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The 5 Best Cameras For Filmmaking - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Cameras For Filmmaking

Investing in a mirrorless or DSLR camera is an increasingly viable option for amateur filmmakers who want to produce high-quality videos without spending a ton on professional video gear. Many stills and hybrid cameras on the market have impressive internal video recording capability and support a variety of recording formats, codecs, and picture profiles, allowing you to control the creative process from shooting to editing. Generally speaking, when looking for a filmmaking camera, you should consider the camera's resolution and frame rate options, whether or not it has in-body stabilization (IBIS), and design features like memory card slots and ports to attach all your videography peripherals. Of course, your budget and ergonomic preferences also play a big role in determining the best product for your needs.

Because we don't currently test cinema cameras, and since dedicated cinema cameras run the gamut from affordable prosumer models to astronomically expensive professional models, this article focuses primarily on consumer stills and hybrid cameras with advanced video features for those looking to get started shooting films. Note also that your chosen lens will significantly affect your camera's performance, including its stabilization and autofocus performance.

We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best hybrid cameras for aspiring filmmakers to buy. If you're looking for a simpler, more affordable camera to create videos for online media platforms, check out our recommendations for the best cameras for YouTube. Otherwise, see our list of the best 4k cameras for the best 4k-capable cameras we've tested or the best cameras for the best all-around models we've tested.

  1. Best Camera For Filmmaking

    The Sony α7 IV significantly steps up the video capability of its predecessor, the Sony α7 III, making it one of the best hybrid enthusiast cameras on the market. It supports tons of different recording formats and video codecs, along with several different Log and flat picture profiles to preserve a wider range of highlight and shadow detail. You can also make the most of those profiles thanks to 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording, which gives you more latitude when grading your footage. If that wasn't enough, it has a best-in-class autofocus system and a full set of inputs and outputs, including a mic input, headphone jack, and full-sized HDMI port, meaning you can connect peripherals like an external recorder and microphone.

    Unlike competitors like the Canon EOS R6, it doesn't suffer from overheating issues, and there's no time limit on recording, meaning you can shoot longer takes if needed. Battery life is excellent, too. Plus, it has plenty of 4k and FHD frame rate options, so you can incorporate slow-motion footage, although it can only record 4k at 60 fps in Super 35 / APS-C crop mode. The other downside is that it can't output RAW video, even when connected to an external recorder. Still, for the price, you get just about everything you need to start shooting high-quality videos, not to mention plenty of native and third-party lens options.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Filmmaking

    Another great option for aspiring filmmakers is the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II, a hybrid camera heavily geared toward videographers. It uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor instead of a full-frame sensor like the Sony α7 IV, which means working with a 2x crop factor and losing out on some depth of field and low-light capability. However, it still delivers excellent video quality, and the longer focal reach could also be an advantage depending on what you want to shoot. Plus, it has a ton of resolution and frame rate options, including anamorphic 4k and 6k modes to get a wider, more cinematic aspect ratio, as well as UHD and DCI (Cinema) 4k up to 60 fps for smooth action or slow-motion footage. You also get Log profiles and 10-bit 4:2:2 4k recording (up to 30 fps) to capture more color information and give you more freedom to edit.

    If you're set on a full-frame camera for better low-light performance, the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 is an excellent video camera in a similar price range with 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture and 4k up to 60 fps (with a crop), though it doesn't have as many recording formats/codecs. Full-frame lenses will also be bigger and more expensive. The GH5 II has since been superseded by the Panasonic LUMIX GH6, which has a higher-resolution sensor, higher-resolution video recording, and a CFexpress card slot, but, for the price, the GH5 II is still one of the best cameras for videography that you can get.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Filmmaking

    The Sony α6600 is the best mid-range option we've tested for aspiring filmmakers. It's an excellent APS-C model with built-in image stabilization (IBIS), a sturdy weather-sealed body, and an exceptional battery life that can easily last through long recording sessions without overheating. Like the higher-end models mentioned above, you also get Log/flat picture profiles to preserve more detail in your videos. However, the camera is limited to 8-bit color depth and 4:2:0 sampling internally, so you'll have a harder time getting the most out of flatter Log profiles when grading and editing your footage. It also maxes out at 30 fps in 4k, although the camera can record at up to 120 fps in 1080p if you want to incorporate slow-motion shots.

