Best Filmmaking Cameras For Making Short Films
Are you an inexperienced filmmaker looking for the best filmmaking camera to use for your next short film? I understand that selecting a filmmaking camera to make a short film can be a difficult task for inexperienced filmmakers.
Every filmmaker wants his or her vision to look its best on the big screen. As a result, every month, filmmakers search for the best filmmaking cameras.
Since I’ve been making a lot of short films lately, I wanted to look into the best camera for indie filmmaking that I could use in the future. I was also determined to make a sound decision that I wouldn’t come to regret months later.
The great thing about the film community I’m a part of is that I was able to test out filmmaking cameras before settling on the best camera for making short films that I might regret later. After extensive research, I’ve finally decided on my go-to filmmaking cameras, and here are the results.
Which camera is best for making short films?
For creative filmmaking, a mirrorless camera is a perfect choice.
If you are looking for the best budget cinema camera, you can go for a DSLR camera or a Smartphone for independent low budget filmmaking.
Looking for affordable filmmaking cameras to film short films? If you are stuck in the decision-making process of choosing the right camera, here’s what I have come up with to help.
Filmmaking Cameras For Short Films
If you talk to a cinematographer, everyone will have his/her own opinions on what camera to use for a short film. Not a cinematographer? You must decide what specifications are best for filming a short film.
If you want cinematic quality for your short film, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera is a popular choice among filmmakers.
Because this post is about the best camera for shooting short films, I’ll concentrate on the features that make a great filmmaking camera for shooting independent films. It’s finally time to make a movie!
What Cameras Should You Buy For Filming A Short Film?
The first thing to consider when closing a film camera is its ease of use.
It should be easy to use all of the camera’s buttons to access the menus, and it should be comfortable to hold. It should also have manual controls because, once you start filming, you will realize how automatic focusing can interfere with your shots.
Sound levels, white balance, and exposure should all be accessible through the menus.
Video recording should be compatible with your editing software and capable of filming in Ultra HD (4K), Full HD (1080p), and HD resolutions (720p). It should have a large sensor size.
The reason for having a larger sensor size is it will allow you to use small apertures to film high-quality videos. Plus with a larger sensor size, it’s for low light filming.
However, if you don’t want to carry around a lot of gear, having the option of image stabilization on the camera is a plus. The sound is tricky because you need to use an external source, such as the Zoom H4n PRO, to get the proper sound.
If you don’t have that option, look for a camera with an external microphone port and a headphone jack so you can hear what you’re recording.
Best Filmmaking Camera for Short Films?
Since most independent filmmakers are on limited budgets, the three main types of cameras to be discussed are DSLRs, Mirrorless Cameras, and Smartphones.
A mirror inside the camera body reflects the light from the lens up into an optical viewfinder. The light is directed through a prism or a series of additional mirrors. Right through the lens, you can see what you’re shooting.
When the shutter is pressed, the mirror flips up out of the way, the shutter slides open, and light from the lens travels directly to the imaging sensor, where a photograph is taken. DSLR cameras are great because they are inexpensive and produce amazing footage for short films.
When compared to regular point-and-shoot cameras, the DSLR has an advantage with a larger sensor for capturing high-quality images. Because of their high frame rates, these cameras are ideal for high-speed shooting.
Because they are multi-purpose cameras, they can shoot in low light and take still-frame photos. Furthermore, most DSLRs have red-eye reduction and can accept external microphones for improved sound.
I recommend using a Zoom H4n Pro to capture the best sound for your project if you want to take your sound to the next level.
Unlike the DSLR, it does not have a mirror. Instead, the light goes directly into the lens before the image sensor. Then, the image sensor captures a preview which you can see on the rear screen.
Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras
Mirrorless cameras take up little space because there is no hardware between the viewfinder, sensor, and lens. Because they are lightweight, they are ideal for travel.
Mirrorless cameras have a feature called Hybrid Autofocus that ensures image focus is perfect for clarity when filming. Mirrorless cameras also have a full-time live view LCD screen, which removes the element of surprise while filming.
Any mirrorless camera will produce an image that is similar to what you see on the screen. This is especially useful when filming in low-light situations.
Many mirrorless cameras include a manual focus aid, giving you complete control over the image you capture.
It blows my mind that smartphones today can produce high-quality images and footage comparable to some of the industry’s best cameras.
Purists laugh at smartphone technology, but some are starting to take notice as smartphones are increasingly being used as feature filmmaking cameras. Smartphones are convenient and powerful devices with the ability to control their settings manually.
