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The 5 Best Cameras For Filmmaking - Black Friday 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Cameras For Filmmaking
71 Cameras Tested
  • Store-bought cameras; no cherry-picked units
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Investing in an interchangeable lens camera, whether it's a stills, hybrid, or video-oriented model, is an increasingly viable option for filmmakers who want to produce high-quality video without spending a ton on a professional video or cinema camera. Many cameras on the market now have impressive internal video recording capability and support various recording formats and picture profiles, allowing you to control the creative process from shooting to editing. With so many options, it can be hard to know what to look for in a camera. Generally speaking, when looking for a camera to make films with, you should consider things like resolution and frame rate options, in-body stabilization, and autofocus performance, along with your budget, shooting preferences, and personal taste.

It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to record the kind of videos you want, but it could make your camera more of a hassle to carry around. For the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test each camera with its standard kit lens.

We've tested over 65 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

    7.9
    Studio Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    4/3
    Tested Lens
    Leica DG H-ES12060 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Vario-Elmarit ASPH Power O.I.S.

    The best camera for filmmaking of those we've tested is the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. This Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera offers a host of video-oriented features that make it a great choice for filmmakers. When shooting in MOV format, it can record cinematic 4k (4096 × 2160) and anamorphic 6k (4992 x 3774) video, as well as standard 4k and 1080p at up to 60 fps. It can also record 4k 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally for more precise colors and tones. 4k video quality is fantastic when shooting in brighter lighting conditions, and 1080p video quality is good, though it doesn't perform as well in low light due to its smaller sensor.

    It's a well-built camera that feels remarkably comfortable to use, and the body is advertised to be weather-sealed to protect against elements like rain and dust. It has an incredibly easy-to-use menu system, including a guide mode to explain some of the camera's more advanced features. It also has a fully articulated touchscreen that can help when recording video at different angles or vlogging. It features in-body image stabilization as well, which does a great overall job of smoothing out camera shake when shooting handheld.

    Unfortunately, the camera's autofocus system isn't as reliable as some of its competitors. While it supports both face and eye detection, it does just an okay job tracking moving subjects when shooting video. The camera is also quite bulky and heavy, but on the upside, it has a full array of inputs and outputs, including a full-size HDMI port, headphone jack, and microphone jack. All in all, this is one of the best cameras for filmmaking that we've tested, and most users should be happy with it.

    See our review

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

    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    Full Frame
    Tested Lens
    Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6

    If you'd rather get 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 GH5 II if you want more resolution and frame rate options, but if video quality and low-light performance are priorities, the DC-S5 is an excellent alternative.

    See our review

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

    8.6
    Studio Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    FUJINON XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R OIS

    The best camera for videography that we've tested with an APS-C sensor is the Fujifilm X-T4. This flagship mirrorless model from Fujifilm's X-series is a great hybrid choice for filmmakers who also like to take still photos, as it captures high-quality images as well as 4k and 1080p video. You can also take advantage of Fujifilm's 'Film Simulation' color profiles or shoot in F-log or HLG if you want more latitude in color grading your videos.

    The camera can record 4k 10-bit 4:2:0 color video internally, and it can output videos of up to 400 Mbps in 4k or 200 Mbps in FHD. Video quality is fantastic when shooting in controlled lighting conditions, and it has many frame rate options, including 4k and 1080p at up to 60 fps and a slow-motion mode in 1080p that shoots at either 120 fps or 240 fps. It comes with two high-speed UHS-II card slots, meaning you can have a backup SD card in place for long shooting days. Its in-body image stabilization also does an excellent job of smoothing out camera shake.

    That said, it lacks a dedicated headphone jack, which is a little inconvenient, though it comes with a USB-C-to-headphone adapter that you can use to plug in headphones and monitor your audio. On the upside, it has a microphone jack and supports clean HDMI output via its micro HDMI port, meaning you can connect an external recorder without any overlays. Overall, this is one of the best mirrorless cameras we've tested, and it's an especially good choice for hybrid shooters interested in photography and filmmaking.

    See our review

  4. Best Compact Camera For Filmmaking: SIGMA fp L

    7.1
    Studio Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    Full Frame
    Tested Lens
    Panasonic LUMIX S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6

    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

  5. Best Budget Camera For Filmmaking: Sony α6400

    8.2
    Studio Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Sony E 16-50mm 3.5-5.6/PZ OSS

    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 at 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 of 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 D780: The Nikon D780 is a full-frame DSLR camera that records videos with sharp, well-rendered quality and has a very good autofocus system. That said, it lacks in-body image stabilization, and its internal recording capability isn't as impressive as other options. See our review
  • 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, and it 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
  • 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. 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 US).

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.

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