Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget: Do you have an eye for converting screenplays into films, but cannot find enough money to purchase a suitable camera? Don’t worry, you don’t always have to dish out an obscene amount of money to get a decent camera.
In this article, we’ll help you select the best camera for filmmaking available in the market.
So without further ado, let’s dive right into the ultimate buyer’s guide for ambitious filmmakers.
Top 10 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
Filmmaking is an intricate art that requires a lot of skill and precision. But even the best filmmakers will fall short of their expectations if they do not have the appropriate equipment to support their work. Unfortunately, most filmmaking cameras require you to dish out thousands of dollars to get something decent.
However, you can find the best digital filmmaking cameras for affordable prices as well; it just takes a lot of time and research. But don’t worry, we’ve researched for you this time.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best cinema cameras that are available in the market.
Have a quick look –
Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KAmazon’s Choice
Panasonic LUMIX G95Amazon’s Choice
Canon EOS 90D Digital SLR Camera BundleAmazon’s Choice
Canon XA11 Compact Full HD CamcorderGood Choice
Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital CameraAmazon’s Choice
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirror-Less Digital CameraGood Choice
Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera Body – BlackGood Choice
Canon EOS M50 Mirror-Less Camera KitGood Choice
Panasonic LUMIX GH5S 4K Digital CameraGood Choice
Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirror-Less CameraAmazon’s Choice
- A full-size 4/3 sensor.
- An impressive 4096×2160 resolution.
- A dynamic range with 13 stops and an 18.96mmx10mm sensor.
- A 5-inch 1920×1090 LCD touch screen display.
- Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount.
- Dual SD/CFast cards storage.
- Carbon Fiber Composite Build.
- The technology is also backed with a Black Magic Operating system.
- Comes with 4 built-in top-quality microphones.
If you are looking for an affordable alternative, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K can do the job for you. Not only is it a great steal at $1295.00, but the camera also offers a lot of premium features that a lot of filmmakers would die for.
The camera is the first among Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema series, making it a dream come true for aspiring filmmakers as they now have the required specifications of turning a script into a screenplay. The appearance and design of the Blackmagic camera are similar to a standard DSLR, however, it is a Micro 4/3 4K camera that is meant especially for video-making purposes.
The one area where the camera lacks handsomely is its shorter battery life and rudimentary autofocus features.
The camera is moderately lightweight, weighing around 1.53 pounds and having the dimensions 7.01*3.37*3.78 inches.
- Excellent video and camera quality – good footage quality.
- Affordable price.
- Can support 4K resolution along with 120fps in 2.6K
- Convenient port system.
- Comparatively shorter battery life.
- Poor autofocus.
- 20.0 megapixel four-thirds CMOS sensor.
- Comes with a 9fps shooting, backed with an AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C.
- Supports UHD 4K at 30 and 24p.
- Filmmakers can capture unlimited video up to the maximum storage of the card.
- Comes with an additional socket for both headphones and mic.
- Another additional feature in the V-Log L gamma profile (8-bit only).
- Also comes with an L. Monochrome D.
- Filmmakers can use the 4K photo mode with auto marking and sequence composition.
Looking for something cheaper? Look no further than Panasonic’s formidable addition to their already impressive collection – the LUMIX G95. The camera comes with a 20.3-megapixel mirrorless camera, making it one of the best cameras for filmmaking.
The lens of the camera is excellent as well, playing home to a fantastic 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Micro Four Thirds Lens. The Panasonic cameras also come with sturdy and reliable components, including the 3-inch flip-out touchscreen and a pre-installed V-Log L.
With so many impressive features, the camera is a bargain in the market.
- One of the most affordable options in the market.
- Fantastic features for video-making.
- Reliable software tech and hardware components.
- Has a scarcity of optical low-pass filters.
- The battery life is relatively poor.
- Comes with a 3-inch 1.04m-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD.
- The storage is backed with an excellent SanDisk 65GB Ultra Class 10 SDHC UHS-l Memory Card.
- Very speedy when it comes to allowing filmmakers to take pictures and transfer files quickly.
- Comes with a wireless remote.
- Some additional accessories include a high-speed memory card reader, a strap for enhancing handgrip, and a professional monopod.
- An impressive built-in 32.5MP APS-C CMOS Sensor.
Want to go for a whole bundle of equipment instead of just purchasing a single camera? We have the perfect product for you. The Canon EOS 90D Digital SLR camera is formidable on its own. But aided by all the additional components, it is a filmmaker’s dream.
Coming with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, the Canon EOS 90D camera has several features including an impressive 32.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor. Alongside, the camera also comes with the DIGIC 8 image processor. The impressive camera is also backed with the ability for filmmakers to do UHD 4K30p and Full HD 120p video recording.
The product is one of the most complete ones available in the market for an aspiring filmmaker.
- Comes with a smooth optical viewfinder.
- Also backed by the excellent performance of vari-angle touchscreen.
- Has an uncropped 4K.
- Unfortunately, the camera has a limited buffer capacity.
