The best camera is always the one you have!
While many people go watch blockbuster films at the movie theater or on streaming platforms, the majority of filmmaking is done on a tight budget. Some of the greatest movie magic occurs when filmmakers get creative and scrappy to pull together a fantastic product with the resources they have.
Whether you’re a small business owner, marketing manager, or inspiring filmmaker, getting started with any camera is the first step to producing your own video content. Regardless of your budget or the type of camera you decide on, it’s what you do with the camera that makes all the difference.
The good news is that almost everyone has a decent smartphone camera in their pocket! But if you’re looking for something more advanced, we broke down the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget, check out these six options:
- Panasonic G85
- Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T4
- Canon EOS M50 II
- Panasonic GH5 or GH5S
- Nikon D500
- Sony A7III
1) Panasonic G85: Great Value for the Price
Coming in under $1,000, the Panasonic G85 is one of the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget. This mirrorless camera has a tilt and swivel touchscreen with a weather-sealed body and lens.
With the ability to shoot great 4K video quality and HD at up to 60p slow motion, this camera has very good image stabilization, which makes it ideal for handheld shooting.
- Not as good in low-light, but better than older models
- Decent but not fantastic battery life
- Slower autofocus in 4K
Customer Review: “This camera was just what I needed. I use it for shooting smooth 4K videos that I upload to Youtube. I feel this camera is the best bang for the buck under the $800 dollar mark.”
2) Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T4: Ideal for Beginners and Pros
The Fujifilm X-T3 has impressive features that both beginners and professionals can handle. Some of the best pro features on this camera include:
- Great low-light performance
- 4K slow-motion footage
- Ultra-fast autofocus
The price runs at just over $1,000 for the camera body only, with no lenses included. Many filmmakers find the quality of this camera worth the price, plus it’s great for standard photography as the picture quality is top-notch.
- No in-body image stabilization
- Mediocre battery life
Customer Review: “The XT-3 does not disappoint! I upgraded to this camera primarily for the improved focus system, video capabilities, and weatherproofing. I could not be happier with the performance of the camera.”
3) Canon EOS M50 II: Great for Students
Since the Canon EOS M50 II and other Canon M-series cameras are so compact, they’re great solutions for students, vloggers, and journalists. This Canon camera has excellent colors and fantastic dual-pixel autofocus (when in HD). It’s easy to use, making it a great starter camera. Users love the wireless transfer option that automatically uploads your content to your computer.
- Minimal photo capabilities
- Difficult to do advanced video edits and color grading
- No in-body image stabilization (IBIS)
- 4K is cropped
Customer Review: “Whether using it for photography or video this camera provides great quality even for the novice. There are many features and capabilities for a camera at this price point which makes it a great value but not quite as easy for the entry-level photographer. Definitely would recommend this camera!”
4) Panasonic GH5 II or GH5S: High Quality 4K and HD Formats
The Panasonic GH5 II and GH5S pack a huge punch in a compact camera. You can get both of these cameras for under $2,000. While both make great filmmaking cameras, the GH5S was specifically designed as a filmmaking camera, unlike many of the other cameras on this list which were designed with photography as the main focus.
Both can shoot in HD and broadcast-quality 4K, so you’ll definitely get a bang for your buck with these cameras.
- Low light performance isn’t as good as some competitors (GH5 II)
- No in-body stabilization (GH5S)
Customer Review (GH5S): “Excellent tool for filmmakers. I have zero complaints.”
5) Nikon D500: High, Versatile Resolution
With built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and Near Field Communication (NFC), the Nikon D500 stands out as an excellent option for filmmakers on a budget. Coming in at just over $1,000, this model shoots beautifully in 4K, has a sturdy body, and easy-to-navigate features. The Nikon D500 has a high-quality CMOS sensor and stunning resolution, ensuring you get top-quality shots every time.
- 4K video is cropped
- No built-in flash
- Not the best battery life
Customer Review: “LOVE this camera! Takes amazing video, love it more than our Blackmagic Production 4K Camera. Don’t like the crop factor on it but if you can get around that it has beautiful footage.”
6) Sony A7III: Great Low-Light Ability
Mirrorless cameras are highly sought-after, and this option definitely has impressive features. With built-in stabilization, very quick AF, and incredible low-light ability, the Sony A7III is a go-to choice for filmmakers on a budget. The 4K shoots beautifully, and the camera body is small enough to fit on almost any gimbal you can find. While this Sony camera runs closer to $2,000, the pro features make it worth it, especially if you’re ready to up your quality game.
- Smaller screen
- Touchscreen limitations
- Only one slot for SD cards
Customer Review: “I did a lot of research before purchasing a full-frame mirrorless camera. Mainly used for vlogging. It’s amazing with actual photography as well. I have zero complaints.”
Getting the Most Out of Your Video Production
Now that you have a good understanding of the budget cameras on the market, you can make your decision and get shooting! Remember that you can always make incredible films even on a budget. If you’re just getting started as a filmmaker with a camera and lots of great ideas, but you want a little extra help from the pros, our team of video production experts at Stringline Pictures are here to bring your vision to life!
From pre-production and principal photography to post-production and distribution, you can lean on the creative crew at Stringline. Contact us today to tell us more about the project you have in mind!