Before we dive in, here’s some good general advice. You don’t have to buy a new camera. Whether it’s for yourself or a gift for another aspiring filmmaker, if you really, truly care about making a career in film and video, the camera should be a small part of the equation.
If you really want to help yourself or another this holiday season, try reading this No Film School e-book about DSLR cinematography, check out Jim Cummings ‘short to feature lab’ curriculum (it’s free here!), or, you know, go out and shoot a film with friends right now.
However, if you are interesting in purchasing a new digital mirrorless video camera here these holidays, here are five options to consider with some insights and specs to keep in mind.
Also, be sure to check out our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Filmmakers!
One of our favorites here at NFS heading into 2019, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is off to a great start for the year on its strong 4K recording quality and low price point. We have some recommended camera cage options to consider with it, and also some external power solutions as well as an interesting attachable SSD here.
Be sure to check out our full hands-on review of the BMPCC 4K here!
4/3"-Sized HDR Sensor
4K (4096 x 2160) up to 60 fps
Dual Native ISO to 25,600
Active Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
Record up to 120 fps Windowed HD
CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
5" Touchscreen Display
13-Stop Dynamic Range
3D LUT Support
The Fujifilm X-T3 looks to be a budding hot commodity going into 2019 as well, even winning Cinema 5D’s “Best Mirrorless Camera of 2018” over some heavy competition. With a 26.1MP sensor and 4K 10-bit recording at 60fps, it’s another strong option for filmmakers and videographers alike. Just be sure to download its firmware update for its 4K HDR recording.
26.1MP APS-C CMOS 4 Sensor
X-Processor 4 with Quad CPU
F-Log Gamma & 10-Bit Out
UHD 4K Video (up to 60fps)
2.16m-Point Phase-Detection Autofocus
3.0" Tilting LCD Touchscreen
Extended ISO 80-51200
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
A popular upgrade to the incredibly successful Panasonic GH5, the GH5s has been a great low-light upgrade for filmmakers looking to film in more diverse environments. It’s worth considering both though (and here’s a great breakdown comparing the GH5 and the GH5s). Along with some insights into the latest firmware updates here.
- 10.28MP 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 & Bluetooth
No Film School has been following the Sony a7 III closely since NAB 2018 as the camera has been a killer for film and video professionals this year. With 4K video up to 30 fps and some nice high frame rate recording at 120 fps (Full HD), the a7 III has been a popular camera that should still be strongly considered going into 2019.
24MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
UHD 4K30p Video
2.36m-Dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF
3.0" 922k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
Built-In Wi-Fi and NFC
Dual SD Slots
USB Type-C Port
Since being officially announced in August, Nikon’s new line of full frame mirrorless cameras - the Nikon Z7 and Z6 - have been a welcomed addition to an already crowded mirrorless market. While the Z7 is the flagship offering, the Nikon Z6 has actually outperformed the Z7 for video capabilities in some reviews (like this comparison video here).
24.5MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor
EXPEED 6 Image Processing Engine
UHD 4K30 Video
N-Log & 10-Bit HDMI Out
Built-In 5-Axis Vibration Reduction
0.80x 3.6m-Dot EVF with NIKKOR Optics
3.2" 2.1m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
XQD Card Slot
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth