Looking for a new camera but not sure what to look for? In this blog post, photographer, videographer, and Epidemic Sound ambassador, Dean Rojas, will give you his best tips for picking the right camera for your needs.
Here goes my first tip: don't think of buying a camera as an expense; think of it as an investment towards your career. Delve into the different price ranges and tiers of camera buying, from beginner cameras (budget) to intermediate (mid-level) and then to mid to high level for advanced filmmakers with a bigger budget. Today, I'll go through some suggestions for each category.
Beginner and budget cameras
Many creators start out with a Canon Rebel T3i through T6i or a Canon 60d/70d/80d. The reason why these are so common, in short, is you're able to get 1080p HD footage on a budget of around 300-800 USD. For first-time cameras, I tend to lean towards Canon because the colors that come out of the camera are a lot more true to life. If you're going to invest in some other types of cameras, you have to correct the colors and learn how to work that.
To go with Canon is a safe bet. They're great for video, and they're great cameras all around. Now, this isn't something you need to know, but DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. Cameras like that are basically cameras that are meant for photography, but that also shoot video. The camera is the brain of the operation, but you should probably include some other gadgets in your budget as well. Lenses, microphones, lighting equipment, tripods... The list goes on. If you're new in the field and looking to get into it, don't spend all your money on the camera body; just focus on what's in your budget and what you can do with that.
Another point to consider for beginners in the field is: don't worry about being stuck to one model or one camera style. I'm currently on my fifteenth camera or something along those lines… You can always upgrade, and cameras tend to have a great resale value as well.
Cameras for YouTubers
Sony A6600 is a great choice for YouTubers. Not only is it small and portable, but it also offers a flip-out LCD screen on the top of the camera combined with real-time tracking autofocus that allows for easy self-recording without getting an external monitor. This camera has a 24-megapixel ASP-C crop sensor that shoots in 4K at 30fps and up to 120fps at 1080p HD, which is pretty darn good.
The newest addition to the Sony Alpha series has made a couple of improvements with this camera: a larger battery to improve battery life, HGL video, a headphone and microphone jack, and improved real-time eye AF for humans AND animals. This camera is the perfect vlog camera for anyone looking to step up their YouTube video production quality.
My camera suggestion for any advanced creator is Sony A7S III. This full-frame mirrorless camera allows shooting 4K at up to 120fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 color and 16-bit RAW video. It has a very high dynamic range of colorspace that will give you a crisp and clear image. The body itself is starting at $3,498, but you get what you pay for. This camera is made for video, but also has high-quality photography capabilities, making it the ultimate workhorse for all the needs of a creative.
This camera is popular amongst working videographers; with a 5.5 stop built in-camera stabilization, face and eye-tracking, and FOUR separate audio channels for multi-recording. The caveat here is the price; not only are you paying for the body, but Sony lenses are also costly so remember to budget around them as well.
If you're a filmmaker looking for a low-budget workhorse camera, check out the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4k and 6k. Although the BMPCC4k is priced at $1,295, the native lens mount is micro 4/3rds, where you will have to buy an adapter to use your other glass. The BMPCC6k comes with a native Canon Lens that eliminates the need for an adapter.
Blackmagic has mastered one of the most user-friendly camera menu navigations, making it easy to know what you're shooting in. Both cameras shoot in Blackmagic RAW, a format that gives you the best colors and dynamic range that you can find at this price point. The 4K camera shoots up to 60fps at 4k with 120fps at 2.6K. The 6K allows shooting at 6K up to 50fps and down to 2.8K at 120fps. With the purchase of either of these cameras, you are given a license to use DaVinci Resolve – an advanced color correcting and video editing platform that you will need to use to perfect the colorspace for your footage. The caveat here being the learning curve of using a new system, but the results are well worth it.
Cameras to buy in 2021
Let's kick off by mentioning the RED Komodo, which is RED's new budget camera. This camera is RED's response to competition by bringing their first consumer camera into their space, starting at around $6000 for the brain. All filmmakers dream of shooting with the superior image quality and colorspace that RED offers, but it's always been a price point that is seemingly out of reach… until now.
The RED Komodo offers a super 35 sensor with 6k resolution, up to 50 FPS, AND 60 FPS at 4000 shots with their REDCODE RAW codec. Their global shutter and image stabilization offers for the smoothest footage you can get, even handheld. If you don't want to shoot handheld, the Komodo is smaller than it's RED counterparts and even small enough to fit onto most gimbals, like the Ronin-S.
Now, onto the next one. Let's talk about Ursa Mini 12k: Yep, that's right: 12k! Blackmagic has taken the filmmaker world by storm over the past couple of years with their pocket cinema. Now, they've decided to revamp their workhorse Usra Mini with a 12k censor. This 80 megapixel super 35 sensor can shoot up to 60 FPS at 12k and scale down to 8k to shoot at 120 FPS. Built-in ND filters; advanced RAW image quality; interchangeable lens mounts and a license to DiVinci Resolve. It has all of this AND a codec that you can reframe to work in any resolution – without rendering – to even edit 12k RAW footage on your laptop. This camera comes in as one of the most versatile shooters to date. Although the price tag comes in at a hefty $10 000, this camera is a steal for the quality and attention to detail that went into making it.
Canon EOS R. Here, we have a full-frame camera under $1000. Although just rumors, Canon is said to bring down the target market price for a full-frame camera. With the release of the EOS RP camera in 2019 at a $1300 price point (that Canon is now selling at the $1000 price point), we can expect Canon to bring down the market price on full-frame cameras. Without any released specifications about the camera itself, we can expect a camera similar to an upgraded version of the EOS RP at a competitive $700-$900 price point after release.
FPS = Frames Per Second
Sensor = Device that responds to a physical stimulus
ND filter = Filter that modifies the intensity of wavelengths
Megapixel = A unit equal to one million pixels
Mirrorless = Digital camera without a reflex mirror
Colorspace = Setting for a specific color combination
DSLR = Digital Single-Lens Reflex
LCD = Screen on the back of a digital camera
RAW = Unprocessed photograph