September 10, 2014 at 4:00PM

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What is the best camera for under 1,000?

I honestly cannot decide what camera is right for me. This is what I want:

*I want a camera that shoots really high quality video and photography.

*I want it to be under 1,000 (ideally between 500 and 800).

* I want to use it to upload videos online mostly (possibly a lot of green screen).

* Ideally it can shoot 60FPS.

I'm thinking of the Panasonic GH3, but I'm not sure if I should get a canon instead. Maybe the canon 60D? There are so many options, I cannot decide. I want to know people's experiences with these cameras and I'm open to any suggestions.

44 Comments

I only have real Canon experience,
I started with the T2i, then moved straight to the C100, and also bought a 6D.
the main issue with Canon is the lack of frame rates, for that i would try Sony.

Also Sony has a lot of good camera's at lower price points.
for green screen, however, you really need higher quality footage, like 10bit 4:2:2 and all that.
which at your price range you won't find that many options for.

I would recommend the Sony NEX-7 or NEX-6 (not based on experience with them, just from viewing their footage)
though i haven't seen green screen work from them, Philip bloom has a video with the 7 that is beautiful: https://vimeo.com/69106224
and it shoots 60p.

and if you light your green screen correctly, and try to manage spill onto your actor, then the smaller bit rate should be fine.

September 10, 2014 at 5:26PM

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Connor Norvell
Cinematographer, Writer, Director
440

For me, the 2 best (hands down) cameras under $1,000 are the Sony A6000 (mirrorless) and the Nikon D5300 (DSLR). I found this article quite helpful when I was choosing between the 2... Hope it helps...D5300 vs A6000

HanaaZ

December 19, 2014 at 10:42PM

Canons are wonderful to learn on and are great cameras, I have worked with most of the DSLRs from the t2i to the mark3. 720p60 is there as an option if you need it, not great for green screen work even at the 5dm3 with all-i compression.

If you plan on doing a lot of green screen work you could look into the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Not the easiest of workflows and not the cheapest option to get fully up and running but it will make green screen a heck of a lot easier and give you a better overall image. The smaller sensor makes it a little tougher to get big wide shots and shallow DOF but it teaches you how to accomplish both these things in different ways and really plan for them. Not the easiest camera to work with overall but great quality and very easy to key from.

September 11, 2014 at 9:06AM

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Chase Axton
Cinematographer
1135

Naw i don't think the BMPCC would be the best thing for her... That camera is not a beginners camera.

Wentworth Kelly

September 15, 2014 at 10:33AM

If your budget is that low, and you don't know what you want/don't have a baseline, I would actually recommend you team up with other filmmakers who already have gear/would like to join your project, and NOT buy a cam yourself yet. It's been said before, but cameras are simply tools. And lately, they seem to go out of style every 4 years or so. Best of luck to you!

September 11, 2014 at 3:03PM

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Benjamin Dewhurst
Writer
writer/director
598

One advantage of the Nikon D5200 is that there are a lot of different affordable second-hand Nikon lenses of good quality, and Nikon lenses adapt easily to other systems. (See a review and sample video from Andre Reid: http://goo.gl/PRAc09). You'll have money left for a mic and audio, which is "half the picture". The list by D. Peterson above has all good choices.

September 12, 2014 at 10:21AM

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Glenn Taylor
for pure fun
303

Get the Canon T4i, I had it and used it with a 35mm Rokinon 1.4 cine lens, the camera is not bad, at all. I mean, the lens was almost the same price as the camera, but before I had the lens I used to shoot it with the lens that came with the camera and it worked just fine for me. It also takes very nice pictures.

September 13, 2014 at 5:30PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
2036

I would grab a t3i and install magic lantern. Definitely the best setup you can get for under 1,000$. Get a rokinon lens and you're still under your budget. Don't get a t4i, it doesn't really have any benefits over the t3i and you can find a t3i for much cheaper.

September 13, 2014 at 9:01PM

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Alex Smith
Documentary/Cinematographer
1468

It should be noted that magic lantern is single handily the reason you should get a canon, specifically a t3i.

Alex Smith

September 13, 2014 at 9:03PM

I have been pleased with my Sony NEX-7. Takes very nice footage and pictures.

September 14, 2014 at 5:48PM

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Pamela Kaweske
Photographer
74

I myself have an NEX-7.

True that it does take very decent photos and videos. BUT mine overheats after a 5 mins of video recording.

