BEST BUDGET CAMERAS FOR FILMMAKING
Source: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 685271140, Shutterstock
Let’s review some of the best budget, affordable cameras for filmmaking available on the market now. We’ll discuss:
- Canon 80D and 90D DSLRs – best DSLRs for filmmaking
- Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
- Panasonic G7 kit
- Sony a77, Alpha A6400 and FDR-AX700
- Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30
- DJI Osmo Pocket
- Professional cinema cameras
The Canon 80D [Amazon Affiliate Link] is an excellent DSLR that offers a useful articulating screen and fast, precise autofocus in live view mode, making it great for video shooters. The colours look great, too.
The 90D [Amazon Affiliate Link] is the newer model, offering upgrades such as a higher-resolution sensor and a new electronic shutter/faster shutter speed (up to 1/16,000 second). For reference, here is an example video shot on the 90D:
The Canon EOS Rebel T7 [Amazon Link] is another DSLR appropriate for filmmaking. If you purchase it as a kit, you can get a tripod, filters and other useful accessories included with it. It shoots HD 1080p video at 60fps and offers an HDR mode.
Arguably superior image quality to Canon DSLRs – Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
As great as the Canon DSLRs are, through, some filmmakers argue that other brands offer superior image quality in this price range, such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. [Amazon Affiliate Link] This camera shoots 4K 4096 x 2160 up to 60 fps with 13 stops of dynamic range. For reference, decide for yourself by comparing this Blackmagic footage to the Canon footage above:
The Blackmagic Pocket 4K has many great attributes, including:
- Raw recording / great dynamic range (roughly 1 TB per hour of recording)
- Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 220 Mbps
- Great colour science
- Great ISO range
- Large screen
Panasonic G7 kit – great for low-budget filmmaking / best camera for filmmaking on a budget
With the Panasonic LUMIX G7 [Amazon Affiliate Link], you can get superb DSLM image quality without the bulk and weight of traditional DSLRs.
In the G line, filmmakers may also want to consider the GH5 [Amazon Affiliate Link]. This camera is a better choice if you want to look inconspicuous and do “run & gun” type work. And if you’re looking for cheaper options, the older models are still quite good filmmaking cameras, including the GH4.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMCFZ [Amazon Affiliate Link] may be considered for a “superzoom” option; this camera offers a high-res OLED viewfinder, 12 fps burst shooting and beautiful 4K video.
The Sony a7 III [Amazon Affiliate Link] is a camera to consider for filmmaking and videography as it lets you shoot 4K2 (3840x2160 pixels) up to 10 fps and customize a wide range of video-shooting options.
The Sony Alpha A6400 [Amazon Affiliate Link] is also an excellent filmmaking camera that shoots 4K video (24.2-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor). This camera has no record time limit!
The Sony FDR-AX700 camcorder [Amazon Affiliate Link] is another reasonably priced option that shoots 4K and HDR videos. This camera has incredibly fast, hybrid autofocus (AF) technology.
The Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30
The Fujifilm X-T3 [Amazon Affiliate Link] camera is easy to use, provides great image quality (4K recording at 60p) and is small enough that it doesn't draw a lot of attention. If you want a camera that captures great video & photos, the Fuji X-T3 is ideal.
You could also go for the X-T30 [Amazon Affiliate Link], which is essentially a smaller, cheaper version of the X-T3. 4K recording is limited to 30p on the X-T30. The X-T30 is reported (The Verge) to have a better autofocus system than the X-T3, though.
If you need a small and compact camera that can still record amazing image quality (RAW format photos and D-Cinelike videos), check out the DJI Osmo Pocket. [Amazon Affiliate Link] It can shoot 4K/60fps video at 100 mbps.
This camera is a popular choice for vloggers and travellers.
More of an investment – Professional cinema cameras / cine cameras
If you’re able to spend more, consider getting a cine camera / cinema camera, such as the Canon EOS C100 MK II [Amazon Affiliate Link] or the Sony PXW XDCAM Super 35 Camera System [Amazon Link]. Cinema cameras are designed to capture video with a dynamic range that matches or exceeds that of film: ~13 stops or so.
A key advantage most cine cameras have is continuous recording time – they’re generally able to record a lot longer without pausing. DSLRs usually have a 29:59 single recording max length timer.
The Sony PXW-FS5 [Amazon Affiliate Link] is a great “run & gun” cinema camera. It can shoot 4K RAW (records data directly from the sensor) and capture continuous HD video at up to 120 fps.
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If you end up buying any of these above cameras (or any other gear) – you’ll want to have the right insurance coverage in place to protect that valuable gear.
Front Row’s DigiGear insurance policy (Canada) is a good option for insuring your filmmaking gear, including your film camera(s). You can get a quote online, purchase a policy online in 5 mins. If you're in the US, get a quote here.
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