Best camera for beginner filmmakers under $1,000

By Peter Chubb - Aug 17, 2016

When you are first starting out as a filmmaker, everything has to be on a budget, although that does not always mean you need to cut corners when it comes to what camera you use. We say this because you will be surprised at your options available when searching for the best camera for beginner filmmakers under $1,000.

Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years or so, and that means cameras that cost less than a thousand dollars are still packed with some amazing features, and so you will still be able to create a movie that would have never been possible all those years ago while on a budget.

So the big question you will be asking yourself right about now is, “What am I going to film with?” Well, let’s try to make life that little bit simpler for you shall we, although first we would suggest always going for a DSLR rather than a camcorder, because they do tend to offer far more for the beginner.

GoPro Hero 4 Black for beginner filmmakers

First up is the GoPro Hero 4 Black, and while it may not be the best we have on the list here, coming in at just below $500 will leave you room to purchase something that every wannabe filmmaker needs, and that’s a decent video editing software (and we will be reviewing the best video editing software for beginners at a later date). Ok, so we know that the Hero 4 Black does come with a few limitations, this is still a fantastic tool when making certain movies, such as when it calls upon the movie to feature footage taken on helmet-cams, on a drone and other such similar situations, then this is where its versatility comes in.

    Positives and Negatives:

  • (+) 4K recording, compact size, monitoring via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with 1080p at 120fps.
  • (-) It only has a fixed lens, a limited interface and H.264 Only.

Blackmagic Pocket Camera for beginner filmmakers

Another option is the Blackmagic Pocket Camera, which was considered to be a game-changer in the indie filmmaking community. The image quality with this camera is pretty awesome considering its compact size, and the dynamic range and being able to record RAW in-camera is a feature that makes this model all the better. Do not let its small form-factor put you off, as features like the focal reducer, and a 24mm lens that acts like that of a 69mm lens that you get on a full-frame camera is a one of the reasons this device has such a huge price tag, although still remains below that $1,000 limit we set.

    Positives and Negatives:

  • (+) RAW Recording + ProRes 422 HQ, Uses SD Cards, 13 Stops of Dynamic Range and HDMI Output
  • (-) The Crop factor and poor battery life.

Nikon D7100 DSLR for beginner filmmakers

The Nikon D7100 DSLR is not only an ideal camera for those serious about taking awesome stills, but also for those just getting into filmmaker, and so wish to have a camera that can help you create some amazing movies while in budget, and not expecting too much at the same time. Not only are you able to shoot in 1080p at 60fps, but can also recored 24-megapixel stills. There are limitations with the D7100 though, although this is to be expected with a DSLR that tries to do too much, unlike the Blackmagic Pocket Camera above.

    Positives and Negatives:

  • (+) 1080p at 60fps and 24MP stills.
  • (-) You can only use Nikon lens, which does come at a cost.

Canon 70D for beginner filmmakers

Finally, we have the Canon 70D, which is another step up from the T5i, as this model is able to record in MOV and H.264. Not only that, but this camera allows you to record up to 60fps in 720p, and that’s with a continuous autofocus that works in many situations. One of the other great specs has to be the durability of this camera, as it is able to work in many weather conditions.

    Positives and Negatives:

  • (+) Continuous Autofocus, a flip-out display and WiFi connectivity.
  • (-) No RAW Support, and almost right at the top of the $1,000 budget.

These are just four options that we have come across, but know there are many more out there, such as the Canon T5i, Nikon D5300 and the Panasonic GH3. For more details on those models we listed, then please take a look at the review videos of each model below.

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Best camera for beginner filmmakers