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The 6 Best Cameras For Filmmaking - Spring 2022 Reviews

Best Cameras For Filmmaking

Investing in an interchangeable lens camera is an increasingly viable option for amateur filmmakers who want to produce high-quality video without spending a ton on professional video or cinema gear. Many stills and hybrid cameras on the market now 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. With so many options, however, it can be hard to know what to look for in a camera. 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, and its autofocus performance, along with your budget, ergonomic preferences, and personal taste.

Because we don't currently test cinema cameras, and since the best cameras for filmmaking are dedicated cinema cameras that run the gamut from affordable prosumer models to astronomically expensive professional models, this article will focus primarily on consumer stills and hybrid cameras that make for effective filmmaking tools on a budget. Note also that your chosen lens will significantly affect your camera's performance, including its stabilization and autofocus performance. That said, for the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test each camera with its standard kit lens.

We've tested over 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for filmmaking for most people to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. For more options, see our lists of the best 4k cameras, the best cameras for YouTube, and the best cameras.

  1. Best Camera For Filmmaking: Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II

    The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II is the best camera we've tested for amateur filmmakers. Though it's still a hybrid camera, it's packed with advanced video features that make it an excellent choice for video work. It uses a Four Thirds sensor with in-body image stabilization for stabilized handheld shooting and weather-sealed construction so you can shoot outdoors without worry.

    It can record 10-bit 4k video internally, with Log recording and 4:2:2 subsampling to take full advantage of the camera's dynamic range and give you greater latitude in post-production. It supports both regular UHD 4k and cinematic DCI 4k as well as anamorphic 6k, with frame rates up to 60 fps in 4k, giving you a range of shooting options to suit your needs. It includes a microphone input, headphone jack, and full-sized HDMI port that makes it easy to connect an external recorder.

    As far as video quality goes, it performs very well in more controlled lighting conditions, but its low-light performance is just decent because of its smaller sensor. Its autofocus system also isn't the most reliable, especially when tracking moving human subjects. It can lose focus when subjects move especially quickly or move around the frame a lot. Still, this is a video powerhouse among interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.

    See our review

  2. Full-Frame Alternative: Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

    If you would prefer a camera with a full-frame sensor, check out the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5. Unlike the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II, it doesn't support resolutions like cinematic 4k or anamorphic "6k", and it can only shoot 4k 60 fps video with a significant 1.5x crop. However, its full-frame sensor delivers better overall video quality, especially in low-light situations. It can record 4k 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally, but it also records 10-bit 4:2:2 video in 1080p, and it can output larger video files. It has in-body image stabilization, and its autofocus system is better at tracking moving faces, though it's less consistent with objects. The camera has a fully-articulated screen and headphone and microphone jacks, but instead of a full-sized HDMI port, it has a micro HDMI output. Unfortunately, it doesn't support All-I compression for higher-quality video files.

    Get the LUMIX GH5 II if you want more resolution and frame rate options, but if video quality and low-light performance are priorities, the Lumix DC-S5 is an excellent alternative.

    See our review

  3. Best APS-C Camera For Filmmaking: Fujifilm X-T4

    The best camera for videography that we've tested with an APS-C sensor is the Fujifilm X-T4. This hybrid stills/video camera offers excellent performance for both photography and video. It's relatively portable, and it has a sturdy, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body and a fully articulated screen that makes it easier to shoot videos or vlogs.

    It delivers fantastic video quality in more controlled lighting conditions and has excellent internal recording capability, as it can capture 10-bit 4:2:0 video for more precise colors and outputs large, high-quality video files. You can record 4k and 1080p video at up to 60 fps, and it has a separate high-speed capture mode in 1080p that can capture footage at up to 240 fps for slow-motion playback. It also improves upon the preceding Fujifilm X-T3 by adding in-body image stabilization, which does an excellent job of reducing camera shake.

    That said, the camera's video quality dips a bit in low light due to its APS-C sensor. It's also not the most ergonomically comfortable camera to shoot with. On the upside, though, it has a wide array of inputs and outputs, including a micro HDMI port with clean HDMI output and a microphone jack. It doesn't have a headphone jack but comes with a USB-to-headphones adapter. All in all, if you want to save some money by going with a more portable APS-C camera, this is an excellent choice.

    See our review

  4. Best DSLR Camera For Filmmaking: Nikon D780

    The Nikon D780 is among the best DSLR cameras we've tested, and it's also uniquely suited among DSLRs for video work, thanks to its hybrid autofocus system. When shooting in Live View, it uses an AF system borrowed from the mirrorless Nikon Z 6, giving you quicker focusing and coverage to the edges of the frame. If you shoot through the optical viewfinder, you get a more typical DSLR AF system with more accurate centralized focus points. All in all, it works very effectively to keep moving subjects in focus.

