In filmmaking, anything is possible, whether you are trying to mirror real life or create an entirely new reality. Fact or fiction, the only rule is that the audience must believe it enough to engage emotionally. The thing that makes filmmaking so powerful is the connection between audio and video. What the audience sees and what they hear determines how they feel. This measures the success of your film (artistically speaking at least). In theory, with so many ways to share creative work now, the only boundary is your imagination. In reality, the cost of equipment often overrules imagination. Luckily, with the rise of young filmmakers and vloggers, more high-quality cameras are now widely affordable. We looked at the different types of cameras available on a budget and what they do best. Our 10 best budget cameras will give you some clear options to suit your project and your budget.
What Type of Camera is Best for Filmmaking?
There is no straightforward answer to this question; it depends on your budget and the type of content you want to film.
The most commonly used cameras in budget filmmaking are DSLR, mirrorless, and camcorders.
There are arguments for using each so you must understand what you need from a camera to make the best choice.
DSLR Cameras and Mirrorless Cameras
Photo by Thomas AE on Unsplash
DSLR and mirrorless cameras are by far the most popular with filmmakers on a tight budget.
When you can’t afford multiple specialist cameras, versatility is essential, and that’s what these cameras offer.
Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras are capable of taking fantastic stills and video without breaking the bank.
A mirror (reflex mirror) reflects the light that enters the lens up to a prism then into the optical viewfinder (Speaking of older technology, we think it’s super advantageous to experience film photography while or before using digital cameras in general)
This simple but revolutionary technology is what allows you to preview your shot in the viewfinder.
When you are ready to take your shot, press the shutter button and the mirror flips up.
With the mirror out of the way, the light hits the image sensor and captures your shot. In video mode, DSLRs reflex mirror is always up.
A mirrorless camera, as the name suggests, doesn’t use a reflex mirror. Instead, light enters the lens and goes directly to the image sensor.
A preview of your shot is shown on an LCD screen and sometimes a digital viewfinder.
The downside of not having an optical viewfinder is that the constant use of an LCD screen and/or digital viewfinder drains battery life faster.
However, you should be aware that a DSLR camera cannot use its optical viewfinder in video mode because the reflex mirror must remain up for continuous shooting.
So DSLR cameras have the advantage of longer battery life in photo-mode, but both have to rely on the LCD screen for video previews.
Both of these cameras are considered ILCs (interchangeable lens cameras). As the name suggests, both cameras have the capacity to swap one lens for another, which means you can use specialist lenses to get the perfect shot!
The most noticeable difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras is the size.
DSLR cameras are larger because they have to house the reflex mirror, and mirrorless cameras have the luxury of being more compact.
There are advantages and disadvantages for both. Let’s start with the obvious ones.
Mirrorless cameras are more comfortable to travel with; they are lighter and allow more space in your bag for accessories.
On the other hand, there are fewer accessories available for mirrorless cameras (lenses, etc.)
The lack of interchangeable lenses for mirrorless cameras is one of the reasons why many professionals still prefer DSLRs.
Another reason some people prefer DSLRs is that they have a more substantial grip area, which can be useful when shooting without a stabilizer or tripod.
A Brief Explanation of Autofocus
DSLR cameras used to have a clear advantage when it came to autofocus.
The reason they had the upper hand is that they use phase detection rather than contrast detection.
Mirrorless cameras, for some time, only offered contrast detection.
In simple terms, phase detection works by a prism splitting an image into two.
If the divided images line up, then your image is in focus.
This method allows the phase-detection system to tell the camera lens which way to focus accurately, and by how much.
Contrast detection works by analyzing pixels on the image sensor to find the point where contrast is highest.
The lens has to focus back and forth to find the highest contrast, searching for the best position.
That’s why you sometimes see that blurriness come and go around the center of your shot.
Contrast detection can be especially slow in low-light environments.
Phase detection is a faster and more accurate method of autofocus.
Mirrorless cameras now offer both types of autofocus and in some cases, do it better than a DSLR.