The ACTUAL Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget [2023]

with No Comments

This site is part of various affiliate programs. Links may give us a small compensation for any purchases you make, at no additional cost to you. Please read the disclaimer policy for full details.

If you don’t have time to read the article and want to know what is the best camera for filmmaking, then it is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, while the best camera for filmmaking on a budget is the Panasonic Lumix G100.

When looking for the best budget cameras for filmmaking, you will to come across a large range of expensive to cheap cameras for filming, but it can be difficult to know just from the specs which of these are good cameras for filming and which should be ignored.

In this article, I will cover the key features you should look out for when browsing the best cameras for video, and will give detailed reviews of the top ten video cameras.

Of course, your requirements will vary depending on what you are searching for, whether it’s the best camera for filmmaking on a budget, the cheapest 4K camera for filmmaking, or the best camera for beginner filmmakers.

The twelve cameras that I would consider to be the best filmmaking cameras are shown below. Scroll down for the full reviews, and don’t forget to look through the guide to the key features of the best video camera, so that you can see why each camera occupies its position in the list.

The Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget

Best Camera for Filmmaking

The Best Filmmaking Camera

  • 6K / 50 fps Video Recording
  • 12-bit RAW Video at 4:4:4 Color Subsampling
  • 5-inch Full HD Touchscreen
  • Canon EF Lens Mount
  • Includes Pro-Level DaVinci Resolve Editing Software
With the ultimate in video quality, the Blackmagic Pocket 6K ranks as the best camera for filming currently on the market. It is priced significantly lower than many of its less capable competitors, although you will need to budget for a film rig to make the most of this camera.
You can make Hollywood level movies with this camera, if you are willing to learn the full complexities of the camera, and is a perfect A cam, and the best camera for filmmaking, for any professional videographer who makes money from their recordings. If you are more of a hobbyist user, then check out the camera below.

Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget 2023

The Best Filmmaking Camera for Beginners

  • 4K / 30 fps Video Recording
  • 8-bit Log file 4:2:2 Video (via HDMI), or 4:2:0 Internal
  • 20.3 MegaPixel Sensor Shooting Stills at 10 fps
  • Excellent Video Performance for the Price
  • Very Small & Lightweight
  • The best cheap camera for videography
As the best camera for filmmaking on a budget, the Lumix G100 is ideally suited to beginners to videography and to hobbyists. It records 4K video at up to 30 frames per second (fps), all in a very small, 0.76 lb package.
To match the strong video recording capabilities, this camera can shoot stills at 10 fps on a 20.3 MegaPixel sensor, with good color definition and presence. The G100 is incredibly easy to use, and is among the cheapest 4K cameras for filmmaking, and is in my opinion the best 4K camera under $1000 for beginners. Read the full review below.

Key Features of the Best Cameras for Filming and Why They Matter

It’s important to understand what are the key features of the best video camera for filmmaking, and why they matter, so that you can be sure that you are buying a camera that will meet all of your needs. You don’t necessarily want to buy the best camera available, if it is not suitable for the kinds of filming that you want to do.

For example, the best video camera under $1000, the Lumix G100, is much more suited to hobbyist uses, like family or travel filming for your personal use, while the ultimate best camera for filming, the Blackmagic Pocket 6K, is a pro-level device with absolutely fantastic image quality, but comes with significantly more complex operations, and really requires a film rig to get the best out of.

If you are serious about videography, you may also want to budget for extras like external lighting kits for filmmaking. Although every camera reviewed here works perfectly well on its own, they would all benefit from adding something like lights for filmmaking, or microphones for filmmaking.

Adding an external microphone can dramatically increase sound quality, and the ability to pick up more clearly defined sound, ignoring background noise. LED lights can provide more even lighting and stop the camera from moving into grainy, high-ISO recording territory.

So, what are the key features that you should look out for?

  • Good video performance / Large Sensor Size – Obviously you want a camera that has very good image quality, but this can be broken down into sensor size, bit depth, bitrate, color sampling, and more.
  • Are quality, reasonably priced lenses available? – You will want a variety of lenses to give you the freedom to make better videos. Don’t forget to think about second-hand lenses.
  • Ease of use – Beginner video cameras tend to be easier to use, but offer less customization options. Still, all cameras should have well-designed menus and obvious button locations.
  • Good low light performance – If you don’t use external lights, you need a camera that can film in low light without the image getting too grainy, or losing too much quality.
  • Long battery life – You don’t want the batteries to fail in the middle of a shoot.
  • Internal stabilization – Many cameras have internal stabilization, in addition to stabilization in the lenses. If you are hand-holding the video camera, this can be a game changer.
  • Log picture profiles / RAW shooting – To get the maximum from your video files, you will either want the ability to shoot flat, log files, or RAW video. This is crucial for maximum video quality.
  • Extra features – You should also think about autofocus performance, max frame rate at various resolutions, and more.
  • Value for Money – Does the camera meet your needs, at a price you can afford?

Video Performance

When researching the best camera for cinematography, you will find that video performance is not a simple metric that can defined in one number, but is broken down into many smaller parts, the relevance of each depending on the styles of video that you intend to shoot.

Resolution – This is the most obvious video characteristic, and the one that people think they should care the most about. All of the cameras featured here record in at least 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution, with some going up to 6K (6144 x 3456). This does matter to video quality, but is not the only thing you should care about.