    As far as video quality is concerned, the D780 yields fantastic 4k video quality in more controlled lighting setups as well as in low light, thanks to its high-resolution full-frame sensor. It captures oversampled 4k video at up to 30 fps and 1080p video at up to 120 fps if you want to incorporate slow-motion footage. It supports Log recording, and it can output 10-bit footage to an external recorder over HDMI to give you more to work with when color-grading.

    That said, the camera doesn't have in-body stabilization, although it does have an electronic stabilization feature, which does a decent job reducing camera shake in 1080p, though enabling it incurs a slight 1.1x crop. Unfortunately, the stabilization doesn't work as well when shooting in 4k, even with the optically stabilized kit lens. Overall, it's a very capable hybrid DSLR with many video features for aspiring filmmakers.

    See our review

  5. Best Compact Camera For Filmmaking: SIGMA fp L

    The SIGMA fp L is the best camera for filmmaking that we've tested with a compact design. This premium interchangeable lens camera is one of the smallest full-frame camera bodies you can get, with a minimalist, weather-sealed design. It feels remarkably well-built with die-cast aluminum covering its front and back and rubber accents for grip. That said, its screen is fixed, and if you prefer to shoot with a viewfinder, you have to buy an EVF attachment from SIGMA at an additional cost.

    Despite lacking in ergonomics, the camera has several extra features that make it an attractive option for filmmakers, including a 'Director's Viewfinder' mode as well as support for CinemaDNG RAW files and 12-bit 4:2:2 video output over HDMI. It can record in Blackmagic RAW and ProRes RAW when you connect an external SSD, which allows you to shoot in 12-bit at up to 30 fps in 4k and up to 100 fps in 1080p. The camera has several frame rate options to choose from depending on what recording format you use, and its overall video quality is good when shooting in more controlled lighting conditions.

    That said, the camera lacks in-body image stabilization, meaning you have to rely on your lens' optical stabilization when shooting without a tripod. The camera does have digital image stabilization, though it only does a decent job of reducing camera shake and incurs a noticeable crop. Still, this is a good option if you're looking for a unique filmmaking camera with a compact, minimalist design and RAW video support.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Camera For Filmmaking: Sony α6400

    Of the cameras we've tested, the best camera for filmmaking on a budget is the Sony α6400. This APS-C mirrorless camera is portable and lightweight, making it easy to take with you on the go, and its sturdy magnesium alloy body is advertised to be weather-sealed. It feels very comfortable to use, and its screen can also tilt and flip out, making it easier to shoot from unconventional angles.

    It records impressively sharp and well-rendered video in both 4k and 1080p, and video looks excellent even in low light, with minimal visual noise. If you like to incorporate slow-motion footage, it can shoot up to 120 fps in 1080p, though shooting at that frame rate incurs a slight crop. That said, it only shoots in 4k at either 24 fps or 30 fps, and the latter incurs a 1.22x crop. Like most Sony cameras, it features an incredibly snappy and reliable autofocus system that effectively keeps moving subjects in focus.

    Unfortunately, the camera lacks in-body image stabilization. It does a good overall job smoothing out camera shake in 1080p with its Sony E 16-50mm 3.5-5.6/PZ OSS kit lens attached, but it performs much worse in 4k, meaning video may look shaky depending on your lens. It also lacks a headphone jack, though it does have a microphone input and micro HDMI port. Overall, this is a great option for filmmakers looking for a camera under $1,000.

    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. Its internal recording capability is more limited than options like the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 or the Fujifilm X-T4. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-E4: The Fujifilm X-E4 is another great option for filmmaking on a budget. It has a sleek design with an electronic rangefinder, supports Log picture profiles, and offers slow-motion capture at 120 or 240 fps in FHD, as well as uncropped 4k at up to 30 fps. However, its low-light video quality isn't as good as that of the Sony α6400, and its autofocus system is a bit less consistent. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-S10: The Fujifilm X-S10 is a great cheaper alternative to the Fujifilm X-T4 with a simpler control scheme and more portable design. However, it can't record 4k 60p video or shoot 10-bit color internally. See our review
  • Sony α7 III: The Sony α7 III is an excellent mirrorless camera for filmmaking. It delivers amazing overall video quality and has a fantastic autofocus system. However, its frame rate options and internal recording capability are a bit more limited than the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II or the DC-S5. See our review
  • Sony α6600: The Sony α6600 performs very similarly to the Sony α6400, but it has in-body image stabilization, which can help when shooting handheld. That said, it's more expensive, and unless having IBIS is important to you, it doesn't offer enough to justify the price difference. See our review

Recent Updates

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

  2. Jan 11, 2022: No change to recommendations after reviewing article for accuracy and availability.

  3. Dec 21, 2021: Added the Nikon D780 as 'Best DSLR Camera For Filmmaking' and added the Fujifilm X-S10 to Notable Mentions.

  4. Nov 30, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.

  5. Nov 09, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for filmmaking 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.