If you’re making a short film, finding the right camera can be daunting. There are many options, some better for filmmaking than others, and it’s hard to balance features like resolution and frame rate with a reasonable price.
I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a photographer for more than five years. While I’ve mainly done still photography rather than video, I’m still pretty familiar with what makes a video camera good. After all, most cameras these days can do both.
If you’re a new filmmaker and find the search for a camera daunting, keep reading for a simple overview of the best cameras on the market right now.
- The Fujifilm X-T4 arguably offers the best value for performance and price for amateur filmmakers.
- The Sony a1 is one of the best mirrorless cameras that money can buy, with a solid performance in both photo and video.
- Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is ideal if you want a video-focused camera that provides good quality without breaking the bank.
- If you’re on a budget, the compact Sony Alpha ZV-E10 stands out as an option with 4K capability.
Can You Shoot a Short Film with a DSLR?
Yes. Generally, mirrorless cameras offer better video performance, but this isn’t an absolute rule. Many content creators use DSLR cameras in their video workflow.
Is Filmmaking an Expensive Hobby?
Filmmaking can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. You can cut down on expenses by using older cameras and lenses, buying your gear used, and using low-cost filmmaking techniques.
What Makes The Best Camera for Short Films?
Here are some things to consider when choosing a camera for a short film.
- Resolution: Obviously, higher video resolutions are popular these days. While 4K was once a rare novelty, it’s quickly becoming a minimum standard for video productions.
- Lens Compatibility: Before getting a camera, ensure it’s compatible with the right lenses for your film.
- Frame Rate: Some films look much better at a higher frame rate. It might even be worth sacrificing some resolution to shoot at a higher fps.
- Size: Depending on your production, a small and easily portable camera could be advantageous over a larger one.
- Price: Video cameras can get extremely expensive. Most productions will have to balance value with price.
The Best Cameras for Short Films
In my opinion, these are the best cameras for a short film production. I’ve included various options to suit different needs, including the best for value and the best money can buy.
1. Fujifilm X-T4 (Best Overall)
- Type: Mirrorless
- Megapixels: 26.1MP
- Max Video Resolution: 4K 60fps
The Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best cameras for newer filmmakers for multiple reasons. One of the main reasons is its price. The X-T4 might not have all the performance of the market’s higher-end options, but it’s very accessible to short film crews working on a budget.
While the X-T4 isn’t a full-frame camera, it’s still capable of delivering high-quality video footage. Its max resolution is 4K at 60fps, a step up from many other APS-C cameras that may be limited to 30fps.
Another feature that’s beneficial for filmmakers is the X-T4’s in-body stabilization. It’s designed to cut down on up to 6.5 stops of camera shake, which goes a long way to delivering smoother footage even if you aren’t using an expensive external gimbal.
The X-T4 is also relatively small and light, following the general trend of mirrorless cameras being more compact than their DSLR counterparts.
There is a flaw with the autofocus that you may notice when using the X-T4 for video. Specifically, it can take some time for the camera to find the subject you’re focusing on. However, when considering the complete package, it’s not a deal-breaking fault.
My Verdict: The Fujifilm X-T4 is ideal for amateur filmmakers who need a quality mirrorless camera without spending thousands of dollars.
2. Sony a1 (Best Hybrid Camera)
- Type: Mirrorless
- Megapixels: 50.1MP
- Max Video Resolution: 8K 30fps
The Sony a1 is an excellent option if you’re looking for one of the best mirrorless cameras money can buy. One of its main strengths is versatility, as it can handle still photography at a stunning 50.1MP resolution while also shooting video at up to 8K 30fps.
The a1 can also handle the task if you’re looking to shoot at higher frame rates. It can shoot the more conventional 4K resolution at 120 fps.
Heat can be a problem for small cameras that record at such high resolutions, but the a1 also features updated design elements that allow it to shoot 8K footage for longer than 30 minutes. In this area, it has an advantage over Canon’s EOS R5.
Like many of the other newer mirrorless full-frame cameras from Sony, the a1 includes 5-axis in-body stabilization for smoother performance when recording.
There aren’t many cons to point out here, but as the a1 is a fairly recent release and hasn’t had a price drop yet, its biggest drawback is likely its inaccessibility compared to more moderately priced cameras.
My Verdict: The Sony a1 is one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market and is excellent if you want a hybrid camera that can handle photos and video in stunning quality.
3. Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (Best Video Camera)
- Type: Micro Four Thirds
- Megapixels: 8.8MP
- Max Video Resolution: 4K 60fps
Unlike the other cameras on this list, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is in the unique position of being focused solely towards video. If you want a camera tailored towards filmmaking that comes with quality-of-life features for that niche, this is the right one.
The camera can record at a max resolution of 4K 60fps, placing it on par with the Fujifilm X-T4 in that area for a slightly lower price.
Another upside of this camera is its lens compatibility. The lens mount is designed for Micro Four Thirds lenses and is brand-neutral, allowing you to choose any MFT-compatible lens from companies like Panasonic or Olympus.
If it’s the ease of use that you’re after, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K also has features to help with that. The touchscreen lets you easily toggle several video-related options, which many mainstream cameras lack.
However, it lacks image stabilization, so you might have to put more effort into getting smooth shots. And unlike the others on this list, it’s not a hybrid camera that can also shoot stills.
My Verdict: The Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is an excellent option if you’re looking for a quality camera focused towards video.
4. Sony Alpha ZV-E10 (Best Budget Camera)
- Type: Mirrorless
- Megapixels: 24.2MP
- Max Video Resolution: 4K 30fps
Affordability is the main draw to the Sony Alpha ZV-E10. As a compact mirrorless model and an APS-C one at that, it comes in a lot cheaper than a comparable DSLR or a full-frame mirrorless camera.
The maximum video resolution of 4K 30fps is still pretty good for the price. While 60fps is becoming more of a standard in recent years, you must make at least some compromises at the ZV-E10’s price point.
The camera was designed with the vlogging crowd in mind, and it has several features that can help with recording video, such as a button to enable background blurring, and a button to turn on slow-motion mode.
Despite its small size and low price, it includes image stabilization and eye-tracking autofocus, which are great additions to a video-focused camera like the ZV-E10.
Obviously, the main drawback here for filmmakers is the lack of 60fps when shooting at 4K quality. You might also miss having a viewfinder, as this is one of the things eliminated to save space, given the very compact nature of the model.
My Verdict: The Sony Alpha ZV-E10 is a good camera for filmmakers on a budget, especially if you need 4K quality at a low price.
As you can see here, there’s no shortage of cameras that work for making short films. From mainstream brands like Sony to more niche ones like Blackmagic, you’ve got plenty of options across various price points.
What do you think? Are there any cameras you recommend for making a short film? Tell us in the comments!