Best Video Cameras for Filmmaking

There’s a saying that goes “the best camera is the one you’ve got on you”. This is true in that any camera is better than no camera, and we’ve all got to start somewhere. But in the same way, you wouldn’t put screws in with a hammer, there are certain cameras you wouldn’t use for certain situations and others that would excel in those same situations.

Those who are so ambitious to be the best filmmaker, no doubt your ‘dream come true journey begins with the knowledge for the best camera for cinematography. No matter a beginner or a professional, the quality shot is what your focus should be. And for that, all you need is a camera that stands out and fulfills your needs.

To make things even easier, I have mentioned professional digital cameras on this list for all levels of independent filmmakers.

Let’s dive in!

The best camera for film students

1. Best Action Cam: GoPro Hero9 Black

Breaking down our selections by different camera types, we’re going to start with one of the most reliable, and arguably easiest to use. Action cameras (a.k.a. “action cams”) might make you think of mountain biking vlog content but, in reality, they can be some of the most powerful and capable options on the market. Plus, they’re designed for durability, flexibility, and working in the wildest of situations.

Currently, on the market, you’re not going to find anything better, or more affordable, than the latest offering from GoPro with the GoPro Hero9 Black. Just from a pure filmmaking perspective, this camera is impressive. As an upgrade from the previous Hero8 version, the Hero9 Black has further bumped up its sensor to 23.6MP to offer 5K video recording at up to 30fps.

2. Best Mobile Camera: iPhone 12 Pro

After considering an action cam like the GoPro Hero9, you might want to also take a hard look at the smartphone in your pocket for your filmmaking needs. As we’ve seen with the rise of smartphone camera technology, as well as the rapid adoption of iPhones being used for major motion pictures, these latest mobile camera phones are becoming quite impressive and powerful.

While there are stunning examples of Hollywood filmmakers using phones to shoot their films, it’s highly unlikely any of us will see our iPhone movies on the silver screen. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use this thing for practical purposes on jobs, spec shoots, and smaller film festivals. There are tons of “iPhone specific” film festivals that have cash rewards for the winners and runners-up.

3. Best Point-and-Shoot: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10

Moving up from action cams and smartphones, there are still plenty of other camera options that are cheap and affordable outside of DSLR and mirrorless. For many, the notion of using a point-and-shoot camera for anything other than travel photography might sound a bit silly, but hear us out. Even in 2021, you should never rule out a good point-and-shoot camera. Case in point—the Panasonic Lumix LX10.

With a point-and-shoot like the Lumix LX10, you’re really investing in compactness with the bonus of a better lens than what you’ll likely find on a GoPro. Plus, the LX10 is extremely affordable, and it shoots excellent photos and videos alike. With a 20.1-megapixel sensor, the LX10 can record UHD 4K video at up to 30fps. You’ll also get a built-in Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.4-2.8 lens, which should cover pretty much all the shots you need with its 3x zoom range (offering the equivalent of 24-72mm coverage).

5. Best Budget DSLR: Nikon D5600

When looking at the top-of-the-line camera options on the market, one could easily argue that DSLRs are now a thing of the past, with mirrorless becoming the new standard. However, for those thrifty filmmakers and videographers, DSLRs have now become a much more affordable option as older cameras take on price drops and resales hit the market. One fantastic DSLR camera that’s still relevant is the Nikon D5600—proven to be an in-demand workhorse option for anyone looking to shoot both digital video and photography.

With a 24.2-megapixel CMOS format and Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor, the D5600 has perfected Full HD 1080p video recording at up to 60fps. Yes, it’s not 4K (or 8K), but if you’re shooting video footage simply for online uploads and social media, you’ll be delighted at the small file sizes, short upload times, and playback quality.

6. Best All-Around: Canon EOS RP

Finally, a camera line that will always cause controversy, Canon’s R System of mirrorless cameras has polarized the video community as the manufacturer has finally moved away from the DSLR and embraced a mirrorless future. Yet, while some might have scoffed at the initial Canon EOS R offering, don’t let those poor reviews turn you away from the Canon EOS RP, which corrected many of the issues and has actually proven to be a powerful, yet equally affordable, mirrorless camera option. I mean, our main guy Peter McKinnon makes a compelling case for both cameras. So, if you’re interested at all in this lineup, the RP might be the best place to start.

While it might not push 8K video as the Canon EOS R5 can, the RP does boast full-frame spectacular UHD 4K video recording. The RP is a more lightweight, beginner version of the new flagship R5 and features just about all the same great perks with its LCD touchscreen, advanced autofocus tech, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

To Sum Up

Despite a pandemic slowing down industries across the world, the digital camera game is as robust and fierce as ever. In the past year, we’ve seen major technological breakthroughs, as well as plenty of big updates and completely new cameras added to the fold.

It is very difficult to choose the right film-making camera for yourself that’s why I have covered the top 6 best film-making cameras in the above article. I hope this helped you out.

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