The larger the resolution, the larger the video size, meaning you need more storage and greater processing power on your computer for editing, and of course you need to watch the video on a high resolution screen to get the benefits.

For example, most YouTube watch time is from mobile devices, so if you are looking for the best camera for recording YouTube videos, then the best 4K video camera is likely to be a better bet than a 6K camera, for file size reasons, at least with the current resolution of most mobile devices.

Bitrate – This refers to the amount of compression applied to a video file once it is saved to your memory card. A higher bitrate means a lower compression, and therefore a higher file size and (usually) a higher quality video. Bitrate can often be limited by the memory card that you use in the camera, so you should ensure that you always have a fast card. Recommended bitrates for 4K video recording are in the range of 35 – 70 Mbps, depending on frame rate (higher frame rates require a higher bitrate), so make sure your memory card can support this kind of write speed.

Bit Depth – All cameras for filming will record video at a certain bit depth. This refers to the amount of color information saved to the file, with a higher bit depth meaning much more subtle gradations of color are recorded. Low bit depth can lead to color banding and hard-edged color transitions particularly in areas of light falloff where the scene changes from light to dark, and is a hallmark of cheaper cameras. Even going from 8-bit to 10-bit color recording will give your camera 64 times as much color information to work with. 8-bit cameras will record 256 levels each of red, green and blue per pixel, while 10-bit records 1024 levels per color. There is much more on Wikipedia if you are interested.

The practical differences between 4:2:2 and 4:2:0

Color (Chroma) Subsampling – Put simply, color sampling refers to how color is recorded from the pixels in your camera’s sensor. 4:2:0 means that for every two rows of two pixels, color is recorded from only the first line (the first two pixels) in the group, and is not recorded from the second line (the bottom two pixels). Therefore, color information is averaged across a group of four pixels. 4:2:2 means that color information gets recorded separately on each line, essentially doubling the color information recorded, and meaning that colors are averaged across only two pixels. 4:4:4 would mean that color is recorded by each individual pixel, but this is rare in the best cheap filmmaking cameras.

Frame Rate – A frame rate of 24 frames per second (fps) has been common in the movie industry for a long time, and means that any videos recorded in this frame rate have a certain cinematic quality. Fast moving objects will not appear to move smoothly when recorded at this frame rate though, so if you intend to shoot action footage, then aim for an fps of 60 or above.

Sensor Size

Although you might think that the best camera for shooting video would have the largest sensor, this is not actually the case.

It’s generally true that larger sensors, such as the full frame sensors on the Canon cameras for filming or the Sony cameras for filmmaking will offer a better quality of video, but this isn’t the whole story.

In basic terms, the larger the sensor, the more light that it can collect. This has a knock on effect for better performance in low light situations.

Larger sensors also tend to fit a greater number of pixels onto their surface, meaning they can resolve details to a higher level.

From the diagram above, you will find that most professional DSLR and mirrorless cameras that also shoot video are full frame, with sensors the same size as a frame of 35mm film. But most cameras built specifically for video, like the Blackmagic Pocket 6K, are crop sensor, otherwise known as APS-C.

The general effect of having a crop sensor is lower image quality with more grainy low light images, but this does depend on the internal architecture of a camera.

The real advantage of having a crop sensor, and this is particularly well utilized on the Blackmagic cameras, is that you can get much shallower depth of field if you attach full frame lenses to the crop sensor camera body.

It’s often a matter of taste whether this matters to you, but in my opinion, being able to get a shallow depth of field without having to use a wide aperture is a particularly fine feature of more professional video cameras.

Pixel Density and ISO Performance

Pixel density does not directly refer to the photo resolution, but to how many individual points of light each sensor can detect. This is otherwise known as pixel pitch (which technically refers to the distance between the centers of two adjoining pixels). As cameras become more advanced, pixels are able to be more tightly packed on the sensor, meaning more can be fit into the same space. This has the effect of increasing the amount of detail that can be resolved (depending on lens) and increases video quality.

This also directly affects ISO performance, how grainy a photo appears when taken in dark conditions, but in the opposite direction. As pixels become smaller (that is, they have a smaller pixel pitch) the amount of light each pixel can collect also becomes less, meaning noise becomes a greater proportion of the data collected by each pixel, and meaning that dynamic range is reduced.

Therefore, pixel size and density is a trade-off between smaller pixels (smaller pixel pitch) giving greater detail and larger pixels (larger pixel pitch) giving greater low light performance / dynamic range.

Related Article: Best Lens for Night Photography

Are Quality, Cheap Lenses Available?

The availability of quality lenses is obviously crucial to the quality of videos that you can make with your camera.

The best lens for filmmaking will depend on your style of videography and the kinds of movies that you intend to make. Some manufacturers are more limited in their lens offerings than others, so it can make sense to buy a camera like the best DSLR for filmmaking, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, as this gives you full access to the Canon ecosystem. If you were to buy a Fuji camera for video, although technically able to produce higher quality videos, you would be more limited in the lenses you could use.

You should bear in mind that it is possible to buy lens converters, allowing you to use other manufacturer’s lenses on your camera (usually with some limitations like lack of autofocus). This is particularly useful if you already have a collection of lenses from an old camera.

Some manufacturers, like Blackmagic, offer their cameras with Canon lens mounts, meaning that you can use Canon lenses for filmmaking with them natively. This is a massive advantage of the Blackmagic cameras, as there are many quality used Canon lenses available on sites like eBay, at a relatively low price.

