Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget

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The In-Depth Buyer’s Guide 2019

Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget

Over 42 hours Testing & Reviewing 17+ Cameras

Winner: Sony Alpha a6300

9.6 out of 10

The Sony Alpha a6300 is a strong mirrorless camera that gives you professional features and functionality without a pro price tag. High still image and video resolution combined with a compact design make this great for amateur filmmakers.


Test Results and Ratings

– May 2019

How We Decided

4 main factors come down to picking the top cameras for filmmaking on a budget.

​4K
Maximum Video Resolution

​​20+ megapixels
Sensor Resolution

Mirrorless
Camera Type

​$400 – $900
Value

Best Camera for Film-

making on a Budget

Sony Alpha a6300

9.6

out of 10

Pros
Cons
  • Excellent 4K quality

  • Autofocus is super fast

  • Has external mic jack

  • Smaller lens selection

  • Non-touch LCD display

  • Can be hard to learn

Why We Like It: The Sony Alpha a6300 is a top-notch mirrorless camera that can take stellar still images as well crisp 4K video. It comes in a small package but you can still swap out lenses to get the effect you’re looking for in your film. With these features and more, it’s easy to see why this camera topped our list.

Best Mirrorless Camera

for Filmmaking

Fujifilm X-T30

9.6

out of 10

Pros
Cons
  • High quality build

  • Top-notch 4K video

  • Lots of customizability

  • Hard to grip with large lenses

  • No stabilization with sensor

  • Controls can be finnicky

Why We Like It: The Fujifilm X-T30 is a superb mirrorless camera that gives you great 4K video recording functionality. The camera’s body is also sturdy and durable, making it a great choice for filmmakers who like to really get close to the shot. The camera also takes wonderful still images and has plenty of options for customizability.

Best Portable Camera

for Filmmaking

DJI Osmo Pocket

9.4

out of 10

Pros
Cons
  • Built-in gimbal

  • Supports smartphone shooting

  • Super compact design

  • The app can be a little buggy

  • No live streaming

  • Needs accessories

Why We Like It: The DJI Osmo Pocket is the most unique option on our list of cameras for filmmakers on a budget. It focuses on portability and stabilization, and you can fit the camera in your pocket with ease. You can even connect your smartphone to this camera for extra flexibility. This is a great camera for shoots where you need to be more mobile.

Best Camera for

Filming Action Shots

GoPro Hero 7 Black

9.4

out of 10

Pros
Cons
  • Completely waterproof

  • Super durable

  • Improved stabilization

  • Battery life isn’t great

  • Might need lots of accessories

  • Display is small

Why We Like It: GoPro has been a staple in the extreme sports world for a long time now, and the Hero 7 Black has already made its place in this same world. With waterproof housing and 4K recording resolution, this camera is perfect for filmmakers who like getting extreme shots without sacrificing their cameras.

Best DSLR Camera for

Filmmaking

Panasonic G85

9.4

out of 10

Pros
Cons
  • Wonderful 4K quality

  • Fast autofocus

  • High image quality

  • Display struggles in low light

  • Continuous AF limited to 6fps

  • Small battery life

Why We Like It: The Panasonic G85 is a great DSLR camera in the mid-range cost category while providing high-end features and functionality. It performs well even when you’re running it at max settings. This mirrorless camera is good choice for any filmmaker looking for a great deal without needing sacrifice high-end functionality.

Why Mirrorless Cameras Are Better for Video

Standard DSLR cameras are best for pictures, but fall behind mirrorless cameras when it comes to recording video. DSLR cameras use a series of mirrors to reflect light at the sensor, whereas the sensors in mirrorless cameras are constantly and directly exposed to light.

When you don’t have a mirror blocking the sensor, you’re able to shoot video without entirely changing the way the whole camera works. This way, you can use your viewfinder and display to preview your shots in an easier manner overall. In general, mirrorless cameras are much better for video, but that doesn’t mean DSLR cameras can’t give you good video.

Read Next: Best Waterproof Camera

How We Reviewed the Cameras

What’s what when it comes to cameras for filmmaking? Take a look at the major considerations below.

1

Max. Video Resolution – 4K is King

Even when you’re on a budget, you want your films to turn out crisp, clear and in high definition. This is why the maximum video resolution is so important to our system of rating budget cameras for filmmakers.

In today’s world, 4K is king. Now that 4K-capable computers, mobile devices and computers are becoming more commonplace amongst consumers, the demand for 4K video has only increased. Plus, 4K video is simply stunning. As an amateur filmmaker, you should want to capture as much quality as you can.

