Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget [2021 Review]

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With the rise of affordable cameras these past few years, aspiring filmmakers can start their film careers without breaking the bank. Filmmakers no longer have to sacrifice quality just to get the best equipment, as there are some 4K cameras for filmmaking that are guaranteed to be within any budget. 

The best camera for filmmaking on a budget can produce 4K quality videos, have large sensors, and they are great for low light shooting, so you can confidently film any scene, whatever time of day it may be.

Our Top Low Budget Filmmaking Camera Reviews

If you have decided to begin recording your film, you will need to have a camera that can cater to your needs. You will need a lightweight, dependable camera that is easy to use and can smoothly capture every scene. 

We’ve listed the best camera for filmmaking on a budget that offers great 4K image quality and won’t go over your budget. 

Brand
Best Overall
Fujifilm X-T3 Digital Camera
Best Mirrorless Camera
Panasonic LUMIX G85
Best Single-Lens Camera
Canon EOS M50 Mark II
Product
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera...
Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera, 12-60mm...
Canon EOS M50 Mark II + EF-M 15-45mm is STM Kit...
Special Features
Capable of 4K/60P 10bit recording
Color temperature setting 2500 to 10000K in 100K
Digic 8 image processor with auto lighting optimizer
Max Resolution
26.1 MP
16 MP
24.1 MP
Rating
-
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Fujifilm X-T3 Digital Camera
Product
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera...
Special Features
Capable of 4K/60P 10bit recording
Max Resolution
26.1 MP
Rating
-
Price
Best Mirrorless Camera
Brand
Panasonic LUMIX G85
Product
Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera, 12-60mm...
Special Features
Color temperature setting 2500 to 10000K in 100K
Max Resolution
16 MP
Rating
-
Price
Best Single-Lens Camera
Brand
Canon EOS M50 Mark II
Product
Canon EOS M50 Mark II + EF-M 15-45mm is STM Kit...
Special Features
Digic 8 image processor with auto lighting optimizer
Max Resolution
24.1 MP
Rating
-
Price

Best Overall Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget: Fujifilm X-T3 Digital Camera

The Fujifilm X-T3 Digital Camera is one of the finest Advanced Photo System or APS-C mirrorless cameras on the market.

Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera...

The camera measures 12.75 x 11.1 x 1.25 inches and weighs 2.1 pounds. It weighs more than the Canon M50, Panasonic G85, and the LUMIX GH5. 

The Fujifilm X-T3’s door on the left side has a mic input, a USB Type-C port for charging, a headphone jack, and an HDMI to transfer videos and pictures to a different device. The Dual SD slots, which are used for storing images and videos for backup, are located on the right side. 

The camera has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi features to make it easy for you to offload images and videos from the camera to your smartphone. 

Since the camera has a large Advanced Photo System or APS-C sensor, it can be used in low light conditions so you can still film during nighttime. It has a fast autofocus feature and a 4K slow motion, so you can change the flow of every shot and add more frames to your videos.

However, the camera does not have a built-in image stabilization feature, unlike the Panasonic LUMIX G85, so it is best to attach it to a tripod or a stabilizer to ensure that there won’t be any distortion in the videos when the camera shakes. 

Also, the battery life is not that great; you can power it over the USB-C port for longer life. 

Pros:

  • It has a built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth feature so you can connect the camera to your laptop or smartphone
  • The APS-C sensor is large enough to be used even in dimly lit areas
  • The autofocus feature is fast, and the 4K can be switched to slow motion so you can take more frames per second

Cons:

  • No image stabilization system, distortion, and blurs may appear if the camera shakes too much
  • Battery life is short
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera...
  • New 26 1MP x Trans CMOS 4 sensor with x processor 4 image processing engine
  • 4K movie recording internal SD card 4K/60P 4 2 0 10bit recording and the first Mirrorless Digital...
  • 2 16M Phase detection pixels across entire frame and low light Phase detection limits has been...

Best Mirrorless Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget: Panasonic LUMIX G85

The Panasonic LUMIX G85 is an SLR-style mirrorless camera that has a 4K video capture, an image stabilization feature, and a 16-megapixel micro four-thirds sensor that can create decent size prints, display high-quality videos and images, and have space for down-sampling and cropping.

Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera, 12-60mm...

The Panasonic LUMIX G85 measures 2.93 x 5.06 x 3.5 inches and weighs 1.11 pounds. It is lighter than the Fujifilm X-T3. 

The camera is weather-sealed, so it is a great companion for outdoor shoots. Its front plate is made of magnesium alloy, so it is sturdy and does not crack easily. It also has a new electromagnetic shutter that can minimize the vibration caused by the mechanism when you press the trigger. 