Finally, you don’t have to limit yourself to standard photography lenses, but can also use cine lenses to create your videos. These are lenses specially engineered for videography use, with silent aperture rings, the use of t-stops to denote actual light transmission rather than f-stops, and the ability to engage with professional focus pulling mechanisms. These lenses can also be used for photography, and can often be found used at a low price (although many come without autofocus).

Is the Camera Easy to Use?

If you are looking for the best starter video camera, then a more basic model with more limited menus, buttons and dials might be more suitable for you. This is also true of the best cameras for YouTube videos – you don’t want to waste time with a complicated setup if you are only using the camera for a relatively simple use like this.

The advantage of a more complex camera is the extra ability to customize and use it in a wide variety of situations. How easy the camera should be to use will depend on your individual level of confidence in video production.

Screen Resolution and Articulation

You want a high enough resolution screen on the back of the camera to be able to easily review your videos in the field – sometimes you don’t realize the focus was out until you get it back on your computer otherwise.

It also helps to have a fully articulated screen, meaning that you can pull it out and tilt up and down and side to side. This gives you much greater filming flexibility and lets you easily change angles to get more interesting shots. The bare minimum articulation is a screen that can pull out and flip to face forward, so that you are able to film yourself while still being able to check the framing, etc. The best affordable video camera, the Lumix G100 has this ability.

Battery Life

Unless you are looking for the best camera for short films, then battery life is likely to be an important consideration. You don’t want to run out of battery in the middle of a recording, so check the specs below to see which camera has the best battery life.

Related to this, recording high res videos generates a lot of heat from the sensor and screen in the camera. This means that many cameras will begin to exhibit heat-induced artifacts to the video, like lines or dots, after 30 – 60 mins of shooting. Some cameras are designed with advanced internal heat sinks, like the Sony a7S III, making longer, more stable recordings possible.

Internal Stabilization

Stabilization is a key feature that you should look out for in even the cheapest 4K camera. Many lenses have a stabilization system (called OSS for Sony, IS for Canon, or VR for Nikon) inbuilt, and these can be fantastic, but many of the best lenses do not have this built in.

Camera manufacturers have got round this by building stabilization systems into the camera body, often moving the sensor in 5-axes to minimize camera shake coming from your hands. Even an affordable video camera, like the Lumix G100, has 5-axis stabilization. This can be a real game changer in the quest for smooth, handheld video recording if used correctly, and should definitely be high on your list of requirements if you are a wedding videographer or intend to shoot other events where you can’t go for another take.

Log Picture Profiles

Recording in log modes will make the raw video look flat and gray. On the camera screen this will look terrible, but it is of massive benefit for later color grading. Essentially, log files compress the dynamic range of the video to prevent highlights and blacks from losing detail. Their true bright and dark values can then be restored in the later grading process on your computer.

The ability to shoot with log picture profiles is a hallmark of professional cameras, and as such, you get this in all of the best cameras for videography. This is named differently depending on manufacturer, so that the best Canon camera for filmmaking, the Canon EOS R5, will show C-log, referring to Canon Log 1 as it’s log file format, while Sony cameras will show S-log, etc.

RAW Shooting

Closely related to log picture profiles is RAW video shooting. This is essentially a different fix to the same problem – that of capturing as much dynamic range as possible to provide a firm base for later color grading. Many cameras shoot both RAW video and Log files. The most budget models tend not to have the latter, but shooting RAW video is a hallmark of the best good, cheap cameras for filming.

Whether you use RAW or Log files depends more on personal preference, with Log files being the more traditional method of recording pro-level video.

Extra Features

What is the Autofocus like?

Effective AF should smoothly track subjects as they move through the frame, and should not ‘hunt’ back and forth. This is usually determined by the number of AF points and where they are positioned in the frame. Lenses also play a part in this, as most lenses contain the AF motor, with some being more accurate, faster and quieter than others.

Although Autofocus (AF) is less of a concern for professional video cameras, where it is expected that you will largely be controlling focus by hand, AF during video recording is a very useful feature for hobbyist and home uses, as well as weddings and music videos. Several of the best budget cameras for video, like the Sony Alpha a6400, have eye detect AF (which also works for still photography), which means that the AF system stays locked on the eye of your subject. You can even choose either the left eye, right eye, or both!

If you are going to be shooting in a low light environment, but still want access to strong AF performance, then consider the light levels that AF will work at. For example the best music video camera is the Sony a7S III, as it has usable AF down to EV -6, which is only just enough light to see with the human eye.

Does it have a High Frame Rate without losing resolution?

Many of the best cheap video cameras offer a high frame rate, but at the expense of a reduced resolution. As the frame rate gets higher, the frame gets cropped smaller and smaller. This is really only a concern if you intend to shoot fast moving subjects, like sports or vehicles, or you want to create slow-motion footage. In this case, look for the highest frame rate you can get while the camera still shoots at 4K. As an example, the Sony a7S III shoots at an incredible 120 frames per second (fps) at 4K, while the Fujifilm X-T4 shoots full HD / 1080p video at 240 fps.

Does it have a Touchscreen?

A touchscreen can be a useful feature to allow you to select focal points by hand, or to change exposure / aperture by moving sliders. Touchscreen controls tend to be more intuitive than physical buttons, so are worth looking out for if you are a beginner.

