Mirrorless Cameras, are they the right choice for the new independent filmmaker just starting? Are you a new filmmaker looking for the right filmmaking camera to start making movies with?
When you are a new filmmaker beginning the journey into the filmmaking world, there are so many things to consider when building a filmmaking kit.
What type of sound gear is required to record amazing atmospheric sound on the film set? What type of lights is needed to achieve the vivid atmosphere needed to draw the audience into the environment? What lenses are needed to capture a certain style for the film shoot?
The questions can go on and on about building the right filmmaking kit for any filmmaker.
But, the most critical thing in starting any filmmaking kit is the right digital camera to capture the world any filmmaker wants to create.
When a filmmaker is looking for the right filmmaking camera to represent the framework of filmmaking equipment, a mirrorless camera is the right place to establish any filmmaking kit.
But what is the best mirrorless camera for a filmmaker today? Well, that will depend on what type of filmmaker you want to be.
In this post, I have broken down into sections what mirrorless camera will work best for you.
The selection of mirrorless cameras below is some great choices for a huge range of filmmakers from beginners to advanced.
By the end of this post, you should be able to figure out which mirrorless camera will support you to create your next amazing feature film short or long.
7 Best Mirrorless Cameras To Consider Buying For Independent Filmmaking - 2021
What is a mirrorless camera?
Unlike DSLRs, mirrorless cameras don’t have mirrors. Instead, light travels through the lens and hits the sensor straight on.
The sensor processes the image and almost simultaneously displays it either on the monitor, on the back of the camera, or on an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). So, when you push the shutter button, the camera records what’s on the sensor at that precise moment.
Things to look out for in buying a Mirrorless Camera
Before you see a list of the best mirrorless cameras for independent filmmakers, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your mirrorless camera:
When shopping for the best mirrorless camera, always keep in mind that just because the camera is expensive, it doesn’t mean it takes the best pictures, films, or videos.
In my experience of buying anything, I always felt that if a product is more money, that it generally guarantees a higher quality of product and has more features, but that is not the case with a mirrorless camera.
If you do your research well enough, you have a camera that does everything you need it to do without breaking the bank.
DSLRs have always been known by photographers that DSLR cameras come equipped with excellent and beautiful optical viewfinders.
While it has taken a while for Mirrorless cameras to catch up with DSLRs in terms of a viewfinder, but the latest mirrorless-camera electronic viewfinders (EVFs) have closed the gap.
When looking for the best results for a mirrorless camera viewfinder, don’t settle for any EVF promising less than 2.36 million dots; aim for 3.69 million and a magnification of around 0.76x or higher.
Mirrorless cameras are known for their particularly high performance when it comes to autofocusing (AF). The reason for this is they allow AF to be done on the sensor itself.
Plus, higher-end models make use of hybrid autofocus systems, a best-of-both-worlds approach that combines the accuracy of the contrast-detect AF with the speed of phase-detect AF.
It’s best to try out different systems and find which one responds and works best for you.
Sensor-based image stabilization
Sensor-based image stabilization is a benefit for those who love shooting handheld without a gimbal or stabilizer. It enables mirrorless camera users to achieve a pretty smooth, stable image straight out of the camera, even when shooting handheld.
Depending on the sensor size included, some mirrorless cameras perform particularly well in low-light conditions. While some don’t perform as well.
For those filmmakers that will be filming quite a bit with minimal lighting equipment, then a mirrorless camera that exceeds in low-light performance is key.
If you think you will be shooting quite a bit in low-light conditions, make sure to research the models that perform best and worst in this area.
In my opinion, your camera is only as good as the lens you are using. So making sure that you have a mirrorless camera that can change lenses is a huge deal when picking a new mirrorless camera.
You need to consider which brand you’re buying and the type of lens mount it uses, as this will decide which lens family you’ll be joining.
Also, some mirrorless cameras are full-frame, while some smaller models are on the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. All of these factors will impact your choice of lenses.
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for in a mirrorless camera, let’s take a look at our choices for the very best mirrorless camera for 2021.
The versatile Sony a6400 is a solid video camera.
Offering internal 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning to collect about 2.4x the amount of data required for 4K movies, and then oversamples it to produce high quality 4K footage with detail and depth.
