5 Best 4k Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 Dollars

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4K Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 dollars – Are you an independent filmmaker with a great script and looking to turn it into a short film or full-length feature? 

Or, are you a film buff that has always wanted to make a film, but was too afraid to start a film project on your own because of the costs of production?

The problem with many up and coming filmmakers looking into shooting his/her first feature is the limited budget they may have to go forward in the project.

Regardless of your situation, the first thing you will need besides a great idea or script is a filmmaking camera that shoots incredible footage to draw in an audience visually. 

The great news for those filmmakers out there looking to save money on production by finding inexpensive equipment is that you can find amazing 4k filmmaking cameras under 1000 dollars you can find on the internet today.

So before you decide to purchase a filmmaking camera that is right for you, let’s discuss the most important features that you should consider before finding the best 4K Filmmaking camera under 1000 dollars.

10 Best Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 Dollars
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Common Features Of Filmmaking Cameras To Pay Attention to

Let’s face it, finding the best camera for filmmaking is a tough job, and it’s even tougher when you have a spending budget you have to maintain. 

Plus you have to think about practicality in terms of user experience when it comes to the camera. 

Are you a new filmmaker still trying to understand your filmmaking style, or do you have a certain look you want to achieve with a filmmaking camera that is easiest to use on a film set?

Here are some key things to keep in mind while shopping for the best filmmaking cameras under 1000 dollars that will give you the best 4K filmmaking experience at a price you can afford.

How Easy Is The Camera To Use

For me when it comes to directing a short film, there are so many things to think about, that I really don’t want to spend too much time on the camera.

Now, I know that the camera is an incredibly integral part of the filmmaking process, but you want to make sure of a few simple things first when choosing the right filmmaking camera for you.

  • First, is the camera easy to handle? 
  • Second, are the controls on the camera simple to use? 
  • Third, can you cycle through the major settings of the camera with just pressing a button, or do you have to manually go through the menu to find the settings you need? 
  • Fourth, if the camera has a touchscreen, is it easy to use? 
  • Fifth, does the camera have a hot shoe that you can place a microphone or light on the camera?

Manual controls

I know that many of us when we are out and about taking snapshots with our camera that the autofocus feature works out quite nicely. 

But, when you are looking for a filmmaking camera you want to make sure that you have the option to switch to manual at a moment’s notice. 

Why? So you can manually set the exposure, the white balance, and if you are recording sound from the camera, the sound levels as well. 

If the camera you are using for filmmaking doesn’t allow for this, it may make filmmaking a lot harder when you become more of an advanced filmmaker.

Lens Choices Available

10 Best Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 Dollars

If you are thinking about using an all-in-one video camera like a camcorder, you will need to find some 4K filmmaking cameras under 1000 dollars that’s extremely compatible with the lenses you need to get the job done.

Why? Because in my opinion, it’s the lenses that make everything look good. Sure the camera helps, but it’s the lens choice that can create the environment for the audience to escape to. 

That’s why many of my friends own the Sony a7ii Mirrorless camera (on this list below) that costs under $1000, but the lenses they use on the camera are worth close to 10 times what the camera is worth.

So when you’re contemplating buying a filmmaking camera, you want to find out which camera is the most compatible with the lens choices you are looking for. 

Is The Camera Great In Low Light Conditions?

10 Best Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 Dollars

When it comes to a filmmaking camera that performs well in extremely low light conditions is an asset. The reason for this is that if you have a limited filmmaking equipment budget, you may not have enough lighting kits to help light the set.

A great low light filmmaking camera also helps out in the lens area as well because you might be able to get by with a stock lens if your camera is competent in capturing excellent low-light footage at higher f-stops.

Sensor size

A Bigger Sensor Size is better when it comes to a filmmaking camera. 

The bigger sensors in DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and large sensor filmmaking production cameras are better in low light, and allow to capture shallow focus effects. 

Plus, bigger sensor sizes help the filmmaker use smaller apertures without diffraction softening the image. 

Image stabilization

Image stabilization helps reduce the dreaded shaky cam. If you have seen the Blair witch project or pretty much any action movie lately, shaky video can make or break an audience’s experience in your film.

If you are using tripods and dolly’s to stabilize your filmmaking camera, then you don’t have to worry about the camera’s stabilization, but if you switch to handheld, great camera stabilization is a miracle worker.

One of the best filmmaking cameras that I have used recently that had amazing image stabilization was the Panasonic GH5. The reason for this is the Panasonic GH5 combines lens-based optical stabilization and sensor-based in-body image stabilization (IBIS).

This could help you avoid from having IBS(irritable bowel syndrome) caused by the stress of editing the footage afterward.

Recording format

I have noticed from a recent project that I just completed that not all file formats are not the same, and this has caused me IBS because the footage isn’t compatible with the editing suite I am using.

