In my personal experience the top 7 best cameras for videography are:
Navigating the vast array of cameras in search of the ideal videography partner can be both thrilling and intimidating. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the “Top 7 Best Cameras for Videography.” These cameras were carefully chosen for their great features, performance, and adaptability, and they appeal to a wide range of demands, from aspiring hobbyists to seasoned pros.
We strive to cover the most essential parameters. Prior to making a camera purchase, we strongly advise conducting a thorough research. We’ve conveniently included links to all the featured cameras in the article description to assist you in this process.
For those without a specific budget but eager to delve into filmmaking, fret not. Your smartphone remains a viable starting point, capable of delivering impressive results. The latest flagship or mid-range smartphones, such as the Google Pixel or newer iPhones, are adept at capturing high-quality images. If your budget is around €400, investing in a newer smartphone is a compelling option, providing excellent value for your money. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend cameras under €400, unless they are used models of specific brands.
Once you breach the €400 mark, a plethora of used cameras become accessible.
The Canon M50 stands out as one of the essential choices for content creation. While our standard practice is to present cameras at their new prices, this year, we’re excited to highlight a compelling option within the €400 range. After thorough exploration of the used market, the Canon M50 emerged as an excellent selection.
Equipped with a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, the Canon M50 provides everything you need for creating impressive YouTube content, boasting 4K video capabilities. Its features include a flip and touchscreen, effective stabilization, and a microphone input for external microphone use. Furthermore, with 24 megapixels, the M50 proves to be an ideal choice for photography as well.
However, given its price range, there is a slight compromise, as anticipated. When opting for the 4K mode on the M50, the camera forfeits its excellent dual-pixel autofocus, shifting to a notably less effective contrast autofocus. Additionally, a crop is introduced, reducing the size of the image frame. If these trade-offs are acceptable to you, especially if you primarily intend to shoot in Full HD, the Canon M50 stands out as a superb entry-level camera. With numerous advantages and an attractive price point, it offers a compelling option for content creators.
Moving on to our next featured camera, we have the Sony ZV. This model serves as the successor to the well-regarded Sony ZV-1. Boasting a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, the Sony ZV not only maintains image quality but also enhances it, delivering superior features. With 4K capabilities at up to 30 FPS, Full HD at up to 120 FPS, Sony’s latest color technology, a flip-out touchscreen, robust autofocus, and an external microphone input, this camera stands out as a budget-friendly option under €600.
Some enthusiasts even argue that the Sony ZV outperforms the entire Sony 6000 series, which we have previously lauded as winners under €1,000. The rationale behind this superiority is straightforward—Sony essentially integrated the same sensor found in the 6000 series into a more affordable camera tailored for YouTubers. However, this adaptation comes with a few inherited drawbacks. Besides a slight crop, filming in Full HD at 120 FPS introduces a noticeable rolling shutter effect. Rapid camera movements from left to right may distort the image, causing straight lines to appear curved.
Despite these limitations, it’s crucial to remember that we are discussing a camera priced under €600. When used with a well-calibrated gimbal or the Steady Shot feature on a tripod, the rolling shutter issue becomes less conspicuous. Furthermore, the Sony ZV offers the advantage of compatibility with Sony’s popular, forward-looking lenses, ensuring that your lens investment remains relevant even if you upgrade the camera later.
On the flip side, models like the ZV-1 and ZV-1 FF were excluded from this ranking due to their inability to interchange lenses, restricting users to fixed focal lengths. However, if your filmmaking needs align with the standard focal lengths and you don’t require lens interchangeability, these more economical options could still be worth considering.
Now, let’s explore the next set of cameras. First up is the Panasonic G9, initially designed as a still camera in 2018 but gradually evolving into a formidable mid-range video camera with numerous firmware updates over the years. The G9 might not have been on our radar in recent years due to our emphasis on robust autofocus. However, this year, we felt compelled to highlight its features, offering professional-grade capabilities that would have previously cost significantly more.
Equipped with a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, the Panasonic G9 delivers 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. What’s truly impressive is the inclusion of a super practical full-size HDMI connection, enabling the use of external monitors like the Ninja for capturing shots in a staggering ten-bit 4:2:2 color depth. The G9 also features classic amenities such as microphone and headphone inputs, a flip screen, and Panasonic’s exceptional stabilization technology that was ahead of its time in 2018 and remains top-notch today. Updates even provide options for look profiles and practical filmmaking functions like waveforms, catering to the needs of professional filmmakers. While the autofocus may not be perfect, if you prioritize manual control and are often behind the camera, the Panasonic G9 is undoubtedly worth considering.
Moving on to the Panasonic X5, which starts at around €1,500, it can be viewed as a full-frame counterpart to the G9. Featuring a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, the X5 delivers a maximum of 4K video at 60 frames per second in ten bits, boasting a specified dynamic range of around 14 stops. This camera shares the stable body design, flip screen, audio connections, and two memory card slots with the G9. Though it has a Mini HDMI port, it essentially provides everything you would need in a quality video camera. The X5 also offers impressive picture quality and, in our opinion, better value for money than the Panasonic S1. However, similar to the G9, despite multiple firmware updates, relying entirely on the autofocus may not be foolproof.
