Twen­ty years ago, movies (and all sorts of small forms such as clips or adver­tise­ments) were filmed on a “big black cam­era” weigh­ing 10 kilos and cost­ing 10 mil­lion. Today, small but pow­er­ful mir­ror­less cam­eras are more often used for shoot­ing video. Read about the best cam­eras for shoot­ing video in this mate­r­i­al.

Since cam­eras have been able to shoot decent video, they have been used to shoot com­mer­cial videos, com­mer­cials, TV series and movies. Due to the large matrix, they allow you to get a beau­ti­ful “cine” pic­ture with a beau­ti­ful­ly blurred back­ground and low noise. At the same time, the cam­era is much cheap­er than spe­cial­ized film cam­eras.

Fuji X‑T4 mir­ror­less cam­era with cine lens, com­pendi­um and exter­nal recorder / Pho­to: fujifilm‑x.com

Among cam­eras, the best choice for shoot­ing video will be mir­ror­less mod­els with inter­change­able lens­es. There are uni­ver­sal mod­els that shoot both pho­tos and videos equal­ly well, and there are spe­cial­ized mod­els that focus on video shoot­ing.

To shoot video with high qual­i­ty and with­out unnec­es­sary prob­lems, the cam­era must have a num­ber of func­tions:

  • shoot­ing 4K. Today, the stan­dard for video shoot­ing is 4K res­o­lu­tion — that is, about 4000 pix­els along the long side of the image. Shoot­ing in 4K is also good because it allows you to have a tech­ni­cal mar­gin in the case when the final video is used in FHD (Full HD, 1920x1080). In this case, the video can be cropped and sta­bi­lized with­out loss of qual­i­ty;
  • micro­phone input. The micro­phone built into the cam­era is hard­ly enough for pro­fes­sion­al tasks. It is bet­ter to have a sep­a­rate input, into which you can con­nect a direc­tion­al micro­phone, a radio but­ton­hole receiv­er or even an on-cam­era mix­er with 2 micro­phone inputs;
  • head­phone jack. If you were writ­ing a two-hour inter­view, it would be sad to come home and find that there was no sound for half of the shoot­ing, because the bat­ter­ies in the micro­phone were dead. It is bet­ter to hear imme­di­ate­ly when shoot­ing that every­thing is in order with the sound, there are no inter­fer­ence, cod and wind noise. For film­ing where it is impor­tant to con­trol the sound qual­i­ty, it is bet­ter to choose a cam­era with a head­phone out­put;
  • sta­bi­liz­er. Cam­era-shift sta­bi­liz­er built into the cam­era allows you to shoot hand­held and get a smooth image with­out shak­ing;
  • extend­ed dynam­ic range. In order to get well-devel­oped details in both high­lights and shad­ows in the final video, image pro­files with extend­ed dynam­ic range are used. This can be a flat pro­file (such as Nikon Flat), a log­a­rith­mic pro­file (such as Sony S‑Log3), or HDR video in HLG for­mat;
Log­a­rith­mic pro­file (left) allows you to save details in high­lights and shad­ows, but requires sub­se­quent col­or cor­rec­tion / Pho­to: sony.com
  • avail­abil­i­ty of codecs con­ve­nient for edit­ing. By default, almost any mod­ern cam­era shoots video with the H.264 codec, 4:2:0 col­or sam­pling and 8 bits per chan­nel col­or depth. This is great if you need to save space on a mem­o­ry card and imme­di­ate­ly put the footage on the Inter­net. But if the video is intend­ed for edit­ing and col­or cor­rec­tion, prob­lems may arise. But just because of the com­pres­sion, even a pow­er­ful com­put­er will start to slow down if you put a video in the H.264 codec into the video edi­tor and start work­ing with it. This is due to the fact that you have to decom­press the video back. There­fore, more suit­able codecs are used for edit­ing — for exam­ple, Apple ProRes.

You can, of course, con­vert every­thing cap­tured on your com­put­er, and only then get to work. But you can save time if the cam­era can imme­di­ate­ly shoot in ProRes. In addi­tion, for col­or cor­rec­tion it is impor­tant to main­tain smooth col­or tran­si­tions with­out pos­ter­i­za­tion. For this, it would be good to have at least 10 bits per chan­nel and 4:2:2 col­or sam­pling (even bet­ter — 12 bits and 4:4:4).