The camera’s battery life is impressive. It comes with two batteries so that you can shoot longer, unlike the Fujifilm X-T3 with shorter battery life. Its optical grip makes it more comfortable to handle the camera, no matter what angle you shoot it with. 

A 35mm Live View Finder feature lets you capture and frame every single scene. It also has 2360K-dot high resolution and color reproduction features for high visibility and clear images. 

Unfortunately, its autofocus mode is a bit slow, as it only allows six frames per second or 6fps, unlike the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 that allows 30 frames per second or 30fps. Also, the sensor is narrow, and the built-in flash is weak; it can still be used in low light conditions however there will be some distortion. 

Pros:

  • The camera has an image stabilization feature to prevent distortion
  • It is weather-sealed
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Autofocus mode is slow
  • The sensor is too narrow, not ideal for low light areas
Sale
Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera, 12-60mm...
  • Fine Detail Performance: 16 megapixel micro four thirds sensor with no low pass filter resulting in...
  • Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera: With 12 60 millimeter lens, Shoot lighter and faster with...
  • Class Leading Dual Image Stabilization: In body 5 axis dual image stabilization works in both photo...

Best Single-Lens Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget: Canon EOS M50 Mark II  

The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is equipped with a 24.1-megapixel Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor or CMOS that ensures clear and sharp shots on your video frame by frame. 

Canon EOS M50 Mark II + EF-M 15-45mm is STM Kit...

The camera measures 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches, and it weighs 1.5 pounds, making it lighter than the Fujifilm X-T3. It comes with a fast autofocus feature so you can lock in on your subject immediately. 

What sets this camera apart from other cameras used for filmmaking is that it has live streaming capabilities that make it easier to share videos and images on other devices and online. 

The camera can be used to live stream and share what you are filming with cinematic image quality. It also comes with a 4K high-resolution recording that lets you capture incredible videos at almost four times the resolution of a full high-definition camera. 

With a Dual Pixel feature that calculates focus and phase differences between the right and left image sensors, you are promised a fast and accurate autofocus mode so you can capture a moment right when it happens. It also comes with an Eye Detection autofocus for more precision on your subject. 

However, the camera does not have an image stabilization feature, unlike the Panasonic LUMIX G85, so a slight camera shake can affect the quality of the video. 

Also, it does not have a headphone socket for the audio; you will need to use a headphone with a USB-type jack to listen to the video’s audio. 

Pros:

  • It has a fast autofocus feature that lets you capture your subjects accurately
  • It has live-streaming abilities. You can use the cameras during events
  • Produces sharp and clear shots thanks to its 24.1MP CMOS

Cons:

  • It has no slot for headphones
  • The camera is not equipped with image stabilization; you will need a tripod when filming to prevent distortion
Canon EOS M50 Mark II + EF-M 15-45mm is STM Kit...
  • 24.1 megapixel (aps-c) cmos sensor with iso 100-25600 (h: 51200).
  • Digic 8 image processor with auto lighting optimizer.
  • Improved dual pixel cmos af and eye detection af (still/movie servo af support).

Best Micro Four Thirds Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget: Panasonic LUMIX GH5

The Panasonic GH5 camera is equipped with numerous video features. It has an in-body image stabilization feature, a great battery life, and it can record broadcast-quality 4K and HD format videos. 

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Digital Camera, 20.3...

The camera is built really well, and it lets you add a pro audio module so you can attach a transformer mic, discrete mic, equalizer, compressor, and more for clear and clean audio. 

Measuring 5.83 x 7.56 x 6.14 inches and weighing 1 pound, it is lighter than the Fujifilm X-T3, Panasonic LUMIX G85, and the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. 

With its 20.3 megapixel sensor, it can capture sharp photos and videos with a very high dynamic range. The camera is weather-sealed, and its body is made of magnesium alloy, which means it is sturdy enough to take a beating and won’t break easily. 

As for its ports, the camera has a 3.5-millimeter audio port for the sound, a USB 3.0 slot so you can connect it to your other devices, an external monitor with an HDMI port for computer and TV connectivity, and two SD card slots so you can add more storage if needed. 

Unfortunately, the sensor of the camera is narrow, so it performs poorly in low light conditions, unlike the Fujifilm X-T3 and the Panasonic LUMIX GH5. Also, its autofocus is slow when shooting at 24 frames per second or 24fps. 

