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8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000

Johnathan Paul

Can’t wait for NAB? Need a camera now that will get the job done without breaking the bank? Check out these eight cameras under $2000.

NAB is approaching and that means we’re going to be seeing all manner of new camera gear popping up between now and April. But what if you need to replace a camera now and can’t wait for NAB? This article will help.

Expensive cameras aren’t always the answer. Current NLEs like Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro are robust and filled with post-production options that let you do more with less. These cameras are available now and will get the job done — without breaking the bank.

1. Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera: $995

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Blackmagic Micro Cinema

  • Pros: Super 16 Sensor, Captures RAW or ProRes, Up to 60 fps
  • Cons: No LCD Screen, No Built-In WiFi, Internal Battery

Back at NAB 2015, Blackmagic Design wowed the industry with the news of Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. This camera has proven to be a solid entry into the micro-camera market. Its small design makes it a perfect fit for aerial drone footage or for mounting on a car. The Micro Cinema Camera has a Super 16 Sensor and captures CinemaDNG RAW or ProPres up to 60 fps, which is a major plus for the camera. However, it has no LCD screen, no built-in wifi, and the battery is internal.

Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera Test Footage

Video via Nicholas Swartzendruber

2. Canon 7D Mark II: $1500

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Canon 7D Mark II

  • Pros: Flip Out LCD Screen, High ISO capabilities, Large Lens Selection
  • Cons: H.264 Recording Only (without hack)

The 7D Mark II from Canon presents users with a more-than-capable camera for HD video. It’s capable of capturing images at up to 60 fps just like the 5D Mark III, but doesn’t quite match the low-light abilities of the 5D. So, if the Canon 5D Mark III is just out of your budget, the 7D Mark II could be the way to go.

Canon 7D Mark II Test Footage

Video via Gizmodo

3. Nikon D750: $1999

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Nikon D750

  • Pros: Solid Image Quality, High ISO, Large LCD
  • Cons: Noisy Image at High ISO, Short Battery Life

Nikon’s D750 is another great entry-level DSLR camera. It comes with a CMOS sensor that records HD 1080 at as high as 60 fps, while being able to expand its ISO up to 51200. With capabilities like this, the D750 can produce a quality image, which can be viewed through a large LCD monitor. Its only real negatives: weak battery life and a noisy image when using a higher ISO.

Nikon D750 Test Footage

Video via Dean

4. Sony A7R: $1898

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Sony A7R

  • Pros: Good Image Quality, Compact Form Factor, Solid in Low Light
  • Cons: Short Battery Life, Some Reported Issues with Shutter, Complicated Menu System

Then the Sony a7R is a very capable and affordable camera. The a7R’s image quality is impressive and has been a favorite for independent videographers wanting to capture timelapse and slow motion on a budget. The a7R is incredibly compact, easy to use, and really great in low-light.

Sony A7R Test Footage

Video via Khaled Gamal

5. Blackmagic Cinema Camera: $1995

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Blackmagic Cinema Camera

  •  Pros: 2.5K and 4K Sensor Available, Captures ProRes, Captures Flat Image
  • Cons: Bulky Form Factor, Poor in Low Light, Monitor Almost Unusable, Not Capable of HFR, Poor Power Life

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is incredibly robust — and pretty bulky. The Cinema Camera comes in two forms, 2.5K and 4K, both of which can capture CinemaDNG or ProRes. Its image quality is incredibly sharp and flat, which makes it perfect for color grading. There is one glaring issue with the camera: the lack of any kind of high frame rate capability.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Test Footage

Video via Philip Bloom

6. Panasonic GH4: $1299

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Panasonic GH4

  • Pros: Compact Form Factor, Ease of Use, High-Quality Image
  • Cons: Poor in Low Light, Form Factor Doesn’t Feel Solid

The versatile Panasonic GH4 is often used for timelapse photography, as it captures amazing imagery in UHD 4K. This camera also boasts a Micro Four Thirds mount, an upgraded LCD monitor, a viewfinder, and built-in Wi-Fi. It’s also compact and lightweight, making it a great option as a second camera for quick b-roll or cutaways. It still performs poorly in low light, but its pros outweigh the cons.

Panasonic GH4 Test Footage

Video via Alberto Tarrero

7. Nikon D800: $1899

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Nikon D800

  • Pros: Solid Form Factor, High ISO Range, Full-Frame Sensor
  • Cons: LCD Prone to Glare, Nikon F Mount, HFR Only in 720

Nikons have always been known as great cameras for still images — but over the last several years, Nikons are being used more and more by indie filmmakers and videographers. The D800, while a little older than some of the cameras on this list, still performs great. It boasts a CMOS sensor, Full HD 1080, and an expanded ISO range up to 25,600. Also, like other Nikon and Canon DSLRs, it runs both SD and CF cards.

Nikon D800E Test Footage

Video via Macgregor

8. Canon XC10: $1999

8 Killer Filmmaking Cameras Under $2000: Canon XC10

  • Pros: Compact Form Factor, Capture UHD 4K, 60fps HD 1080
  • Cons: Ease of Use, LCD Adjustments, Awkward Form Factor

Canon’s XC10 Professional Camcorder is a compact UHD 4K powerhouse of a camera. Built specifically with handheld and aerial filmmaking in mind, the XC10 is a lightweight camera that can easily be used on a steadicam, 3-axis gimbal, or drone to capture 4K footage. If you need higher frame rate footage, the XC10 has you covered with its ability to capture 60 fps in HD 1080. Just be aware — this camera feels nothing like a 5D Mark III and will take some getting used to. Also, its LCD monitor and exterior buttons are limited.

Canon XC10 Test Footage

Video via Alf Pryor

Are you a filmmaker on a tight budget? Check out a few of the following posts:

  1. Budget Buys: Light Wands for Video Production
  2. 3 Low-light Cameras For Every Budget Range
  3. How to Capture High Quality Audio for Low Budget Films

Know of any other great cameras under $2000? Have you used any of the cameras on the above list? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comments below!