Best Cameras for Beginner Filmmakers: The Starter Pack

Filmmaking is one of the hottest media upshots of this generation. Main stream media has gotten more influential than ever.

Television, cinema, YouTube, Vimeo and social networking media have always something to share in the world. Still one of the strongest form of media is film making. To create an excellent, award-winning film, a filmmaker must have all the professional skills and hi-tech equipment.

Filmmaking is never an easy task. Filmmakers are not born with success based on adrenaline. They all started on the filmmaking industry as a beginner.

Being a beginner filmmaker would be tough but one must not be afraid to start his way in the mad competition of media. If you are one of the people who want to create your own film, you need an excellent equipment – camera.

What Sort of Camera is Right for you?

There is a wide array of camera choices. You must pick wisely according to your need and your budget. What kind of film are you making? What are you creating? A documentary? An interview? A narrative story? A horror film? Or probably a film about nature?

Ask yourself what kind of film you want to create. How much budget do you have for the camera? Do you prefer prosumer camera? Entry-level camera? Or professional camera? If so, which camera do you have ease in control?

For beginners, selecting the right camera can be stressful, especially when you know very little about those techie cameras available in the market.

But it shouldn’t be always stressful. In fact, you would easily know what kind of camera you need once you established what kind of film you would create.

Phone Camera? Camcorder? Or DSLR?

Camera is the first tool you need for your filmmaking success. This should be one of your first investments. Your camera is the device that will help you produce an amazing film.

The best film is a product of the best camera with the best features. When purchasing a camera, you would not only focus on the features, but to price as well.

Some of the choices you have for a beginner’s camera are as follows: phone camera, camcorder and DLSR. Below is a more detailed explanation for each.

Phone Camera

For beginners with a very strict budget, you can start making a film with the use of your phone camera. A latest iPhone camera or other smart phones with high-resolution camera is best suggested (20-megapixel camera is almost ideal). Phone camera can be used for simple documentaries.

However, because of its compact hardware design, chances are your film will be shaky and unstable. Phone cameras also have limited control and features. Filming in low light conditions using phone cameras would also pose some difficulties.

What then is a good solution? You can buy phone cases with stabilizers (cases with two handles on each side). This accessory can help you film something with less shaking.

You can also use external light sources for better lighting in dark places. Editing is required in external devices such as desktop or laptop for better output film.

Camcorder

Camcorders can be bought in cheap to highly expensive price. They are majorly used by filmmakers, amateur or professional. They have impressive features. Camcorders are capable of recording in high resolution and have excellent low light performance. They also have high optical and digital zoom capability.

For beginners, you can start using low-priced camcorder. They can already perform very well. They have easy intuitive controls you can easily learn.

Camcorders come with built-in LCD display so you can do basic editing of your film in-camera. Some also have built-in microphones. Here is one example of a camcorder best for beginner filmmakers:

Panasonic HC-V770 HD w/ Wireless Smartphone Twin Video Capture

  • 57x (32.5–1853mm) Advanced Zoom and SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer helps provide outstanding, steady video.
  • Canon 3.28 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor.
  • DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor captures video at 1920 x 1080 resolution and helps provide outstanding imaging performance.
  • Record Full HD video directly to a removable SD memory card.
  • 3.0-inch capacitive touch panel LCD with increased brightness and new User Interface for easy menu navigation and simple viewing of videos.

Canon VIXIA HF R700 Camcorder

Panasonic HC-V750 is one of the budget camcorders you can buy. The features are average. It is handy and comes with a 3-inch LCD display. This camera has a 1/2.3-inch BSI MOS sensor that will allow you to capture better image quality.

It can zoom optically up to 20x without losing the crisp and bright quality of the image. It is also capable of shooting full HD slow motion video. For interconnectivity, this camera has USB-port, AV output, and HDMI output. It is also Wi-Fi and NFC enabled.

Canon VIXIA HF G40

  • 20x High Definition Optical Zoom Lens
  • Advanced HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor with Improved Low-light Performance
  • 1080/60p Recording in MP4
  • Built-in Wi-Fi Technology with FTP Transfer Capability
  • 3.5-inch OLED Viewscreen with 10,000:1 Contrast Ratio and EVF
  • Dual SD Card Slots, Using Readily Available, Consumable Media
  • Intelligent Optical Image Stabilization System with Powered and Dynamic Modes and Auto On/Off
  • High-capacity Battery Included

DSLR

DSLR camera which stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera is the most efficient camera to use for beginners and even for professional. The features of DLSR are impressive in performance and in image quality.

It is easy to use, easy to control, and affordable. There are several DSLR cameras in the market that you can buy in less than a thousand bucks. Yes, DSLR is a good option as a camera for beginner filmmakers. Here are some good options:

Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR

  • 45-point all cross-type AF system* allows for superb autofocus when shooting with the optical viewfinder and focusing area selection modes.
  • Intelligent Viewfinder with approximately 100% viewfinder coverage.
  • 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor helps provide impressive, high-resolution results.
  • Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF helps you shoot video with smooth, fast and accurate autofocus, and stills with instant and precise autofocus.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame

  • 22MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • 6 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 61-point AF system
  • ISO 100 – 25600 range with 50 – 102,800 expansion
  • 1080p HD video recording with manual controls
  • 3.2 inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP

Nikon D5300 is a 24.2-megapixel DSLR camera that can record a video in 1080p resolution at 60FPS (frames per second). It has a built-in Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity. This DLSR camera has high ISO level that can extend up to 25,600 – the higher the ISO level, the better quality it can get in low light conditions.

Nikon D5300 is lightweight and compact. It has a large LCD screen for easy preview of images.

Mirrorless

Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera

  • World’s fastest Auto Focus speed (0.05 sec.)
  • 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor w/ accelerated readout
  • Up to 11fps continuous shooting w/Auto Focus and Exposure
  • Internal UHD 4K30 & 1080p120 Recording
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Full Frame Digital Camera

  • Full-Frame Exmor Sensor and BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Full Pixel Read-Out with Clean HDMI Out for 4K Recording
  • Up to 120 fps High Speed Video Recording
  • Customizable Color Profiles and S-Log2 Gamma
  • Flexible Timecode Options

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3K 16.05 MP, Single Lens Mirrorless

A 16.05-megapixel camera with digital live MOS sensor truly performs amazingly. Panasonic GH3 is a simple yet powerful DSLR camera for your filming delight. It can record Ultra-HD 4K resolution at 30/24FPS.

It can also record videos in 1080p resolution at 60FPS. This camera has Wi-Fi connectivity that will allow you to control it wirelessly via android or iOS devices. The overall structure of Panasonic GH3 is compact, durable, and dust and splash proof.

Summary

Phone cameras are good for simple filmmaking. For narrative films, camcorders or DSLR cameras are excellent choices. Whichever camera you choose, it may require you to buy other accessories such as external light sources and microphone for better film results.

There are countless camera choices for beginners. You can buy anything that suits your palm and pocket. But best advice would be to buy a camera that can help you build your skills in filmmaking.