Best Value Cameras for Videography & Filmmaking

Looking to become the next Roger Deakins? We’ve got you covered! 🙂

The truth is you don’t need much to start out in videography (capturing events) or filmmaking (telling stories). You could get started with just your smartphone.

With that said, here are some high value kits for starting out in videography / filmmaking today:

Kit #1: Almost Free

  • Your phone: if you own a smartphone, you should start there! Modern phones take great videos (4K is standard), and even come with optical image stabilization. Cost: free
  • Third-party video app for your phone. I use the ProMovie Recorder App for my iPhone ($2.99)
  • Basic video tripod with phone clamp: $20 new.

Total cost: under $25. Before investing any more money, you can make short videos and start practicing the basics of framing, composition, etc.

Kit #2: Videography

  • Sony Alpha a6300: shoots up to 4K 30 fps or 1080p 120 fps, has phase detect AF (in case you need it), microphone jack, 2.40 MP EVF, tilting LCD screen, S-Log2/S-Log3, and ability to output 8-bit 4:2:2 4K externally. $600 used with kit lens.
  • Sony 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS: free (included with used a6300). Great as a backup lens.
  • Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN lens for Sony: $300 used.
  • Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN lens for Sony: $200 used.
  • Tiffen 67VND 67mm Variable ND Filter: $110 new.
  • Neewer filter step up rings: $20 new.
  • Manfrotto Befree Travel video tripod (or similar): $220 new.
  • Sony ECM-B1M Compact Shotgun Microphone: $350 new.
  • Tascam DR-10L recorder with lavalier: $170 new.
  • Spare batteries and memory cards.

Total: $2,200. This kit should serve you well for most videography needs.

You also don’t need to buy everything at once – just start with the camera and a single 30mm lens first.

Instead of spending more on cameras and lenses, think about investing into better audio and lighting first!

Kit #3: Filmmaking

For pure filmmaking, you’re looking at a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (4K) with a cage, memory cards / SSDs, and all the other necessary accessories.

  • The camera itself is around $900 used on eBay.
  • Lens choice will depend on your needs. Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 PRO and Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 are great to start (native, no speedboosters are necessary).
  • SmallRig cage, SmallRig NP-F battery plate, and 8800mah NPF970 batteries recommended.
  • You can use Sandisk Extreme Pro (128gb+) memory cards instead of an SSD.
  • For inspiration, see this setup on Reddit: BMPCC 4K Rig. Again, not something you want to jump into unless you are committed!
  • Some more useful advice on the BMPCC 4K: Reddit discussion.

Tip: the Sachtler Ace M is one of the best value used video tripods out there. Available on eBay for around $500.

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