Ultimate Guide: 10 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget

by Tom Shu
Published: Last Updated on

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best camera for filmmaking on a budget is, then I’d recommend the following!

As a filmmaker and videographer buying a new camera on a budget, it can be easy to get distracted by all the marketing hype out there showing off the latest and greatest in camera technology.

The good news is that because of these innovations across the camera market, there is a huge selection of great budget cameras for every type of filmmaker now. For an inside look into how I used the budget Sony a6500 to create my award winning short film Spirit of Matsu, make sure to take a look at my How to Make a Movie article too!

I understand that the total budget is relative to each person and what their goals are. To take this into account, I set a realistic budget for all the cameras in this review to a maximum of $1,300 for the camera body and its kit lens.

Here are the other criteria each camera meets in this article:

Criteria for Cameras in this Article:

  • Under $1300 with kit lens
  • At least 1080p resolution
  • A minimum slow motion frame rate of 60 frames per second (FPS) in 1080p
  • Usable autofocus system

Why Trust Me?

image of guy and dog in the snow

As with all of the Ultimate Guides I create, I have poured countless hours of research into this article to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision.

I have seen way too many camera articles that either don’t cover everything you need to know or they’re not updated frequently. Camera technology changes quickly, so to have the best information, you need the most updated information. 

In my opinion, to truly understand what makes a good budget cinema camera, you need to have used them day in and day out in a variety of different situations.

I’ve been a professional filmmaker and photographer since 2018 and have been lucky enough to work on projects all over the world with brands such as Alaska Airlines, Kayak.com, Prague Tourism, Visa, Airbnb, and many more. If you’re curious to see the full list of companies we’ve worked with, just head over to our Work With Us page.

I have used the budget-friendly Sony a6500 professionally for many years and even shot my award-winning short film Spirit of Matsu with the camera. 

From these experiences working with what is considered a beginner filmmaking camera, I think I’m in a good position to help you find the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.

Most importantly, I’m just a message away. So, if you have any questions, just leave a comment below, email me at [email protected], or send me a DM on Instagram @tom.shu.

P.S. I answer every question that is sent 🙂

Reviews of the 10 Best Cameras for Budget Filmmaking

image of many cameras on the groud

1. Sony a6400


Normally, I would’ve had the Sony a6500 is this spot on the list, but it recently got discontinued. With that said, the Sony a6400 is just as good of a camera with nearly identical features. Plus, it’s a newer Sony camera so you get some of Sony’s most updated technology. The main difference is that it doesn’t have the 5-axis image stabilization found in the Sony a6500.

Notes From The Field: To give you an idea of what this camera is capable of, the Sony a6500 is the camera I used to film most of my award-winning short film Spirit of Matsu. Although the Sony a6400 is slightly different from the Sony a6500, the video frame rates and the sensor are the same, so you’ll still be able to get a good idea of what the quality of the video looks like.

Like the Sony a5100 from above, the Sony a6400 is small and compact and is packed with video features. With that said, you do get an upgraded weather-sealed body that’s much more durable than the Sony a5100 or Sony a6100.  For its video specs, the Sony a6400 can shoot in 4K up to 30 FPS and in 1080p up to 120 FPS. At its price point, the Sony a6400 is still one of the only APS-C sensor cameras with the ability to shoot in 120 FPS.

Yes, the Sony ZV-1 has the High Frame Rate (HFR) mode which gives you the ability to shoot in extremely high frame rates such as 240 FPS and even 960 FPS, but the sensor size is much smaller.

As with all Sony cameras, one of its biggest advantages is its autofocus speed and accuracy. What’s nice is that since the a6400 is a newer model of Sony cameras, it comes with the latest autofocus technology. The Sony a6400 uses the classic Sony combination of 425 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points and improves on it with the addition of real-time autofocus tracking in video mode. 

Another nice addition to this camera that separates it from the Sony a6100 is the inclusion of Sony’s full catalog of picture profiles. This includes HLG (HDR), S-Log2, and S-Log3 picture profiles which will give you more dynamic range and make it easier for you to color grade your footage in post if you choose to do so.

There are of course downsides to this camera too. It’s a bummer that this camera still uses the notoriously bad Sony NP-FW50 battery so the battery life isn’t the best. Its LCD screen is also hard to see in bright light, and it doesn’t have built-in image stabilization like the now discontinued Sony a6500 or the Panasonic cameras in this article.

With that said, this is still one of the best cameras for filmmaking given its video specific features, autofocus capabilities, and low light performance.

Notes From The Field: If you like what you see with the Sony a6400 and want to save a little extra money, the Sony a6100 could be a good choice. It has a less durable build and no flat picture profile options. However, it uses the same sensor as the Sony a6400 and a more expensive Sony a6600, so picture/video quality will be pretty much the same.


  • Slow motion frame rate of 1080p at up to 120 FPS, which is one of the best in this article.
  • Great ISO range. One of the best low light cameras you can find in this price range with it’s APS-C CMOS sensor.
  • Excellent autofocus with the 425 phase-detection and contrast-detection autofocus points that cover most of the frame. Plus, it’s a newer Sony camera so you get the latest autofocus technology including real-time autofocus tracking.
  • Built-in intervalometer so you’re able to shoot time-lapses without downloading additional apps or using an external intervalometer.
  • Full selection of picture profiles including HLG (HDR), S-Log2, and S-Log3, which will give you a greater dynamic range.
  • No 4k recording limit.
  • Crispy UHD 4K at 24 and 30 FPS.


  • No built-in image stabilization versus the 5-axis image stabilization in the Panasonic cameras.
  • The SD card slot is located on the bottom of the camera so it’s not as convenient to access if you’re using a tripod or gimbal.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting in 4K (~1.05x in 24 FPS and ~1.2x in 30 FPS)
  • Still uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery which isn’t the best.
  • It’s hard to use the LCD screen under a bright sun and it only flips up.

2. Sony a6100

image of camera being thrown up against white background

You can call the Sony a6100 the budget version of the Sony a6400. So, if you like what you see with the Sony a6400, but want to save some money for a lens or other camera accessories you need, this might be a good choice.

Overall, they’re very similar cameras with just a few minor differences. What’s important to understand is that all the Sony Alpha APS-C cameras use the same APS-C sensor so the video quality, image quality, and video frame rates will be the same.

This also means that even though the Sony a6100 is the cheapest model, it still shares the same advanced autofocus system as the Sony a6400 and the flagship Sony a6600. The only difference is that the top-of-the-line Sony a6600 has eye autofocus when shooting video while the Sony a6100 and Sony a6400 do not.

The main downsides in going with the Sony a6100 versus the Sony a6400 are that its body is made out of plastic, it doesn’t have weather protection of any kind, and it doesn’t include picture profiles. Out of these negatives, the lack of picture profiles is probably the biggest shortcoming when it comes to filmmaking.

If you’re on the fence between the Sony a6100 and Sony a6400 here are the main differences between the two cameras when it comes to features and specs.