Now I have noticed some people never have this problem,whereas some do. Probably different production batches.

Sony doesn't really cover this under their warranty unfortunately because they are marketing video as a "by-the-way" function.

I can't speak for the rest of the brands, but I feel if you want to start dabbling in Sony, maybe try a A5100 (as some others have recommended). I understand this one has overcome this heating issue (and is cheaper).

If you can afford it, spend the rest in a decent prime lens(35mm works well for me).
If you are feeling up to it, you can get a bunch of nice older lens for a far more decent price and pop on an adapter, but likely it will be all manual focus.

September 14, 2014 at 7:34PM

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Aaron Tan
Post Production Supervisor
90

I'm agreeing here with David Peterson above... for green screen, the Sony a5100 seems a good choice. It's APS-C, has the best recording codec in the price range (4:2:2 8-bit) and some other nice features, like 60p 1080 and a tilting touchscreen. Unfortunately it doesn't have an audio in jack, so you'd have to use an external recorder. I have no personal experience with this camera, but it seems a steal for the price.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1076396-REG/sony_ilce_5100b_alpha_...

and some Alpha lens advice:

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/first-sony-e-mount-lenses-to-buy/

September 14, 2014 at 9:11PM

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Scott Ressler
Director of Photography
314

Given your budget I would l look at either the Panasonic GH3 or the Nikon D5300. Both of these cameras are in your price range, they both shoot good video and still photos. The GH3 is better for video work, while the D5300 is a better stills camera. Both of these cameras are in high demand, so you should be able to easily sell either of them down the road should you decide to upgrade to a more advanced camera.

One big bonus for the GH3 is that you can shoot 3+ hours continuously on one battery, where you will get less than half of this time with the D5300, and only in 20 minute segments with the Nikon. ( I've shot a 2.5 hour concert with my GH3 and still had plenty of battery power left )

September 15, 2014 at 1:18PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33600

The original poster wants to shoot photos too, so the D5300 not having the optical low pass filter enables it to record noticeably more detail in still photos compared to the D5200, and it does not pay any penalty for this when shooting video.

Guy McLoughlin

September 17, 2014 at 2:42PM

I have had both a Canon 60d and a GH3. I know for me I started in a similar way, like green screen work and web videos with my GH3 and loved it.

Unlike the Canon line, at this price point, (to my knowledge) have yet to offer a dslr that does 1080 at 60FPS as the GH3 can. The GH3 has an audio input but also a headphone jack as well as audio meters to monitor on the lcd as the 60d does not. As mentioned above the GH3 battery life is fantastic. A lot of neat features buried within the menus are pretty cool such as "ex tele convert", "rec highlight" and wifi to allow remote control from a phone or tablet, which is awesome. Keying with the GH3 has given me great results, but a lot of that has to do with your actual setup rather than the camera specs, but the 4:2:2 8 bit color and 70mbps all-I codec on the GH3 definitely helps in my experience. Don't get me wrong I also love the 60d but for your purposes it sounds like the GH3 might be a better fit in my opinion:)

September 16, 2014 at 10:57AM, Edited September 16, 10:57AM

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Brandon Blackburn
Videographer / Editor
214

So many options, but I think this has helped me to narrow it down and make a decision. Thank you for all the great comments everyone!

September 16, 2014 at 12:18PM

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Geraldin Pena
Director/CG artist
99

I would suggest you find someone you can borrow or rent the cameras from. Not try out at the store, but actually get some time to use the cameras in your planned environment / scenario.

Anna Lorentzon

September 16, 2014 at 12:51PM

I will mention a totally different route, if you are just starting out, why not get the latest Panasonic LX100. A crazy camera that shoots 4K is with a Leica 24-75mm 1.7-2.8 lens for under $800 (heck my Tamron 24-70 2.8 cost me $1000+). 4K will help you MASSIVELY with green screen. In theory you can convert 4K 8bit 4:2:0 to HD 10bit 4:4:4
While it will not be as good as native 10 bit 4:4:4 but surely FAR FAR better than any HD DSLR. (Another recommendation is to get a cheap deal for a used T3i+50mm1.8 or something and get a Ninja Star so you get a 4:2:2 output).

Archie Doyle

September 16, 2014 at 1:07PM

Sony RX10 (DSC-RX10). If you're budget-constrained and just starting out, I think that that camera would work well for you because it already comes with an excellent, bright, constant aperture, flexible zoom lens built-in. You also didn't mention what kind of filmmaking you are intending on doing. If you're going to be doing documentary work, that camera would be very nice even if you're not just starting out. I think it deserves serious consideration among the choices that others have suggested here.