Furthermore, they are an excellent starting point for new filmmakers learning the craft of filmmaking.
Advantages Of Using Smartphone For Filming
Smartphones are small and nearly everyone owns one. They are easy to transport and use when you need to shoot something on the fly, and they are always available.
Nobody will know you’re filming anything if you don’t have a permit because you’ll look like everyone else on the street. Smartphones do not stand out in the same way that a DSLR or mirrorless camera does.
Furthermore, with the development of apps for iOS and Android, smartphone filmmaking is reaching new heights.
Cost is another benefit in regards to smartphones being the best filmmaking cameras on a budget. The reason for this appears to be that the average consumer recycles his or her phone every three years, ensuring that you always have the most up-to-date technology.
When compared to purchasing a standalone camera, which may become obsolete in a year or two.
Short films typically have lower budgets than their longer counterparts.
As a result, purchasing a digital camera may reduce profits. In extreme cases, purchasing one can result in total loss.
To avoid this, if you are working on a tight budget for your short film, it is best to settle for a good smartphone for filming instead. Another advantage is the quality, with most smartphones now capable of recording in 4k resolution, which is quite impressive.
The only downside to smartphone filming is that you are limited to lenses.
If you don’t add an anamorphic lens like the Moment – Anamorphic Lens for iPhone, Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and OnePlus Camera Phones, your images could lack depth on screen.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Sensor resolution: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | 4K frame rates: 60, 50, 30, 25, 24p | 4K sensor crop factor: 1.1x | Standard ISO range: 160-12,800 | Memory cards: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II)
The FUJIFILM X-T4 is a hybrid camera that excels at both stills and motion imagery by utilizing cutting-edge technology. Break free from compromise and become the image-maker you’ve always desired. With the fourth-generation X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, X-Processor 4, a newly developed, compact in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, the new ETERNA Bleach Bypass Film Simulation mode, and a plethora of other features, it’s time to push your creative boundaries with this incredible imaging tool.
Fujifilm has used its expertise in color science to create some of the best photographic films in the industry for over 85 years. The X-T4 captures the nostalgic beauty of this medium and digitally makes it available at the touch of a button. This is never more evident than with our newest Film Simulation mode, ETERNA Bleach Bypass, which creates a high-contrast look with low saturation to perfectly emulate the popular bleach bypass film processing technique.
The X-evolution T4’s is not limited to still photography. X-T4 features digital image stabilization (DIS) and IS (Image Stabilization) Boost mode, in addition to Full HD/240p high-speed recording, which provides a maximum 10x slow-motion effect. By combining these two image stabilization modes with the powerful IBIS, the X-T4 enables you to shoot stabilized video without the use of a gimbal or other third-party accessories.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: full frame | Sensor resolution: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | 4K frame rates: 30, 24p | 4K sensor crop factor: 1x | Standard ISO range: 100-51,200 | Memory cards: 1x Memory Stick Duo/SD (UHS-I), 1x SD (UHS-II)
The Sony a7 III has been fine-tuned for exceptional image capture control and quality. An entirely new image sensor and image processing system improve image quality even further.
Improved overall AF performance, high-speed continuous shooting at up to 10fps, 4K movie recording capability, and significantly improved operability over the 7 II allows you to capture more decisive moments.
24.2MP BSI Full-frame Image Sensor – The newly developed 24.2MP back-illuminated 35mm full-frame Exmor R CMOS image sensor is paired with a front-end LSI that effectively doubles the image sensor’s readout speed, as well as an updated BIONZ X processing engine that increases processing speed by approximately 1.8 times over the 7 II.
As a result, the sensor has high sensitivity, low noise, and a 15-stop dynamic range. It can also output 14-bit RAW files even when shooting in silent or continuous mode.
Up to 10 fps with Silent or Mechanical Shutter – The a7 III has a refined image processing system that allows it to capture full 24.2MP images at up to 10 frames per second with continuous and accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 177 Standard JPEG images, 89 compressed RAW images, or 40 uncompressed RAW images.
For completely silent shooting, this high-speed 10 fps mode is available with either a mechanical or an electronic shutter. The Sony a7iii should be on your radar if you’re looking for good cameras for beginning filmmakers.
This camera represents a watershed moment for stills shooters who want to go mirrorless.” An affordable full-frame stills camera that can mount virtually any lens on the market and capture incredible raw images that are usable well beyond ISO 6400. And a stunning 4K video camera.