FeatureSony a6100Sony a6400
Viewfinder Resolution1.4 Million Dots2.4 Million Dots
Body MaterialPlastic and not weather sealedMagnesium Alloy that is sealed against dust and moisture
Picture ProfilesNone availableFull selection including S-Log


  • A cheaper version of the Sony a6400 which uses the same sensor and features the same great AF system.
  • APS-C size sensor camera with a great ISO range. It’s easily one of the best low-light cameras you can find in this price range.
  • Excellent autofocus with the hybrid 425 point AF phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system.
  • The Sony E Mount ecosystem is one of the best and makes upgrading to a more advanced full-frame or APS-C sensor camera easy.
  • Up to 120 FPS shooting speed at 1080p.
  • Has a standard 3.5mm microphone input.
  • No 4k video recording limit.
  • Crispy UHD 4K video.


  • No built-in stabilization versus the built-in 5 axis stabilization in the Panasonic G85.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting in 4K.
  • Still uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery which isn’t the best.
  • No headphone jack.
  • It’s hard to use the LCD screen under a bright sun and it only flips up.
  • No flat picture profiles which will give you less flexibility if you plan to get into filmmaking.
  • Plastic build and no weather sealing of any kind.

3. Panasonic G85

photo of black camera on a black background

Next up is another great inexpensive video camera for filmmaking from Panasonic, the Panasonic G85. It’s very similar to the Panasonic GH4, so if you like what you read about the GH4, then this is another camera to consider.

With that said, there are still some pros and cons of both cameras so let’s get into the details.

The first thing you’ll notice about the G85 is how similar it looks and feels to the GH4. You get the same nice heavy-duty weather sealed body and similar ergonomics that made the GH4 so popular.

The biggest upgrade for the Panasonic G85 is that the autofocus system is much better than the GH4 and it has unreal in-body image stabilization.

It’s not the best autofocus system on this list as the Sony phase-detect autofocus system is clearly better, but at least you can trust it in most situations.

The in-body image stabilization is pretty incredible. I have seen many clips from other filmmakers of handheld footage looking like footage shot on a gimbal.

As I said, it’s not all positives with this camera.

The biggest downside is that there is no variable frame rate with this camera. With the GH4, you can pick different variable frame rates up to 96 FPS. However, with the G85 you can only choose to shoot in 24 FPS, 30 FPS, and 60 FPS. There’s also no headphone jack and the battery life isn’t as good as the Panasonic GH4.

With that said, this is still one of the best cameras for filmmaking especially if you’re looking for a camera with built-in image stabilization.


  • Better autofocus than the Panasonic GH4, but still not even close to the Sony phase-detect autofocus system.
  • Fully weather-sealed which is hard to find in a camera at this price range.
  • Amazing in-body image stabilization. Image stabilization is up to 5-stops if you use a native lens with image stabilization.
  • Full selection of picture profiles which will give you greater dynamic range and give you more flexibility to color grade your footage.
  • The SD card slot is on the side of the camera which makes it a lot easier to change if you have the camera on a gimbal or tripod.
  • Better in low light and at higher ISO levels than the GH4, but still not as good as the low light performance of the Sony a6400.
  • Since it is a Micro Four Thirds, there is a wide variety of lenses available from Panasonic, Olympus, Sigma, Tamron, and many more.


  • The max slow motion frame rate is 60 FPS as this camera doesn’t have a variable frame rate option like the GH4
  • The sensor is Micro Four Thirds, so it is much smaller compared to the Sony a5100, Sony a6400, Fujifilm X-T200, and Nikon D3500.
  • Autofocus and low light performance are still not as good as the Sony a6400.

4. Sony ZV-1

The Sony ZV-1 is Sony’s newest 1″ sensor point-and-shoot camera and it improves on many of the downsides of the previous Sony RX Series cameras and the older Sony APS-C cameras like the Sony a5100 which we just went over.

Here are just some of the big improvements they made. It feels like Sony really listened to the feedback from their community when making this camera and tried to fit in as many upgrades as possible.

  • Side flip-out screen which is a first for a Sony camera.
  • Built-in ND filter which they removed from the RX100 VII that we will go over next.
  • No 4k recording limit vs the 15 minutes on the Fujifilm X-T200 or the 30 mins on the Panasonic G85.
  • A built-in hot shoe so you can connect an external microphone. The Sony RX100 VII does not have a hot-shoe.
  • Improves on the rolling shutter issue of the Sony APS-C cameras.
  • A built-in timelapse mode.

With these improvements, the Sony ZV-1 is one of the most powerful budget-friendly filmmaking cameras from Sony and comes with everything you need to get started filming straight out of the box.

On the technical specs side, the camera is nearly identical to Sony’s newest and much more expensive APS-C sensor camera, the Sony a6600. It has the same menu system, the same powerful video autofocus with real-time eye autofocus tracking, and object tracking capabilities. It also has the newest Sony color science giving your videos a better overall look.

I think one of the best parts of this camera is that it includes the popular High Frame Rate (HFR) mode found in the Sony RX series cameras. This will allow you to record at extremely high slow motion frame rates such as 240 FPS, 480 FPS, and even 960 FPS in 1080p.

The most important thing is that Sony actually priced this camera at under $1,000, which is pretty incredible!

You would think that with all of these new features and improvements, Sony would have priced it at a minimum of around ~$1,000 which is what other Sony RX series cameras have historically been listed at.


  • Same autofocus features as Sony’s best APS-C and full-frame cameras which include real-time video eye autofocus tracking and object tracking.
  • Side flip-out screen and better ergonomics such as a bigger record button and built-in thumb and front grip.
  • Built-in ND filter which will make filming in bright conditions with a wide aperture much easier.
  • No 4K recording limit.
  • A built-in timelapse mode will allow you to easily capture time-lapses for your film.
  • Better internal audio with Sony’s newest 3 capsule mic design. It also includes a dead cat that you can attach via the hot shoe.
  • Sony’s newest color science for a better overall look.
  • Incredible selection of slow motion frame rates including the High Frame Rate (HFR) mode from previous Sony RX Series cameras.
  • Very good price point value especially when compared to older Sony RX Series cameras.


  • It’s still a 1” sensor camera so you will not have the best low light performance.
  • It’s not an interchangeable lens camera so you will have to stick with this lens which has a full-frame equivalence of about 24-70mm.
  • The SD card slot is located on the bottom of the camera so it’s not as convenient to access if you’re using a tripod or gimbal.
  • The battery life is not as good since it is a smaller camera.

5. Fujifilm X-T200

image of fujifilm x-t200 on desk

I actually didn’t know about the Fujifilm X-T200 until one of you suggested I check out this camera and after taking a look, I got to say, this really is an awesome budget filmmaking camera. 

It’s pretty crazy how much Fujifilm was able to squeeze into this little camera especially considering it’s usually at a lower price point than the Panasonic GH4, Panasonic G85, and Sony a6400 which are pretty cheap cameras already. They’re also the X-T200’s biggest competitors. 

First off, let’s talk about the positives of this camera and see how it stacks up with the two Panasonic cameras and the Sony a6400. The most obvious difference between the Panasonic cameras and the Fujifilm X-T200 is the sensor size difference as the X-T200 sports an APS-C size sensor vs the Micro Four Thirds size sensor in the Panasonic G85 and Panasonic GH4.

Like the Sony a6400, this difference in sensor size will give you better performance in low light conditions and you’ll be able to shoot at higher ISOs without worrying about introducing too much grain into your video footage.

On the video side, the Fujifilm X-T200 isn’t bad either. Yes, it’s not as powerful as the Panasonic cameras or Sony a6400, but it still gives you a flexible set of video options to create a beautiful film. For video frame rates, it can record in UHD 4K at up to 30 FPS and the best part is that there’s no additional 4K crop in either 24 FPS or 30 FPS as you see with the Sony a6400 (1.2x 4k crop in 30 FPS).  

For slow-motion frame rates, the X-T200 can also record in 1080p at up to 120 FPS, which is better than the 96 FPS found in the Panasonic GH4 or the 60 FPS found in the Panasonic G85.

Additionally, as with all other Fujifilm cameras, you get access to its popular film simulation modes. This is a great cinematic feature to have as it will give you the ability to simulate 11 different classic film looks from Fujifilm film stock such as Provia, Velvia, and Classic Chrome without the need to apply LUTs to your footage.  

As with all cameras, there are some downsides to the Fujifilm X-T200. The 2 biggest negatives with this camera are that it only has electronic image stabilization versus the 5 axis image stabilization in the Panasonic cameras, and there is a 15-minute recording limit when shooting in 4K (versus 30 min recording limit in the Panasonic G85)

Notes From The Field: If you like what you see with the Fujifilm X-T200 and would benefit from a flat F-Log profile, an even higher DCI 4k resolution, and the ability to externally record 10-bit 4:2:2 video then the Fujifilm X-T30 might be worth considering. With that said, at its current price point, the Sony a6400 is slightly more attractive as it has a better screen design, no 4k recording limit, and slightly better video autofocus performance.


  • Very good value for the price with a variety of different recording modes and an APS-C size CMOS sensor.
  • 4K UHD Video and slow motion frame rate of 1080p at up to 120 FPS.
  • Access to Fujifilm’s popular film simulation mode which gives you the ability to simulate 11 classic film looks based on Fujifilm film stock.
  • Autofocus performance and low light performance is very good
  • No additional crop when shooting in 4k 24 FPS or 30 FPS versus the additional 1.2x crop on the Sony a6400 when shooting in 4k 30 FPS.
  • A fully articulating flip screen makes it a lot easier to see what you’re shooting from all different angles.


  • A lack of built-in 5 axis image stabilization like the Panasonic cameras, however, it does have electronic image stabilization.
  • There is a 15-minute recording limit when shooting in 4k.
  • The SD card slot is located on the bottom of the camera so it’s not as convenient to access if you’re using a tripod or gimbal.
  • No option to shoot in a flat picture profile which will make coloring your video harder in post-production.

6. DJI Pocket 2

image of person holding up a pocket camera in front of plants

The DJI Pocket 2 is DJI’s newest pocket gimbal and it improves on many of the popular and unpopular features of the original model. The newest additions make this one of the cheapest and best 4k video cameras available.

Here are just some of the improvements that were made: 

  • Ability to shoot in 1080p at up to 240 FPS. This is double the slow-motion frame rate of the previous generation.
  • A wider 20mm equivalent lens vs the 26mm lens of the original camera. 
  • Larger 1./1.7-inch sensor vs the original 1/2.3 inch sensor.
  • 64-megapixel photos vs 12-megapixels.
  • Improved autofocus with Hybrid AF 2.0.
  • Attachable mini control stick which gives more precise control.
  • And many more…

To give you an idea of how the DJI Pocket 2 performs, I put together this cinematic short film about making Lunar New Years Dinner and this cinematic test with footage taken during my road trip through Washington State and Oregon.

Since the price of the base model of the DJI Pocket 2 and the original DJI Pocket Gimbal are so similar, it’s a no brainer to get the new version. 

If you already have this camera, it might be worth considering the upgrade too considering the Osmo Pocket 2 doubles your slow-motion frame rate, has a larger sensor, and uses an improved autofocus system.

Now let’s dive a little more into what you get with the DJI Pocket 2.

For video frame rates you’re able to shoot in 4k or 2k at up to 60 FPS, which is pretty incredible and is the only camera in this article other than the iPhone that can do this. 

On the slow-motion side, there is a dedicated slow-motion mode that will allow you to shoot up to 240 FPS in 1080p. The only other camera with high frame rate options such as 240 FPS is the Sony ZV-1 and it’s double the price.

The best part about this camera is that DJI took the feedback seriously and improved on all the negative aspects of the previous model. I think two of the most notable improvements are the wider lens and the improved audio quality.

The camera now comes standard with a 20mm equivalent lens. This is an important change as many vloggers found the previous 26mm lens a little too tight for vlogging. Now with a 20mm lens + 2 different zoom options (4x and 8x), you have a much more flexible lens when it comes to focal lengths.

For audio, the Pocket Gimbal now has what DJI calls DJI Matrix Stereo. This is a set of four different microphones on the handle which will dynamically record sound based on the direction you’re shooting in or if you’re zooming in or out. It’s an innovative solution to audio and one to take a second look into especially since audio is so important in filmmaking.

When it comes to the overall value proposition of this camera, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want something that is a tiny filmmaking powerhouse that you can easily fit in your pocket, this might be a good fit for you.

However, you obviously can’t change lenses with this camera and it’s not as easy to use for photography so if those features are important to you, another camera is probably a better fit.

If you’re looking for more information about this camera and my first hand filmmaking experience, make sure to check out my DJI Pocket 2 Review article too. In the article, I share my thoughts on why I think the camera is worth it and include 10 of my favorite tips to optimize the performance of this camera.


  • One of the best cameras for filmmaking if you’re looking for a compact, cheap and all-in-one tool.
  • Larger 1./1.7-inch sensor vs the original model which will give you better low light performance and quality.
  • Very good 4k, 2k, and slow motion video frame rates especially given its small size. 
  • Able to shoot slow motion in 4k up to 60 FPS, which most cameras in this budget are not able to do.
  • Three-axis stabilization for amazingly smooth footage.
  • Cool intelligent modes such as active FaceTrack, Timelapse, and Panorama.
  • 20mm lens that will be wide enough for vloggers and for capturing more in a shot.
  • You can also buy additional accessories such as the wireless microphone transmitter and Do-It-All Handle to customize your set up even further.


  • You have to connect your mobile phone and go through the DJI registration process to use the camera.
  • Even though it looks and feels like it should be weatherproof, it’s not.
  • Not meant to record for long periods of time in a single shot.
  • No ability to change lenses.
  • The 1/1.7 inch sensor is smaller than the Micro Four Thirds and APS-C size sensors in the other cameras.

7. Panasonic GH4

photo of black camera in front of white background

When you open the box of the Panasonic GH4, you’ll be immediately impressed by how well it is made. Although it’s another mirrorless camera, it has the look and feel of a much more expensive ‘classic DSLR.’ It has a solid weather-sealed magnesium body, which feels great in your hand.

For filmmaking, the extra bulk helps make it easier to handle when shooting especially compared to the smaller cameras we have covered.