Focusing during movie shooting is fast and stable thanks to upgraded Fast Hybrid AF technology, which keeps the subject in constant smooth focus, even if an object crosses in front of the camera.
This advanced AF plus touch focus functionality makes it a suitable camera choice for many vloggers and video creators that are regularly creating and uploading content online.
Additionally, for the first time in a Sony APS-C mirrorless camera, this model includes an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile, which supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible tvs to playback beautiful, true-to-life 4K HDR imagery.
Further, both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased color grading flexibility, as well as Zebra functionality, Gamma Display Assist, and proxy recording.
The camera can also record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mb/s, allowing footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow-motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking.
Quick Review: If you are looking to upgrade your video and live streaming capabilities at a price anyone can afford, the Sony a6400 is the right choice for you.
You can live stream with clean HDMI, run continuously off of a dummy battery so you never have to worry about a battery dying halfway through a shot, especially during a live stream, plus high-quality video, 4k recording ideally, and pictures.
This camera met all these needs and I’ve been thrilled with it.
The X-T4 is already an amazing still camera, but Fuji expanded its capabilities beyond stills.
The X-T4 offers a versatile array of video capabilities, including internal DCI/UHD 4K recording at up to 60 fps and Full HD recording up to 240 fps for ultra slow-motion playback.
Greatly benefitting overall video performance, the speed of the X-Processor 4 enables fast read speeds when recording video and helps to reduce rolling shutter distortion when filming moving subjects.
Also, a micro-HDMI port enables 10-bit 4:2:2 recording to an optional external recorder.
In addition to the supported 10-bit color depth, the X-T4 also includes the F-Log gamma setting, which provides a flat picture for use in advanced color grading software during editing.
This maximizes the potential dynamic range in difficult scenes and image adjustments can be made, as well, to highlight tone, shadow tone, color, and sharpness.
Also, the camera features a 3.5mm microphone jack and 2.5mm remote port with an included headphone adapter for more advanced audio solutions.
Customer Review: ” Anything you shoot with this camera, pictures or video, will ooze creativity and character. The colors that come straight out of this camera I don’t even feel like adjusting they’re THAT good.
I can’t overstate how much that has simplified my workflow while having F-Log as a creative option. Once you shoot 1080p at 240fps with FUJI colors, you could put even 4k120fps A7SIII footage to shame.
DCI, 4K 60fps, support for external recorders like the Atmos Ninja for unlimited 10bit 4:2:2, IBIS, it doesn’t get much better than this. Just buy it, you’ll be glad you did.”
Related Article: Best Tips On Getting Accepted Into Short Film Festivals
Sony Alpha a7S III
Optimized video, optimized sensitivity, optimized speed, the Sony Alpha a7S III raises the bar for what a full-frame mirrorless camera is capable of.
A revised 12.1MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and updated BIONZ XR image processor offer faster performance, improved noise reduction, and a wider dynamic range, along with UHD 4K 120p video recording and internal 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling.
Video is the primary application of the a7S III, and improvements to the sensor and processor enable faster readout speeds and greatly reduced rolling shutter, along with a high-bitrate internal recording, 16-bit raw output via the full-size HDMI port, and flexible control over motion with variable frame rate selection.
The a7S III also does away with recording time limits and incorporates HLG for direct HDR production as well as S-Log2/S-Log3 gamma profiles for advanced HDR production with editing.
Customer review: “After many years in the RED ecosystem I am now in the mirrorless world with the Sony Alpha a7s III.
It is amazing – check many boxes. Rolling shutter fixed – check. Dynamic range – check. Autofocus great – check. RAW – check. Easy menu – check. Low light – insane. Ibis – check. 12,800 ISO (or greater) is where you need to be for best results in low light.”
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K
Not only can the BMPCC 6K record up to 50 fps 6144 x 3456 video, but a huge benefit to lens buffs everywhere, this mirrorless camera features an active Canon EF mount, allowing users to take advantage of the massive array of EF/EF-S–mount lenses available.
Record using the internal CFast 2.0 and SD/UHS-II card slots or output via the USB-C port to capture longer clips to an external drive.
Using the Raw format with the sensor’s metadata simplifies editing to suit any project and makes editing easier with DaVinci Resolve.
