Are you an amateur filmmaker looking for the right film camera to shoot your next short film?
I know that deciding on a filmmaking camera to make a short film can be a difficult task for beginning filmmakers.
Every filmmaker wants his/her vision to look the best it can be on the silver screen. Therefore filmmakers are always looking for the best filmmaking cameras every month.
Since I have been producing quite a few short films lately, I wanted to research the best filmmaking cameras I could use going forward. I was also determined to make a wise decision that I wouldn’t regret months down the road.
The great thing about the film community I belong to, I was able to test out filmmaking cameras without settling on a filmmaking camera that I might regret in the future.
I have finally settled on my go-to filmmaking cameras after extensive research, and here are my results.
Best Filmmaking Cameras For Making Short Films
Which camera is best for making short films?
For creative filmmaking, a mirrorless camera is a perfect choice.
If you are looking for something within a budget, 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 which filmmaking camera is the best for filming a short film.
Not a cinematographer? You have to decide on what specifications will suit you best for filming a short film.
If you want cinema-like quality for your short film, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is winning a lot of filmmakers over.
Since this post is related to the best camera for filming short films, I will be focusing on the specifications that make a great filmmaking camera for shooting independent films. It’s time to make a film!
What Cameras Should You Buy For Filming A Short Film?
The first important thing about closing a film camera is it should be easy to use.
It should be comfortable to hold, with ease of use of all the buttons on the camera to access the menus. It should also have manual controls because once you start filming, you will understand how automatic focusing can hinder your shots.
The options available to you through the menus should be the accessibility to sound levels, white balance, and exposure.
Video recording should be compatible with your editing software and have the ability to film in Ultra HD (4K), Full HD (1080p) and HD (720p).
It should have a large sensor size.
The reason for this is it will allow you to use small apertures to film high-quality videos. Plus with larger sensor size, it’s for low light filming.
If you are filming anything, you really should be using a tripod like the Manfrotto Camera Tripod or Camera stabilizer like the Neewer Film Movie Video Making System Kit to minimize the shaky camera effect.
But, if you don’t want to carry around a lot of gear, having the option on the camera of image stabilization is a plus. For the sound, this is tricky as to get proper sound, you should use an external source like the Zoom H4n PRO.
If you don’t have that option, look for a camera that has an external microphone port and headphone port to make sure you are hearing what you are capturing.
Best Filmmaking Camera for Short Films?
Since most independent filmmakers are on limited budgets, the three main types of cameras to be discussed are DSLR’s, Mirrorless Cameras, and Smartphones.
Inside the camera body is a mirror that reflects the light coming from the lens up into an optical viewfinder.
The light is sent by way of either a prism or a series of additional mirrors. This is how you can see what you’re shooting, right through the lens.
When the shutter is pressed, that mirror flips up out of the way, the shutter slides open, and light coming from the lens takes a straight shot to the imaging sensor where a photograph is made.
The great thing about DSLR Cameras is that they are very affordable and produce incredible footage for short films.
The DSLR has an advantage with a large sensor to capture high-quality images compared to the regular point and shoot cameras.
These types of cameras are perfect for high-speed shooting because they offer high frame rates.
Being a multi-purpose camera, they have the advantage of shooting in low light and take still frame photos as well.
Plus, most DSLRs have a red-eye reduction and can accommodate external microphones for better sound.
If you want to take your sound to the next level, I suggest using a Zoom H4n Pro to capture the best sound for your project.
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 a small space due to the absence of the hardware between the viewfinder, sensor, and lens.
This makes them perfect traveling because they are lightweight.
Mirrorless cameras have a feature called Hybrid Autofocus which ensures that the image focus is perfect for clarity when filming.
Another great thing for filmmaking is mirrorless cameras have a full-time live view LCD Screen which takes the surprise away while filming.
With any mirrorless camera, you will get an image that resembles what you see on the screen. This really helps when filming under poor lighting conditions.
Many mirrorless cameras have a manual focus aid that gives you total control over the image you will capture.
To think that smartphones today can produce quality images and footage that compares to some of the top cameras in the industry blows my mind.
