6 Slow Motion Cameras You Can Afford
Bring your slow motion game up to speed with this roundup of high frame rate cameras that won’t deplete your life savings.
It seems that almost every filmmaker, videographer, and video professional is looking for clean, crisp, and beautiful slow motion footage to use in their projects or throw into their demo reels.
And while it always pays to be authentic with your shots and prioritize storytelling over simply going slow-mo for the sake of going slow-mo, it can be a very powerful tool and an excellent shot to include in video projects big and small.
Let’s look at some of the latest and greatest high frame rate video cameras for creating the best cinematic slow motion sequences possible.
1. GoPro Hero 7
While they might not be as popular as they were during the “action cam” craze several years ago, GoPro continues to make quality digital cameras that are both highly functional and durable — plus they’re still one of the most affordable bang-for-your-buck options on the market.
For slow motion videography, the GoPro HERO7 Black can push super-slow-mo rates up to 1080p240/200. With regular UHD 4K up to 60fps and 2.7K up to 120 fps, you’d be hard pressed to find better specs on any prosumer camera. And while it might always look the same, the rough-and-tumble design and remote operation capabilities can yield plenty of great slow motion sequences.
- 4K60/50, 2.7K120/100 & 1080p240/200
- 12MP still photos with selectable HDR
- HyperSmooth video stabilization
- Direct livestreaming to Facebook Live
- TimeWarp Stabilized Time-Lapse Video
- Waterproof to 33′ without a housing
- Vertical portrait mode for social media
- Intuitive, smartphone-like touchscreen
- Face, smile, and scene detection
- 16-command voice control
2. Sony RX0 II
Another slow-mo friendly action cam that won’t break the bank is the Sony Cyber-shot RXO II. It offers 120 fps video recording in full HD (and internal UHD 4K at 30 fps to boot). Designed for all manner of action shots, from drones to motorbikes to stationary tripods, with its image stabilization technology you can get fantastic slow motion footage in any situation.
- 15.3MP 1″ Exmor RS Stacked CMOS sensor
- ZEISS Tessar T* 24mm equivalent f/4 lens
- Internal UHD 4K30 video & S-Log2 gamma
- HFR mode for slow motion up to 1000 fps
- 1.5″ 230k-dot 180° tilting LCD
- Water-, dust-, shock-, and crushproof
- Electronic SteadyShot; clean HDMI output
- Interval recording; microphone input
- ISO 12800 and 16-fps continuous shooting
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; multi-camera control
3. Sony RX100 V
A step up from the action cam class will be your point-and-shoot options like the Sony RX100 V. A little larger yes, but the RX100 V is still a lightweight pocket-sized option that packs some serious slow motion punch — capable of 960 fps high frame rate recording (4K UHD up to 30fps).
The RX100 V comes equipped with 24-70mm (35mm equivalent) lens that would represent a major cinematic upgrade over the action cams above — but perhaps not as much as the higher-end interchangeable lens options to follow.
- 20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
- BIONZ X Image Processor and Front-End LSI
- Internal UHD 4K video & S-Log2 gamma
- Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8 lens
- 24-70mm (35mm equivalent)
- Fast Hybrid AF System with 315 points
- HFR mode for full HD Video up to 960 fps
- 0.39″ 2.36m-Dot OLED pop-up EVF
- 3.0″ 1.23m-Dot 180° tilting LCD
- ISO 12800 and 24 fps continuous shooting
4. Sony a6500
Another solid Sony offering, the a6500 is a smart and fast APS-C format mirrorless option that captures some very solid 120fps slow-motion footage in 1080p full HD (4K at 30 fps).
What’s more, the a6500 also includes Sony’s Slow and Quick (S&Q) motion setting technology, which allows you to capture full HD video at a variety of frame rates, ranging from 1 to 120 fps.
- 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor
- BIONZ X image processor
- XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
- 3.0″ 921.6k-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
- Internal UHD 4K video & S-Log3 gamma
- S&Q Motion in full HD from 1-120 fps
- 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE stabilization
- Built-on Wi-Fi with NFC
- 4D FOCUS with 425 phase-detect points
- Up to 11 fps shooting and ISO 51200
Panasonic’s followup to the original LUMIX GH5, the GH5s, is a bit more powerful — and more expensive, too. The GH5s stands out for slow-motion-seeking filmmakers and videographers with its 7.5x slow-mo recording at 240fps in full HD.
The GH5s also offers 4K up to 60fps, which creates possibilities for phenomenal high resolution/high frame rate recording that blows several of the other options on this list out of the water. The micro four-thirds camera is an excellent prosumer camera in its own right for all manner of film and video projects and is widely popular for its high-quality 4K footage, which is strong in low light.
- 10.28MP multi aspect ratio MOS sensor
- DCI 4K60p and full HD 1080/240p video
- Internal 4:2:2 10-bit long GOP
- V-Log L gamma and HDR hybrid Log gamma
- 0.76x 3.68m-dot OLED viewfinder
- 3.2″ 1.62m-dot free-angle touchscreen
- Dual Native ISO 400 and ISO 2500
- Dual UHS-II SD Slots; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Advanced DFD AF system
- 12 fps cont. shooting and 4K PHOTO modes
6. Sony FS7
We’re going to cheat a bit for this last one. But if you’re serious about capturing absolutely stunning slow-motion footage, you may need to look into some of the bigger, more professional, and pricier options. But don’t worry: you can rent many high-end cameras at a reasonable rate.
The Sony PXW-FS7 Super 35 Camera System might be the best bang for your buck. After the action cams and point-and-shoot and DSLR/mirrorless cameras, you’ll find your superior cinema cameras, like the FS7, which offer some breathtaking slow-motion specs.
The FS7 records up to 180fps (XAVC-I) or 120fps (XAVC-L) and internally up to 60fps in UHD (3480×2160). And we’re talking about some seriously fantastic slow motion with the FS7’s Super 35 sized CMOS sensor, which represents some of the highest-quality footage in its price range.
- Super 35 sized CMOS sensor
- Sony E-Mount
- DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) up to 60p
- UHD up to 60 FPS, HD up to 180 FPS
- 4096 x 2160 via external recorder
- XAVC-I, XAVC-L, MPEG-2
- XAVC-I up to 600 Mb/s
- Dual XQD memory card slots
- Dual HD/3G-SDI and HDMI output
- Ergonomic handgrip with camera controls
Rental Price: ~$375/day
(This post was originally published on May 17, 2017. We have updated it to reflect changes in the industry.)
Cover image by Panasonic.
For more slow-motion filmmaking resources, check out some of these articles.