The num­ber of bits is respon­si­ble for the num­ber of shades that the video can store and pro­duce dur­ing col­or cor­rec­tion. The same sto­ry as with RAW and JPEG for pho­tos: RAW stores more infor­ma­tion, which allows for more vari­able pro­cess­ing. So here. Col­or sam­pling is also respon­si­ble for the amount of hue that can be extract­ed from a video dur­ing col­or grad­ing. The larg­er the last dig­it, the more col­or mar­gin;

  • focus peak­ing and zebra. On the small screen of a mir­ror­less cam­era, it’s hard to know if every­thing is in order with the expo­sure and where exact­ly the focus is. There­fore, a good cam­era will help you under­stand if every­thing is in order with your video. Focus peak­ing will high­light what is cur­rent­ly in focus with a bright col­or. And in order to avoid over­ex­po­sure, it is worth turn­ing on the “zebra”, and a hint in the form of hatch­ing will appear in too bright areas;

The cam­eras in this sec­tion are designed specif­i­cal­ly for shoot­ing video. Usu­al­ly, in such cam­eras, the pho­to capa­bil­i­ties are either severe­ly cur­tailed or ordi­nary, but in this case the cost of the cam­era increas­es sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

Sony Alpha 7S III

The entire line of Sony 7S cam­eras is designed pri­mar­i­ly for shoot­ing video, and the Sony Alpha 7S III is the lat­est mod­el in this line.

Small mir­ror­less cam­era with great fea­tures / Pho­to: fotosklad.ru

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions Sony Alpha 7S III:

  • video for­mat: 4K up to 120 fps, FHD up to 240 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: yes;
  • micro­phone input: 3.5 mm;
  • head­phone out­put: 3.5 mm;
  • col­or pro­files: S‑Log2, S‑Log3, HLG;
  • codecs and col­or: can write 4:2:2 10bit to a mem­o­ry card, 16bit ProRes Raw to an exter­nal recorder;
  • shoot­ing assis­tance: focus peak­ing, focus­ing mag­ni­fi­er, zebra.

The cam­era uses a full-frame matrix with a res­o­lu­tion of only 12 megapix­els. For pho­tog­ra­phy today, this is not enough. But the few­er pix­els on the matrix, the larg­er each of them and the more light enters it. Thanks to this, the Sony Alpha 7S III can pro­duce a decent pic­ture with low noise even at high ISO val­ues. The oper­at­ing range of the cam­era is ISO 80–102400, and can be extend­ed up to ISO 409600.

A Sony mir­ror­less cam­era can record 4K video at up to 120 frames per sec­ond, which means that dur­ing edit­ing these frames can be slowed down by 4–5 times. Native Sony micro­phones can be con­nect­ed direct­ly to the mul­ti­func­tion­al hot shoe with an addi­tion­al dig­i­tal inter­face, while third-par­ty micro­phones have a stan­dard 3.5 mm jack.

CFex­press Type A mem­o­ry cards can record video with a col­or depth of 10 bits and 4:2:2 col­or sam­pling, and if you con­nect an exter­nal recorder, you can write 16-bit RAW video.

Very con­ve­nient “zebra” with adjustable sen­si­tiv­i­ty. It is impor­tant that the light­est areas are not over­ex­posed — set the sen­si­tiv­i­ty to 95%. Is it impor­tant that human faces are prop­er­ly exposed? Reduce the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the “zebra” to 70–75%.

Need to get a frame with­out over­ex­po­sure? Low­er the expo­sure until the striped areas dis­ap­pear / Pho­to: johnmeephotography.com

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H

Pana­son­ic full frame mir­ror­less cam­era. Sim­i­lar to its fel­low Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R, but with more video capa­bil­i­ties.

An addi­tion­al video record­ing but­ton (large red) is vis­i­ble on the front of the cam­era / Pho­to: www.panasonic.com

Fea­tures Pana­son­ic Lumix DC-S1H:

  • video for­mat: 6K up to 30 fps, 4K up to 60 fps, FHD up to 120 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: yes;
  • micro­phone input: 3.5 mm;
  • head­phone out­put: 3.5 mm;
  • col­or pro­files: V‑Log, HLG;
  • codecs and col­or: can write 4:2:2 10bit to a mem­o­ry card when shoot­ing 4K, 4:2:0 when shoot­ing 6K;
  • shoot­ing assis­tance: focus peak­ing, focus­ing mag­ni­fi­er, zebra, vec­torscope.

