5 Budget Cameras That Will Blow Your Mind

Posted on: Jun 12, 2023

A filmmaker in a dark warehouse full of cameras filming a movie.Photo Credit: Grusho Anna / Shutterstock.com

By Staff Me Up

We recently published an article on high-end cinematography cameras that are the stuff of legend. And although those cameras are remarkable, we understand that not every cinematographer will get the opportunity to use them. But for anyone with a dream, there’s always a way to make it work.

That’s why we’ve assembled a list of budget-friendly cameras guaranteed to knock your socks off. Each camera body goes for about $2,500 or less, and several have variants that go for around half of the listed model’s price. So, before you head out to your local camera shop or start camera hunting online, take a look at these top-of-the-line cameras that won’t break the bank.

Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro

That ol’ Blackmagic never stops making incredible cameras, and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is a testament to that. The handheld 6K digital film camera boasts a 6144 x 3456 Super 35 high-resolution HDR sensor, dual native ISO, EF lens mount and direct recording to USB‑C disks. Packed with wonderful features such as an adjustable HDR touchscreen, built-in ND filters and a larger battery for longer run time, the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro is a tasty camera to kick things off. Should you need something on a tighter budget, it’s little 4k buddy, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will do just the trick.

Sony A7 III

It may not have the market cornered on megapixels, but the Sony A7 III is a wonderful mirrorless full-frame camera that will satisfy the needs of busy cinematographers. This camera has a delightful combination of resolution, speed and features that make it great for filming whatever you desire, from action sports to weddings. And if your budget is especially small or you’re new to the game, its predecessor, the Sony A7 II, is about half the price and works just as nicely.

Z CAM E2-M4 4K Cinema Camera MFT

A professional cinematic camera for under $2,000 with plenty of bells and whistles might seem absurd, but we assure you, it can – and has – been done. Featuring an interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lens mount, a Flagship Series housing and the ability to record ProRes RAW using select Atomos recorders/monitors, the Z CAM E2-M4 4K Cinema Camera MFT is a tiny but absolute beast of a camera. You can record in either DCI or UHD 4K at up to 120 fps as well as in HD at up to 240 fps. The camera’s 4/3″ sensor has 10/12-bit color support and nominal 13 stops of dynamic range with 16 stops when set to WDR. Its ISO settings include 500 and 2500 in native mode, 250 and 1250 with WDR activated. The E2-M4 also has a total manual range of 500 to 102,400. And if that isn’t wild enough, it can record time-lapse, slow motion and can even live stream via its Gigabit Ethernet port.

Canon XA60

The Canon XA60 brings you high-quality 4K UHD video through a 1/2.3″ CMOS Sensor for vivid scenes that rival some of the pricier models. With an integrated 20x 4K/HD optical zoom and an eight-bladed circular iris, the XA60 is delightful for documentaries. Audio-wise, the XA60 has up to four channels of LPCM audio in 720p mode and features manual and automatic recording levels, two XLR inputs with phantom power and a 3.5mm stereo mini-input.

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II

Panasonic has delivered a hybrid camera that will change your cinematic game. The LUMIX GH5 II uses a micro 4/3” sensor that delivers fantastic video quality with loads of resolution and frame rate options, such as UHD and DCI 4k up to 60 fps and anamorphic modes for a wider, cinematic-style aspect ratio. In-body stabilization and the option to add XLR audio with an adapter is a nice touch, and the LUMIX GH5 II’s use of 10-bit 4:2:2 4k recording (up to 30 fps) helps you out in a pinch and comes with extra color detail.

Know of any awesome budget cameras we missed? Let us know on our social media channels. And if you’re a friendly neighborhood production worker looking for their next gig, you can browse and apply to thousands of jobs on Staff Me Up to get on-set today.

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