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 fortune on professional video gear. In fact, consumer stills and hybrid cameras are becoming increasingly capable video cameras, with many supporting internal 10-bit recording and a wide range of recording formats, codecs, and picture profiles. Generally speaking, when looking for a filmmaking camera, you should consider the camera's video resolution and frame rate options, whether or not it has in-body image stabilization (IBIS), and design features like dual memory card slots and ports to attach peripherals like microphones or external recorders. Of course, budget and ergonomic preferences also play a big role in determining which camera is best for you.
We don't currently test cinema cameras, and because 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 95 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best hybrid cameras for aspiring filmmakers and videographers to buy. If you're looking for simpler options 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 our best cameras overall.
The Fujifilm X-H2S is one of the best hybrid cameras in its price range for up-and-coming videographers. It's an incredibly capable camera, with a 26-megapixel stacked sensor that keeps rolling shutter to a minimum. It's also one of the few consumer cameras that can record video from a 14-bit readout, meaning you'll get a wider dynamic and tonal range. On top of that, it supports 6.2k open gate recording, 4k at up to 60 fps without a crop, and even has a slow-motion recording mode that can capture 4k at up to 120 fps.
Aside from its superb internal recording capabilities, it also has all the ports you'll need for video peripherals, including a full-sized HDMI port to connect a compatible external recorder, to which you can output RAW video. Even without an external recorder, the camera's internal codec support is fantastic, with Apple ProRes formats to capture higher-quality video with less compression. That's just scratching the surface of what this camera can do, making it one of the best-value options for hybrid and video shooters.
The Sony ZV-E1 is one of the best cameras for videography in low light. That's because it features a 12 MP full-frame sensor optimized for low-light shooting—the same sensor found in the pricier Sony α7S III and Sony FX3, some of the best videography cameras in their respective classes. With fantastic noise handling and plenty of dynamic range, the ZV-E1 delivers excellent video quality in even the trickiest lighting conditions. It also comes with in-body image stabilization, Sony's ever-reliable autofocus, and 4k recording at up to 60 fps.
The Panasonic LUMIX GH5s is another great option for low-light videography. Though it uses a smaller Four Thirds sensor, the sensor's low resolution and dual-native ISO are designed to optimize the camera for low light, and the camera supports a wide array of recording formats and codecs. It's a more portable camera system than the ZV-E1, with more compact lens options and more effective IBIS, but its AF falls far behind the Sony camera's. But if you prefer manual focus, the GH5s is a good choice to save you some money. Otherwise, the ZV-E1 offers a ton of value for its price for solo operators who frequently shoot in uncontrolled or dim lighting conditions.
If the Fujifilm X-H2S is out of your price range, the Panasonic LUMIX S5 II has much to offer at a lower price. It can record 4k video at 60 fps, albeit with an APS-C crop, and it features internal 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, with support for a wide range of codecs and recording formats. Video quality from its full-frame sensor is also excellent, and its in-body image stabilization (IBIS) works very well.
One of the biggest improvements of the S5 II over its predecessor is a new phase-detection autofocus system. It's the first LUMIX camera to feature PDAF, and it definitely shows in video, with near-seamless subject tracking. That said, its implementation in photo mode still needs some work. It's also worth noting that native L-mount lenses can be expensive, though you can get around that by going for third-party options or using a lens-mount adapter. All in all, this is a highly capable hybrid camera with a full-frame sensor.
Another great option for aspiring filmmakers is the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. It uses a Micro Four Thirds (M4/3) sensor instead of a full-frame sensor like the Panasonic LUMIX S5 II above, so while it's a bit less suited to shooting in dim or uncontrolled lighting conditions, it still delivers excellent video quality overall. Plus, you'll find many more affordable and portable lens options for the Four Thirds system.
Like its full-frame sibling, the GH5 II supports a ton of resolution and frame rate options, including anamorphic modes to get a wider, more cinematic aspect ratio and UHD and DCI 4k at up to 60 fps. 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 flexibility in post. Note that the GH5 II has since been replaced by the Panasonic LUMIX GH6, which has a higher-resolution sensor, higher-resolution video recording, and a CFexpress card slot. For the price, however, the GH5 II is still one of the best cameras for filmmaking that you can get.
The Sony ZV-E10 is the best camera for filmmaking on a tight budget. Though marketed as a vlogging camera, this entry-level APS-C model offers a lot for beginner videographers and filmmakers who don't want to spend a fortune on a camera. It doesn't have a viewfinder like the cameras above, but the fully articulated screen is ideal for video work. The camera's portable size also makes it a breeze to shoot anywhere.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have in-body stabilization, but you can pair it with optically stabilized lenses or use a video rig to get smoother camera movements. Compared to higher-end options, you'll also miss out on internal 10-bit capture and 60 fps recording in 4k. For the price, though, the camera still has a fairly wide range of frame rates, with 4k at up to 30 fps and 1080p at up to 120 fps. Overall, it's a great choice for the budget-conscious filmmaker.
Jul 27, 2023: Removed the Canon EOS R7, shifted the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II to the 'Mid-Range' spot, and added the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 as the 'Upper Mid-Range' pick. Also replaced the Panasonic LUMIX GH5s with the Sony ZV-E1 as the 'Low Light' pick.
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.