With so many types of cameras on the market, it’s hard to know which is the best digital camera for your shoot. While festivals like Sundance are inundated with professional digital cameras like the ARRI Alexa and Red Weapon Helium 8k, it’s important to know that filmmakers can get professional quality results without the enormous price tag those cameras bring.

 

Asking yourself "What camera should I buy?" and scouring the internet for mirrorless camera reviews, specs on the latest DSLRs and the portability of rigs isn't the best use of your time as a filmmaker. That's why StudioBinder has compiled a camera guide of the best video cameras 2018 has to offer.

To make things even easier, this camera buying guide caps the price at $6,000, ensuring every professional digital camera on this list is budget-friendly for all levels of independent filmmakers.

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

1.  Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

Quite possibly the best digital camera for multi-functionality on the market, the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro has Swiss Army knife-like versatility when it comes to video production. Whether you're shooting a documentary, news broadcast or feature film, the URSA Mini Pro provides a Super 35mm CMOS sensor with 4.6K resolution and an interchangeable lens mount that allow you to quickly switch between EF, PL, B4, and F mount lenses.

Excited yet? We are too.

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Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 

If you can swing it, the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro gives you options beyond what you'll need today and provides several types of cameras jammed into one beautifully designed device.

COST: $5,995 Adorama  →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

2.  Canon EOS C200B

Canon's EOS C200B is a lightweight, streamlined, highly customizable camera. It's made several Best Video Cameras lists and with good reason.

It sends RAW 4K footage to a CFast 2.0 card without losing the amazing details its Super 35mm CMOS sensor and 13 stops of dynamic range can capture. It also allows you to rock any Canon EF-mount lens you choose, meaning the shot that you want is never unattainable.

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Canon EOS C200B 

Plus, if your shot list calls for an aerial vantage, you can easily attach the EOS C200B's 2.9 lb. body to a drone and capture breathtaking images without worrying about pull.

While it is the most expensive camera on our list, the Canon EOS C200B is worth considering for indie filmmakers searching for a compact professional digital camera that can thrive where the big boys fail.

COST: $5,99​9 Adorama  →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

3.  Panasonic Lumix GH5s

If you've read any mirrorless camera reviews, you've come across the Lumix GH5s – and rightly so. While the GH5 provided great image stabilization and an entry-level price point, the GH5s ratchets things up and establishes itself as quite possibly the best mirrorless camera on the market.

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Panasonic Lumix GH5s

 It produces a large-sensor 4K video with a wider field of view than its predecessor and captures amazing footage in low light situations. While not technically a cinema camera, the Lumix GH5s allows for both stunning stills and inspiring videos to be taken with the same piece of video equipment. And the dual UHS-II SD card slots mean you can continuously record long into the night.

Though not baring quite the same tech specs as other types of cameras on our list, the Panasonic Lumix GH5s is a solid choice for any independent filmmaker looking to produce high-quality, HDR video with an easy-to-learn camera that won't break the bank.

COST: $2,297.99 AMAZON  →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

4.  Canon EOS C100 Mark II

Sure, there are newer Canon models out there, but the EOS C100 Mark II still earns its spot on our list by offering a fantastic Super 35mm CMOS sensor and a design that lends itself perfectly to single-person use.

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Canon EOS C100 Mark II

If you used the C100 Mark II's predecessor, you'll instantly notice the redesigned, lightweight body that makes this iteration a welcome step forward for Canon. Toss in the included built-in ND-filters, internal microphone, and upgraded image processor and you've got a force to be reckoned with at a price that speaks the language of indie filmmakers.

Slap on any of Canon's outstanding lenses, including its CN-E cinema lenses, and tackle your shooting schedule with the confidence of knowing you've got a professional digital camera that will get the job done.

COST: $3,499 ADORAMA →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

5.  Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Size matters in independent filmmaking; you want a professional digital camera that packs a lot of power into a tiny space. Enter the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. This bite-sized beast packs a punch with a 4/3 size sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISO up to 25,600.

What does all that mean? It means you'll get mind-blowing 4K footage on a camera that literally fits into your jeans pocket.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

As always, Blackmagic doesn't skimp when it comes to easy-to-navigate external controls and additional features such as the Pocket Cinema Camera's built-in microphone, mini XLR input, MFT lens mount and more. And much like its big brother, the URSA Mini Pro, the Pocket records onto CFast 2.0 and UHS-II SD cards, as well as standard SD cards.

The only reason the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera isn't higher on this list is that it's still new to the market. The latest model dropped in September 2018 and hasn't seen the miles many of the other entries in this article have. That said, with its low price point and amazing features, Blackmagic may have a game-changer on its hands.

COST: $1,295 ADORAMA →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

6.  Panasonic HC-X1

Let's start with the obvious, when you're looking for the best camera for video, odds are a product that doesn't offer interchangeable lenses might seem like it wouldn't make a camera buying guide such as ours. We get it. But consider the Panasonic HC-X1 an exception to expectation. With its advanced OIS, high-precision 4K 1.0-inch MOS sensor and dual codec recording, it more than earns its rank.

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Panasonic HC-X1

Not to mention its Leica Dicomar 4K lens with 24mm wide-angle setting and 20x optical zoom means you can leave the heavy lens kits behind without worrying about missing that perfect shot.

If you're after an all-in-one that you can shoot with out of the box, the Panasonic HC-X1 might be the best digital camera for you.

COST: $2,697.99 ADORAMA →

BEST CAMERA FOR VIDEO

7.  Sony PXW-FS5

Sure, we all know the FS7, but what about its little brother? The PXW-FS5 is a capable workhorse that gets the job done with a 4K Super 35mm CMOS sensor that captures 10-bit video at up to 50Mbps. Simply put, the PXW-FS5 is arguably the best digital camera for the money in Sony's lineup.

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Sony PXW-FS5

This becomes even more evident when you examine the FS5's 1.77 lb. body, meaning it's ready for the kind of grab and go shooting that’s common with documentary and independent filmmaking. Add to that an extremely versatile mounting system, wi-fi and dual SD card slots and you've got yourself a true competitor in the Sony PXW-FS5.

COST: $3,498 ADORAMA →

BEST VIDEO CAMERA [HONORABLE MENTION]

FiLMiC Pro

As all filmmakers know, it never hurts to surprise your audience with a twist. That's why we're using the eighth spot on our list to talk about FiLMiC Pro, the app that was used to shoot the award-winning 2015 crime drama Tangerine. At less than $15, it's a low-cost way to take control of your phone's camera and produce fantastic footage.

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FiLMiC Pro

FiLMiC Pro puts you in charge of the focus, exposure, white balance and more, enabling you to capture 4K or 1080p video that doesn’t fall apart when compared to the other types of cameras on our list. You can even trim your video directly in the app and back it up straight to Dropbox, Vimeo or iMovie.

COST: $14.99 APP STORE →

It doesn't matter whether you're shooting a short, feature or web content, you want the best digital camera you can get – one that will stand up to the trials of filmmaking and provide footage that delivers your vision with beauty and precision.

Cinematography Tips for filmmakers

WRAPPING UP BEST CAMERAS FOR VIDEO

Up Next: The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Filmmaking

Choosing the right camera is one of the most important decisions for any filmmaker. That’s because your camera can be a considerable financial investment, and dictates the kind of content you’re able to create.

NEXT: THE BEST MIRRORLESS CAMERAS FOR FILMMAKING →
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