What kind of Memory Cards does it use?

As well as making sure that you buy a memory card capable of writing at the required bitrate for the video resolution you are recording at, you also need to make sure you buy a large enough memory card to record video at a reasonable length. As an example, when you get to a 4K resolution at 60 fps, you will be shooting at a bitrate of about 100 Mbps, which will take about 750 MB of memory card space for every minute of footage.

Related Article: Compare the Best Sandisk Memory Cards

Read More: How many pictures can you fit in 32/64/128/256GB?

Value for Money

What makes the best value video camera to you will depend on how you rank all of the above criteria. In my reviews below, I have not necessarily listed the outright best cameras in the top spots, but have reserved these for affordable cameras for filming, balancing performance against price. There are a significant number of affordable 4K cameras in this list if you are on a more restricted budget, and some good choices for best entry level video camera, along with some very expensive, but also spectacular models.

Reviews of the Best Cameras for Filmmaking

Have a look at the full reviews for the best cameras for filmmaking below. These are all good filming cameras, and several of them are pretty cheap movie cameras too. The best cheap camera for filmmaking in this list is the Panasonic Lumix G100, while the outright best camera is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K .

12. Sigma fp

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K/ 30 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 12-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? RAW via HDMI
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 24.6 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 18 fps
  • Screen: 3.15-inch Fixed Touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 51,200
  • Lens Mount: L (Leica & Panasonic)
  • Weight: 0.93 lbs (422 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Best camera for Vlogging
  • Very small & light full frame camera
  • Multiple attachment points for rig, etc
  • Doesn’t draw USB power while streaming
  • Poorly designed AF

As you would expect from the best camera for vlogging, the Sigma fp is both very small and light, which is even more impressive when you consider that it is full frame. The design is prety unique, as you would expect from a company like Sigma which often tries to shift expectations in the camera market.

As a stills camera, it is outperformed by similar cameras in its price range from Sony, due to a relatively slow AF that can ‘hunt’ for focus. But as a movie making camera, the Sigma fp really shines. With its small size and many places to attach accessories, this camera can easily become the central part of a full rig. The bonus is an ability to record compressed RAW video over HDMI at 12-bits 4K/30 fps, although this cannot be recorded directly to the memory card.

There is also a range of Sigma cine lenses that are compatible with the L mount, offering superior video image quality, but perhaps the most useful feature of the Sigma fp is the support for UVC (USB Video Class), meaning that the camera can be directly connected to a PC via USB-C, where it then acts as a webcam – perfect for streaming both video and audio in full frame quality. The large magnesium heat sink means that videos will not show distortion over time, but note that as with most cameras similar to this, you cannot change exposure settings once streaming. Also, the camera does not draw power through the USB whilst streaming, so needs an external adapter for long streams.

11. Canon 5D Mark IV

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K/ 30 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / DSLR
  • Bit Depth: 8-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? Canon (C-) Log
  • Image Stabilization? No
  • Photo Resolution: 30.4 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 7 fps
  • Screen: 3.2-inch Fixed Touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 50 – 102,400
  • Lens Mount: EF (Canon Full Frame)
  • Weight: 1.96lbs (890g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Best camera for video and photography
  • Very strong AF
  • Highly customizable
  • Video capabilities lag against dedicated video cameras
  • Big and heavy

Although the Canon 5D Mk IV is considered more of a still photography camera, it is considered the best DSLR for filmmaking, and is well suited to weddings and the like. On paper, it looks like a poor choice, with only 8-bit video recording, no internal stabilization, and it is pretty big and heavy, but this ignores the power under the hood of this camera, and the vast range of lenses available for Canon’s EF mount.

You can shoot 4K video at 30 fps, and can even go into 60fps for slow motion footage if you are willing to downgrade the resolution to full HD, but the real advantage of this camera is the ability to quickly switch between strong video recording capabilities and one of the best still photography cameras on the market. With a 30 MegaPixel resolution and 61-point AF (including 41 even better cross-type AF points), you are assured of very high quality photos to accompany your video.

The AF uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, with a movie servo mode for quiet, smooth AF tracking, and it even has face detection. You can select the AF point on the touchscreen, allowing for easy operation during video recording.

Perhaps the most useful video feature, that marks the Canon 5D Mk IV as among the best cameras for indie filmmakers, is the addition of Canon’s C-log picture profile. This has been made available with a firmware update, and allows you to shoot log videos for later color grading. The amount of dynamic range and color detail recorded in this mode is phenomenal, and allows for really pro-level videos if you are willing to spend a little time grading on your computer.

If that isn’t enought, then Magic Lantern are currently preparing a version of their third party firmware for the mk IV, and this is sure to increase it’s capabilities still further.

Related Article: The Best DSLR Camera for Beginners

10. Sony A6400

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K/ 30 fps
  • Sensor: APS-C / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 8-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? Sony S-log
  • Image Stabilization? No
  • Photo Resolution: 24.2 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 11 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 102,400
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Weight: 0.89 lbs (403 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Super fast eye tracking AF
  • In-camera timelapse / slow-mo functionality
  • Budget camera for video
  • No internal stabilization
  • Poor low light performance

The Sony A6400 is one of the smallest cameras on this list, with one of the fastest, most accurate AF systems available. Sony are renowned for the quality of their AF, and this model, despite being a budget camera for video, is no exception. The AF has an eye detection AF system as found on the pro-level A7 series, meaning that you can select individual eyes of your subject to track. Combined with the AF points covering 84% of the frame (only excluding the edges), you will not have a problem achieving consistent focus.

