4 Best 4K Filmmaking Cameras Under $1000

The market for video cameras is a crowded one, but many of the high-end options can easily break the bank. Finding a good 4K camera for under $1,000 can be challenging, but it is possible.

I’m Caleb, and I have around five years of photography experience. I’ve mainly specialized in sports, shooting games for various local teams and leagues.

In this article, I’ll talk about some options for film cameras under $1,000. If you’re currently shopping for a camera like this and are unsure which one is the best, keep reading. You might find that there are better options than you think.

Key Takeaways

  • The Panasonic LUMIX G85 is one of the best all-around options, with a cheap price tag, 4K 30fps video quality, and in-body stabilization.
  • The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is an underrated budget camera, with 4K 24fps video quality for a lower price than most modern entry-level cameras.
  • Canon’s EOS RP is a rare full-frame option for less than $1,000. While it does have limitations, it’s worth t if a full-frame sensor is something you need.
  • Sony’s a6400 is the best option out there if you’re looking for a compact camera. It has 4K 30fps quality but lacks in-body stabilization.
Is 4K Worth It for Video?

4K is worth it for video because it’s quickly becoming a standard on online platforms. More creators on sites like YouTube are uploading in 4K these days, and if you want to make a film that can get on platforms like Amazon or Netflix, you should have 4K quality.

The highest quality 4K standard is DCI 4K (4096 x 2060), which the movie industry uses. It’s a step up from 4K UHD, which is what most consumer devices use.

Yes. 8K resolution and even 12K resolution are possible with current cameras. However, it will take years for these higher-quality formats to gain traction on a large scale.

It’s possible that 4K will become outdated further off in the future when 8K gains more popularity. However, most experts don’t see this happening anytime soon.

What Makes The Best Filmmaking Camera?

You should consider these things if you’re shopping for a filmmaking camera.

  • Max Video Resolution: The max resolution is important if you want 4K quality. You should take note of not just the resolution but the frame rate. Many 4K cameras under $1,000 may be unable to record at 30 or 60fps.
  • Autofocus: When it comes to video cameras, having a good and reliable autofocus system can significantly impact the quality of your output. It helps if the autofocus system has modes designed explicitly for subject tracking.
  • Image Stabilization: In-body image stabilization is a major help if you plan to shoot without external stabilizers.
  • Dynamic Range: Films often cover a variety of lighting conditions, so you should look for a camera that can bring out the detail in both light and shadow.
  • Ergonomics: A good video camera is easy to use at multiple angles. It helps if a camera has a flip-screen with articulation.

Best 4K Filmmaking Cameras Under $1000 Reviewed

In my opinion, these are the best filmmaking cameras that offer 4K quality and come in below $1,000.

1. Panasonic LUMIX G85 (Best Overall)

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30fps
  • Type: Micro Four Thirds
  • Image Stabilization: Yes

If you want 4K quality without dropping to 24fps, one of the best options is the Panasonic LUMIX G85. This one offers 4K quality for a price that’s comfortably under $1,000, and it can shoot at up to 30fps in 4K mode.

The camera also has a rugged, weather-sealed design, giving it an advantage over more fragile cameras if you intend to shoot your film in challenging conditions.

While the G85’s Micro Four Thirds mount is more niche than something like the Canon EF mount or the Sony E-mount, there are many high-quality lens options to choose from. Some notable brands making MFT lenses are Olympus as well as Panasonic itself.

A final advantage is that the G85 features 5-axis in-body stabilization, making for smoother footage while doing a handheld recording. Along with the lower price, it’s the reason why the G85 gets the top spot here over the Sony a6400.

On the downside, you might have more trouble with low-light performance with the G85 compared to an APS-C or full-frame camera. This is inherent to the Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is smaller.

My Verdict: The Panasonic LUMIX G85 is a well-rounded video camera offering 4K 30fps at a very accessible price point.

2. Canon EOS M50 Mark II (Best Budget)

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 24fps
  • Type: APS-C mirrorless
  • Image Stabilization: Partial

The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is pretty cheap, even cheaper than most of Canon’s entry-level models. If getting 4K quality on a budget is your main concern, this might be the one to get. It’s able to record at up to 4K 24fps.

The M50 Mark II has a fully articulating touchscreen, which is always a nice ergonomic benefit for a video camera.

While it’s not as compact as the Sony a6400, it is more compact and lightweight than the average Canon camera, making it easier to record on the go.

The autofocus system is good, too, and includes an eye-tracking mode that filmmakers will likely get a lot of use out of.

Of course, there are limitations when you get a 4K video camera with a price tag like the M50 Mark II’s. The autofocus performance is notably worse when shooting in 4K mode, and the crop factor hurts the final quality. But for this price, avoiding drawbacks is impossible.

My Verdict: The Canon EOS M50 Mark II has some limitations in 4K mode but will do the job for aspiring filmmakers on a tight budget.

3. Canon EOS RP (Best Full-Frame)

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 24fps
  • Type: Full-frame mirrorless
  • Image Stabilization: No

The Canon EOS RP is a relative niche camera, and its biggest claim to fame right now is being a full-frame mirrorless camera that comes in under $1,000. Its full-frame sensor will give better low-light performance and better range compared to APS-C or Micro Four Thirds models.

Like its cousin, the M50 Mark II, and all the cameras on this list to some extent, the EOS RP is relatively compact and easy to carry around for handheld shooting.

An advantage of the RP over the M50 Mark II is the lens mount. While the M50 Mark II uses the EF-M mount, the RP uses the RF mount. The RF mount is the more promising of the two, with better and more modern options.

The RP, like the M50 Mark II, uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system, providing fast and reliable focusing and subject tracking.

The big flaw of the RP is that it has some of the same 4K video resolutions as the M50 Mark II does. The Dual Pixel autofocus doesn’t carry over to 4K mode, so you can expect worse autofocus performance at that resolution.

My Verdict: The Canon EOS RP is a step up from the EOS M50 Mark II. It’s still limited, but it’s a good choice if a full-frame sensor is what you’re looking for.

4. Sony a6400 (Best Compact)

  • Max Video Resolution: 4K 30fps
  • Type: APS-C mirrorless
  • Image Stabilization: No

The Sony a6400 is one of the main options besides the Panasonic LUMIX G85 if you want 4K video quality at a solid 30fps instead of 24fps. This is one of the a6400’s main draws.

While all the cameras on this list are compact to some extent, the a6400 fits the ‘compact camera’ archetype the most. If you’re doing vlog-style video or street recording, you might find the a6400’s small size convenient.

The autofocus performance is good, inheriting some of the quality from Sony’s higher-end video cameras. It does include an eye-tracking mode, which is always a plus for filmmakers.

Additionally, the a6400 uses the Sony E-mount, one of the better lens mount options. When using the a6400, you’ll have many choices in high-quality lenses.

The lack of in-body stabilization is the notable drawback that keeps the a6400 in the under $1,000 price range. While this can be mitigated by lens-based stabilization, you might have to use an external rig, which could defeat the point of using a compact camera.

My Verdict: The Sony a6400 is the best choice if you need a small camera that can manage 4K 30fps quality, as well as a great lens selection.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this list, there are some viable options for video cameras that come in at under $1,000. Even if you’re on a budget, you can still get plenty of useful features, including 4K quality, if you’re willing to compromise a bit.

What do you think of this list? Are there any other cameras for under $1,000 that belong here? Let us know in the comments.

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