers. It also boasts the plane phase detection with A-mount lenses10. It is from the extensive focal coverage that the 425 focal plane comes into play with rapid responses and high optical performances.
- Its image quality is unmatched, being of excellence and high quality
- It is useful in the delivery of multi-shots and related modes
- For a mirrorless camera, it has a good battery life therein assuring of a lengthy performance
- In the relaying and provision of full 4k videos, it is unmatched with videos and pictures of up to 120fps
- Its focus is without a doubt above average thus recommended in the film industry
- It lacks a touchscreen, being one among the many technological advancements in the industry
- In performance, it has a relatively reasonable and weak internal flash alongside a narrow coverage of the subject
- In acquiring the camera, it lacks a battery charger or USB power adapter
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Consequently, the series of the OM-D camera of the mirrorless and lenses that can easily see to interchanging is ideally recommended for the video professionals on a budget. The recommendations are from the affordability of the camera with the design of the camera to adapt to the needs of the filmmakers. Besides affordability, the interchangeable lens camera s enable the filmmakers to have their desired quality of shots with their choice of lenses.
Mark II is one of the cameras that brings the vintage 70’s look with the styling in its physical being with the accompanying brown leather bag. It is, therefore, one of the beautiful cameras in the market with dials and buttons suited for easy navigation without straining. It further boasts a 3-inch touchscreen framing shots in excellent contrasts and smoother images. It is light, weighing about 14 ounces making it easy to carry. Mark II is as 16.1-megapixel camera delivering quality shots and videos over time. It has an improvement of 8.5 fps in the frame rate from 8, and a focus of 81 focal area. Moreover, it has a variety of colors and solid accuracy from the creative effects. The effects enhance the photos and videos with the filters to have the desired editing of the images at a click.
In shooting images and recording on high speeds or harsh conditions, the stabilization 5-axis feature ensures the attainment of perfect shots. The video quality with High Definition resolutions of 1080/60p from the 4K video capture. Similar to the Sony Alpha camera, it has built-in Wi-Fi for easy transferring of files. Therefore, it is recommended to individuals on budgets and seeking came interchangeable lens cameras to consider investing in Mark II.
- Concerning dynamic range, it has one of the best in the camera and film industry
- It contains inbuilt wi-fi that assures of effective transferring of files from the camera to other devices without a laptop
- The dual SD card slots mean that the camera has a broadened memory and storage thus high performance
- For its class, it has a good battery life; therefore, a lengthy performance assured
- It contains a fast startup that having the video professional always up to date whenever needed as well as a fast mode switching capability
- As compared to other cameras in the market, it is pricey and rather expensive
- Even though it has redesigned buttons, they are still overwhelming and confusing
- It has no inbuilt flash with a small fitted body-powered external flash
- In having a high-resolution shot mode, requirements of a tripod are essential
It goes without question that the Fujifilm digital camera is among the most competitive cameras in the market with its range of world-changing features. Meant to see to the needs of individuals on a budget, the Fujifilm camera has a 24-megapixel sensor with stabilization components in taking shots and recordings from its diversified video options. It also has enlarged grips to increase the safety in handling with large buttons for easy navigation.
The significant specifications besides the 24 megapixels sensor and stabilization are the 3.69-dot OLED viewfinder. To reduce the cumbersome process of transferring files from the camera, it has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for linking with other devices in moving the data. It is also able to shoot high definition videos with its enhanced 4K mode that captures approximately 200mbps. To keep up with the modern trends of the new technology, it has a touch sensitivity rear LCD containing tilts of two-axis. To shoot under different conditions and lightings, the anti-flicker option aids in the shots under artificial lights. Fittings of three batteries supplying the power to camera ensure efficiency for long hours with the grips doubling up to reduce the buildup of heat in the same place. The duration for recording the video runs for 29 minutes and 59 seconds with a wide variety of parameters for movie and film shooting. Such parameters as noise reduction and sharpness as well as focus check add up to the reasons for choosing X-HI in meeting all the filmmaking needs. Finally, Fujifilm also exploits the dynamic range mode that enables individuals to capture additional information, alongside the shutter mechanism. The shutter mechanism provides quieter shutters for stealth shots therein highly recommended for individuals on a budget.
- In file formatting, it provides the best RAW and JPEG image qualities
- Built for high performance, it contains excellent autofocus for both video and imaging production
- It is robust weather resistant thus efficient in all seasons
- The image stabilization is perfect for still shots and video shooting therefore useful in the video professional’s needs
- It has a big body therein not fashionable to most of the users
- It has a relatively low battery life limited to the users as compared to the other cameras in the market
- It lacks an exposure compensation dial
Canon EOS 70D
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.
- 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.
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 with other accessories in case you need to expand in the same area.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Camera for Filmmaking (Buying Guide)
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.
It is a fact that you will not need to start buying lenses for your 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 a point 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.
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.
The quality of the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the 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.