Due to the small APS-C sensor, you will not get particularly clean video once you put the ISO up above 1600, meaning this camera is really only suitable for outdoor videography, or indoor use with a fast (and expensive) lens. For superior low light performance, look at the Sony A7III series.

But despite the small size, the A6400 can shoot video in Sony’s proprietary S-log format (but Canon’s C-log is considered to be a higher quality log format by most), and delivers 8-bit, 4K footage at 30 fps. For an unobtrusive camera that weights under a pound, this is pretty spectacular performance. Combined with the screen that can flip 180-degrees, this is one of the best cameras for vlogging and for making YouTube videos, and is one of the best inexpensive video cameras for home use.

9. Canon M6 Mark II

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 30 fps
  • Sensor: APS-C / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit (via HDMI)
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? No
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 32.5 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 14 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25,600
  • Lens Mount: EF-M (Canon Mirrorless)
  • Weight: 0.90 lbs (408 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Best Canon camera for beginners
  • Easy to use and small & light
  • Latest image sensor and processor
  • Poor battery life
  • Image stabilization crops the video frame

With Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 image processor and an APS-C sensor capable of shooting still photos at 32.5 Megapixels, you would think that this is one of the best 4K Canon cameras, and you would be right. With a similar size and weight to the Sony A6400, but as a more recent model with upgraded features, yet at around the same price point, the M6 ii is my choice of best camera for travel videos.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF matches that seen in larger, more expensive models, and means that you have eye tracking AF in video mode. Although this isn’t as strong as Sony’s offering, it still makes a very strong addition to the camera, and you can still select focal points with the touchscreen.

Canon M6 Mk II 4K test footage

Shooting 4K video at 30 fps is fairly standard at this price point, but the ability to shoot 120 fps with a downgrade in resolution to full HD is a bonus, making slow motion videos a real possibility without losing too much video quality, although you cannot use AF when shooting at this frame rate. Note that if you choose to use image stabilization when shooting video, the edges of the frame are cropped out, as the stabilization is performed entirely through image processing, not through physically moving the sensor.

With the M6 mk I, there were not many lenses available for the new EF-M mount. If you are intending this to be your Canon starter camera, then you will be pleased with the news that Sigma is introducing a range of its lenses to Canon EF-M, meaning that it is now possible to create a fully featured photography and video kit full of quality prime lenses with this camera.

With excellent image quality, responsive AF and minimal rolling shutter issues making this camera even suitable for fast moving subjects, the Canon M6 Mk II is the best Canon camera for beginners, and well suited to those just starting out in videography.

8. Panasonic Lumix G100

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 30 fps
  • Sensor: Four Thirds / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 8-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:0 (internal recording) / 4:2:2 (via HDMI)
  • Log / RAW Video? V-Log L
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 20.3 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 10 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch free-angle touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25,600
  • Lens Mount: MFT
  • Weight: 0.76 lbs (345 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Best camera for filmmaking on a budget
  • Excellent video performance to price ratio
  • Equipped with a Nokia Ozo microphone with audio tracking
  • Smaller sensor than APS-C cameras
  • Less powerful AF

With a super easy to use interface, very reasonable price, and high video quality when shooting 4K at 30 fps, the Lumix G100 is the best camera for filmmaking on a budget and one of the best filmmaking cameras for beginners. Aimed at those vlogging, and looking for the best starter camera for YouTube, the G100 is designed for those new to filmmaking, but has enough traditional camera ergonomics and customizable power under the hood to also appeal to more knowledgeable users.

It’s unusual to find the ability to change lenses in a camera this small. Looking at it, you would think this was a basic point and shoot, but the MFT mount opens up a whole world of quality lenses, and really makes this camera a serious proposition.

The microphones would on first glance appear to be unsubstantial, and so it is surprising that Panasonic claim that it can track audio subjects, even isolating their voices from background noise. Happily, this works very well from both the front and rear mics, plus a further internal mic, which themselves automatically switch to track voices around the camera. It may not have quite the sound quality of a dedicated mic with windshield, but sound quality is the best at this price point, and certainly helps to cement this as the best camera under $1000 for video.

Sample footage from the Lumix G100

Image stabilization is electronic within the camera, but can work in concert with compatible lenses to give excellent results. Bear in mind that in-camera stabilization will crop the frame, which you will also get if you shoot in 4K, due to the proportions of the micro four thirds sensor not quite matching the standard 4K frame.

The rear 3-inch screen is fully articulated and touch enabled, letting you select AF points anywhere on screen, as well as being able to fully review your photos and videos in detail using the 1,840 pixels in the screen.

The only area the G100 can be said to fall down is in low light capabilities, with video looking grainy as the ISO gets into four figures. This is not surprising given the size of the sensor, and is a trade-off from the overall smallness of the camera. You should also remember that this is the cheapest 4K camera for filmmaking that produces quality video. If you’re shooting in daylight, or bright lights indoors, and want something easily portable and suitable for easy day to day use, then the Lumix G100 is the best camera you will find.

7. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark III

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 30 fps
  • Sensor: Four Thirds / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 8-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2 (via HDMI)
  • Log / RAW Video? OM-Log400
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 20.4 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 60 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 200 – 25,600
  • Lens Mount: MFT
  • Weight: 1.28 lbs (580 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Fantastic in-body stabilization
  • Super fast 121-point AF
  • Weather sealed & with dust reduction
  • Expensive
  • Small sensor

The Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark III is a stellar camera for sports and action photography, with an incredible 60 fps max continuous shooting speed with the electronic shutter, but it also delivers very strong video performance. The smaller four thirds sensor lets the camera down in low light situations, as is common in this camera class, but the fantastic 5-axis in-camera stabilization, which moves the sensor to accommodate camera shake and offers up to 7-stops of stabilization, means that you can often keep the ISO below the level at which noise becomes unacceptable. When combined with a compatible Zuiko lens like the excellent M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO Lens, this stabilization can even peak at 7.5-stops.

The ability to shoot flat, log files in 4K at 30 fps in such a small package is a bonus, and the MFT mount gives you access to a wide range of possible lenses. The 2.36 million dots of the electronic viewfinder are almost on a par with an optical system, and is a joy to use for framing in bright conditions. Videos are clear with excellent color reproduction, and would be suitable for pretty much all uses, if you can put up with the relatively large depth of field that the micro four thirds sensor gives.

The weather sealing and supersonic wave filter to clear the sensor of dust mean that the camera is designed for outdoor use, and can handle pretty much any situation you can throw at it. And the 121-point AF tracks subjects exceedingly well, although you will notice some slight rolling shutter effects for fast moving subjects.

So for such a fantastic camera, why is this not higher up the list? First, it is not a budget video camera, and is in fact one of the most expensive cameras reviewed here. Personally I do not feel this is value for money for most videographers. Only if you intend to also shoot a lot of action or sports photography alongside videos would this camera make sense. Second, the EM-1 is a complex beast, with plenty of buttons and customizations possible. Although this could be considered a plus for some, I feel that the menu and button design is not as strong as Sony’s or Canon’s offerings for ease of use.

6. Sony A7III

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 30 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 8-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:0
  • Log / RAW Video? Hybrid Log-Gamma and S-Log
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 24.2 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 10 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 50 – 204,800
  • Lens Mount: Sony FE
  • Weight: 1.43 lbs (650 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Excellent low light performance
  • Affordable entry point to Sony’s high end cameras
  • Best in class AF
  • Video specs are not as strong as the newest cameras
  • EVF is not as strong as competitors’ models

Aimed at photographers and videographers wanting to make the step up from an entry level camera, the Sony A7III is an affordable way into high end, pro-level cameras. Although the 24 MegaPixel sensor may be a lower absolute resolution than some cheaper cameras, it shoots 4K video without cropping the full frame sensor, which makes a massive positive difference to video quality.

The back-illuminated sensor design and new BIONZ X processor also help the A7III to capture a remarkably high level of detail, particularly in low light situations, which is where this camera really shines. You can get fantastic video even at relatively high ISOs, with the 5-axis in-body camera stabilization meaning ISO doesn’t even get that high, unless you are shooting in near total darkness. The A7III and A7SIII are pretty much equal in this respect, and both deserve the title of best low light video camera.

With best in class autofocus performance, thanks to the 693 phase detection points and 425 contrast detection points covering 93% of the frame, the Sony A7III is an outstanding camera for those still learning how to effectively focus manually while shooting video, so comes highly recommended as the best camera for film students. It features Eye Detect AF, as well as many modes to track subjects as they move about the frame.

The A7III is very similar to the brand new A7SIII. Although the A7III is considered the more budget, entry level model, it exceeds the capabilities of the A7SIII in photography, while the A7SIII is better for video, but comes at a much higher price point.

5. Nikon Z6

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 30 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2 (via HDMI)
  • Log / RAW Video? N-log & ProRes RAW (with additional purchase)
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 24.5 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 12 fps
  • Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 51,200
  • Lens Mount: Nikon Z
  • Weight: 1.49 lbs (675 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Log and RAW video shooting modes
  • Very good AF
  • Fantastic high-ISO performance
  • Poor battery life
  • Requires expensive XQD SD card for fastest performance

The Nikon Z6 is the baby brother of the Z7, but offers much the same video quality, in a cheaper package. Although it only offers a 24.5 MegaPixel sensor versus the Z7’s 45.7 MegaPixels, the lower resolution sensor is actually a bonus for low light video performance, with sharp non-grainy videos possible even at high ISOs, and 4K footage recorded full-width on the sensor.

The in-body camera stabilization is a 5-axis device that provides up to 5 stops of camera shake protection, and only increases the power of the Z6 as a Nikon 4K camera.

With an HDMI connection, you can record 10-bit 4:2:2 footage to an external recorder, and with a firmware update and the purchase of an ATOMOS Ninja V, you can now record RAW video to this external device. On camera, you have the N-log picture profile to record flat files in nearly the same high quality.

The optional filmmakers kit

The 273 AF points are a very strong part of the camera, and cover about 90% of the frame. They include Eye Detect AF and Animal Eye Detect, which allow AF tracking during 4K video recording.

The 3.2 inch screen tilts, but does not flip 180 degrees, so cannot easily be used for recording yourself, although given the size and weight of the camera, it is not suited for this kind of filming in any case. Operation is pretty simple, and should be as easy to use as any Nikon starter camera.