The mir­ror­less cam­era can write 6K video direct­ly to a mem­o­ry card, and uses the more com­mon and less expen­sive SD for­mat. For nor­mal oper­a­tion, it is bet­ter to take cards with a fast UHS-II inter­face. Pro­longed video work caus­es the cam­era to become very hot, and to avoid over­heat­ing (which can increase noise in the video and even cause the cam­era to turn off), the Lumix DC-S1H has a built-in fan for forced cool­ing.

Despite the pres­ence of ven­ti­la­tion holes, the cam­era remains pro­tect­ed from dust and splash­es / Pho­to: panasonic.com

There are lim­i­ta­tions when record­ing 4K: from the entire width of the matrix, the cam­era only writes 4K 24, 25 and 30 frames per sec­ond. If you need to shoot 50 or 60 fps, the cam­era will only use the cen­tral part of the sen­sor, and the field of view will become nar­row­er.

There is a full size HDMI port. You can con­nect an exter­nal recorder to it, and write 12-bit RAW video to it. The USB type‑C port allows you to pow­er the cam­era while work­ing from a pow­er bank or com­pat­i­ble charg­er.

Panasonic Lumix GH6

Anoth­er Pana­son­ic mir­ror­less, this time with a Micro 4/3 for­mat matrix.

The GH series has long been loved by video­g­ra­phers for its wide video capa­bil­i­ties / Pho­to: panasonic.com

Fea­tures Pana­son­ic Lumix GH6:

  • video for­mat: 5.7K up to 30 fps, 4K up to 120 fps, FHD up to 300 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: yes;
  • micro­phone input: 3.5 mm;
  • head­phone out­put: 3.5 mm;
  • col­or pro­files: V‑Log, HLG;
  • codecs and col­or: ProRes HQ 4:2:2 in 5.7K and 4K, Apple ProRes RAW 12bit to an exter­nal recorder.

The cam­era is very sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous one, Lumix DC-S1H — there is also a built-in fan to cool the cam­era, there is also an addi­tion­al video record­ing but­ton on the front pan­el. The cam­era fea­tures a Micro 4/3 for­mat matrix and wider video capa­bil­i­ties com­pared to the full-frame mod­el.

New tilt-and-turn screen design allows you to rotate the cam­era screen with­out hit­ting con­nect­ed cables / Pho­to: photojoseph.com

The Pana­son­ic Lumix GH6 mir­ror­less cam­era allows you to record video in 5.7K and 4K direct­ly to a mem­o­ry card using the pro­fes­sion­al Apple ProRes codec. The video bitrate can reach 800 Mb/s. To han­dle this amount of infor­ma­tion, the cam­era uses CFex­press Type B cards.

You can also use exter­nal media — you can con­nect an exter­nal recorder to the HDMI con­nec­tor, and an exter­nal SSD dri­ve to the USB type C port.

Pro­duc­ers also took into account the fash­ion for ver­ti­cal video. Now you do not need to rotate the video in the edi­tor if you shoot sto­ries on a mir­ror­less cam­era. Meta­da­ta records infor­ma­tion about the posi­tion of the cam­era, and the video will imme­di­ate­ly dis­play cor­rect­ly.

Thanks to the open stan­dard Micro 4/3 mount, a vari­ety of Pana­son­ic and third-par­ty lens­es are avail­able for the cam­era.

The cam­eras in this sec­tion are equal­ly well suit­ed for both pho­tog­ra­phy and video con­tent pro­duc­tion. They may not be able to shoot video for hours with­out a break or write 6K, but if you work with both pho­tos and video, it makes sense to take a clos­er look at the cam­eras from this sec­tion.

Nikon Z6 II

Nikon’s 24-megapix­el mir­ror­less cam­era is capa­ble of record­ing 4K and Full HD video, as befits a mod­ern mir­ror­less cam­era.

Mir­ror­less Nikon Z6 II with exter­nal recorder / Pho­to: broadcastbeat.com

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions Nikon Z 6 II:

  • video for­mat: 4K up to 60 fps, FHD up to 120 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: yes;
  • micro­phone input: 3.5 mm;
  • head­phone out­put: 3.5 mm;
  • col­or pro­files: N‑Log, HLG, Flat;
  • codecs and col­or: Apple ProRes RAW 12 bit to exter­nal recorder.

The Nikon Z6 II writes decent video, but it can­not boast of out­stand­ing capa­bil­i­ties. When record­ing 4K from the entire width of the matrix, the frame rate is lim­it­ed to 30 fps. If you need 60 fps, the cam­era uses only the cen­tral part of the matrix, turn­ing into a cropped one.