The a7 III is a game-changer, and I’m looking forward to seeing Sony continue to disrupt the camera market and kick Canon and Nikon in the keister. The previous a7 series cameras had a bad battery that would die in a matter of hours. The a9, a7r III, and a7 III have addressed this issue with a new battery design that can last all day.
To be honest, at $2000, you’d have to be a VERY successful professional photographer to need anything more than this camera. This is, hands down, the best camera for short films in 2022…period!
Best Smartphone Camera For Short Filmmaking
Rear Camera: 12 MP, f/2.0-4.0, 24mm (wide), 1.0-type, 2.4µm, PDAF, OIS (315 PDAF points, 90% frame coverage)12 MP, f/2.4, 50mm (telephoto),OIS 12 MP, f/2.2, 124˚, 16mm (ultrawide) | Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide) | Video: 4K@24/25/30/60/120fps HDR, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; 5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS
The Sony Xperia PRO-I is Sony’s most expensive and photographer-friendly smartphone to date. It will be the company’s flagship device in 2021, replacing the Xperia 1 III.
The “I” in PRO-I stands for “Imaging,” and the headline specs indicate that the PRO-I is a cross between Sony’s Alpha mirrorless and RX-series Cybershot compact cameras, as well as their high-end Xperia phones.
The Sony PRO-I features a triple-camera Zeiss lens setup with focal lengths of 16mm, 24mm, and 50mm, one of which (24mm) uses the same 1-inch Type Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor as the DSC-RX100 VII compact.
The PRO-1 joins a very short list of smartphones that have dared to use a 1-inch sensor, including the Sharp Aquos R6 (only available in Japan) and the way-ahead-of-its-time Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1, which was released back in 2014.
Along with the 1-inch sensor, the Sony Alpha mirrorless system inherits several key technologies, including Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, as well as Real-time Tracking.
Other important camera features include 20fps burst shooting with continuous auto-focus and auto-exposure, Optical Image Stabilisation, 12-bit RAW files, up to 4K HDR 120fps video recording, dedicated shutter-release and movie record buttons, and water and dust resistance.
The PRO-I includes three different built-in photo and video apps: Photo Pro, which provides full manual control over settings like exposure, focus, and drive mode, as well as a new Basic mode, and dedicated Video Pro and Cinema Pro apps.
In terms of core specs, the PRO-I shares the same Android 11 OS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB RAM, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, 4,500mAh battery, and a 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED display with a rapid 120Hz refresh rate and no notches as the Xperia 1 III.
The Xperia Pro-I is the first smartphone to offer native 4K/120p capture, which can be watched back natively at 4K, 120Hz thanks to the display’s capabilities, for a hyper-realistic video experience (previous Xperia models could capture in 4K/120p but only at a lower frame rate, as slow-motion video).
Because there is an extra, underutilized surface area on that 1″-type sensor that is still covered by the imaging circle projected by the main lens, 4K 16:9 video cleverly uses a slightly wider field-of-view than is available for 4:3 stills. This means that there is less of a final crop after electronic image stabilization: clever!
Sony has ‘Video Pro’ and ‘Cinema Pro’ for shooting video. The ‘Video Pro’ interface is intended for ‘immediate sharing,’ with a focus on vlogging, mobile journalism, and other use-cases that necessitate quick turnaround. All of your basic settings are conveniently located for quick compositions and captures.
‘Cinema Pro,’ on the other hand, is aimed at cinematographers and incorporates ‘eight different color settings inspired by Sony’s VENICE digital cinema camera, a 21:9 recording ratio, and more from Sony’s professional video camera technology. A dedicated pull focus option is also available for smoothly transitioning focus from one subject to another by tapping the subject on the screen.
Best DSLR Camera For Short Films
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Sensor resolution: 24.2 MP | Lens mount: Canon | Video Capture: FHD 1080p | 4K sensor crop factor: 1x | Standard ISO range: 100-25600
The Canon EOS Rebel T7i is a favorite among budget DSLR video shooters.
The Canon Rebel series has been used for countless YouTube channels, low-budget/no-budget music videos, wedding films, and more.
Plus, the Canon EOS Rebel T7i, captures 1080 footage up to 60fps. It’s the best bang for your buck. Many of my filmmaking friends us the canon t7i for filmmaking and create amazing results with this camera.
