Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget in 2023

The last couple of years has been extremely giving to aspiring filmmakers who were able to thrive and make a mark for themselves in the era of good quality yet affordable filmmaking cameras. 

There are Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget available from almost every renowned brand, but it can be easy to get distracted by the glamour and marketing hype surrounding some of the greatest and latest additions in camera technology.

The good news is that owing to those innovations, the selection of affordable cameras has only widened, putting something for every kind of filmmaker.  Some of the cheaper 4K filming cameras could fall short in the stabilization department, and you have to trade off the freedom the varying movements and position for 4K quality.

We understand that the total budget is subjective to every person’s preference and where they wish to use the cameras. There are certain cameras that are better suited to particular situations than the rest. 

Taking many factors into account, we set a budget for all cameras at about $1,400 for their body and at least their kit lens. Alongside setting a maximum budget, we also listed some other criteria we expect the camera to meet.

Criteria to choose the best camera for filmmaking on a budget:

  • Price below $1,400 with kit lens
  • Functioning autofocus system
  • Minimum 1080p resolution
  • Minimum slow motion frame rate – 60FPS in 1080p

Now let’s get down to business.

Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget in 2023 (Overview)

Sony Alpha a6400 – Winner 

Sale
Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video & Flip Up Touchscreen - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400/B Body
  • Next Gen speed: experience the world’s fastest 0. 02 sec AF with real-time AF and object tracking
  • Enhanced subject capture: wide 425 Phase/ 425 contrast detection points over 84% of the sensor
  • Fast and accurate: up to 11Fps continuous shooting at 24. 2MP raw with crisp, clear natural colors
  • Multiple movie functions: make time lapse movies or slow/quick motion videos without post processing
  • Tiltable LCD screen: customizable for vlogging, still photography or recording a professional film

After the discontinuation of Sony a6500, the Sony a6400 was introduced to the market, and it’s one worthy successor. It has pretty much the same features as the a6500 plus some of Sony’s latest technology. 

The Sony a6400 packs incredible power inside its small compact body, coming with a bunch of amazing video features. You get an upgraded weather-sealed body that protects effectively against rough climates. For the video specs, this model can shoot in 1080p up to 120FPS and in 4K up to 30FPS. At this price point, this is still the sole camera with an APS-C sensor capable of shooting in 120FPS.

As with all other Sony cameras, the a6400 boasts a stellar autofocus speed and accuracy. We really like the newest versions as they come with state-of-the-art technology. Apart from that, the classic Sony combo of 425 contrast-detection points and 425 phase-detection was improved with the inclusion of real-time autofocus tracking for video mode.

PROS

  • Maximum 120FPS shooting speed at 1080p – the only one on this list
  • Amazing ISO range
  • No 4k recording limit
  • Clear UHD 4K video at 24 and 30 FPS

CONS

  • No in-built image stabilization
  • Repetition of the Sony NP-FW50 battery

Panasonic LUMIX G85 – Runner-Up 

Sale
Panasonic LUMIX G85 4K Digital Camera, 12-60mm Power O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera, 5 Axis In-Body Dual Image Stabilization, 3-Inch Tilt and Touch LCD, DMC-G85MK (Black)
  • Fine Detail Performance: 16 megapixel micro four thirds sensor with no low pass filter resulting in a near 10 percent boost in fine detail resolving power over existing 16 megapixel micro four thirds sensors; Color temperature setting 2500 to 10000K in 100K
  • Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera: With 12 60 millimeter lens, Shoot lighter and faster with the modern hybrid photography performance of a mirrorless camera and nearly half the bulk of most DSLRs
  • Class Leading Dual Image Stabilization: In body 5 axis dual image stabilization works in both photo and motion picture recording including 4K video to produce clear handheld shots even in low light conditions. Diopter adjustment: minus-4.0 to plus-4.0 (dpt)
  • Live Viewfinder and Flip LCD Display: Integrated eye level OLED live viewfinder (2360K dots) and rear touch Enabled 3 inch LCD Display (1040K dots) adjusts for optimal viewing angles to maximize viewing
  • 4K video Capture: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive Lumix 4K photo and 4K Post Focus allows you to record photos up to 30fps and set your desired focus points after the photo has been Taken

Next up on our list of best cameras for filmmaking on a budget is the Panasonic G85. There was a rather neck-to-neck competition between this and the Sony a6400 for top place, but we finally decided on placing this as the runner-up, and we will soon explain why.

The G85 works around the shortcomings of the older Panasonic Lumix products, giving you a nice mix of better, improved features but still not without cons. You get a high-quality, sturdy weather sealer body with the G85, and the ergonomics are rather impressive. We really enjoyed the autofocus system, not to mention the insane built-in image stabilization.

However, the Sony phase-detect autofocus system takes the lead in the best autofocus system least. It also lacks in performance in low light. Still, you can definitely rely on the G85 to produce some stunning visual pieces.