Only eight-bit 4:2:0 video can be record­ed on a mem­o­ry card, and only flat Flat is avail­able from col­or pro­files. Advanced fea­tures — log pro­file, 4:2:2 video record­ing and HDR video in HLG for­mat are only pos­si­ble when using an exter­nal recorder.

And for this, you will have to take the cam­era to a ser­vice cen­ter to update the firmware for an addi­tion­al fee.

Fujifilm X‑T3

For fans of retro design and film col­ors, there are Fuji cam­eras.

See the lit­tle mir­ror­less? And she is there / Pho­to: www.eoshd.com

Fea­tures Fuji­film X‑T3:

  • video for­mat: 4K up to 60 fps, FHD up to 120 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: no;
  • micro­phone input: 3.5 mm;
  • head­phone out­put: 3.5 mm;
  • col­or pro­files: F‑Log, Eter­na;
  • codecs and col­or: 10 bits per exter­nal recorder.

Fuji cam­eras are loved for their inter­est­ing col­or pro­files that mim­ic the col­ors of actu­al Fuji­film film. You can also use them when shoot­ing video (includ­ing the spe­cial­ly designed Eter­na pro­file with reduced con­trast for video shoot­ing).

Fuji­film X‑T3 can shoot 4K video up to 30 fps with­out crop and up to 60 fps with a small crop of 1.18 and can write 10-bit 4:2:0 video to a mem­o­ry card. And in addi­tion to the stan­dard pho­to lens­es for the Fuji X mount, there is also a spe­cial series of cin­e­ma lens­es.

Fuji­film is one of the lead­ing film optics man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world / Pho­to: fujifilm.com

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cam­era does not have a sta­bi­liz­er. So, if you want to shoot hand­held, use a lens with a built-in sta­bi­liza­tion sys­tem.

If the bud­get is lim­it­ed, but you want to shoot right now, look at the cam­eras from this sec­tion. They may not have sophis­ti­cat­ed fea­tures and a weath­er­proof met­al case, but they still make good video.

Olympus OM‑D E‑M10 Mark III

The small Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M10 Mark III mir­ror­less cam­era is one of the most bud­get-friend­ly options rec­om­mend­ed for aspir­ing video con­tent cre­ators.

One of the small­est 4K mir­ror­less cam­eras / Pho­to: trustedreviews.com

Fea­tures OM‑D E‑M10 Mark III:

  • video for­mat: 4K up to 30 fps, FHD up to 60 fps;
  • sta­bi­liz­er: yes;
  • micro­phone input: no;
  • head­phone out­put: no;
  • col­or pro­files: no spe­cial pro­files for video shoot­ing;
  • codecs and col­or: stan­dard H.264 8 bit 4:2:0 only.

The cam­era can­not boast rich fea­tures: there are nei­ther log­a­rith­mic pro­files nor a head­phone out­put. And if you need to record sound, you will have to buy an exter­nal recorder — there is no micro­phone input in the cam­era either. But at the same time, the cam­era shoots pret­ty decent 4K video, and the Micro 4/3 mount allows you to use both native lens­es and inex­pen­sive man­u­al ones from Chi­na. And you can buy an adapter and put the sec­u­lar “Helios” or “Jupiter” on the mir­ror­less mir­ror.

An in-cam­era sta­bi­liz­er will work with any of the lens­es, and focus peak­ing will help you focus even with­out aut­o­fo­cus.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7

Anoth­er cam­era with a Micro 4/3 matrix. Slight­ly more advanced than the pre­vi­ous Olym­pus, the Lumix G7 has a micro­phone jack, and a right-hand pro­tru­sion makes it eas­i­er to hold the cam­era.

Pana­son­ic Lumix G7 looks pret­ty sol­id, you can already go on a com­mer­cial shoot with it / Pho­to: gadgetreview.com

Fea­tures LUMIX DMC-G7:

  • video for­mat: 4K up to 30 fps, FHD up to 60 fps
  • sta­bi­liz­er: no
  • micro­phone input: yes
  • head­phone out­put: no
  • col­or pro­files: no spe­cif­ic video pro­files
  • codecs and col­or: stan­dard H.264 8 bit 4:2:0 only

Oth­er­wise, the cam­era does not reach the old­er broth­ers from the GH-series, but it also costs much less than they do.