So the first thing you need to figure out when choosing the best 4K filmmaking camera for you under $1000 is, will the format be easy to use in post-production?

Post-production is when you have the ability to turn water into wine. It’s the time when you get to color grade your footage to get the right look you want, and if your filmmaking camera can film in ProRes or RAW, it will help your editing team gain more control over the color of the footage.

For a more in depth article on what filmmakers should look out for when buying a filmmaking camera, click here for B&H photo/video’s amazing guide.

LIST OF BEST 4k FILMMAKING CAMERAS UNDER $1000

Let’s face it when it comes to film budgets and the allowed amount to be spent on filmmaking equipment will vary from filmmaker to filmmaker.

But when it comes to filmmaking cameras there are so many to choose from, and to find a quality filmmaking camera under 1000 dollars means that you will only get the camera body with no lenses at the start, and then build later on.

Below are my reviews of the best mirrorless cameras and a few DSLR’s on the market today that will come under the 1000 dollar budget that will shoot incredible footage for your films. 

Sony a6500

For all the features that the amazing Sony a6500 has it definitely should be considered as your next filmmaking camera if you are on a budget.

This small and compact mirrorless camera offers a 120 FPS frame rate, 4K UHD video, incredible ISO range, impressive autofocus, and a low light shooting capability that is tough to beat in this price range.

This is the first filmmaking camera I used when I started out in making my own short films.

Why? Because I was concerned about the video stabilization of my footage since most of the work was done hand-held, and the five-stop image stabilization mode helped control even the slightest camera shake.

While image stabilization isn’t as good as some of the more expensive filmmaking cameras out there, it’s still is impressive considering the price of the camera.

Plus, I love the weather-resistant body of this filmmaking camera due to the fact that with me living in the Pacific Northwest, rain tends to be an issue when I am shooting.

The only issues I have with the camera, which are minor if you prepare yourself for them is that the battery life of this camera isn’t the greatest in cold conditions. So have a few extra camera batteries just in case you are shooting for an extended period of time.

Plus the LCD is tough to read when shooting in bright conditions. But, if you are okay with that, the Sony a6500 is an incredible camera at this price range.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85

When I talk to many of my filmmaking friends, one of the best filmmaking cameras under 1000 dollars that always gets mentioned is the Panasonic G85.

Why? The reason for this is because of the previous model to the G85 was the amazing Panasonic G7. Everything that made the G7 such a spectacular filmmaking camera has been transferred to the G85.

The G85 offers the same 16-megapixel photos and 4K video that made its predecessor, the G7, so popular. 

Everything that is being filmed is can be viewed clearly of the great 3′ touchscreen with a 2.4 million dot viewfinder. So, you can pick out all the colors clearly to get a better understanding of what may need touchups along the way through editing.

The most important upgrade from the G7 is the 12-60mm lens, a major improvement on the previous 14-42mm lens. The new lens is not the only exceptional upgrade that you will find on the Panasonic G85

The camera lens and body are both weather-sealed like the Sony Alpha a6400 mentioned above. And like I mentioned before, this is a feature that you can only get on most filmmaking cameras over 1000 dollars.

Another important characteristic of the G85 is the sensor-shift optical stabilization.

When a stabilized lens is connected, the G85 will use sensor-shift and in-lens systems collectively to control unstable conditions better. This characteristic also helps with slow shutter speeds.

The Panasonic G85 is a fantastic filmmaking camera for any hopeful filmmaker. There are tons of features and the controls are simple to use, plus the 4k video capturing, it’s a great camera at a price anyone can afford. It’s a buy from me!

FUJIFILM X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera

When one of my filmmaking colleagues mentioned to me that he was getting rid of his sony a7 to buy the Fujifilm X-T30, I thought he was crazy. But after doing some research on the Fujifilm X-T30, maybe he isn’t that crazy after all.

Here are the details, The X-T30 is the baby brother of the amazing Fujifilm X-T3. The great thing about the Fujifilm X-T30 is that the variation in image/video quality between its bigger brother the X-T3 is negligible, plus the X-T30 has a smaller body as well.

The X-T30 features a 26.1-megapixel X Trans CMOS sensor and a high-speed autofocus system. The AF system has four times the phase-detection pixels compared to the previous X-T20 model.

When I looked at the video quality of some test footage of the X-T30, I was shocked at how good the footage looked. But, I was told from my film colleague that the camera can only shoot up to 10 minutes of 4K (at 30fps) shooting at a time. 

If you are planning for shooting longer footage, the 1,080p mode provides exceptional video quality, and you can go longer.

The only problem I had with the camera, was the quick menu buttons are on the thumb grip which caused me to accidentally push buttons I didn’t want. Also, there is no image stabilization on the camera.

This isn’t much of a problem if you set the camera on sticks, or place it in a good stabilizer like the DJI Ronin.