The Canon XA11 Compact Full HD Camcorder is arguably the best camera for cinema if you are looking to buy one for a moderate price. We all know how reputed Canon is when it comes to manufacturing quality cameras.
The Canon XA11 supports Full HD cam-recording activities and comes with an impressive storage capacity of 64 GB. The product also contains an extra battery and charger for backup purposes along with a UV filter.
Like the previous product, this one is also a bundle, making it a complete choice for the filmmakers.
- Great for capturing still images and quality video.
- Versatile recording options.
- Good value for money.
- The camcorder only allows HD recording and not 4K.
- Comes with a 16MP Four-Thirds MOS sensor that functions without the optical low pass filter.
- Impressively, it contains the 5-axis image stabilization with Dual I.S. 2.
- Supports 4K video and photo capture.
- Another impressive feature is the Depth and Defocus AF and the 2.36M-dot OLED EVF.
We’ve already talked about the Panasonic LUMIX G95 in this article. But if you are looking for an even cheaper alternative, look no further than Panasonic’s very own LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera.
Boasting some impressive features from Panasonic, the LUMIX G85 is one of the most impressive ones in the market in terms of value for money. The camera boasts an impressive 12-60mm Power O.I.S. Lens along with a 16-megapixel mirror-less camera. Apart from that, it also boasts an impressive 3-inch tilt and touches an LCD screen.
For the price that it is available for, the Panasonic LUMIX G85 is nothing short of a bargain.
- Excellent video and photo quality.
- Speedy fast-focus acquisition.
- Great for capturing still images and videos, especially while Raw shooting.
- Less than average battery life.
- Comes without a headphone port.
- Built with the latest 26.1MP X trans CMOS 4 sensor.
- Allows 4K movie recording for ambitious filmmakers.
- The camera, fortunately, comes with additional headphones and mic sockets.
- The camera is also backed with a 425-point hybrid AF system.
- Also comes with an impressive 3.69 million dot OLED color viewfinder.
Want to try something out of the ordinary? One of the more premium options available in the market is the Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless digital camera. Although the camera is comparatively cheaper considering how expensive the industry is, it is still costlier than some of the alternatives mentioned in our article.
The Fujifilm X-T3 camera is distinct in its features as it is distinct in its design. Holding one of these, a filmmaker can feel like a legit director to convert a rigid script into a lifelike film.
The sophisticated design isn’t the only standout aspect of the camera. It supports its cost by providing some of the most excellent specifications that a filmmaker could make good use of.
- The camera has an excellent 26.1-megapixel sensor.
- Filmmakers can record 4K videos at 60fps.
- The camera contains high-speed burst modes.
- The camera is slightly too sensitive to touch.
- Lacks any form of in-body stabilization.
- Has a 26MP BSI CMOS sensor.
- Is supported by excellent in-body image stabilization.
- Supports recording 4K video (DCI or UHD) at up to 60p.
- Another impressive feature is the 3.68M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder.
- Another additional feature is the USB-C type connector and USB PD charging.
Another edition from the Fujifilm series is the X-T4 Mirror-Less cameras that are built especially for professionals in the filmmaking industry. Backed by a host of impressive features, the camera is one of the best alternatives for those who want an immersive filmmaking experience.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a popular option in the market. It has a host of impressive features, offers durability, and is a reliable option for aspiring filmmakers.
- Is backed with a stabilized image sensor.
- Supports 4K at 60fps.
- Additional features like excellent EVF and premium dust- and splash-protected body.
- The battery life is greatly improved for this range of cameras.
- The flip-out screen could be attractive to some people.
- Comes with an impressive 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor (22.3*14.9mm)
- The exclusive DIGIC 8 image processor is an impressive one.
- The ISO range of the camera lies between 10 and 25,600.
- The camera also contains 3-in vari-angle touchscreen with 1040k dots.
- The camera is extremely lightweight, weighing only 390 grams including the battery and memory card.
- The camera comes with a max burst of 10 fps (7.4fps with AF).
Another option where a standalone camera won’t just suffice. The Canon’s EO5 M50 camera kit is a stellar option for aspiring filmmakers who cannot afford anything less than perfection.
The camera comes with a host of brilliant features and specifications. Moreover, the additional accessories that come with the whole kit only add to the stellar performance of the camera.
Canon, being one of the most trusted names in the world of cameras, is an excellent option for filmmakers who are in it for the long haul.
- Comes with a speedy dual pixel CMOS AF.
- The camera has a built-in electronic viewfinder.
- One of the most impressive additions is the exceptional vari-angle touchscreen.
- The camera unfortunately comes with a lot of unexpected 4K limitations.
- The camera has some impressive features like the 3.68M-dot OLED viewfinder and the 1.62M-dot fully articulated LCD.
- The camera is built-in with a Type-C connector.
- Allows recording at DCI or UHD 4K at up to 60p.
- The camera also supports 1080 recording at up to 240p.
- The ISO range supports between 160 and 51,200.
- The camera also comes with a Hybrid Log Gamma mode.
