Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to pick up whatever camera whenever they want it. A lot of people are simply looking for the best camera for recording video that is within their budget. With the astounding range of brands each with their own distinct pros and cons it can be a lot to sort through.
To help you out, filmmaker Dan Watson has compiled a list of the best mirrorless cameras for every single budget – from $500 to $5,000. Whether you are just starting out and only have a few hundred bucks or are looking to make a serious investment there is a recommendation here for you.
$500 Camera: Insta360 ONE R 1” Edition
This price point is tough to hit without looking used. Many people might be best off with maximizing their smartphone’s camera. However, Watson does have an interesting pick for the $500 spot in the Insta360 ONE R 1” Edition Action Cam.
This is a unique action cam. Compared to GoPro, the Insta360 ONE R is customizable with different modules for changing specs and performance. For pure video quality, the 1” Edition has a relatively large 1” sensor (obviously) that will deliver great 4K video up to 60 fps.
One other reason to consider this is that it would be worthwhile to hang on to in the future even if you upgrade your camera later on. Otherwise, it is an ultra-wide 15mm equivalent lens, so combined with a phone for capturing other video and you have a nice, compact, and affordable kit.
$1,000 Camera: Sony ZV-E10
Among the newest cameras on the list, the Sony ZV-E10 is a solid option for under $1,000. You can also consider the ZV-1 if you want something more portable and with an integrated zoom lens. But the advantage of the ZV-E10 is that it is mirrorless.
Both shoot 4K30 and have log recording and an assortment of inputs, but being able to swap out lenses and use a larger APS-C sensor will benefit you in the long run. The kit lens is just okay, but there are tons of affordable options you can pick up over time as your budget allows to unlock even better image quality.
$1,500 Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5
A huge camera at release, the Panasonic GH5 has maintained its position as a solid video-centric mirrorless camera while becoming much more affordable. It does 4K60, has 10-bit recording, tons of video-specific features that will make life a lot easier.
Easily one of the best cameras still around for the money. It does have a smaller Four Thirds sensor, but the MFT system is very mature and there are tons of fast lenses that will make you forget that. And you can adapt a ton of lenses and use speedboosters.
$2,000 Camera: Panasonic Lumix S5
There is a lot of competition in the $2K range and it keeps getting more competitive. You can start getting into full-frame, too. Dan’s pick is the Panasonic S5. It’s a great, more affordable take on Panasonic’s bigger S Series options.
It still packs a punch with 4K60 10-bit recording and Full HD up to 120p. Imagine a GH5, but with a full-frame sensor. Like the GH5, it is lacking a bit in the AF department. You will also need newer L-mount lenses, but there is support from Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma.
$3,000 Camera: Canon R6 or Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro
As we noted with the $2K price range, getting up to $3K unlocks a plethora of new options. You could even start looking at used, slightly older video cameras that are higher-end. If you are looking newer, the Canon EOS R6 is a good look as it is another full-frame 4K60 camera with 10-bit recording.
It has an advantage in the autofocus department as Canon has done wonders with Dual Pixel CMOS AF tech for video. It produces some beautiful footage and is perfect for hybrid shooters.
Alternately, the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro is perhaps a better option if you are focused solely on video. It’s a Super 35mm cinema camera, meaning lacking things like AF, but it has things like ND filter, 6K raw video, mini-XLR inputs, a large 5” screen, and more that you don’t get on hybrid mirrorless options.
$4,000 Camera: Sony a7S III or FX3
This is the sweet spot for a lot of professionals as it is high enough to get some great features, yet still affordable for independent operations. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for people following camera news that the Sony a7S III (or its cinema-focused cousin—the FX3) is the recommendation.
4K up to 120p, a full-frame sensor, class-leading low-light performance, 10-bit everything, and tons more. Overheating is also very well addressed in these models and that makes it an amazing pick for those who are shooting a lot of video.
Now, for hybrid shooters, the Canon R5 is a good competitor, but the video limitations are going to be a problem for dedicated video shooters.
$5,000 Camera: Canon EOS C70
If you have $5K to spend you can start looking at traditional cinema cameras. Still, if you have the money then Dan’s pick is the Canon EOS C70. It has 4K up to 120p, two mini-XLRs, built-in ND filters, and a Super 35mm Dual Gain Output sensor. It’s designed for high-quality video productions and excels at the job.
What camera would you pick or recommend for any of these price points?
[source: Dan Watson]
- Insta360 ONE R 1” Edition Action Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Panasonic Lumix GH5 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Panasonic Lumix S5 Mirrorless Camera with 20-60mm Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony a7S III Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FX3 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)
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