But, if you are looking for a camera that shoots sharp quality footage, the X-T30 is tough to beat. The X-T30 is one of those filmmaking cameras under 1000 dollars that doesn’t disappoint.

Nikon D7500 DX-format Digital SLR Body

When it comes to photography, every person has a certain brand that is always his/her go-to. My dad’s go-to brand for cameras has always been a Nikon. So, Nikon has always had a soft spot in my heart when it comes to photography for me as well. 

So when it comes to 4k filmmaking cameras, the Nikon D7500 is the perfect choice for those who love Nikon just as much as my dad. 

Decked out with versatility in all conditions and environments, and enhanced speed and easy handling, this DSLR filmmaking camera can be a clear winner for you as well. 

The Nikon D7500 is a strong 21 Megapixel camera that is excellent for taking landscape photos or portraits. Throw on a great lens, and it becomes is a highly suitable camera for all lighting conditions with an ISO acceptable range that goes up to 12800. 

Nikon D7500 adds, “zebra stripes” in a video that shows the points of overexposure which is great for those who are cinematographers and directors. 

The autofocus quality is excellent and 51 AF sensors can capture jumping children, flying birds, and moving trees with precision and significant sharpness.

DX crop-sensor camera and the autofocus take a wide area of the viewfinder. The Group AF option of the Nikon D7500 allows the user to track fast-moving subjects.

The 4k video shooting integrates a 1.5x crop which is not as good as other 4k filmmaking cameras, but the performance is very good and true. The shutter provides 8 fps which means you can do wildlife and sports coverage effectually.

It also has a flip-out and tilting 3.2 inch LCD screen which is 922k dots and ergonomic. The menu settings are easy to locate and read. You can comfortably switch between Effect modes, ISO settings, focus options, and flash. 

This model of Nikon is solidly inbuilt, comfortable in handling an excessive number of on-body controls which is very convenient for many photographers. Nikon D7500 comes with a built-in Wifi and a good battery.

There isn’t much to this camera I dislike. The only drawback is the cropping factor in 4k video shooting, but with a good lens in front of this camera, it’s nothing to worry about.

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Built around the EF-M mount (which shares an 18mm flange focal distance with the Sony E mount), this vlogging and filmmaking camera is designed to work with either the EF-M lenses or the full-fledged EF lenses that already a marketplace mainstay. 

The great thing about being part of the Canon ecosystem is that you have a huge amount of lens variety, which is a great thing. But, the drawback is that with most of the lenses, it will be operating with a crop, as EF lenses are largely designed for full-frame sensors; this unit’s smaller APC-C sensor won’t fill the full image circle.  

As a 4K filmmaking camera, there are some slight drawbacks. The 4K mode is a 1.6x crop, which sidesteps the issues of pixel binning but results in a small image area being used for 4K capture. 

Dual-pixel autofocus (the marquee feature of cameras like the C200), only works for 1080 video, with the only option at 4K being contrast-detection autofocus.

The M50’s 4K mode does need a little help to get good results though: the Dual Pixel autofocus is not available in 4K, and there’s an additional crop when switching to 4K. 

But the 4K image itself is actually very detailed and sharp, with great color and dynamic range. This is mostly due to the high bitrate of 120 Mbps and the fact that there’s no pixel-binning or line-skipping in 4k.

These are expected trade-offs in such an affordable camera body, and on many of the projects these will be used, shouldn’t be thought of as dealbreakers. 

For a more in depth article on what filmmakers should look out for when buying a filmmaking camera, click here for B&H photo/video’s amazing guide.

Side Note:

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

If you find a sale on B&H photo/video on the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera, jump at the opportunity. This 4k Filmmaking Camera didn’t make the list because it’s priced over 1,000, but honestly, for a couple of hundred dollars more, its worth the investment.

Why? This Camera Performs at an above and beyond level. This camera puts true cinematic 4K capability in the hands of just about anyone at close to $1,300.

You cannot find a comparable camera with RAW and ProRes for this price and with in-camera recording and multiple media choices! 

The BMD menu system is perhaps the best in the industry. The color science and quality of the image in a camera at this price point is nothing short of OUTSTANDING.

Conclusion

When it comes down to choosing the right 4k filmmaking camera under $1000, it’s a difficult decision. Especially when it comes down to personal preference in brands and features that filmmakers expect from a 4k filmmaking camera.

For some filmmakers, the expect autofocus capability and for others, it could be the image stabilization of the footage.

If you are looking for the cheapest 4k camera, which is not on this list, that is practically point and shoot with limited lens options, then go with a GoPro Hero 8 Black, it has everything you need to shoot quality footage. 

But, with the cameras mentioned above, you will have no problem taking incredible 4k video footage, that will impress any viewer.

5 Best 4k Filmmaking Cameras Under 1000 Dollars

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