With this highly-rated mirrorless camera, there isn’t another camera out there at this price range that does what it can do. 6K BRAW is amazing!
The smaller form factor makes shooting a lot easier (I used to shoot on a C100.)
Related Article: One Person Film Crew – How Master Filmmaking By Yourself
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Well-rounded, lightweight, and sleek, the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 meshes capable video and photo capabilities with a portable body design.
Featuring a full-frame 24.2MP CMOS sensor, the S5 is distinguished by its UHD 4K60 10-bit internal recording, Dual Native ISO, and wide 14+-stop dynamic range.
Beyond video, it caters to a versatile range of stills applications with 7 fps continuous shooting, ISO 100-51200 native range, and even a 96MP High-Res Shot mode.
Regardless of working with photo or video, the S5 maintains a quick and accurate 225-area DFD autofocus system with refined subject tracking, as well as 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake.
Customer review: “With all the great cameras released in 2020, I stuck with Panasonic for these reasons.
FYI: I rack focus and don’t rely on auto-focus, this has improved over the GH5 but AF doesn’t compare to Sony or Canon camera.
(Not in order)
- Price & footage. Nothing comes close at this price range to achieve the photos/video quality.
- Their Menu is user-friendly so I can focus on shooting, instead of figuring out where that setting is to change something.
- The Image Stabilization, nothing comes close yet. I’ve found myself not using my gimble.
- I can use this as a B camera on film sets. You can load LUTS (works perfect with Pansonic cinema cameras), Anamorphic video, V-log, V-Gamet, 4k RAW, Vector scopes, etc.
- The Timelapse mode: Avoid Flicker, Timelapse video in S&Q mode, resolution, low light, etc.
- Lowlight shooting, Sony is still king but Panasonic is a formattable opponent.
- S&G mode, I can easily switch the dial to slow or fast mode for B roll footage, etc. There is a crop but I usually cut to a close-up in slow-mo so it’s not a problem for me.”
Nikon Z7/Z7 II
Utilizing the sensor and processor attributes for more than just still imagery, the Nikon Z 7II is also a more-than-capable multimedia camera.
UHD 4K video recording is possible up to 60p and Full HD 1080p video recording is also supported at up to 120p for slow-motion playback.
Video files can be saved to the in-camera memory cards or as an uncompressed file to an optional external recorder via HDMI out.
Advanced video functionalities have been added with the Z 7II, including the N-Log gamma for capturing flat-looking footage that maximizes dynamic range and HLG (HDR) for recording HDR-ready footage.
Other additions are the ability to output high-quality 10-bit data over HDMI and an Electronic VR function for smooth handheld shooting.
Focus Peaking can be used to benefit manual focus control and a Zebra Stripes option is also available to help detect over-exposed areas within the frame.
Audio recording can be handled using the built-in stereo microphone or an optional external mic can be added via the 3.5mm stereo jack for greater control over the quality, and live monitoring is possible via the headphone jack.
Customer review: “Loved the Z7 but have now really enjoying the experience with the Z7 II. Low light images are fantastic, ease of use, and custom settings are taken to the next level.”
Related Article: 10 Essential Vlogging Youtuber Camera Gear On Amazon
Canon EOS R5
Benefitting more than just stills, the 45MP full-frame sensor also enables impressively high-resolution DCI 8K 30 fps raw video recording internally along with 4K recording up to 120 fps in 4:2:2 10-bit with Canon Log.
HDR-PQ recording is possible, too, in-camera HDR production and external recording, via the HDMI port supports a clean 4K output at up to 60 fps.
Both All-I and IPB compression options are available, along with the ability to use Dual Pixel CMOS AF when shooting at up to 8K raw.
Customer review: “I was SUPER skeptical of moving from the Canon 5Ds to the R5, I wasn’t in love with mirrorless cameras and thought the Sony was too small, not intuitive, and didn’t trust it in all conditions. But that’s the way the world is moving.
So to stay up to date with technology, I made the jump. I’m SO happy I did. I only want to shoot with this camera.
Low light is insane, it’s larger than the Sony A7 series mirrorless and still has some weight to it. User functionality is great, like all canon products.
Have yet to tether with it, but have confidence it will be just as awesome!
Thank you Canon for crushing the updated camera!”
Browse the best camera equipment deals available at your favorite retailers: