Video recording isn’t exactly cutting-edge technology anymore. This means two things. First, you don’t need to get a massive camera that’s dedicated to just video recording, as pretty much every camera will have video recording capabilities. Second, you don’t need to break the bank to find a camera that will bring your blockbuster film ideas to life. Case in point, the pilot of the hit show It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia was filmed on a $15 camcorder. The game is changing, and now everyone can afford to let their inner Martin Scorcese shine.
With so many cheap options available, we wanted to help you find the best cheap option, and that’s why we made this list. We can pretty much guarantee that by the time you finish reading our list, you’ll find a dirt-cheap camera that’s perfect for all of your filmmaking needs whether you just want to be able to record your niece’s piano recital or you plan to on making it big in Hollywood.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look For in a Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
- #1: Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #2: EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera (Best Overall Camera)
- #3: Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD (Best Zoom)
- #4: AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera (Cheapest of the Cheap)
- #5: Toberto HD Digital Camera (Another Dirt-Cheap Option)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Your Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
What Should You Look For in a Camera for Filmmaking on a Budget?
The best part about video cameras being so cheap these days is that you don’t need to have a master’s degree in photography or cinema to get started on your creative endeavors. Of course, it’s a good idea to not jump in completely blind, and we want to help you get your feet wet. Having a basic understanding of some simple terms will go a long way in helping you feel grounded. This will help you understand what you’re looking at when you check out all the cameras out there and decide which option is best for you. For that reason, we’ve designed a straightforward and easy-to-understand rubric that will highlight the important criteria to focus on when picking your video camera. In just a few short paragraphs, you’ll feel like a tech expert when it comes to everything camera-related, and you’ll be able to spot the best deals from a mile away.
Criteria #1: Video Quality – I don’t think I need to explain this one too much. Just because we’re on a budget doesn’t mean you deserve a potato-tier camera that has the same video quality as your mom’s stash of home movies. Video quality will generally be measured in pixels and resolution, so those will almost always be the first qualities we mention about any camera. You’ll also want a camera with a high FPS (frames per second) count to give you a smooth and seamless video. Of course, there will be other features that contribute to video quality, and we’ll make sure to point those out as well so that you can find the Ultra HD video camera you’re looking for.
Criteria #2: Design – Design is more than just a pretty package. Everything from the size and weight of your budget camera to the placement of the buttons will really define your filmmaking experience once you get started recording. We want to help you find the best camera for filmmaking that gives you all of the bells and whistles. And if your camera can fit in your pocket and has a durable frame, well then, that’s just gravy. While superior video quality will be our top priority, we’re going to go out of our way to find you a camera that was built with accessibility in mind.
Criteria #3: Extra Features – Sometimes the extra features really are more than just extra. The little things go a long way, even if you didn’t pay a fortune for your camera. We want you to enjoy all of the perks of modern technology. There are some amazing cameras for filmmaking out there that offer incredible features like image stabilization, slow motion, night vision, and lenses specifically designed to handle sunlight. Somewhere out there, there’s a camera that has all of the features you need at a price you can afford, and we’re going to personally make sure you find that camera.
Criteria #4: Price – As this is a list of budget products, we’re obviously not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. That being said, meeting this criterion is less about being cheap – all of our cameras will be cheap – and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive (don’t worry, that’s a relative term) product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
We measured the specs of the top products on the market and compared them to our listed criteria to see how they held up, and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best cameras for filmmaking on a budget” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We’ll also make sure to include a wide variety of products that covers different niches and price points. This way, everyone can find the perfect product that will satisfy their needs and their budget.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget.
#1: Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Our list gets started with the sleek and slim Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera. If you’ve looked into cameras for more than ten seconds, you’ve come across a Canon product, and it’s nice to start things off with a brand that has a long history and a solid resume backing it up.
With its fantastic 720p HD video, you’ll know that your new homemade videos fit in with the modern competition. Our budget camera from Canon also boasts a 20.0 Megapixel CCD sensor and a Digic 4+ Image Processor to make every single pixel look better than ever.