    Like the other Sonys on this list, it doesn't impose a recording time limit when shooting video, an underrated benefit for the aspiring filmmaker. If you don't need IBIS, the Sony α6400 is a bit cheaper and gets you the same video quality and the same fantastic autofocus performance, though it has notably worse battery life and lacks a headphone jack. Otherwise, the α6600 is a capable video camera if you don't mind working with 8-bit video.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Camera For Filmmaking

    Our top budget pick is the Sony ZV-E10. While it's marketed as a vlogging camera, this entry-level APS-C model has much to offer for videographers and filmmakers who don't want to spend a fortune on camera gear. It doesn't have a viewfinder like the Sony α6600, but the fully articulated screen is perfect for video work, and the camera's portable size makes it a breeze to shoot anywhere. Unfortunately, it doesn't have IBIS, but you can pair it with optically stabilized lenses or use a gimbal if you need to get smooth camera movements. It has excellent connectivity options, too, with headphone and mic jacks and a Micro HDMI port to connect an external monitor.

    Like the α6600, there's no time limit on recording, which is great for longer recording sessions. Its battery life is also impressive, and you're unlikely to have any issues with overheating. What you miss out on compared to higher-end options are 10-bit internal recording and 4k / 60 fps. However, you still get 4k up to 30 fps and 1080p up to 120 fps for slow-motion recording. With excellent video features for its price, the ZV-E10 is a great choice for the budget-conscious filmmaker.

    See our review

  5. Best Camera For Filmmaking In Low Light

    If you frequently shoot in low light, the Panasonic LUMIX GH5s is one of the best options. Released as a video-optimized alternative to the GH5 (the predecessor to the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II mentioned above), the GH5s uses a lower-resolution sensor with dual-native ISO, which will minimize noise and grain when shooting in low light at higher ISOs. It also uses a multi-aspect sensor, meaning you can change the aspect ratio without altering the angle of view. Like the GH5 II, it can record UHD 4k and DCI (Cinema) 4k at up to 60 fps. It also comes with a full set of inputs and outputs, including a full-sized HDMI port to easily connect an external monitor.

    The other big difference is that the GH5s doesn't have in-body image stabilization. Panasonic deliberately removed it to make space for the multi-aspect sensor and to eliminate the possibility of micro-vibrations to the sensor. It means you'll need to use a gimbal or external stabilizer if you want smooth handheld footage. If that isn't a dealbreaker for you, this is one of the best cameras for videography in low-light conditions.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Nikon Z 6II: The Nikon Z 6II is a solid full-frame camera that delivers impressive video quality and offers many frame rate options. However, its internal recording capability is more limited than options like the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-T4: The Fujifilm X-T4 is an excellent upper mid-range option for hybrid shooters, with 4k recording at up to 60 fps. While its APS-C sensor is a bit better-suited to low light than the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II, it has fewer recording format/codec options, and it's limited to 4:2:0 subsampling internally. See our review
  • Sony α7 III: The Sony α7 III is an excellent mirrorless camera for filmmaking. It delivers amazing video quality and has a fantastic autofocus system. However, its frame rate options and internal recording capability are more limited than the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. See our review
  • SIGMA fp L: The SIGMA fp L is a unique full-frame camera with a compact, modular design. It supports even more recording formats than the Sony α7 IV, including 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW, and is packed with plenty of cinema features. However, its modular design takes some getting used to and potentially additional purchases. It also has a sub-par autofocus system and can't record 4k / 60 fps. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 03, 2023: Brushed up text for accuracy and clarity with no changes to recommendations.

  2. Nov 24, 2022: Touched up text for clarity and simplicity; no change to recommendations.

  3. Oct 27, 2022: Removed the GoPro HERO10 Black.

  4. Aug 16, 2022: Restructured article for clarity and to align more closely with user expectations.

  5. Feb 15, 2022: Reviewed accuracy and availability of picks; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best filmmaking cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for video-capable cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.