The EOS Rebel T7i camera has professional features in an easy-to-use and highly customizable package.
With a 45-point all cross-type Optical Viewfinder AF system, Dual Pixel CMOS AF with phase-detection, Canon’s legendary image quality and more, it lets you create whatever your imagination sees.
The 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor work together for detailed, colorful and memorable photos. An ISO range of 100 to 25600 means confident shooting even in low light.
Why do I recommend the EOS Rebel T7I?
For the price, this is a very versatile filmmaking DSLR camera that produces great video footage.
It may be unable to produce 4k video quality, but to the untrained eye, you wouldn’t even know the difference.
I have shot two short films with the EOS Rebel T7i, and it acts like a mirrorless camera, but half the cost. One of the canon filmmaking cameras you can afford.
Best Cinema Camera For Short Films
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Super 35 | Megapixels: 8.8MP (native 4K) | Lens mount: Canon EF | 4K/6K frame rates: up to 60/50p | Standard ISO range: 400,3,200 | Memory cards: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II, 1x CFast
What is the best video camera for making short films? Then the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera is superb choice!
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is better than a simple video camera because it has professional features allowing you to create the same “look” as Hollywood feature films.
The combination of high dynamic range, great low light performance and Blackmagic RAW gives you feature film images with precise skin tones and gorgeous organic colors.
You get advanced features such as 4K or 6K models, large 5″ LCD for easy focus, SD card and CFast media, external USB‑C media disk recording, EF or MFT lens mounts and more! DaVinci Resolve Studio is also included for editing, color correction, audio post and VFX!
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, with its larger 6144 x 3456 Super 35 sensor and EF lens mount, allows you to use larger EF photographic lenses to create cinematic images with shallower depth of field, allowing for creative defocused backgrounds and gorgeous bokeh effects!
The extra resolution also allows for more reframing when editing and color correcting. This means you can shoot in 6K and then zoom and reframe in post to create wide shots and close-ups, all with a single camera and without sacrificing image quality!
Well it’s a really good camera for the price and I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think there is anything better in that price range. The footage is beautiful and crisp (if u know How to manually focus) and the menu system is so easy to use. Highly recommend this camera for any small-time filmmaker.
Additional Filmmaking Items That Will Help
Of course, all filmmaking begins with the camera.
But, there are a few filmmaking accessories that every filmmaker should have in their filmmaking kit to make the best movie possible.
Below are just a few suggestions that I have in my filmmaking kit, that I believe every filmmaker should have.
Here’s some advice for those looking for a first lens. If an inexpensive zoom lens for your camera’s format is available, go for it.
These will not be suitable for low-light photography or achieving a dramatic shallow depth of field, but they will provide the most focal length options with which to experiment. You can then get a sense of what specific prime lenses you might want.
Alternatively, use a “normal” lens to meet in the middle. The precise definition of normal is debatable—many will say 50mm in “full-frame” 35mm format. A more abstract definition would be a lens that is neither wide-angle nor telephoto.
Rokinon does an excellent job of providing affordable cinema lenses to the general public. The images that you can capture with these lenses are quite impressive for the price point, and can easily compete with many cinema lenses that cost many times their price. They will never outperform a $25,000 cinema lens package in a test situation, and that is to be expected. But the fact that they can get so close is incredible.
The 50mm lens is my favorite of the bunch because it is so beautifully sharp and accurate, and it doesn’t have many flaws. The 24mm is definitely the softest and has the most room for improvement (due to the difference in color and contrast), but it is still a very usable lens that I would use wide open. A little post-processing sharpening will help to match the 24mm to the other lenses, and a simple color balance can help to offset any minor differences in color temperature.
Overall, in my opinion, these lenses provide the best bang for your buck of any lens kit available right now, and I would highly recommend them.
Cameras are built for taking photographs and creating videos, so the internal microphones on most cameras are subpar, and shouldn’t be used for filmmaking.
The RØDE VideoMic Pro is a true shotgun microphone designed for use with camcorders, DSLR cameras and portable audio recorders as a source of primary and reference audio.
The VideoMic pro is battery powered, and provides over 70 hours recording from a single 9V battery.
A wireless lapel or ‘lavalier’ mic like the Comia CVM-WM100 is perfect for clipping to clothing and recording dialogue when you don’t want to get in too close with the camera.
When it comes to lighting for film, using the camera’s flash for lighting is a no-no.
If you are thinking about shooting indoors, I would suggest using LED lights to be able to light your subjects the best ways possible.
