The Best Cameras for Filmmaking On A Budget

Filmmaking is both an art and a science.

On the art side, the creative abilities of the cast and crew members are invaluable. As a science, you need the best technology possible to make a great motion picture that enthralls the audience.

The Best Point and Shoot Film Camer...
The Best Point and Shoot Film Cameras

Leveraging the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget

Top Cameras for Filmmaking On A Budget

When it comes to filmmaking cameras, beginner producers and directors may not have Disney and Marvel kind of deep pockets.

As such, it becomes prudent to go for affordable options. Options that will kick-start your career without burning a hole in your pockets.

How much do the best cameras for low budget filmmaking cost?

A decent, yet affordable filmmaking camera costs between $200 and $2000. But the best place to consider is at $1000.

At this point, you are closer to excellence and far away from ultra-cheap, glitch cameras.

What to consider when buying filmmaking cameras on a budget

For someone on a budget, it’s fair to say you are not going to get every feature you dream of. That’s the cold hard truth.

There’s the issue of luck but let’s stick to the facts for now. Don’t you agree?

The first part about buying filmmaking cameras on a budget is to know exactly what you need. After knowing what you need, think about what you are willing to sacrifice.

The core objective, which applies to everyone, is to get crystal clear details. So a bigger megapixel isn’t something you want to compromise.

Do you shoot mostly on tripods or with the camera in your hands? In the case of the latter, you should prioritize in-built image stabilization.

Cameras respond differently in low and extreme light. Think about the places you shoot from before making your final choice.

  • What quality are you after?
  • Is 4k that important or is 1080p good enough?
  • What output do you hope your videos to be in?
  • Is manual focus your cup of tea or would you rather have the autofocus systems?

These (and many more) are the questions you need to answer before investing the few bucks you have in a camera.

Good. Now you know the right questions to answer before buying affordable filmmaking cameras.

Let’s now take a look at some of the most-recommended choices out there. Ready for the ride? Buckle up. 

Top Reviews 

Here are some of the most acclaimed affordable cameras in the filmmaking corners:

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sony a6500 has been one of the most ubiquitous collections among many film directors. It was compact, shot 4k video quality, and was a low-cost entry piece of work.

Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued. In its place comes the new kid on the block- the Sony a6400.

A6400 is just as compact. It shoots 4k videos up to the awesome 30 fps and is also in 1080p at a max of 120p.

Being one of the most recent Sony outputs, it boasts the latest autofocus technology with stunning speed and accuracy.

It gets better.

Sony Alpha a6400 lets you shoot your footage in multiple color grades. That’s courtesy of the existence of Sony’s exhaustive picture profile catalog.

All these wonderful features are enclosed in a weather-sealed body. How cool is that?

Key features

  • Photo Sensor size: Full frame mirrorless camera (35mm)
  • Pixels: 24.2 megapixel
  • Image stabilization: absent
  • Recording mode: HD (1080p) and 4K2 (2160p)
  • Focus type: real-time autofocus
  • Max resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Sensor type: APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Screen size: 3 inches
  • Built-in flash
  • Object tracking
  • Shooting speed: 11 fps
  • Weight: 0.89 pounds

Pros

  • Portable design for multiple hours of use
  • Hybrid and therefore ideal for both photo and videos
  • Can record top-quality 4k videos
  • Excellent megapixel
  • Fast and accurate autofocus 
  • No recording length limit
  • Multiple movie functions

Cons

  • Its battery life is not good
  • Lacks stellar image stabilization as seen in Sony A6500
  • Strained view in bright light

Final word

With the discontinuation of the much loved Sony a6500, A6400 picked up the baton to continue with the exceptional performance.

If 4k resolution is not a priority, but the price is, then the Sony a6000 might interest you.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

If you are looking for a portable camera that can go in places huge varieties can’t, a great try would be Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Despite being a miniaturized cam, it delivers the amazing 4K quality video quality.

This pocket camera is loaded with a Black magic operating system. The system contains mind-bending organic colors and skin tones for producing Hollywood-quality videos.

By the way, it’s not really designed to take photos.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, as the name implies, is a cinema camera. One that features DaVinci Resolve Studio so you can edit or color-grade your shots on the go.

Quite conveniently, this camera puts the menu settings right next to your thumb so you can quickly alter the settings.

On top of that, you can shoot 4K videos in both fast and slow motion.

Key features

  • Photo Sensor size: crop sensor
  • Pixels: 8.8 megapixel
  • Image stabilization: absent
  • Recording mode: HD and DCI 4K
  • Focus type: manual
  • Max resolution: 4096×2160
  • Sensor type: 4/3 HDR image sensor
  • Screen size: 5 inches
  • 4 Built-in microphones
  • HDMI port
  • DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Shooting speed: 24-60 fps
  • Weight: 1.53 pounds

Pros

  • Hollywood-quality films
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Outstanding audio quality
  • Crisp clear picture quality

Cons

  • No in-built image stabilization

Final word

If you are working on short films, commercials, or music videos, you’ll find Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to be a worthwhile companion.

It is also great for those shooting in low light. Its greatest alternative is the Apple iPhone 13 pro.

Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Camera

If you are not willing to spend more than $1000 on a 4k camera, you might want to consider the Panasonic Lumix G85 Mirrorless camera.

Empowered with 16 megapixels and 4K picture quality, you sure as the day can get smashing performance.

The solid magnesium body on the outside ensures the camera will withstand the rigors of everyday filmmaking.

And here’s something cool; the lenses are weather-sealed. For convenience, the screen is touch-enabled, tilts and swivels to your changing needs.

Panasonic Lumix G85 is one of the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget with reliable image stabilization. This means you handhold your device during sessions.

The camera comes with a micro four-thirds sensor, which, to be honest, performs dismally in low light.

There is also no headphone socket and autofocus lags when capturing videos in 4K quality.

But hey, the price is really amazing and with a bit of patience, you’ll still shoot compelling motion pictures.

Key features

  • Photo sensor size: 2x crop factor 
  • Pixels: 16 megapixel
  • Image stabilization: 5-axis dual image stabilization
  • Recording mode: 4K and HD
  • Focus type: post focus mode
  • Max resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Sensor type: micro four-thirds sensor
  • Screen size: 3 inches (tilt screen)
  • Built-in flash
  • Shooting speed: up to 30fps
  • Weight: 1.11 pounds

Pros

  • Great for shooting wide-angle landscapes
  • High-quality 4K quality videos 
  • Splash and dustproof
  • Comes with image stabilization
  • Affordably priced
  • Rotatable LCD screen

Cons

  • Autofocus lags in 4K mode
  • Performs inadequately in low light

Final word

Beginner or expert, Panasonic Lumix G85 will feel like the right tool to have.

It boasts stunning visuals, a durable body, convenient tilt, and multiple reliable features. For the given price, this is close to being a steal.

Panasonic Lumix G85 closely matches Panasonic LUMIX G100 4k Mirrorless Camera and Panasonic LUMIX G9 4K Digital Camera in both price and features.

So if you find it lacking in some way, try the other two.

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

It would be a huge injustice to end this article without mentioning a canon camera. One that catches the attention of many on a shoestring budget is Canon EOS M50 Mark II.

With 24.1 megapixels, a max output of 2160p, and the incredible autofocus, you will scratch far beyond the surface of the object in focus.

Every detail it captures lives true to life in resemblance to the true object.

Canon EOS M50 Mark II shines lustrously when it comes to low-light shooting. The outcome remains clear and detailed thanks to the DIGIC 8 Image processor.

On top of that, the camera comes with professional connections like HDMI, webcam utility, and wireless connectivity. 

Key features

  • Photo Sensor size: Cropped 4K
  • Pixels: 24.1 megapixel
  • Image stabilization: 5-Axis Image Stabilization
  • Recording mode: HD (1080p) and 4K (2160p)
  • Focus type: Manual and autofocus
  • Max resolution: 2160p
  • Sensor type: APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Screen size: 3 inches
  • Built-in flash
  • Object tracking
  • Shooting speed: 24-120 fps
  • Weight: 0.77 pounds

Pros

  • Fast and accurate autofocus 
  • A portable camera for long use
  • Produces clear and detailed shots
  • Multiple professional ports and connections
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • Lackluster autofocus in 4k mode

Final word

Canon EOS M50 Mark II is an updated version of Canon EOS M50.

The difference between the two is that the former is around $50+ more and comes equipped with HDMI for live streaming. That’s the major difference. 

Also, understand that with Canon Cameras, there are countless lenses to work with and that can be a huge advantage/ convenience.

Sony a7 III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera 

There are multiple affordable cameras for filmmaking out there—some you’ve probably not even come across.

So why are we mentioning Sony twice?

Here’s the reason for that; Sony a7 III Full-frame Mirrorless camera delivers the performance of high-end camera models-and not at an arm and a leg’s cost.

The price hinges close to $2000 which means, this beast right here is exactly the definition of a sweet spot (for video and image quality).

If you noticed, the other products we just reviewed above spot some multiple trade-offs.

If stabilization is not missing, it’s going to be an issue of a smaller sensor.

If the sensor is big, the lenses are not going to be interchangeable. In some cases, the LCD doesn’t rotate. That’s not the case with Sony a7 III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera.

This baby comes with an interchangeable lens camera, revolutionary focus mode, and high-precision stabilization.

Its advanced imaging innovation comprises a powerful, 24.2 megapixel so you can capture life’s moments in their very true nature.

Key Specifications

  • Photo Sensor size: Full frame image sensor (35mm)
  • Pixels: 24.2 megapixel
  • Image stabilization: present
  • Recording mode: HD (1080p) and 4K2 (2160p)
  • Focus type: real-time autofocus
  • Max resolution: 2160
  • Sensor type: Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • Screen size: 3 inches
  • AE/AF object tracking
  • Shooting speed: 8-10 fps
  • Weight: 1.44 pounds

Pros

  • Stands out in all kinds of light
  • Smooth and sharp 4k videos 
  • Can shoot silently
  • Supreme stabilization
  • Better battery life
  • Tilting touch LCD screen
  • Highly rated on many online platforms

Cons

  • No built-in flash
  • The menu system is pretty dense
  • UHS-II card slot only

Final word

The Sony a7 III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera is for hardworking video makers and photographers who are a bit out of cash but are not willing to sacrifice quality.

If this feels like you, this choice here should be on the top of your list.

Do not underestimate the power of smartphones

The Best Cameras for Filmmaking On A Budget

You heard that right. Some producers, including acclaimed ones, prefer to use the one device that’s always by their side-mobile phone.

High Flying Bird (2019) was shot entirely on iPhone 8.

Other compelling movies that were shot on smartphones include Snow Steam Iron (2017), Tangerine (2015), Detour (2017), Night Fishing (2011), and many more. 

Smartphones that perform exceptionally well for filming include the new iPhone 12 range, Samsung Galaxy S20, Note 20, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and Sony Xperia 1 and 5 II.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest filming camera?

There are many cheap filming cameras from almost all the brands you know. Some come for as low as $400.

Some worthwhile choices include Nikon D3500, Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, Fujifilm X-T200, Panasonic Lumix ZS 100, and Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV.

Are mirrorless cameras better in low light?

Mirrorless cameras do well in many low-light shooting circumstances thanks to their autofocus mechanism. However, they are fairly expensive, have a short battery lifespan, and lack a wider selection of lenses to work with.

Are DSLR cameras good for filming?

Generally, many DSLR cameras are great for filming as well as photo sessions.

On the plus side, they conserve battery and can accommodate a wide variety of lenses. Therefore, it is always to have one close by even if you prefer mirrorless systems.

What is the cheapest cinematic camera to buy?

There are a couple of great cinematic cameras worth trying out. Some of the most acclaimed selections include Canon EOS C200, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6k, Sony FX6, Red Komodo, and Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K.

Final Thoughts

Right from the planning stage to post-production, video marketing and filming can turn out to be an expensive affair. Right tricks aside, you’ll still need the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget to create stunning visuals.

Don’t be that person who blows a lot of racks on a $5000 cinema camera. A good production is not entirely about expensive gear. It’s also about your storyline and proper editing.

This article has put together a couple of decent affordable camera choices for anyone on a shoestring budget. We hope you find something that fits your budget and quality expectations.

Adios and happy filming!