You must be thinking – another LUMIX camera? It’s getting ridiculous? But that’s how good Panasonic is – offering some of the best cameras at affordable rates. Of course, the LUMIX GH5S is not particularly cheap considering all the other options we have provided in the article. However, the camera has some excellent features, a sturdy body, and a reliable performance record to back its cost up.
With so many attractive features, one cannot go wrong with buying the Panasonic LUMIX GH5S 4K Digital Camera.
- Supports excellent high-end 4K videos.
- The camera also supports Dual Native ISO.
- The camera also comes with Twin UHS-II card slots.
- The 10.2MP stills are less than average.
- Does not have any sensor-based stabilization.
- It comes with a 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor.
- Another impressive feature is the 93$ autofocus coverage.
- It supports 10fps continuous shooting.
- An impressive feature is the 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder.
- The camera also comes with a USB 3.1 Type-C slot.
- Supported with in-body image stabilization.
How could we complete our list without a Sony camera? That’s right – last but not least, we have the Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirror-Less Interchangeable-Lens camera that comes with an impressive set of accessories including the 28-70mm lens along with a 3-inch LCD.
While many experts of the industry consider it a “basic” model, the Sony a7 III is more than enough for aspiring filmmakers with an eye for converting scripts into digital masterpieces. It is an excellent and capable full-frame camera that offers good value for money with its resolution, good speed, features, and market price.
Being a premium option on our list, the Sony a7 is one of the best options available in the market. Unfortunately, customers would have to dish out a larger sum of money to purchase one, compared to the rest of the alternatives mentioned in our article.
- It supports continuous capture of up to 10 fps. This further allows videographers to shoot moving and fast objects conveniently.
- Users can enjoy uninterrupted shooting because of its rechargeable battery.
- The camera is equipped with a silent mechanical shutter.
- The camera might not be able to take clear images.
Cinema Cameras – A Buyer’s Guide
Nobody expects you to have expertise in filmmaking cameras. There are so many video-making cameras available in the market, each offering a range of brilliant specifications, that even professionals have a hard time choosing the best one. To help you with that, we have compiled the ultimate buyer’s guide to help you make a better investment decision.
Before purchasing, think of the following:
1. Evaluate your Requirements, Set a Budget
The market has a product for everyone. The same goes for filmmaking cameras. If you are fresh out of school and looking to start a career in cinema, you need not go for the more expensive, high-end, and deep-functioning cameras.
The complexity of the expensive cameras would mean that beginners would not be able to enjoy all their features. Affordable cameras like DSLRs and mirrorless cameras act as a boon for budding filmmakers.
Similarly, don’t be fooled by the product’s mark-up price. Some cameras might appear cheap at first but their maintenance and overhead charges would make them more expensive than their counterparts. Thus, opting for a simple, complete camera is the wiser option.
2. Look for Additional Equipment
Another thing to watch out for is the additional equipment that you would require to operate the camera. You should expect the product to come with an external battery charger. It’d be even better if you purchase a product with remote control, allowing you to access all the playback functions conveniently.
For immersive film-making and dialogue-capturing, you will need an accessory shoe to attach external objects like a microphone or video lamp to the camera. Take a mental note of all the additional equipment that you would need to purchase to avoid overspending in the future.
3. Sufficient Storage
Video-making is expensive in terms of storage space. Even a small duration of video might take up a large amount of digital space if the camera quality is high. To accommodate, always go for cameras that come with sufficient storage options for a seamless recording experience.
4. Image/Video Quality
Even if you are going for the cheapest video camera, you must ensure that its recording quality is at least higher than the average smartphone. Otherwise, there is no point in dishing extra cash to get a camera exclusively for filmmaking.
5. Ergonomics & Size
Since you are into filmmaking, you would be expected to operate the camera yourself. Because of this, buyers need to consider some crucial factors such as the camera’s grip, its size, its weight, and so on. Go for a camera that feels like an extension of your arm rather than a heavy lump in your hands.
6. The Age of the Product
Hundreds of cameras are introduced to the market every day. With the industry moving so fast, getting anything other than the latest addition in the market would be futile. It is always advisable that customers go for the latest video-making cameras to keep pace with the rapidly advancing technology.
FAQs on Filmmaking Cameras
Cameras meant for filmmaking and cinema are generally more expensive than normal ones. You can expect to find most in the range of $5000 to $1000.
Many companies make excellent cameras for cinema and filmmakers including Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic.
For a filmmaker, using a 16-35mm lens is excellent for recording videos. Having a lens in this range would allow users to be creative and diverse with their shots, whether they want to inspire storytelling with their videos or record aesthetic shots.
Filmmakers like to experiment with lens distortion to try out different shots and camera angles. However, people still widely consider the 50mm lens to be the best option for capturing videos in their most natural way.
In this article, we’ve provided a comprehensive list of some of the best and most affordable filmmaking cameras available in the market.
Alongside, we have also provided a fool-proof buying guide for customers to enhance their investment decisions.
Finding the best camera for filmmaking will depend on the filmmaker and what kind of requirements and vision they have. Keeping this in mind, we have made sure to provide a diverse list that can cater to a wide range of requirements.