Pros:

  • Sturdy built 
  • Weather-sealed, it can withstand dust, dirt, and water
  • It has an option to add a pro audio module

Cons:

  • It can’t be used in the dark as the sensor is narrow
  • The autofocus is slow
Sale
Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Digital Camera, 20.3...
  • Professional photo & video: 20.3 Megapixel micro four thirds sensor with no low pass filter to...
  • Splash/Freeze Proof Design: Freeze proof to 10 degrees the durable magnesium alloy body withstands...
  • Dual image stabilization: 5 axis dual image stabilization corrects all lenses, including classic...

Features to Consider in Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget

As a filmmaker, it is easy to get distracted by all of the hype surrounding the latest cameras and their technology, especially if you still haven’t found a camera for your filmmaking. Luckily, because of the massive demand, there are numerous cameras for filmmaking that won’t force you to go over your budget. 

The best cameras for filmmaking on a budget have basic features such as autofocus, sensors, and ports.

Still, there are features that you will need to specifically look for to make sure that your filmmaking journey runs smoothly. You can check out the quick rundown below. 

Product Image Stabilization Weather-Sealed Fast Autofocus
Fujifilm X-T3NoNoYes
Panasonic LUMIXYesYesNo
Canon EOS M50 Mark II NoNo Yes
Panasonic LUMIX GH5YesYesNo

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization in cameras for filmmaking is useful because it prevents blurring and distortion on your videos caused by a shaky camera. While filming your videos, there will be moments wherein you will need to hold the camera yourself to get the best angles. 

The feature is very handy too if you do not like carrying a tripod with you. The feature can also speed up the shutter speed, which is very helpful when there isn’t enough light to get clear videos. The Fujifilm X-T3 and the Canon EOS M50 Mark II both have image stabilization. 

Weather Sealing

Filmmakers love to shoot scenes outdoors where they can experiment with the natural light and take advantage of nature as their background. However, the weather can be very unpredictable. It can be sunny one minute and then start raining the next. 

Weather-sealed cameras that are used for filmmaking can let you continue shooting your scenes, may it be rain or shine, and you won’t have to worry about water droplets, moisture, and other elements like dirt and dust from ruining the quality of your equipment. From the list, the Panasonic LUMIX G85 and the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 are equipped with this feature. 

Fast Autofocus

When you are doing photoshoots, especially outdoors, every second counts. This is very important for photographers who are into wildlife and nature, and those who use live subjects as their inspiration. 

A fast autofocus lets you capture every precious moment immediately. It locks in the subject in the frame so you can get the angle that you want. 

Out of all the cameras on the list, the Fujifilm X-T3 and the Canon EOS M50 Mark II have fast autofocus features. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are USB Ports and USB Type-C Ports Different?

USB ports and USB Type-C ports are different. The USB port is connected to small devices like power banks, smartphones, tablets, and external hard drives. Meanwhile, the USB Type-C port is a one-size-fits-all port that is compatible with all types of devices. 

Power-wise, the USB Type-C is better as it can deliver a massive 100W power while the USB port can only offer up to 2.5W of power. Also, the USB Type-C port can support numerous types of protocols, which allows you to use adapters that can output other types of connections such as DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI, headphones, and more. 

A camera on a tripod with a landscape background

Why Is 4k Resolution Important in Filming?

The 4K resolution is important in filming because it can deliver a higher quality image than any other resolution. It can produce a sharper result. 

Also, 4K resolution reduces the chance of color banding since cameras for filming with 4K resolution can record at a higher bitrate. That means that more color details like green mountains, blue skies, and other solid colors. 

Aside from producing sharp images and brighter colors, 4K resolution lets you have more editing options. If you are using a Mac, you can edit the 4K source files with iMovie and Final Cut Pro. As for Windows, Adobe Premiere Pro can be used to edit the files. 

Conclusion

The best camera for filmmaking on a budget lets filmmakers find a camera with amazing features without going broke. These budget cameras for filmmaking have everything you need, from 4K resolution and fast autofocus system to image stabilization and sturdy build. 

Quality is not proportionate to price, and you can get a great, well-rounded camera without sacrificing your budget. 

Jared Bauman has spent more than twenty years in the professional photography profession. He founded Bauman Photographers in 2001, which is a wedding and commercial photography studio in San Diego, California. The company has been in business for 20 years, and has a stellar reputation in the community. In 2007, Jared co-founded ShootDotEdit, the premium post production company for professional wedding photographers worldwide. The company has edited millions of images for photographers around the world. Jared has spoken and presented at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference 9 years in a row. He has also given several multi-day courses on Creative Live, in addition to two national speaking tours.