Overall, the Nikon Z6 is a very strong video performer and is suitable for pretty much all types of videographer except streamers, making this the best Nikon camera for video.

4. Canon R5

  • Max Video Resolution: 8K / 30 fps, 4K / 120 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2 (internal recording or via HDMI)
  • Log / RAW Video? RAW & Canon Log 1
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 45 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 20 fps
  • Screen: 3.15-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 50 – 102,400
  • Lens Mount:Canon RF
  • Weight: 1.63 lbs (738 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • 8K video recording at 30fps, and 4K at 120fps
  • Internal 10-bit 4:2:2 RAW video recording
  • Stunning AF and in-body stabilization
  • Pretty big & heavy
  • Pricy

As one of the most powerful video cameras currently on the market, and the best Canon camera for filmmaking, the Canon R5 is stunning to use. It is the only camera reviewed here that can record video in 8K, and can shoot 4K at 120 fps, making it suitable for high-res slow-mo footage. You can even take screen grabs from the 8K video, creating 35 MegaPixel photos with surprisingly high levels of detail and sharpness. Screen grab technology on other cameras is often poor, but on the R5 is better than many other cameras’ native stills quality.

Canon R5 example footage

The brand new DIGIC X image processor paired with a 45 MegaPixel sensor gives Canon’s best stills photos with lifelike quality, albeit in large file sizes – you need to make sure that you have a suitably sized memory card. The burst shooting speed of 20 fps when using the electronic shutter, or 12 fps using the mechanical shutter, means you can almost get a video-level frame rate from still photos. The 8 stops of in-body stabilization work genuinely well, unlike in some cheaper models where the stabilization doesn’t quite deliver what it promises.

Paired with the pro-level Dual Pixel CMOS AF II (which is probably the best currently on the market), offering 1,053 points and covering 100% of the sensor, you will never miss an action shot. AF can be set to Eye Detect, Face Detect, or Head Detect using the buttons or 3.15 inch vari-angle touchscreen. There is even a basic AI that is used to track both animals and people, and maintains a rock solid focus on their eyes with no frame dropouts – you don’t even have to manually select the eyes, the AI will do it all.

The R5 uses the latest version of Canon’s Dual Pixel RAW technology, which was first seen on the 5D Mk IV. This uses the data recorded on both photodiodes on each pixel to enable you to make subtle changes to your photos after you have taken them, all in camera and without Photoshop, such as adding a new light source.

The only downsides to this camera are the price, and the fact that it does overheat when shooting video over 4K / 30 fps. If you shoot 8K / 30 fps, you will only get 20 minutes of footage before the camera must be allowed to cool down. Whether this matters to you depends on your style of shooting – you can use 4K / 30 fps all day and not have any overheating problems, for example. But overall, the Canon R5 is an incredible camera that has pushed the boundaries of what is possible, and is without doubt the best Canon video camera, and one of the best cameras for video.

3. Sony A7S III

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 120 fps
  • Sensor: Full Frame / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit (16-bit via HDMI)
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? S-Log2, S-Log3 & HLG
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 12.1 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 10 fps
  • Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 40 – 409,600
  • Lens Mount: Sony FE
  • Weight: 1.35 lbs (614 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Stunning low light performance
  • AF speed can be micro-adjusted for video
  • Aimed at 4K and FHD videographers
  • Low resolution for stills
  • 4K is max video resolution

The Sony Alpha S series of cameras have always been Sony’s main cameras for video, and the brand new Sony A7S III does not disappoint in this regard. It’s not really designed for stills shooters, and it’s 12 MegaPixel sensor might seem poor in the current market, but this hides truly amazing 4K video recording capabilities. I have no hesitation in putting this among the best 4K video cameras.

Sony A7S III low light, slow motion example footage

4K footage can be shot at up to 120 fps with a cropped sensor, or 60 fps using the full frame. At FHD, you can even shoot at 240 fps for ten times slower than real-life speed. You can record a 10-bit 4:2:2 flat log file internally, with no time limitations when shooting 4K / 60 fps, and no danger of the camera overheating.

The ISO performance in low light is as good as you would expect from Sony, and marks this as one of the best low light video cameras, perhaps just edging it over its cousin, the Sony A7III. With the excellent in-body stabilization, you won’t have a problem shooting video in even the darkest spaces.

The AF tracks subjects intelligently, and works down to EV -6, not far from the limits of human vision, and the AF speed can be adjusted over seven steps to ensure smooth video AF tracking. Unlike some other cameras, AF even works at high frame rates, and still works almost flawlessly.

As the best Sony camera for video, if you are already part of the Sony ecosystem, with plenty of Sony FE mount lenses, then this camera is not going to be beaten as a video device for many years yet. If you are wanting a camera primarily for stills and a little video, then there are better options like the Fuji below, and for dedicated videographers, the Blackmagic 6K is a better choice. But for videographers who also want to shoot a few stills on the side, then the Sony A7S III is the perfect choice.