When it comes to prioritizing autofocus over extensive professional video features, Canon and Sony cameras in this price range are worth considering. These cameras typically offer a more reliable autofocus system, albeit with fewer advanced video capabilities and frame rates. Let’s delve into a specific example.
Among the Sony options, the A7 series is noteworthy, and now there are three variants, including the A7C, which specifically caters to content production and deserves a mention in this context. While it offers 4K video at 30 frames per second with eight-bit color (as opposed to the ten-bit color of models like the S5 that have higher frame rates), the standout feature is its significantly improved autofocus. The A7C places a strong emphasis on providing a superior autofocus experience, making it an attractive choice for those who prioritize smooth and reliable focusing in their videography.
The Panasonic S5 Mark II may look familiar, as we discussed its predecessor just a moment ago. The earlier model had a notable drawback in its autofocus capabilities. However, Panasonic has addressed this issue with the S5 Mark II, making it a noteworthy addition to the market. In recent years, cameras in the €2,000 range often required compromises—Sony had fewer recording modes and frames per second, Canon lacked the best dynamics, and Panasonic struggled with unreliable autofocus. Enter the S5 Mark II, which aims to provide a comprehensive solution in this price range.
The S5 Mark II boasts a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, delivering mature image quality and an impressive dynamic range of 14 stops. While some recording modes have a slight crop, the new hybrid autofocus system is now reliable. The camera also features unparalleled stabilization for its price range and offers extensive video features that go beyond the standard, including the use of Morphing One or Wei.
For those who desire even more, Panasonic plans to release an XP version, the S5 Mark IIX, in the coming months. This upgraded version is expected to include features such as recordings to external SSD hard drives, ProRes support, and external RAW capabilities, for a modest additional cost.
If you’re considering spending a bit more and want an alternative, the Sony A7 IV is worth exploring. It comes with a 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, providing 4K recordings at up to 60 frames per second in a superior ten-bit 4:2:2 color depth. The camera body, similar to the S5 Mark II, is well-equipped with a flip screen, audio connections, customizable buttons, and a full-size HDMI port for streaming or external recording. The A7 IV also boasts an impressive dynamic range of almost 15 stops, excellent performance in low-light conditions thanks to dual native ISO, and autofocus capabilities that, as of now, stand slightly ahead of what Panasonic has introduced with the S5 Mark II.
In addition to the Panasonic S5 Mark II, there’s another contender that deserves attention—the Sony A7 IV. It offers a 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, 4K recordings at up to 60 frames per second in a superior ten-bit 4:2:2 color depth, and a comprehensive set of features. While it may not be worth the extra budget for everyone, it’s certainly worth considering, especially given the flexibility of using various lenses from Sony or more affordable third-party providers. The A7 IV is a popular choice, and its versatility in both photography and videography makes it a strong contender in this category.
As you explore higher price ranges, the decision to make the jump becomes more significant. In the €4,000 to €5,000 range, you encounter cameras like the Sony A7S III, known for its less noticeable rolling shutter, or the Canon EOS R5, capable of capturing images in 8K. However, the specific requirements for these models are quite distinct, potentially warranting a dedicated discussion in a separate article. If this topic interests you, feel free to mention it in the comments.
Once your budget reaches €6,000, you can contemplate pure cinema cameras or high-end models. Your choice may depend on whether you prioritize technical features such as built-in ND filter connections or require an extensive array of inputs and outputs. If technical capabilities are your priority, cinema bodies like those from RED might be worth considering. Alternatively, if you seek a relatively compact body with powerful capabilities, flagship models from various manufacturers, like the Sony Alpha 1, offer an impressive array of features.
However, it’s essential to question whether, at such high prices, it makes more sense to invest in two mid-range cameras instead of a single expensive one. Consider your specific needs, as the use cases for 8K, for example, may be limited for many users. The decision at this level often involves balancing technical specifications with practicality and cost-effectiveness.
best camera for videography: Our Picks and Insights for Your Next Filmmaking Adventure
These are our top picks for the upcoming year, and we hope that we’ve been able to assist you in your quest for your next camera. While we couldn’t delve into every camera and cater to every need in detail, we’ve focused on presenting our favorites for the year. If a specific camera didn’t make it into this article, there’s likely a reason. Factors such as sensor performance, size, autofocus capabilities, overheating tendencies, and lens selection were among the considerations we weighed.
It’s important to acknowledge that there might be a better-suited camera on the market for your specific application, so thorough research is recommended before making a significant investment in a new camera. While we anticipate the release of exciting new models in the coming year, it’s crucial to remember that equipment is just one aspect of the filmmaking process. Acquiring the necessary skills and diving into the creative process is equally vital.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more content like this, consider subscribing to our channel and hitting the notification bell to stay updated. This way, you won’t miss any future articles. Feel free to leave any questions or comments, and until next time—happy filming!
Emma Lucy is the Founder & CEO of Emma Lucy Photography. She has over a decade of experience shooting weddings and other intimate events. She also tests the latest digital camera bodies, lenses, analog cameras, and other gear from Canon, Nikon, Sony, and other camera brands. She is From London and currently lives in the United States of America, where she spends most of her time as a self-employed professional photographer and writer.