One of the best parts about the build of the camera is that the screen fully articulates, so you can easily maneuver it in a variety of different positions.

This is a Micro Four Thirds camera, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t have the professional filmmaking capabilities.

The camera is a great all-around filmmaking tool that is capable of recording in Ultra HD 4K at 30/24 FPS and Cinema 4k at 24 FPS.

If you want to throw in some slow-motion action into what you’re shooting, you also have the ability to film in slow motion frame rates up to 96 FPS at 1080p, which is pretty good.

When compared to the Sony cameras that we have gone over, the Panasonic GH4 has none of the overheating issues the Sony cameras have. The battery life is also much better.

The big downside with the GH4 is the autofocus system. The camera uses a contrast-based autofocus system, which performs significantly slower than the phase-detect autofocus system the Sony cameras have.

If you rely on autofocus for your filmmaking, this will be the main deal-breaker with this camera.


  • Solid-body, camera feel, and overall ergonomics.
  • Battery life is very good.
  • The screen fully articulates and is much better than the Sony cameras. This makes it a lot easier to see what you’re shooting in bright lighting conditions.
  • The SD card slot is on the side of the camera which makes it a lot easier to change if you have the camera on a gimbal or tripod.
  • HDMI output. It allows you to record directly to an external recorder at a 4:2:2 sampling rate (professional standard), which is a nice option to have. (source).
  • A full selection of picture profiles which will give you greater dynamic range and make it easier to color grade your footage.
  • Pretty good slow motion frame rate of 1080p at up to 96 FPS.
  • There are no overheating issues like the Sony cameras.


  • No in-body image stabilization like the Panasonic G85.
  • The autofocus system on this camera is much worse than Sony’s.
  • The sensor is Micro Four Thirds, so it is much smaller compared to the Sony a5100, Sony a6400, Fujifilm X-T200 Nikon D3500.
  • Poor low light performance. The footage is noticeably grainier than the Sony a6400 and Panasonic G85 at higher ISO values in low light situations.
  • The slow-motion frame rate only goes to 96 FPS compared to 120 FPS on the Sony a6400 and 960 FPS on the Sony ZV-1.
  • You will have a heavy crop since the sensor is Micro Four Thirds.

8. Nikon D3500

image of black camera in an office setting

This is the only Nikon on this list, but it’s a good one for those of you on a low budget.

Many people agree the Nikon D3500 is one of the best body and kit lens combos for its price range. You can usually find the combo for under $500 before tax, which is hard to beat, so let’s see how it stacks up.

The first thing to point out is that the camera comes with a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which is great for this price range.

It’s a very compact size for a DSLR camera. I also really like how many different buttons and dials are on the camera. This makes navigating the menu system and changing settings much easier than the Sony a5100.

Similar to the Sony a5100, the biggest downside is the Nikon D3500 does not shoot in 4k. It does go up to 60 FPS at 1080p, but nowadays the ability to shoot in 4k is more of the norm; even at this price range.

The negatives for filmmaking don’t end there. The next big bummer is the screen on this camera. The screen does not flip out in any way and there are no touch capabilities, which will make it more difficult to film from different angles.

It’s a bummer Nikon did not include at least a flip-out screen because the rest of the cameras have a screen with some movement.

One of the stand-out features is the Nikon range of glass that’s available to this camera. There are lenses to fit every budget and possible needs any filmmaker might have. It might not seem important at the start, but the sheer range of glass available new and secondhand is a plus to any videographer.


  • Good value for the price especially with the APS-C CMOS sensor.
  • Since it is a Nikon, you have a great range of lenses available.
  • Good ergonomics with a variety of different buttons and dials, which makes navigating the menu easier.
  • The SD card slot is on the side of the camera which makes it a lot easier to change if you have the camera on a gimbal or tripod.
  • The autofocus is pretty good, but it’s nothing compared to the Sony cameras.
  • The video quality is pretty decent.


  • No 4K video and slow motion frame rate is only up to 60 FPS in 1080p.
  • Video recording limit of 30 minutes.
  • Lack of flip-out screen and touch capabilities on the screen which will make it more difficult to film in different positions.
  • Made more for photography. There is no dedicated video mode or button, so you have to go into a sub-menu to find the different video modes available.
  • No mic jack so it will be more difficult to record sound if audio is important in your film.
  • Lightweight and cheaper plastic feel to the camera.

9. Canon EOS M50

Notes From The Field: Canon just released the new version of this camera, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. Brand new, it’s about $50 more than the current model. The big difference between the Mark II and this camera is a slightly improved user interface and the addition of a clean HDMI feed straight from the camera. The clean HDMI feed will make it much easier to live stream with the camera. Other than these two changes, nothing else has changed. So if you might live stream or could see yourself using the camera for video calls it would make sense to get the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. However, if you don’t see any benefit from this, and like what you see already, then there isn’t any reason to spend the extra money.

This is the only Canon on our list and is a decent budget filmmaking choice if you want to get into the Canon ecosystem. Of course, Canon offers one of the best selections of native lenses in the market for filmmakers, so you’ll easily be able to find lenses for how you work.

Add that to the famous Canon colors and you have a great starting point to capture some cinematic footage.

The main question at this price range is how does it compare with the Panasonic GH4, Panasonic G85, and Sony a5100.

The first thing you’ll notice about the camera is its plasticy build. The ergonomics are ok, but there is a noticeable lack of buttons and dials on the camera, which makes it a little difficult to switch settings quickly.

What I like about the Panasonic cameras is that there are two separate dials for exposure. So, with one dial, you can change your shutter speed and with the other dial, you can change your aperture.

The Canon EOS M50 only has one exposure dial, so you’ll have to go through the menu system to change between aperture and shutter speed. It does slightly beat out the Sony a5100 menu system, though.

What’s bad about this camera is its video capabilities compared to the Panasonic cameras and even to the Sony a5100 to some extent. Although the M50 has the ability to shoot 4k, it’s pretty hard to use and the camera does not have in-body image stabilization.

In 4k video mode, the dual pixel autofocus is disabled, so you’re only able to use its mediocre contrast autofocus system. When you’re shooting 4k, the autofocus clearly hunts around to try to find the focus point, which I think is pretty unusable.

I’m still not sure why Canon had to do this.

At slow motion frame rates, the M50 doesn’t really compete with the Panasonic cameras or the Sony a5100. With the M50, you can shoot up to 60 FPS, but it drops the resolution to 720p.

The one positive is that in 1080p, the dual pixel autofocus of the M50 is actually pretty good and performs better than the autofocus in the Panasonic cameras. The video quality is usable too.

Even so, I think it’s pretty clear that the Panasonic cameras are a better choice at this price range.

Notes From The Field: The Canon M6 Mark II could be a good fit if you like what you see with the Canon EOS M50, but would like a usable 4k video mode. The Canon M6 Mark II is considerably more expensive than the Canon M50, but you get 4k with no crop and dual pixel autofocus plus 1080p at up to 120 FPS. With that said, it’s at a higher price point and the 4k quality is not as good as the cheaper Sony a6400.


  • Very easy to use camera that gives you great looking 1080p footage.
  • APS-C size CMOS sensor versus the Micro Four Thirds or smaller sensor of other cameras
  • Since it is the Canon camera, you know you are getting a camera that can capture great colors.
  • The dual-pixel autofocus in 1080p video mode is pretty good.


  • The ergonomics are not as good as the Panasonic cameras in this article and it has a plasticky build.
  • Recording limit of 30 minutes.
  • Dual-pixel autofocus does not work when shooting in 4k.
  • The 120 FPS frame rate is only available in 720p.
  • The SD card slot is located on the bottom of the camera so it’s not as convenient to access if you’re using a tripod or gimbal.
  • At this price range, the Panasonic cameras are a much better choice.

10. iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max 256 GB

photo of iphone with iphone box with blurry background

With the release of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11, the iPhone XS is now an, even more, budget-friendly option for your main filmmaking camera.

Yes, the iPhone XS isn’t as good of a camera when you’re looking at it from a camera technology standpoint. However, I still think the iPhone XS can hold its own and it’s definitely still more than capable of capturing cinematic footage for your films.

As you know, the best thing about using an iPhone as your main filmmaking camera is that it’s so much more than just a camera.

With all the different apps and functionality of the phone, it can be your sound recorder, sound mixer, video editor, and even location scout. You could literally take out the iPhone, download a cinematic video app like Filmic Pro, and be ready to go.

Then after you’re done shooting, you can use another app like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Rush to edit your film together.

There are two 12 megapixel front-facing cameras, one wide-angle with f/1.2 aperture, and a 2x telephoto lens at f/2.4. They can both shoot 4K video up to 60 FPS and you can even shoot slow motion in 1080p at 120 FPS and 240 FPS, which is better than most of the cameras on this list.

For video, there is optical image stabilization, which is surprisingly good, so you can get decently smooth footage even without a gimbal.

The downside is that it’s still a phone camera. So, compared to the other cameras in this review, you won’t get as good of dynamic range, it won’t be as good in low light situations, and you won’t really be able to change lenses.

Another thing to think about is if you’re a Windows user and plan to edit your video on your computer. Since Apple products have their own ecosystem, file transfer between the iPhone and your Windows computer can be frustrating.


  • Can record 4K video in real-time and slow motion frame rates up to 60 FPS.
  • So much more than just a camera since it’s one of the best mobile phones on the market.
  • Improved high dynamic range (HDR) compared to the iPhone X, so you can better expose in dynamic light situations.
  • You can shoot and edit all on one device.
  • The optical image stabilization is surprisingly good.


  • First and foremost, it’s still a mobile phone, so you don’t get the full flexibility of a camera.
  • For the most part, the memory is internal to the phone. You can add external memory, but it is bulky.
  • Apple products don’t work as well with other products outside its ecosystem which can make file transfer a hassle.
  • For the price range it’s at you could get most of the other cameras in the article.


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William October 14, 2020 - 12:31 pm

Hi, when was this written? I’m wondering if fujifilm x-t200 and nikon z50 are worth adding or if you think A6500 or Panasonic G85 are still superior based on quality/value?

I was looking into fujifilm x-t200, Canon EOS M50 and Sony A6100.


Tom Shu October 15, 2020 - 2:11 am

Hi William! Thanks for reading the article and for your questions. I actually just updated this article a few months ago to add the Sony ZV-1 when it was released. For some reason, the Fujifilm X-T200 Nikon Z50 was never on my radar so thanks for bringing them up.

After researching both cameras today, I definitely think the Fujifilm X-T200 is worth adding especially since it was just announced that the Sony a6500 is being discontinued. I plan to make the update and will add the Fujifilm X-T200 to this article in the next couple of days.

I like what the Nikon Z50 offers and that it has an APS-C sensor, however, the main concern I have is that the Nikon Z Mount is made primarily for full-frame lenses. So, although it has some great video frame rates, there isn’t as big of a selection of affordable lenses as Sony E Mount, Nikon F Mount, or Micro 4/3 cameras.

As for the Panasonic G85, I do still give it a slight edge over the Fujifilm X-T200. Even though I wish the Panasonic G85 had an APS-C sensor like the Fujifilm X-T200, I still like the camera more for its addition of picture profile options and above-average image stabilization; both of which the Fujifilm X-T200 doesn’t have.

For the 3 cameras you’re looking into (X-T200, EOS M50, and A6100), I don’t think you could go wrong with either the Fujifilm X-T200 or Sony a6100 as they’re both great cameras at a good value. The EOS-M50 is a nice camera too, but it’s lack of the dual-pixel autofocus when shooting in 4k is a big downside when compared to the Fujifilm X-T200 or Sony a6100.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions! Thanks again for introducing me to these two cameras.


VK October 19, 2020 - 2:14 pm

Hi , it was wonderful article, I m a beginner and I am confused between Fujifilm xt200 and Panasonic G85!!!

Which do you say is better on the basis of
Picture output
Video features
Lenses available n cost of the lenses

Tom Shu October 19, 2020 - 2:57 pm

Hi VK, thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you found it helpful! Here’s what I think:

  • Picture Output: both are good, however, the Fujifilm X-T200 will be better in low light as it has a bigger sensor than the Panasonic G85.
  • Video Features:I think the Panasonic G85 has a slight advantage as it has very good image stabilization and the option to use flat picture profiles which will make it easier to color grade your footage in post. Both of these features are not found in the Fuji. With that said, both cameras have more than enough video features to shoot a film.
  • Lenses Available:The Panasonic wins in this category. Since the Panasonic is a Micro Four Thirds camera, it can use any Micro Four Thirds lens. This means you could use Micro Four Thirds lenses from any manufacturer which greatly increases the number of choices you have.
  • I hope this helps clarify and please let me know if you have any more questions!

    VK October 20, 2020 - 3:14 pm

    Thank you Tom for your prompt reply.
    Both of them come in a similar price range but xt200 is a latest model with few additional features like phase detection AF, Bluetooth , webcam func , headphone port
    I had seen reviews of xt200 stating that the audio quality is very bad with lot of noise n hissing sound.
    G85 is an old model but still holds edge over many latest counterparts

    What about slow Mo video in both of them?

    What is your final verdict between the 2 for a beginner with a balance of photography and videography?
    If possible Please tell me about which brand is better in long-run – less maintenance issues and better customer service support between Panasonic n Fujifilm?
    Bciz Fujifilm is Japan made and others are local made

    Are there any other cameras in this range with in body image stabilization like g85?
    What about Olympus cameras within similar price range, as they also have sensor based image stabilization?

    Awaiting your response, Thank you in advance , keep up the good work, looking forward to many more such articles from you.

    Tom Shu October 20, 2020 - 11:01 pm

    Hi VK,

    You’re welcome and thanks for your follow up questions. I’ll try to answer these as thoroughly as possible, but as always, if you have more questions, just let me know!