As someone who gets terrible choice paralysis, my favorite feature of our best camera for filmmaking on a budget is the auto mode. Instead of making you give yourself anxiety and struggling to decide which settings are best for your situation, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera analyzes the environment around it and decides everything for you. All of your videos will look like they were edited by a pro, and you won’t have to do a thing except point and record. It’ll be our little secret.
The digital image stabilization will help this camera power through your shaky hand, and nobody will be able to notice that you didn’t use a tripod for your film-101 project. To top everything off, this camera gives you Fisheye Effect, Toy Camera Effect, and Monochrome Effect to let you put your own personal spin on everything and help you bring your masterpiece to life.
On top of all of its amazing features, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera comes in a frame that measures just 3.75 x 0.87 x 2.14 inches and weighs a measly 4.4 ounces. This video camera will fit right in your pocket and is perfect for filming on the go.
Of course, as the number one product on our list of the best budget cameras for filmmaking, this Canon camera is incredibly cheap and is sure to fit in almost anyone’s budget without moving things around too much. Finally, with close to 3,000 reviews on Amazon, you can be sure that the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera has the crowd’s seal of approval. Besides its good video quality and its amazing price, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera received praise for being simple and easy to use, and its size will make it a favorite of any frequent flyer.
With our top-ranked affordable camera for filmmaking, you’re getting almost everything you can ask for, and that makes the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera the best value out there.
#2: EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera (Best Overall Camera)
Our second camera is another Canon product, which shows how successful the camera megacompany has been at cornering the market. I know what you’re thinking, the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera might not fit your idea of a “budget camera.” In fact, if I asked for a budget camera and someone showed me this Canon product, I might laugh in their face. But it might be the best product out there, full stop, so we couldn’t leave it off our list in clean conscious. Besides, most other lists are a bit more lenient with the term “budget” than we are, and almost every one of such lists includes the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera.
So keep reading if you’re willing to be convinced that “budget” just means “not professional-grade” and if you want to see the camera that has everyone screaming for more. Here are the features that might just convince you that it’s worth it to splurge for the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: More Pixels
This one is nice and straightforward. The EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera has the best video quality available. This is thanks to its insane pixel count of 242 megapixels that offers 1080p Ultra HD video. These videos are shot at the standard speed of 60 FPS, so everything will move as smoothly as it should. Our second video camera even has an HDR mode to help you maximize your potential as a filmmaker with the crispest videos possible. Video cameras are supposed to capture video. If you want a camera that does that better than any other camera for filmmaking on the market, then go ahead and buy the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera. Your portfolio will thank you.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: It Doubles as a Webcam
We’re living in the age of Zoom. Even when phrases like “social distancing” are distant memories, it will probably be the case that working from home becomes much more common. That means that even when we’re back outside with our friends, it’ll pay for the more business-oriented folks among us to have a high-quality webcam that’s a step above the one that came with your laptop. Luckily for us, the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera doubles as a webcam, so you can indulge in your hobby as a filmmaker and be the center of attention during your Zoom business conference all with one product.
That extra utility definitely adds a bit of value to this expensive camera, so that’s worth considering if the price is discouraging you but you’re also in search of a webcam. If you’re tired of looking like a pixelated 90’s videogame character on your Zoom calls, the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera is perfect for you.
On top of the top-of-the-line video quality and the webcam capability, the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera features incredible image stabilization, and it’s compatible with both wi-fi and NFC technology. This means that just by quickly downloading the Canon app, you can control this camera remotely from your smartphone so you can survey the landscape and get the best shot at the same time. You can really be in two places at once with this Canon video camera.
As we mentioned earlier, our best camera for filmmakers is featured on several lists of the best affordable cameras, and on top of that, the paying customers love it, so you know it’s worth the price. It’s hard to think of a feature the Canon 80D doesn’t have, and whether you’re on a budget or not, it’s one of the best cameras available. So if you want the best and only the best, you’ll need to splurge for the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera.
#3: Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD (Best Zoom)
Are you ready for your close-up? Sometimes you just need to be able to quickly go from a wide shot to a zoomed-in one, or sometimes you just aren’t able to film from as close to the action as you might like. Whatever your reason is for needing (or wanting) powerful zoom, Kodak has you covered with their Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD.