2. Fuji X-T4

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K / 60 fps
  • Sensor: APS-C / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit
  • Color Subsampling: 4:2:2
  • Log / RAW Video? F-log
  • Image Stabilization? Yes
  • Photo Resolution: 26.1 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 30 (electronic shutter) / 15 (mechanical shutter) fps
  • Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 80 – 51,200
  • Lens Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Weight: 1.34 lbs (607 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • Perfect hybrid camera for stills and video
  • Very impressive 6.5 stop in-body stabilization
  • 4K / 60 fps internal 10-bit video recording
  • No AF tracking mode for video recording
  • No new sensor from the X-T3

The Fujifilm X-T4 may be only an APS-C camera, but it rivals full frame models for both stills and video. It’s incredibly impressive to have internal 10-bit 4K video recording at this price point. Stills don’t lag behind, delivering gorgeous colors as you would expect from Fuji’s innovative sensor and image processor designs, and the images have a depth and presence that some full frame competitor models don’t possess.

You can shoot video using the F-log profile, and have an option to use ‘F-Log Assist’, whereby the video output on the camera’s screen has a gamma correction applied to make it easier to see how the video will look once you get it back on your computer. 4K video at 60 fps is slightly cropped, to 1.18x the size of the sensor, although at 30 fps the full width sensor is used. If you want to shoot slow motion footage, then there is an option to shoot Full HD at 240 fps with a 1.29x crop.

Battery life is markedly improved over the older previous X-T3 model, giving about two hours per charge when shooting 4K, but an optional grip containing two additional batteries is available if you want to take this further.

The in-camera stabilization is superb, really allowing you to shoot hand held video in near-dark spaces without having to worry about pushing up the ISO. The AF works down to EV -6, as in the Sony cameras, but is not quite as fast or as accurate, and there is a distinct lack of AF tracking mode when in video recording – you instead can only set AF to a specified area, or to cover the frame.

Nonetheless, for the price, with the ability to record internal 10-bit 60 fps 4K, and the equally fantastic stills capabilities, the Fuji X-T4 is my best camera for 4K video. There are very few negative points to this camera. If you are a photographer and videographer who shoots both stills and video to a roughly equal amount, and want a camera to easily handle both, then the X-T4 is the ideal camera for you.

1. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k

  • Max Video Resolution: 6K / 50 fps & 4K / 60 fps
  • Sensor: Super 35 (Approx. APS-C) / Mirrorless
  • Bit Depth: 10-bit ProRes (up to 4K) & 12-bit RAW (up to 6K)
  • Color Subsampling: 4:4:4
  • Log / RAW Video? Blackmagic RAW
  • Image Stabilization? No
  • Photo Resolution: 21.2 MegaPixels
  • Max Photo Shooting Speed: 1 fps
  • Screen: 5-inch fixed touchscreen
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25,600
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF (Full Frame)
  • Weight: 1.98 lbs (898 g)
  • Pros / Cons:
  • The best video picture quality on the market
  • Low price for the quality of the camera
  • Many quality lenses available
  • Short battery life
  • No continuous AF

The Blackmagic Pocket 6K is without doubt the best professional video camera, with truly outstanding video quality. It is squarely aimed at those more serious about videography, and in general would not be suitable for hobbyists, due to the complexity and need to buy a full rig of accessories to make the most out of this camera. But make no mistake, this is capable of producing real movies with a video quality that would not be out of place in a cinema.

Blackmagic offer Canon’s full frame EF mount on their cameras, despite having a smaller than full frame, Super 35 sensor (which is cinema standard and about APS-C sized). This means that you can get incredibly shallow depth of field, and only have to use the highest quality, central portion of the image from the lens, avoiding the edges where there is often chromatic aberration and distortion. The Canon EF mount has one of the largest ranges of lenses of any camera mount, meaning that you will never have a problem finding the perfect lens for your videography.

You would expect the best camera for filming to have strong AF, but there is no continuous AF on the Blackmagic. This is less a problem than you would think, as AF would usually not be used when a camera is attached to a rig. There are also a multitude of options to help you hit focus, including three levels of focus peaking, and a false color setting to ensure you always get exposure spot on. If you are experienced enough to use your existing camera in manual mode, you will not find the Blackmagic any harder to use, and in fact will probably find it much easier thanks to the well-designed 5 inch touchscreen.

Example 6K footage with a cheap lens

You are not able to review footage you shoot in-camera, as you expect on a pro-model, and are recommended to record direct to SSDs, due to the very hit bit rate for the 6K footage, although you can record to ultra-fast UHS-II SD cards. This footage, which can contain up to 13 stops of dynamic range, can then be edited on the DaVinci Resolve, pro-level editing software included with the camera, with ISO, white balance, and more, able to be changed in post thanks to the extra meta-data saved to the 12-bit RAW video files.

Unlike with DSLRs, the image processing software is designed to produce clearer, less grainy images at higher ISOs, with ISO 400 and 3200 producing the highest quality video. This gives you a lot of scope to shoot indoors and in darkened rooms.

Despite its limitations, the Blackmagic Pocket 6K is the best camera for filmmaking, if you are wanting to make Hollywood level movies. It’s not suitable for those also wanting to shoot stills, or for more hobbyist uses, but if you make money from your videography, then an investment in a Blackmagic device will pay dividends.

Related Articles:

How to find the best film cameras for beginners

What is the best lens for Night Photography?

What is the best macro lens for Canon?

Compare the Canon 40mm vs 50mm

Which is the best Canon 50mm lens?

What size of memory card should I buy?

Which is the best Sandisk memory card?

What are the best slow motion cameras?

What are the best underwater video cameras?

What’s the best Canon camera for vlogging?

Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

Leave a Reply