    • Audio on Fujifilm X-T200: Yes, it seems like the Fujifilm’s preamps are not as good, but as a beginner, I wouldn’t worry too much about overall audio quality as the audio on the Fujifilm isn’t bad (this video gives a good example of audio quality straight from camera). If it comes down to it and if you need to, you could always get an external microphone like this one from Rode to up the sound quality.
    • Slow Motion: The Fujifilm X-T200 can record in 1080p up to 120 frames per second (FPS) which is better than the 60 FPS in 1080p found in the G85. Sorry as I just updated the article to reflect this as I thought the X-T200 was only capable of 60 FPS before conducting more research.
    • Verdict Between X-T200 vs G85 for Beginner: For a beginner who is looking for a balance between photography and videography, I would give the slight edge to the Fujifilm X-T200. I say this as the Fujifilm has the APS-C sensor which will be more flexible for photography in all situations, especially in low light and you get the popular film simulation modes. With the Fujifilm Film Simulation, you can achieve different colors/looks to your images and videos all in-camera without the need to edit them later. This is definitely a nice feature to have for beginners.
    • Better in Long Run: This is a toss-up. I’m sure both camera manufacturers have great customer service. Given the competition now a day, camera manufacturers need to have good customer service as most customers would expect it. Additionally, I think Panasonic cameras are manufactured in Asia as well, or at least some components of the camera. As for durability, I think both cameras will work great for many years to come. The one thing I want to point out is that in the long run, an APS-C sensor might be more advantageous as you might think about upgrading to a larger sensor if you start off with Micro Four Thirds.
    • Image Stabilization: I think the only mirrorless camera in this price range with image stabilization is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Mirrorless. It’s a great camera, but I would still give the edge to the Fujifilm X-T200 because of the following reasons: 1.) it has an APS-C sensor versus the Micro Four Thirds in the Olympus; 2.) it has a fully articulating screen which will make it easier to shoot from all angles. The Olympus only has a tilting screen; 3.) it has the film simulation mode; 4.) It can shoot in 1080p at up to 120 FPS versus the 720p in 120 FPS on the Olympus.
    • I hope this answers all your questions and let me know if there is anything I missed!

    Matt October 20, 2020 - 1:30 pm

    This might sound “dumb” but why are these types better than what I would call a, “conventional” camera?

    The body type is more still image than video/film. I realize it doesn’t matter as the project is the main output, but just curious. It has been a long time since I was on a shoot (back in the mini DV times) and am looking to get some new kit.

    Tom Shu October 20, 2020 - 9:20 pm

    Hi Matt, thanks for your question! By conventional, I’m going to assume that you’re asking about the difference between the mirrorless cameras in the article and a camera like a mini DV? If I’m wrong just let me know and I can answer your question again.

    I haven’t used a mini DV camera but I think the important thing is that camera technology has progressed towards a mirrorless format. Because of the competition from the different manufacturers, most cameras in this budget are made for both photography and videography; consumers also expect this. Since camera tech has improved so quickly, you will find incredible video specs even in small mirrorless cameras like this.

    There are also video cameras in a more traditional camcorder format like the Sony HXR-MC2500, but they’re a bit out of the budget of this article.

    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

    Matt October 21, 2020 - 4:17 am

    Hello Tom

    Thanks. Yes I mean a typical camcorder type camera like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/HDC-HS300EGK-Panasonic-HDC-HS-300-EGK/dp/B001RCG2V6

    As I said, I have not shot anything for around 15 years so I am well behind the times. I was looking for new gear but didnt want to buy the camera types in the article if it was completely wrong.

    I guess as long as the project looks good, it makes no difference what I use. The different form factor caught me off guard, if that makes sense?

    Great help though.

    Tom Shu October 21, 2020 - 11:47 pm

    Hi Matt! thanks for clarifying. Yes, I definitely understand where you are coming from especially when comparing the form factor of the camcorder vs mirrorless camera.

    I think any of the cameras in this article will be able to give you great video results and most importantly at a reasonable price point. If you have the extra budget, I’d also recommend looking into the Sony a6600. It has similar features to the Sony a6100, but also has built-in image stabilization.

    Feel free to let me know if any other questions come up too!

    anh October 22, 2020 - 7:07 am


    Just want to say thanks and kudos to great article! bang on and really insightful! Camera researching is painful yet mesmerizing.

    for the article, i love your final verdict with great analysis for a beginner trying to step up videography game like me. Just a small note is that Lumix design is not in my like though which is subjective =))). And if we want to reach to GH85 level, a6600 is the best choice however it does not fall in to this budget category. Manufacturers really know to play their game :((

    Tom Shu October 22, 2020 - 12:03 pm

    Hi Anh!

    You’re welcome and I’m glad you found the article helpful! Thanks also for your note! I agree that how much you like the design of a camera is pretty subjective. At the same time, I’m guessing that most people will become familiar with any camera the longer they use it.

    That’s also true you would have to jump up to the a6600 if you wanted a Sony camera with built-in IBIS. I will say though, the Sony a6100 is one great camera too and has its advantages over the G85 such as better autofocus, better performance in low light, and a bigger sensor. (I’m actually thinking about updating the article to include the Sony a6100 as a co-winner because of these advantages).

    Anh October 23, 2020 - 8:27 am

    Although it doesn’t have IBis and water resistant? 🙂

    Tom Shu October 23, 2020 - 9:41 am

    Hi Anh, yes I think the bigger sensor and much improved autofocus makes up for its lack of IBIS and weather proofing. Not everyone will need water resistance and using a lens with OSS can help with the lack of IBIS.

    Antanu Zakaria October 22, 2020 - 9:02 am

    Im confused between Sony ZV-1 and Fujifilm XT200. I am a photographer looking to start videography and some vlogging. For this purpose I think sony has some excellent things to offer like built-in ND, background defocus, super fast autofocus. But again Fuji has the larger sensor which will clearly give me a better image quality. I’d like to read your take on this. Which one do u prefer?

    Tom Shu October 22, 2020 - 12:43 pm

    Hi Antanu,
    Thanks for your question! You’re exactly right! Both are great cameras to have and it will really depend on a couple of differentiating factors and what you find most important. It might not be the answer you want to hear, but I can definitely see different situations in which either camera would excel.
    I would go with the ZV-1 if you’re planning to do more vlogging/videography work versus photography work in the future. On the other hand, if it’s an even split between photography and video, or if you’re going to continue to take more photos than videos then I think the Fujifilm X-T200 might be a better fit.
    The reason why I say this is because the ZV-1 really is a video powerhouse and most of its advantages come on the video side of things. As you brought up, it has the built-in ND filter, which from my own experience is very nice to have when shooting at wider apertures. Plus, the ZV-1 has IBIS, quick autofocus, and a variety of different slow-motion frame rates (including Sony’s High Frame Rate mode), which will give you a lot of flexibility in capturing slow-motion footage. The one thing to watch out for is if you plan to hold out the camera in one hand while vlogging as it might not be wide enough.
    On the photography side of things, although the ZV-1 is more than capable of making beautiful photos, I would still like a bigger sensor and the addition of Fujifilm’s film simulation mode if I was focusing on photography. Additionally, you can change lenses with the X-T200 and reach focal lengths past 70mm which I think benefits photography more. Yes, it’s unfortunate you don’t get all the video features in the X-T200, but I think the frame rate options it has with the addition of its fully articulating screen and no additional crop when shooting 4k will still allow you to create awesome vlogs/videos.
    I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any more questions!

    Angela October 23, 2020 - 7:46 am

    Hi Tom – what an awesome article. Obviously a lot of time and research went into this. Thank you for sharing!
    I currently have a camera that automatically stops recording when it hits 4 gb, which is crippling when the events in shooting typically go for an hour, maybe more. Do you have a recommendation for an affordable video camera that doesn’t have a recording limit?

    Tom Shu October 23, 2020 - 12:10 pm

    Hi Angela,
    Thanks for your question and for reading the article! I think your best would be either the Sony a6100 or Sony a6400 as both have really good video quality and features with no video recording limits. The Sony a6400 is the more expensive of the two and has a better build quality than the Sony a6100 + a full selection of picture profiles to use. However, if you want to save some money, the a6100 uses the same sensor so video quality is the same. The big downside with both these cameras is that they don’t have built-in image stabilization. If you’re using a tripod it’s not a big issue, but if you want image stabilization in a Sony camera you would have to jump to the Sony a6600.
    I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions!

    Ruby Jensen November 26, 2020 - 3:43 pm

    Hi Tom, Thank you so much for this amazing article, super helpful!! I have been dabbling in photography and video making for a while and want to update from my iPhone to camera. I have mostly been considering the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Canon EOS M50… I want one that is easy to use but that I can also grow into.. Do both cameras have several additional lenses that can be additionally purchased and compatible? Additionally, do the film timing limits really mean/is that important if I do not necessarily need to film log clips at a time? I see that a lot of people in the questions above mention the Fujifilm which makes me think that’s a better option? All the best, Ruby

    Tom Shu November 26, 2020 - 9:50 pm

    Hi Ruby!
    Happy Thanksgiving from the US! Thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you found it helpful! Thanks also for your questions and that’s very exciting to hear that you’re thinking about upgrading from your iPhone.
    I think both cameras are easy to use and would give you room to grow as a photographer/videographer. With that being said, I would have to agree with the others and pick the Fujifilm X-T200 out of the two choices. The primary reason why I personally like the Fujifilm more is because it doesn’t have a crop when shooting 4k video and its autofocus still works great in 4k video. On the video side, the Canon EOS M50 has a great 1080p mode with its dual pixel autofocus, but in 4k it has a major additional crop and the dual pixel autofocus doesn’t work. Another plus for the Fujifilm is that it has the film simulation mode which works great for both photography and video work.
    Also to answer your other questions:

    1. Lenses: Yes, both cameras have a great selection of different lenses that are compatible with its system. You’ll easily be able to find prime lenses and zoom lenses at fair price points.
    2. Filming Time Limits: Yes, you’re right. Filming time limits aren’t that important if you don’t film long clips at a time. If you’re only recording clips that are a few minutes long or even up to the recording limit it won’t be an issue. Filming time limits are usually only important for those who record long clips at a time such as interviews etc.

    I hope this helps and if you have any more questions just let me know!

    Tony December 25, 2020 - 11:33 am

    This post was great!!! You helped me a lot, thanks. Only one question

    In your “Verdict Between X-T200 vs G85 for Beginner” earlier with VK you said the XT200 for a beginner who is looking for a balance between photography and videography.

    If I’m only going for videography (maybe vlogging in the future, but without sacrificing videography), still a beginner, will you still recommending the XT200?

    In other words, I’m looking for your pick as the “Best Budget Camera for Beginners Filmmakers”

    I just want to learn as much has I can from my first camera, thanks in advance

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Havana, Cuba

    Tom Shu December 26, 2020 - 12:31 pm

    Hi Tony!
    Thanks for reaching out from Havana and I’m glad the article helped you out. I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba so hopefully one of these days I’ll get the chance
    That’s a great question and I’m glad you found that conversation between me and VK. If you’re getting a camera primarily for videography I would pick the G85 over the X-T200.
    The main reasons why I think the G85 are better as a videography specific camera is for the following. Yes, the larger sensor of the X-T200 would be helpful, but I think these features found in the G85 make up for it:

    • In-body Image Stabilization: The G85 has great built-in image stabilization versus no image stabilization in the X-T200. The G85 is one of the only mirrorless cameras in this price range with 5-axis stabilization.
    • Picture Profiles: The G85 has videography-specific picture profiles which will make it easier for you to color grade your footage if you want to. The Fujifilm has a film simulation mode, which is also very good, but it doesn’t have customizable flat picture profiles.
    • Recording Limit: The G85 US version has no 4k recording limit and a 30-minute 4k recording limit for the European version. This is better than the 15-minute 4k recording limit of the X-T200.

    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!
    Merry Christmas to you too and Happy New Year!

    Megzuki March 26, 2021 - 8:50 am

    Thank you for this informative article! My goal is to buy a camera sometime this year, but I have never owned one before or used one outside of old family camcorders! I wrote a screenplay about 12 years ago and helped create a full-feature indie film. I did set work and helped produce the film as well, but didn’t work behind the camera or do any of the actual filming. Film is my passion, and I would like to try and mess around and create some short films, but feel very overwhelmed with the plethora of information out there! Your article is definitely helpful, but I had a few additional questions and would appreciate your guidance if you don’t mind and have the time.

    I have a laptop that is very basic and about 3-6 years old at this point. What is your advice about film editing software/programs and what kind of technology to use it on? Laptop vs tablet/ipad, etc. I have 2 tablets but also very basic. And/or do some cameras have the ability to edit without additional software?

    Thank you!

    Tom Shu March 27, 2021 - 12:25 am

    Hi Megzuki!
    Thanks for reaching out with your question! Can you let me know which laptop and tablets you have and the specs?
    I think this information will help be provide a much better response! Other than that, I think one of the best options now a days for an all in one filmmaking package (film and edit in a single device) is a new smartphone.
    The reason why I say that is all “newer” smartphones (for example from iPhone X to more recent) have really good cameras, video frame rates, and free apps you can use to edit video.
    Another option would be the DJI Pocket 2. This camera has a built in video editor in the app it uses that is pretty decent.

    Megzuki March 30, 2021 - 7:01 pm

    My laptop is an asus notebook x540s fyi!

    Tom Shu April 2, 2021 - 10:07 pm

    Hi Megzuki!
    Thanks for letting me know! After taking a look at your computer, I think your best bet might be to try out some of the free video editing software that is out there first. These editing software are usually free and lightweight so it will hopefully allow you to edit on a older laptop. One promising video editing that I think would be worth checking out is Wondershare Filmora. To edit and store your footage, you might also need an external hard drive. If you find that editing with Wondershare is still slow, you could try using an SSD drive which is faster to edit from than a standard HDD external hard drive.
    As for cameras, I think you should mainly shoot in 1080p resolution vs 4k as that will be much easier for your computer to handle. A few beginner friendly and budget friendly cameras you could look at include the DJI Pocket 2, Panasonic Lumix FZ80, and Sony a5100.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

    Megzuki May 1, 2021 - 7:35 am


    Thank you SO MUCH for this information! I still haven’t bought a camera, but I think my plan is to buy the Sony a5100, try it out with my current laptop and maybe buy an external hard drive if I need it, and then ask for money toward a better computer for my birthday and Christmas and save up and buy one later this year ! I’m thinking maybe a Mac mini and purchasing a monitor would be a good plan for me, after poking around online. What are your thoughts on this ? And that way, I can have a good, lasting product and can always upgrade my camera and/or computer later once I get more used to it all, since I am completely new to this.

    Would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks again!


    Megzuki May 1, 2021 - 11:02 am

    Of course I replied to this and after googling realized the Sony a5100 has been discontinued. I was reading about the Sony a6000…any thoughts of this one? Do you think it’s still worth buying the older model used? Buying used for something this expensive makes me nervous…

    Tom Shu May 4, 2021 - 10:07 pm

    Hi Megzuki!
    It’s good to hear from you again and I think that’s a great idea. The Mac Mini is a good value computer and with the new M1 chip it’s very fast for photo or video editing.
    As for the camera, you can’t go wrong with the Sony a6000. Even though the Sony a5100 is slightly cheaper, I think it’s worth spending that extra money on the a6000 for it’s electronic viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder will make it much easier to use the camera in bright daylight because the screen can get washed out pretty easily.
    As for image quality, both cameras use the same sensor so image quality will be just as good.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.

    Jem Westgate June 19, 2021 - 3:00 pm

    hello, I’ve been thinking about purchasing the gx8 but have yet to see it on many articles and I’m wondering why this may be? is it lacking in a area of which I’m unaware of or is it just lesser known, because to my knowledge it’s better than the g85.

    Tom Shu June 24, 2021 - 11:26 am

    Hi Jem! Thanks for your question and sorry for the late reply! I picked the g85 mainly because the gx8 in body stabilization doesn’t work when shooting 4k. Since they’re around the same price, this was the big differentiator.

    Laxmikant July 1, 2021 - 4:43 am

    Hii Tom,
    Thanks for the article, it helps alot, I’m looking for best budget camera for filmmaking and considered g85 or a6100, what would you recommend and please let me know if any other camera in this range for film, one thing I also want to ask what would you thought about blackmagic pocket cinema 4k I know it’s expensive than this range, does it make sense to spend accessories budget on camera or good to upgrade later.

    Tom Shu July 6, 2021 - 9:06 pm

    Hi Laxmikant!
    Thanks for your question and for reading the article! I’m glad it helped out a little! Sorry for the delay as I just got back from a camping trip and didn’t have service!
    Both are really nice cameras and will be able to capture cinematic footage for you. With that said, what camera is “better” will depend on what you value more.
    If you’re looking for the best autofocus, low light performance, want the flexibility of a larger sensor, and 120 FPS frame rate then the Sony a6100 would be the better bet.
    On the other hand, if you want really good in-body image stabilization, the Panasonic G85 is one of the best camera choices in its price range.
    That’s a good question about the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema. I think what accessories you need will depend on how you plan to shoot with your camera. What will make the biggest difference in picture quality is having a good lens and variable ND filter. But if you’re going to be creating a film for a client, you may need additional memory cards, batteries, hard drives, etc.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

    Nigel June 30, 2021 - 11:34 pm

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for a great article and for taking the time to reply to the various comments in such detail.
    I have been doing mostly video work and taking stills just for fun, but now I’d like to get more into pro stills work while continuing my videography. I started out using a Sony EX video camera which I loved and then moved to a Panasonic GH3 which was okay. I’m now in the market for a budget camera which will be used for both stills and video.
    I think my main needs are: in camera stabilisation, 4k, mic input, good lens options. I’m thinking one of the Sony’s or the GH4 given that I’m familiar with both. What do you suggest?

    Tom Shu July 6, 2021 - 8:48 pm

    Hi Nigel,
    Thanks for your question and for reading the article! Sorry for taking so long to get back as I was on a camping trip and didn’t have service.
    Based on your needs, the Sony or Panasonic camera that would fit your requirements would be either the Sony a6600 or Panasonic GH5. The other Sony APS-C cameras (such as Sony a6400 and Sony a6100) do not have in body image stabilization and same with the Panasonic GH4.
    When it comes down to Sony a6600 or Panasonic GH5, it’s a tough choice that comes down to a few things depending on what you want from a camera.
    If you’re looking for the best autofocus and low light performance the Sony is the camera to go with. However, if you’re looking for camera with 4k 60 FPS and more flexible frame rate options such as recording video to an external recorder in 4:2:2 10 bit vs the 8 bit of the Sony, then the Panasonic might be the better fit.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

    Luca G. July 3, 2021 - 8:53 am

    Hey thanks for this article it helped a lot although I do have a question. You had a lot of Sony cameras on the list and I was wondering what would be the best for someone who is just starting out (like me) I would like to do some vlogs and I’m also starting to do some client videos. The camera I have right now is a over a decade old dslr and I need an upgrade. I prefer Sony cameras. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

    Tom Shu July 6, 2021 - 10:48 pm

    Hi Luca! Thanks for reading the article and for your questions! Both the Sony a6400 and Sony a6100 from the article are great beginner friendly Sony cameras to start off with. There really is not much difference between these two other than what I included in the article. Both cameras use the larger APSC sensor so work very well in low light. Additionally, the Sony cameras have one of the best autofocus systems which will make it easy to focus on your subject. The big downside with these two cameras is that they don’t have in-body image stabilization. This isn’t 100% a deal breaker because you can get a lens with optical steadyshot. However, if you think you could benefit from in-body image stabilization too, the flagship Sony a6600 has stabilization.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more specific questions related to the Sony camera!

    Meher July 13, 2021 - 3:39 am

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for an amazing and a detailed article. I’m planning to make a short film this year and I’m planning to buy a camera in budget. I initially planned to get the black magic pocket 4k but it’s out of my range. Which camera would you suggest for a novice filmmaker like me? And what kind kind of attachments and other stuff I need to get to make the film a cinematic experience for viewers? Waiting for your reply
    P.S: My main focus is on filmmaking, photography has never been an interest.

    Tom Shu July 13, 2021 - 5:00 pm

    Hi Meher,
    Thanks for reading the article and for your question! Out of the cameras in this article, I would either go with one of the Sony APSC cameras (Sony a6400 and Sony a6100) or the Panasonic G85. If you’re looking for the best autofocus system and low light performance, either of the Sony cameras would be great to start off with. On the other hand if you think you would benefit from in body image stabilization and that is more important than low light performance and autofocus performance, the Panasonic G85 is a great budget beast.
    The  Fujifilm XS10 is out of the budget of this article, but it’s another camera that’s worth pointing out. This camera is slightly more expensive than the Sonys or Panasonic G85 when including its kit lens but comes with a better selection of frame rates (such as 1080p over 200 FPS), built-in image stabilization, and uses a larger APS-C sensor like the Sony cameras.
    I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

    mario July 15, 2021 - 7:53 am

    please, don’t curse me guys, but I think that I’ll risk a sony action camera.

    Tom Shu July 16, 2021 - 5:46 pm

    Sony action cam can be good too!


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