The third camera for filmmaking on our list boasts an incredible digital zoom of 25x, so even if you’re filming the big game from all the way up in the bleachers, you’ll have no problem seeing everything as if you’re front-and-center courtside. And just in case you were worried that the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is a one-trick pony, this Kodak digital video camera has a 24mm wide lens that means that not only will you zoom closer than ever before, you’ll also capture your best zoomed-out wide shots yet.
The Pixpro video camera comes equipped with 16 megapixels to give you dazzling 720p HD video quality. You have 22 scene modes to make sure that every take is perfect and up to your standards. We know that artists can be picky, so we wouldn’t want to give you a camera that can’t cater to your tastes. At 4.47 x 2.74 x 3.06 inches, the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is pretty compact, and it has a lightweight frame of 12 ounces and change.
My only noteworthy complaint about our 3rd-ranked filmmaker camera is that it doesn’t have a rechargeable battery, and carrying around all those AAs could get slightly annoying. This is far from a big deal though, and I would never tell you to pass on this camera if that’s your biggest issue.
Our readers will be happy to know that, unlike the EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera, the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is definitely a budget product. With its zoom setting it apart from the crowd, this camera offers a very impressive value with solid specs all around. If you need to survey everything from afar, then the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.
#4: AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera (Cheapest of the Cheap)
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Our next camera is the best camera for filmmaking on a budget if you really can’t compromise on the “budget” aspect. The AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera boasts an impressive 21 megapixels that will provide high-quality 1080p HD video quality and leave you wondering why this camera is so cheap. This budget camera of budget cameras also features anti-shake image stabilization, face detection, smile capture, and other fantastic features along with 8x zoom.
With a tiny frame of just 3.74 x 2.4 x 0.94 inches, you might lose the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera at the bottom of your bag. And with its weight of just 10.6 ounces, you definitely won’t feel it weighing you down.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and the “catch” of the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera is definitely its battery life. Our 4th-ranked video camera for filmmaking has a battery life that lasts just 60 minutes, so you definitely won’t want to record a feature-length film on this affordable AbergBest product. That being said, you can still get some solid mileage out of the battery just by turning it off in between takes, and the size and price both more than makeup for the short lifespan.
Of course, the real deal-breaker is the amazing image quality that’s far superior to anything else in this price range. If you want something that costs less than a night out to dinner, will fit in your pocket, and give you videos that look like they were filmed in a Hollywood studio, the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera is the only camera for you. With the emphasis on budget, this is the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.
#5: Toberto HD Digital Camera (Another Dirt-Cheap Option)
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Just in case the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera and the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera weren’t enough for you, we have one more budget camera to guarantee that everyone will find exactly what they’re looking for. Just like our previous camera for filmmaking, the Toberto HD Digital Camera is one of the cheapest products out there, and it’s the dream camera of any aspiring filmmaker who’s not ready to shell out Oscar money just yet.
The Toberto HD Digital Camera is equipped with 1080p video and 36-megapixel photos and has just about every feature you can think of. Our final camera for filmmaking comes equipped with the 8MP CMOS sensor that enables the expansion of the effective light-sensitive area so that light intensity can be enhanced. On top of that, the dynamic range is expanded and noise can be effectively suppressed. Both your photos and your videos will always be completely free from any unwanted guests.
With measurements of about 3.74 x 2.17 x 0.79 inches, the Toberto HD Digital Camera has a size similar to that of the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera, and its about half the weight, tipping the scales at just 5 ounces and change. As Toberto very aptly points out, their camera is smaller than the average smartphone.
Finally, the Toberto HD Digital Camera has twice the zoom of our budget AbergBest camera, and that 16x zoom will let you capture all the action without moving an inch. To wrap things up, the Toberto HD Digital Camera is compatible with SD memory cards up to a size of 128 GB, which is double the limit of the 4 GB of the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera. Depending on how you manage your memory, this won’t be a big difference to some customers, but to some other filmmakers, this is a deal-breaker.