What I have in my filmmaking kit for lighting is the Litepanels Brick One Bi-Color On-Camera Light Kit.
Litepanels Brick One Bi-Color On-Camera Light Kit
The Litepanels Brick One Bi-Color On-Camera Light Kit includes a Litepanels Brick on-camera light, a Seahorse case with custom cut foam, a power supply, a gel frame, and a 60° honeycomb grid.
The Brick features the same rectangular form factor of the MiniPlus LED Light but offers 4x the brightness, tungsten-to-daylight variable color temperature, and an IP65 weatherproof rating; all are ideal for on-the-go shooters in varying weather conditions.
Combining tightly binned, surface-mount LEDs paired with fine-tuned, custom-designed TIR optics for improved color reproduction and increased brightness, the Brick delivers a 100W tungsten-equivalent output at a 36° beam angle.
This allows you to take advantage of the included gel frame or honeycomb frame without diminishing the output so far as to be useless.
The Brick LED Light features a smooth 100 to 0% brightness dimmer, and it is flicker-free at any frame rate or shutter angle.
A dedicated power button allows you to maintain your settings when you turn the light off. The Brick has an integrated D-Tap cable, compatible with select camera batteries and also supports AC power via the included international power supply.
The Brick and accessories fit inside the custom-foamed Seahorse SE-520, which is constructed to meet Mil-Spec and IP67 standards.
If you are looking for some great lighting options, check out the selection that B&H Photo/Video has (Click Here).
When it comes to memory cards, most memory cards for the camera are built speeds that can handle photographs, but many can’t handle the speed needed for video.
The minimum speed needed for 4K video is 10MB/s (Class 10, UHS Class 1, V10); 30MB/s is better (UHS Class 3, V30) and 60MB/s is ideal (V60).
ProGrade Digital SD Card V60 (256GB) -Up to 130MB/s Write Speed and 250MB/s Read Speed
CALLING ALL VLOGGERS, INFLUENCERS, FILMMAKERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, AND VIDEOGRAPHERS: Add our professional line of SD cards to your kit and you’ll be an instant pro. Concentrate on curating the best content for your clients/audience while our SDXC Cards handle the backend heavy lifting of storing and uploading your work every time.
LIGHTING FAST 130MB/s WRITE SPEED – SAVE HIGH-RESOLUTION RECORDINGS TO YOUR DEVICE INSTANTLY, ALL WHILE MAINTAINING SUPER-SHARP FOCUS. STOP WAITING FOR YOUR IMAGES/RECORDINGS TO UPLOAD; with our Read Speed of 250 MB/s, even the most demanding work can be uploaded in seconds!
Tripod / Stabilizer
Nobody likes shaky camera footage!
So to avoid this problem altogether you need to invest in a quality tripod that is sturdy enough to hold a camera rig, but light enough to carry around.
If you are looking for something to provide stabilization while switching over to handheld, I would suggest a great gimbal stabilizer like the DJI Ronin.
The Befree 3-Way Live is an innovative model joining the Manfrotto’s flagship tripod family, Befree Advanced, for travel photography and videography, specifically developed for hobbyist and amateur photographers and videographers who want maximum performance and versatility in an all-in-one compact support.
DJI Ronin-S Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer All-in-one Control DSLR Mirrorless Cameras
Be in the mount designed in a single-handed form factor for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, The ronin-s empowers creators to shoot with the freedom of stabilized shots on the move.
The ronin-s supports almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera setup on the market, offering direct camera control. Stay focused focus better on your subject with the easy-to-control focus wheel.
Side Note: With all the footage you are capturing, you will need a software program to edit the peices together.
I would suggest to use the best video editing software you can get your hands on.
These video editing software programs are the best in the business, and will turn your project into a masterpiece.
When it comes to the best camera for filmmaking in regards to short films, there are quite a few choices out there to get your vision on the big screen.
From DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, I hope the information provided will help you with your decision on the best camera for your short film.
Don’t forget, that when in doubt, you always have your smartphone. Just get out there and start filming!
Eager to learn more?
Join our weekly newsletter below featuring inspiring stories, no-budget filmmaking tips, and comprehensive equipment reviews to help you turn your film projects into reality!
If you found this post useful, please do consider sharing it or letting your friends know via social media. Have something to add? Please feel free to do so in the comments section below. I really appreciate it!
📌 Don’t forget to save the blog for later, pin the image below!
About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.