PROS

  • Incredible built-in image stabilization
  • 4K UHD video and a maximum of 60FPS at 1080p
  • Wide variety of available lenses
  • Decent autofocus system

CONS

  • No variable frame rate like its predecessor, GH4
  • Smaller sensor than the Sony a6400

Sony ZV-1

Sale
Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera for Content Creators, Vlogging and YouTube with Flip Screen, Built-in Microphone, 4K HDR Video, Touchscreen Display, Live Video Streaming, Webcam
  • 20.1MP stacked back illuminated 1” Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ DRAM. Large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens.Bluetooth : Yes (Bluetooth Standard Ver. 4.1 (2.4 GHz band)). Operating Temperature : 0 degrees C. - +40 degrees C. / 32 degrees F. - 104 degrees F.
  • Fast Hybrid Autofocus and Real Time Eye Autofocus and Real-time Autofocus tracking.
  • Side flip-out 3.0” LCD screen that also tilts up and down for easier to compose selfie shots
  • Quickly switch between two modes of defocused background bokeh
  • Product Showcase Setting transitions focus from face to object

Sony’s brand new 1” sensor point-and-shoot camera ZV-1 is a big step up from many of the precious RX series cameras. Here are some of the biggest improvements that earned this camera a spot on today’s list.

  • Side flip-out screen – a first from Sony.
  • In-built ND filter
  • No limit on 4K recording VS the 30-minute limit on the Panasonic G85
  • An in-built hot shoe to connect an external microphone
  • Fixes the rolling shutter issue faced in the Sony APS-C camera
  • Built-in time-lapse mode

Packing such excellent improvement, the Sony ZV-1 has rightfully become one of the most powerful budget filmmaking cameras Sony ever produced. It features an almost identical camera to Sony’s newer and much pricier APS-C came, a6600. The menu system is the same, and so is the powerful autofocus with real-time eye AF tracking as well as object tracking.

PROS

  • The HFR mode which allows recording at very high slow motion frame rates
  • Better ergonomics overall
  • In-built ND filter for better filming in bright conditions
  • Sony’s new color science

CONS

  • Not the best low-light performance
  • Not an interchangeable lens camera

DJI Pocket 2

DJI Pocket 2 - Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with 4K Camera, 1/1.7” CMOS, 64MP Photo, Pocket-Sized, ActiveTrack 3.0, Glamour Effects, YouTube TikTok Video Vlog, for Android and iPhone, Black
  • POCKET-SIZED: DJI Pocket 2 weighs only 116 g and offers up to 140 minutes of battery life. It fits perfectly in the palm of your hand so that you can take it anywhere. DJI Pocket 2 turns on in a second so you can capture photos and videos in an instant..Battery Capacity : 875 mAh, Voltage : 7.7 V. Energy : 6.738 Wh.
  • MOTORIZED STABILIZATION: A 3-axis gimbal stabilizes the camera for smooth video on the move. This technology is also great for a crisp photo at any time. The gimbal keeps the camera steady, even for long-exposure shots and in low-light environments.
  • HIGH IMAGE QUALITY: An upgraded 1/1.7-inch sensor captures images with 64MP photo and 4K video. A sweeping 20mm f/1.8 lens provides a wide, vivid cinematic look.
  • ENHANCED AUDIO: Consisting of four microphones, DJI Matrix Stereo offers sound recording in different directions, as well as Audio Zoom and SoundTrack, which enhance audio based on the camera's direction and focus.
  • GLAMOUR EFFECTS: Always share your best selfie with Glamour Effects. Boasting a 93° angle view, Pocket 2 allows for more flexible capture and perfectly-composed shots for social media.

DJI’s newest addition to its line of the pocket gimbal, the DJI Pocket 2 is undoubtedly one of the most affordable and best 4K video cameras out there.

You will be able to shoot in 2K or 4K at up to 60FPS, and this is a big deal considering no other full-sized cameras on this list can do this. For the slow-motion side, the dedicated slow-motion mode allows you to record up to 240FPS in 1080p HD. The only camera that could compare with this spec is the Sony ZV-1, which is priced double as the DJI Pocket 2.

There’s also an inclusion of a 20mm equivalent lens plus the DJI Matrix Stereo for clear audio output.

PROS

  • Pocket-sized
  • Large 1./1.7” sensor
  • Great 2K, 4K, and slow-motion frame rates
  • Three-axis stabilization for sublimely smooth footage

CONS

  • Not weatherproof
  • Can’t record at a stretch in a single shot

Panasonic LUMIX GH4 

Panasonic LUMIX GH4 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera, 16 Megapixels, 3 Inch Touch LCD, DMC-GH4KBODY (USA Black)
  • Professional photo performance with exceptional moiré suppression
  • Operating temperature:0 degree to 40 degree (32 degree F to 104 degree F); 4K 24p cinematic video (4096x2160), plus 4K 3840x2160 30p/24p
  • High speed 49 area auto focusing in photo or video, perfect for hybrid photography
  • Durable magnesium alloy body and exceptional shutter life meets the demands of professional use

The first thing you will notice when you open the box of your brand-new Panasonic GH4 is how well-made it is. It might be just another mirrorless camera, but the appearance resembles a classic, more expensive DSLR. The heavy-duty weather-sealed magnesium body feels great to the touch.

The extra bulk is slightly helpful when shooting as the camera is easier to handle. One of the biggest pluses of this model is how the screen can articular fully, making it easily maneuverable. 

Don’t be fooled by its Micro Four-Thirds specification, this camera is capable of doing some professional video work. It can record in Cinema 4K at 24FPS and in Ultra HD 4K at 30/24FPS.

PROS

  • Pocket-sized
  • Large 1./1.7” sensor
  • Great 2K, 4K, and slow-motion frame rates
  • Three-axis stabilization for sublimely smooth footage

CONS

  • Not weatherproof
  • Can’t record at a stretch in a single shot

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