Of course, the Toberto HD Digital Camera is also more expensive than the AberBest product, and that ended up being the deal-breaker. It all comes down to your budget and how much you’re willing to push it. If you absolutely need to keep things as cheap as possible, then the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera is the only camera for you. But if you’re willing to “splurge” a little for an incredible camera that’s still insanely cheap, then the Toberto HD Digital Camera is your best camera for filmmaking on a budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everyone’s used a camera once or twice in their life, even if it’s just the camera on their smartphone. Of course, not everyone considers themselves a photography expert. There’s a very solid chance that you still have plenty of camera-related questions, and we don’t want you to finish our list with those questions being left unanswered. We’ve added this FAQ section to our article to make sure that you know everything you need to know before you make your purchase. Keep reading to finish your crash course in everything related to photography and videography.
What Is Dynamic Range?
We mentioned dynamic range once before in this article, and if you’ve never heard the term before, you might be a little confused. Dynamic range is basically how well a camera can handle light and darkness at the same time, so it’s very important if you’re going to be working in natural settings where you don’t have control over everything, or if you have a specific vibe you want for a given scene. Dynamic range is something a lot of beginners might neglect, but it’s very important to think about when making your purchase and filming your projects.
Why Not Just Use My Smartphone?
Modern smartphones have such good cameras that you may be wondering why you should even bother buying a separate camera for your filmmaking. And honestly, to the untrained eye, you’re right in terms of straight video quality. Of course, the extra features really make the difference here, and you’ll need a proper camera to polish things up. For features like image stabilization and lens effects, and pretty much everything that happens during production, you’ll need to put your iPhone away and use a real camera.
Verdict: Your Best Cameras for Filmmaking on a Budget
We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not to worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the cameras for filmmaking on a budget that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our cameras for filmmaking on a budget and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera.
With 780p video and 20-megapixel photos, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera also boasts a powerful processor to make sure that everything is clear as possible. Our top-ranked camera also features amazing image stabilization to make your hand-shot videos look like they were filmed on a tripod, and you have every editing effect under the sun. You’ll always be able to make sure that your videos really meet your artistic vision. To top everything off, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera is just about the lightest camera out there with its 4.4-ounce frame. So if you want the clearest videos, the best editing around, and the lightest camera possible, then this affordable camera is perfect for you. There’s a reason we named it the best camera for filmmaking on a budget.
If you need the best zoom, pick the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD.
There’s something about really incredible zoom that’s just irreplaceable. Besides the convenience of it, there’s a huge artistic benefit to being able to survey the entire scene and give your star actors a close-up without moving an inch. If that’s what you’re looking for, then look no further than the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD. With an insane 25x zoom, you’ll feel like you’re looking at everything through a telescope with this fantastic budget camera. And on top of the zoom, the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD offers 16 megapixels to give you dazzling 720p HD video quality, and 22 different scene modes to make everything to your liking. And just like almost all of the cameras on our list, the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is both cheap and small. If you want to zoom in without emptying out your wallet, then the Kodak Pixpro Astro Zoom AZ252-RD is the best choice for you.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera.
This budget camera for filmmaking is the champion of budget cameras for filmmakers. With its 1080p video quality, 21 megapixels, and light-as-a-feather design, the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera offers power and convenience, and it costs almost nothing. With that “almost nothing” price, you’re getting anti-shake image stabilization, face detection, smile capture, and other fantastic features along with solid 8x zoom so you won’t have to run back and forth too much. Honestly, this budget camera almost leaves me speechless. I’m trying to find out why it’s so cheap, so if you don’t think that it’s too good to be true, then save your money by purchasing the AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels 2.7″ LCD Rechargeable HD Digital Camera.
You’ve finally reached the end of our list of the best budget filmmaker cameras. If none of the highlighted products above were quite what you’re looking for, then you may be interested in the not-exactly-budget-friendly EOS 80D Canon Digital SLR Camera that has some of the best video quality, and doubles as a webcam. Of course, there’s also the super-cheap and high-quality Toberto HD Digital Camera.
Remember, most of our budget video cameras have one or two standout features that separate them from the crowd, so focusing on those features might be the quickest way to make your decision. Of course, you can also decide what’s the most important for yourself before even getting started and work backwards from there.
That’s all for now. We hope we’ve helped you find the perfect camera, and we look forward to your Oscar acceptance speech!