Filmmaking is an art with a certain amount of science thrown in. Before you can begin crafting your masterpiece, you need a good filmmaking camera, which is the primary tool that will bring your vision to life. With film cameras sometimes costing $10,000 or more, that can put off a lot of beginner filmmakers looking to invest in a good quality cinema camera. We have tested, reviewed, and used dozens of the best cheap cameras for filming ourselves. Below is our guide to the best camera for filmmaking on a budget, organized into price bracket from most to least expensive. 

If you’re enthusiastic about filmmaking and looking for a cheap cinema camera, we have the best cameras for filmmaking on any budget below.

10 Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget - Overview

10/01/2022 09:27 pm GMT

The video market is constantly evolving with new models that are smaller and more portable than ever before thought possible. When considering our guide to the best cameras for filmmaking, keep in mind the top criteria we used, image quality, lens mounting and of course, budget. Read our buyer’s guide at the end of this article to learn more about these criteria. 

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Buyer's Guide - Best Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget

So how did we compile our list? The following are the most important things to consider when purchasing a filmmaking camera. 

Sensor Size 

The sensor is really important in determining the quality of the video footage. In the simplest terms, the sensor is  a solid-state device that captures the light required to form a digital image. A better sensor means a better image. 

Sensors are especially important if you’re filming in low-light setting as a small sensor won’t pick up as much detail and light.

Zoom Lens

The power of the lens will give you a lot of creative control over the scenes you’re shooting. You will have so much more versatility in capturing things far and wide with a good zoom lens. Alternatively, invest in some good lens that are compatible with your video camera to achieve different looks and feels. 

Stabilization 

Shaky footage is a dead giveaway of unprofessional filmmaking, unless that’s the aesthetic you are trying to achieve on purpose. All good video cameras have some in-built image stabilization, with some remarkably better than others. 

Bit Rate 

Bit rate refers to the rate video or audio is encoded and is a useful way to compare two cameras with the same resolution. Cameras with higher bit rates will produce better-looking videos. This is especially important if you’re filming for the big screen, in which case you should definitely spring for 10-bit. 

Bit rate is determined by how much of a file is compressed. Highly compressed footage takes up less space but is lower quality. Less compressed footage is good for quality and aesthetics, but takes up much more space. 

Memory and Storage

It’s important to consider how much footage your camera can hold, especially if you plan on shooting for long periods of time. Usually more in-built storage means a more expensive camera, but then you need to buy less external storage cards. While it isn’t THE most important thing in terms of creating professional looking footage, it is something to consider if you’re deciding between two cameras of equal quality. 

Sound

Some of the cameras we reviewed have great internal microphone systems. But in general, you want to get some external microphones going to best capture sound. It’s good to look at the camera’s native sound capability as well as the ports it has to connect external mics to. 

Compatibility to accessories 

Don’t buy a good quality video camera and expect that all your accessories will automatically be compatible. While some cameras have universal ports, it’s important to consider what ports your new camera has and what accessories you may need to use the camera to its fullest ability.  

Conclusion

So that’s it. Hopefully you know enough to make an informed decision on how to choose the best camera for filmmaking on a budget for you. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to email us and let us know your thoughts. 

Liked this article? Be sure to check out our guide to the best point-and-shoot camera under $500 and the best lavalier microphone.