The purists laugh at smartphone technology, but some are now starting to take note as smartphones are now becoming feature filmmaking cameras.
Smartphones are handy and powerful that have the capability to control their adjustments manually.
Plus, for new filmmakers learning to film, they are a great starting tool to learn from.
Advantages Of Using Smartphone For Filming
Smartphones are small and everyone pretty much has one. They are easy to carry around and when you need to shoot something on the fly, and they are there when you need it.
If you are filming without a permit, nobody will really know you are filming anything because you will look like everyone else on the street.
Smartphones don’t stand out like a DSLR or Mirrorless camera do.
Plus, with the applications that are being made for iOS or Android, filmmaking on a smartphone is being taken to a new level.
Cost is another benefit in regards to smartphones being the best filmmaking cameras on a budget.
The reason it seems is that the regular consumer recycles his/her phone every three years which means you will always have the last technology.
Compare that to purchasing a standalone camera, that could be obsolete in a year or two.
Short films have smaller budgets than their other counterparts.
Therefore, buying a digital camera may reduce profits. In extreme cases, buying one can result into losses altogether.
For you to avoid that if you are on a tight budget for your short film, it is advisable to settle for a good smartphone for the filming instead.
Another advantage is the quality with most smartphones today are filming a 4k resolution, which is quite remarkable.
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.
Best Mirrorless Camera For Short Films
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 X-H1 is the highest performing camera in the X Series lineup, with a newly-designed robust and durable body.
The X-H1 incorporates a range of useful features that support shooting in various scenarios by professional photographers, videographers and experienced amateur photographers.
These features include not only the first-ever X Series camera with 5-axis in-body image stabilization, which has a maximum of 5.5 stops, but also a flicker reduction mode which enhances the quality of indoor sports photography.
This kit includes an X-H1 Body + Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1.
Review: ” This camera is amazing — worth every penny. It fits my grip perfectly and effortlessly delivers precision results. It is built like a tank, and while it’s large by mirrorless standards, it’s still very compact — especially when you take into account its capabilities.
I think it’s a beautiful and highly ergonomic design. I’m an amateur and take mostly portraits and nature shots. I don’t do much street work at the moment, but this camera would fit the bill nicely. The MF/AF integration is well done.
The menu system is very responsive. Touch focus is a real treat. It’s a professional camera by any measure, but I find it a pleasure to use.
Simply put, the X-H1 gives me the best chance of getting the best shot under any condition. The only limitation is me, and that’s how I like it. Video performance, by the way, is excellent, though you’ll want a fast SD card.
This may be the body that unlocks the ultimate potential of my Fuji glass. Finding just the right settings takes some work, but the results are stunning. I consider the professional video quality a bonus but it’s an open door to creative possibilities.”
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)
Refined for extraordinary image capture control and quality, the a7 III has everything you need.
An entirely renewed image sensor and image processing system further enhance image quality.
Improved overall AF performance, high-speed continuous shooting up to 10fps, 4K movie recording capability, and operability that has been dramatically upgraded from the α7 II allow 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 readout speed of the image sensor, as well as an updated BIONZ X processing-engine that boosts processing speed by approximately 1.8 times compared to the α7 II.
This results in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide 15-stop dynamic range.
It also has the ability to output 14 bit RAW format even when shooting in silent or continuous mode.
Up to 10 fps with Silent or Mechanical Shutter
The a7 III is equipped with a refined image processing system that allows it to capture full 24.2MP images at up to 10 fps with continuous and accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 177 Standard JPEG images, 89 compressed RAW images or 40 uncompressed RAW images.
This high speed 10 fps mode is available with either a mechanical shutter or an electronic shutter for completely silent shooting.
Review: “This camera is a seismic shift for stills shooters that want to go mirrorless.
An affordable full-frame stills camera that can mount basically any lens on the marketplace, take incredible raw shots that are usable well past ISO 6400. And an incredible 4K video camera.
The a7 III is a game changer, and I’m excited to see Sony continuing to disrupt the camera market and kick Canon and Nikon in their complacent keisters.
The previous a7 series cameras had a lousy battery that would die in just a few hours. a9, a7r III and a7 III have fixed that with a new battery design that can make it through the day.