When considering video resolution, you should also consider how many frames per second your camera can handle. When you have a higher FPS, your videos will have less blur, especially during action shots. With budget cameras, the best you can get is 4K video at 60 frames per second. While there are definitely cameras that can do more, they are often much more expensive.

4K cameras can also shoot in high definition, with many options providing 1080p recording at up to 240 frames per second. These levels of quality are also very good and will give you sharp, clear shots.

2

Sensor Resolution – More Resolution, More Clarity

Many filmmakers also need to take still images during the filmmaking process. This is why it’s important to consider the still image resolution (R) of the camera you purchase.

The megapixel resolution depends on the type of sensor in your camera and can vary widely depending on the camera you purchase. We recommend you purchase a camera with at least a 15-megapixel resolution, but if you purchase a product solely dedicated to recording video, you may get a much lower resolution.

3

Camera Type – Mirrorless is Better for Video

There are three different kinds of cameras to consider when it comes to filmmaking: mirrorless, DSLR and video.

Mirrorless cameras are relatively new to the photography and cinematography world, but they are already making waves. Rather than use mirrors to reflect light onto the camera’s sensor, these types of camera allow the sensor to be exposed directly to light on a constant basis. This results in more speed during use.

DSLR cameras are the standard rigs in the photography world, but they’ve just recently started to break into the video part of the industry. You may need to buy new lenses or additional accessories to get the best video, but these are much more affordable than dedicated cinematography cameras.

Video cameras are dedicated solely to recording video in the highest quality possible. These cameras can usually take still images, but not at high quality. It can be hard to find budget video cameras good for filmmaking, but we feature a few on our list.

4

SD Card Slots – More SD Cards Can Store More Footage

Filming video takes up a lot of storage space on your camera’s memory card, so you’ll want to be sure you have enough space available for any of your shoots. Most of the cameras we reviewed only feature one SD card slot, which is to be expected of budget filmmaking cameras. As such, it’s important that you bring extra cards along with you.

Read More:
Mirrorless Camera Vs Point and Shoot

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Top 10 Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget Compared

Let the cameras shoot the video, but let us give you the data. Take a look at the main features you should consider below. 

#

Camera Name

Video Resolution

Camera Type

Rating

1

4K @ 30 FPS

Mirrorless

2

4K @ 30 FPS

Mirrorless

3

4K @ 60 FPS

Video

4

4K @ 60 FPS

Video

5

4K @ 30 FPS

Mirrorless

6

4K @ 30 FPS

Mirrorless

7

4K @ 60 FPS

Video

8

1080p @ 60 FPS

DSLR

9

1080p @ 60 FPS

DSLR

10

1080p @ 60 FPS

Video

RESIDENT EXPERT CONSULTANT

As with anything else creative, finding the right tools for a creative project can be just as much about finding something “right” as it is about finding something with the right specifications.

Sometimes, a camera might have all the best specifications, but if you don’t love using the camera, it can have tons of unintended consequences (R). When you buy a new camera, give yourself some time to play around with it to see if you actually like it or not. Each camera has its own set of unique features and ways of functioning. You’ll want to make sure that these little things work well with your way of working

Ryan Hansen | Camera Expert

Frequently Asked Questions

Take a look at the questions people are asking about cameras for filmmaking on a budget so you can stay in the loop.

answers

What kind of lenses can I use with my camera?

Is image stabilization really that important for filmmaking?

What accessories should I buy with my camera?

How much video footage can SD cards hold?

Resolution Tests

What camera will give you the highest resolution for your films? We compare the top 5 options that will make your movie standout. 

Rank

Camera Name

Resolution

1

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema

4K @ 60 FPS

2

GoPro Hero 7 Black

4K @ 60 FPS

3

DJI Osmo Pocket

4K @ 60 FPS

4

Sony Alpha a6300

4K @ 30 FPS

5

Fujifilm X-T30

4K @ 30 FPS

Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget Features to Look Out For

​What else do you need to know about cameras for amateur filmmakers? Take a look some features below.

  • Durability
  • Ease of Use
  • extra features
  • cost
  • ports and jacks

Since you’re looking at this list, we assume you’re shopping on a budget! Even if you weren’t on a budget, cost and value are always things you should consider when purchasing a new camera. If you want to buy a good filmmaking camera, consider options that fall around $1,000 or under. Some of the options on our list are more expensive than this, but they also offer premium features.

Consider the fact that you’ll likely also need to purchase additional accessories or lenses in order to get the options you want. This can increase your cost greatly. As such, you may want to look at camera bundles to get those additional options.

Who Contributed to this Review

Tyler Lacoma

Editor

Shawn Sanders

Contributor

Scarlet Barber

Contributor

Ryan Hansen

Editor

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