Best Cameras For Filmmaking On A Budget

5 Best Cameras For Filmmaking On A Budget

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Cameras are an expensive business. We all know that. However, with a little bit of research and due diligence, there are pounds to be saved.

We don’t all have thousands to spend on gear so, what are some of the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget?

In this article, we’ve picked out five great budget cameras that will more than hold their own and are indeed used by professionals throughout the industry. All of the below can be purchased for less than £1000 (body only).

It’s important to note that whilst the cameras may nudge over the £1000 mark brand new, there are some exceptional deals to be found on eBay and many other second-hand websites. You can save yourself hundreds of pounds.

→ Panasonic GH5

Panasonic GH5

Camera Specs:

  • 5-axis in-body stabilization
  • Great size
  • 4K up to 60p
  • 10-bit internal
  • 1080 up to 180fps
  • MFT system
ProsCons
✔ Incredible stabilization✘ Not the best when it comes to low-light
✔ Brilliant video specs✘ Auto focus can struggle
✔ Small but durable✘ V-Log costs extra

For starters, my personal favourite. I’ll still be using this in five years. Ten, even. It’s that good. In the interest of time, we’ll just be taking a quick glance at each of these.

So, what makes the GH5 so good?

Firstly, the 5-axis in-body stabilisation system is phenomenal, practically removing the need for a gimbal. Nine times out of ten, I was happy to go handheld with this.

Secondly, it’s incredibly small which makes it light and relatively easy to get around. The size is surprising considering how much of a punch it packs. It can shoot exceptionally beautiful images.

Furthermore, there’s 4K up to 60p, 10 bit 4:2:2 internal recording at 1080 (when in 4k you’ll need an external monitor to get that 10 bit), as well as the ability to shoot 1080 up to 180fps. That’s 7.5x slow motion.

There’s also a dual card slot and so many more little things which have all been incorporated with filmmakers in mind.

Phew. Can you tell I have a soft spot for this one? I’d be lost without it and can highly recommend.

Panasonic GH5 Footage

→ Sony A7S

Sony A7S

Camera Specs:

  • Amazing low-light capability
  • Small and compact
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization
  • Great lense options
  • Mirrorless
ProsCons
✔ Incredible in low-light✘ 12MP resolution can be limiting
✔ Impressive video specs✘ Single card slot
✔ Great auto focus✘ 4K video is only available with external recorder

Moving on, Sony’s A7S. Similarly to the GH5, this has been a real hit with filmmakers.

When you’re searching for those video cameras on a budget, you’ll notice that sometimes, by looking at earlier models (not the latest releases), you can find a real bargain because of a price drop.

The camera may not be the latest flagship model that every other person in the industry seemingly purchased last week, but it will still do absolutely everything you need it to. Often more.

The Sony A7Sii is just that. With the A7iii released and the A7Sii due for an upgrade very soon, it’s become a great, affordable budget camera.

Key selling points that set it apart include phenomenal capabilities in low-light (easily the best on the market at this price point) which is in part thanks to the fact it’s mirrorless. You can really pump the ISO up on this thing without having to worry.

Additionally, it’s super small which makes it lightweight and easy to get around, it shoots in full 4K and has great autofocus. To sum up, it’s a real heavyweight champ at a low cut price.

Sony A7sii Footage

→ Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Budget Cameras

Camera Specs:

  • Stunning 4K footage
  • Ready to colour grade with free Davinci Resolve software
  • Small and compact
  • MFT system
  • Large, sharp screen
ProsCons
✔ Shoots raw video✘ Battery life isn’t great
✔ Comes with DaVinci Resolve✘ No in-body stabilization
✔ Sharo 5” touchscreen✘ No continuous autofocus

The Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is another pleasant surprise when it comes to prices being cut because of an updated model becoming available.

Whilst there is now a 6K option on the market, the fact that the 4K can be picked up for under £1000 is just fantastic. It’s the epitome of a great budget filmmaking camera.

Selling points include the huge, sharp screen on the back so that you can really get a look at what you’re shooting (the 4K images are absolutely stunning).

There’s a vast array of ports and connections, it can shoot raw video and, just like the GH5, it operates on a MFT system which means even with a lens fitted, it truly is a pocket cinema camera.

In addition, it also comes with a full version of DaVinci Resolve which is much appreciated and makes perfect sense. Once you’ve shot that beautiful 4K footage it’s only right that you go ahead and use some of the best colour-grading software out there to edit it.

BMPCC Footage

→ Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3

Camera Specs:

  • Small & compact
  • Mirrorless
  • Great autofocus
  • Looks beautiful
  • 4K up to 60p
ProsCons
✔ Looks and feels amazing✘ No in-body stabilization
✔ Huge 26.1MP sensor, fast autofocus✘ Not great in low-light
✔ Great range of ports✘ Screen isn’t fully articulated

Along with all the other budget filmmaking cameras listed here, it’s hard to believe how cheap you can pick up a Fujifilm X-T3.

For a start, it’s mirrorless and has a large 26.1MP sensor. It carries all those classic watermarks indicating it was built for us filmmakers. There’s 4K up to 60p, dual card slots, a three-axis tilting touchscreen and a lightweight, small body that feels really solid.

The auto focus is particularly exceptional and as a plus, it looks beautiful. It’s a classic and a real competitor against the GH5. The perfect balance of size, price and features.

Fujifilm X-T3 Footage

→ Canon 80D

Cameras for budget filmmaking

Camera Specs:

  • Great lense options
  • Low price – great for budget filmmaking
  • Water resistant
  • Solid all-rounder
ProsCons
✔ Great price point✘ No 4K
✔ EF mount = access to the Canon lens family✘ 29min 59sec continuous recording limit
✔ Continuous auto-focus performs exceptionally✘ Single SD card slot

Last but not least, the Canon 80D offers an especially budget option, coming in well below the other cameras mentioned here.

Although it lacks 4K capabilities that may be an issue to some, it’s a solid all-rounder. It includes a 24MP sensor with dual pixel AF, a 3” screen and compact, tight water-resistant body. It’s a great option that can save you a lot of money.

Moreover, being in the Canon family, you have instant access to a wide variety of amazing lenses! Glass is important when it comes to getting a beautiful image. The hundreds you save on the body may come in handy for that.

Canon 80D Footage

Wrapping up

So, there you have it. A few of the best filmmaking cameras for a surprisingly cheap price tag.

In conclusion, filmmaking doesn’t have to be expensive. When you do your homework, it can be done on a budget. If you liked the look of any of these budget cameras we recommend jumping on YouTube or any of your favourite search engines to dive in deeper and really get to know what they’re about.

Once you’ve selected which budget filmmaking camera you think suits you best, it’s a good idea to then go ahead and get some real-world experience with it, just to double-check it’s right for you.

You could hire the camera out from a rental for a few days or see if you can lend it from a friend or someone you know.

We’ve written another article here, all about the best film and video rental options in the UK.

Film Production, Filmmaking Tips, Video Production

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