Honestly, at $2000, you need to be a VERY successful professional photographer to need any more camera than this.”
Rear Camera: 40 MP, f/1.6, 27mm (wide) + 20 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide) + Periscope 8 MP, f/3.4, 125mm (telephoto) | Front Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0, (wide) | Video: 2160p@30fps
The best budget smartphone for filming is HUAWEI P30 PRO .
It is one of the few smartphones that can match up to the standards of the digital cameras when it comes to making short films.
How can a smartphone have the best camera for short films? Letʼs look at it in detail.
The Leica Triple Camera System accommodates your photography to help see the world in its entirety.
This super camera system with a 40 MP Super Sensing Camera, a 16 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens, and an 8 MP telephoto lens, gives you the freedom to capture the treasure and beauty of the world.
HUAWEI P30 PRO offers 5x hybrid zoom to let you capture the never-before-seen with great resolution and rich detail. Find the small lighthouse and bring it right before your eyes.
See the splendor hidden in the night with up to ISO 204800 on the HUAWEI P30 PRO . Even in extreme dark situations, you are able to capture beautiful stargazing moments.
Why do I recommend the HUAWEI P30?
This smartphone stands out as the closest thing to a DSLR camera but makes phone calls.
With a maximum ISO of 409600, the P30 Pro can capture usable photos in low-light environments where the human eye can pretty much only see darkness.
This is almost on par with the Sony A7, and half the price. Outstanding.
Amazon Customer Reviews: ” I am a longtime iPhone user, so this was a big jump for me. My hobby is photography, and I thought the iPhone Xs camera was amazing, but the P30 blows that camera out of the water in so many ways. The 10x digital zoom is unbelievable sharp, and the 5x optical zoom is unparalleled.”
It may be unable to produce 4k video quality, but to the untrained eye, you wouldn’t even know the difference.
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.
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.
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
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!
Featuring a larger 6144 x 3456 Super 35 sensor and EF lens mount, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K lets you use larger EF photographic lenses to create cinematic images with shallower depth of field, allowing creative defocussed backgrounds and gorgeous bokeh effects!
Extra resolution also gives you more room for reframing in editing and color correction.
This means that you can shoot in 6K and then in post production zoom and re‑frame to allow wide shots and close ups to be created, all from a single camera and without losing image quality!
Amazon Review: 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 film maker.
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.
This is take directly from B&H Photo/Video, and gives a good explanation on what types of lenses you should have in your camera kit.
“For those looking for a starter lens, here is my advice.
Opt for an inexpensive zoom lens, if one is available for your camera’s format.
These won’t be suitable for low light or getting dramatic shallow depth of field, but will offer the widest range of focal lengths with which you can experiment.
From there, you can get a sense of what specific prime lenses you may want.
Alternatively, meet in the middle with a “normal” lens. The exact definition of normal is debatable—many will tell you it’s 50mm in “full-frame” 35mm format.
A more abstract definition is that it is a lens that is neither wide angle nor telephoto.
For a full-frame camera, between 35mm and 75mm would fit this range. Normal lenses, being optically simple, are generally inexpensive while being sharp with decent to good low light performance.
A normal lens certainly won’t work for every situation, but if you need one prime lens to start with and aren’t sure what your requirements are, it’s your best bet.”
Camera’s 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.
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).
LIGHTING FAST 130MB/s WRITE SPEED – INSTANTLY SAVE high resolution recordings to your device, ALL WHILE maintaining super sharp focus. STOP waiting around for your images/recordings to upload, with our Read Speed of 250MB/s even your most robust 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 video system includes the NITROTECH N8 fluid video head (flat base) and the MVTTWINMCUS carbon fiber twin leg with a middle spreader tripod.
The NITROTECH N8 fluid video head features state-of-the-art technology consisting of a Nitrogen piston mechanism that allows continuous counterbalance system that enables precise control of a camera and accessories up to 8 Kg @ 55mm C.O.G.
Less ThanbRGreater ThanThe variable fluid drag system function on both pan and tilt allows smooth, judder-free movement.
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!