September 16, 2014 at 3:58PM

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Shen
407

I see it doesn't seem like we can edit posts here. I wanted to add that I understand that the lens on the RX10 has the ability to have stepless/clickless aperture, which is another big bonus for video!

September 16, 2014 at 4:01PM

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Shen
407

I have a Sony a65 and I love it. It takes great pictures and the video quality is also excellent. I'm not sure of what the price is now, but when I got it I think it was around $750. It comes with a really nice kit lens, and its an a-mount so you can get some really good Minolta and Sigma lenses for it for fairly cheap. Overall, its a great camera with some really great features.

September 17, 2014 at 1:13PM

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Thomas Walsh
Amateur Director
86

I will mention a totally different route, if you are just starting out, why not get the latest Panasonic LX100. A crazy non-pro looking camera that can shoot 4K and comes with a Leica 24-75mm 1.7-2.8 lens for under $800 (my 24-70/2.8 Tamron lens alone cost me $1000+). 4K will help you a LOT with green screen. In theory you can convert 4K 8bit 4:2:0 to HD 10bit 4:4:4
While it will not be as good as native 10 bit 4:4:4 but surely FAR FAR better than any HD DSLR.
ps: I posted this but somehow doesn't show up so typing again.

September 17, 2014 at 11:23PM

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If you don't have budget for a set of lenses, I would get the new Panasonic LX100, which has an excellent Leica lenses and takes 4K video. It's highly portable, and takes better video than most cameras out there. It can be also personalized to your likings.

If you are a professional or if you have additional budget for lenses, I would get the Nikon D5300 with kit lens and also 50mm f1.8, as well as a third-party flash. It will take 95% of shots that pro photographers can take (wedding, fashion, corporate, events, etc.) and also one of the best for 1080p video.

September 18, 2014 at 7:50AM

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Heri Rakotomalala
DP/Camera, Studio owner, Associate Producer
309

If you must have stills I also recommend a Canon t2i. Got me through a lot of work and learning curves when I was starting out. Otherwise, for cinema, BMPCC all the way.

September 18, 2014 at 11:36AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director/producer

There is a lot of talk here concerning the Canon series,and only one post about Nikon DSLRs. That may something to you, but I have found the Nikon D5300 to be a fantastic camera. I have worked with the T2i and the T3i and I think in a way the Nikon DSLRs have marched their quality. I think Canon is still at the top with their DSLRs but is met at the same level with the Nikon series cameras. So I would suggest a Nikon d5300 or a Canon T3i - T4i

September 19, 2014 at 2:30PM

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my recommendation is to prioritize. because nobody shoots video and photo. you either shoot video and occasionally photo, or photo and occasionally video. even working with the people in the top of the commercial industry, nobody does both well. for under 1000 i would strongly recommend the blackmagic pocket camera. it has the best video quality for the price. if you want photo priority go with a used 7d. they're going down in price with the mk-ii launch. green screen on canon cameras and highspeed never looks that good, because of the color space. if you need to go green screen or slo-mo. RENT! unless you're somebody like Maruyama Shinichi who always shoots slo-mo. It's something you are going to use once in a blue moon.

September 19, 2014 at 2:53PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1840

Nikon D5300!

September 20, 2014 at 3:03AM

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Andrea Labate
Director / Cinematographer
282

Panasonic LX100

September 20, 2014 at 2:56PM

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I would buy the Panasonic G6: it is super cheap and it gave me far better results then Canon EOS 70D.

It can shot great slow motion at 1080p (50fps or 60fps, it depends from the zone you live).
You can also use a lot of different lenses such as m43 Olympus and Panasonic, and old lenses with cheap adapter such as Canon FD (old Canon from '70s, great lenses), Zeiss M42 lenses, as well new Canon EF lenses :)

This is a video I made with G6 and Canon FD lenses.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIMHVO1XANE

September 21, 2014 at 1:30AM

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Simone Salvatore
Filmmaker / Recording Engineer / Musician
242

I moved from the 60D to the GH3, and I've never looked back. I now have pro glass and video quality on par with the 5Dmk3 for less than the cost of just the 5D body. I'm also considering picking up the G6 as a second cam - might be worth a look,

September 21, 2014 at 2:30AM

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Katie Cutting
DoP, Documentarian
85

GH3 is working for me. I love the mft system. You can buy a lot of great lenses like the voigtlander 25mm. Lovely lens... I also have the slr magic 12mm and samyang 85mm. Great price, great image. Watch upstream color for a good example of these lenses with the GH2. Downside: Too bad there is still no hack for the GH3.

September 21, 2014 at 3:29AM

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I can suggest the Sony A6000 from my personal experience. I've been using 5D MKII since 2008, and I like the image quality… as a stills camera, for the fashion/portrait I used to do it's still a proper choice.
Las august, going to London, I just wanted a small camera with good video performance…. and my first choice was the BMPCC UNITL I watched Philip Bloom's review. My choice? The Sony, of course. THe result? I'm using JUST the A6000 with all my lenses and absolutely pleased with the results of this ridiculously small camera. Nice 24p, nice 60p, zebra, peak… and with its 50mm 1.8 even a decent "point-and-shoot-video-autofocus". With the adapters I've bee using all my Canon glasses: 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f4, 135 f2 and even a very cheap FD 135 2.8 that looks SO vintage on the camera and gives me a fantastic bokeh for 50ish pounds!

September 21, 2014 at 6:18AM

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Patricio Orozco-Contreras
Photographer/Audio Pro/Teacher at University of Santa Maria
108

I am also considering a new camera but when it comes down to it, anything you buy will be out of date technology within a year or two at most. Before buying I would suggest renting through a site like http://www.borrowlenses.com. Their prices are very reasonable for multi-day rentals and you have the option of trying before you buy. That said, for me it really comes down to the glass. Camera change but good lenses are forever

September 21, 2014 at 7:25AM

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Ron Sussman
Director/Editor
84

Canon 70D for $999 at bhphoto.com....get a Tokina 11-16, Canon 24-105, 70-200 2.8 ll and there's not much I can't shoot in stills (sports, portraits, whatever) and run n gun video. The Dual Pixel AF works great for video. Everything's sharp. I've owned 5D2 & 3, 1DX, T3i, T5i, etc...all great cameras, but this camera is light, articulating screen, 1.6X is great for sports photography, beautiful video....just a great all-around workhorse.

September 21, 2014 at 12:45PM

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You can probably find the 7D for under 1,000 right now. Also this tool is great for comparing cameras in this price range:

http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=canon_eos...

September 21, 2014 at 1:46PM

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I've been working with a T3i for a good time, not much greenscreen, so I can't help you there, but with Magic Lantern, this puppy really shines for a pretty reasonable price so you can still afford to invest on a good set of primes...

September 21, 2014 at 3:54PM

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Fernando Henrique de Sousa
CEO, Evil Genius, Steadycam, editor & jack of all trades
178

My experience is primarily with canon. I own both a t3i and a 7d and for me the 7d is perfect for my youtube greenscreening. Although, I will say that I purchased both of these cameras before the release of the GH4 and now regret it.

After getting some face time with a GH3 and noticing the difference, I really think for its price range, it is the king. The only downside is not being able to use canon glass without an adapter. I prefer canon glass, but if you're only going to be using the kit lens anyways, then it won't be too big of a problem since the kits are similar across the board.

Long story short, I'd either get the GH3 with a kit lens, or a t3i and a decent canon lens. Both should keep you in your budget.

September 21, 2014 at 11:34PM

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I was going to say Canon 60D because of its rugged build, but after i read reviews and watched youtube videos of the Nikon D5200, i can't help but vote for the Nikon D5200

September 22, 2014 at 3:39AM

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Tosin Akintuyosi
Independent Film Maker
178

Hiya.
First off, I have to say , despite being a follower on facebook, I just joined right now just to respond to your request! :)

I can see clearly that you are on a limited budget. if you need a camera under 1000, and you were to choose a DSLR or an interchangeable lens-system, the main disadvantage to that option would be getting lenses as in total it would go beyond a 1000, with all the focal length you'd come to use.

A fixed-lens would be then ideal. If I were you , I would get my hands on the Panasonic LX7. The maximum aperture is of 1.4, which is a killer in its own right. While night photography wasn't specified in your list of needs, I thought of mentioning it nonetheless as I deem it important given the fact it's a fixed-focal length and it being a compact camera. It would give you the possibility to confortably film at night. You also have the possibility to film at 1080p at 60fps.

Full on specs here: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx7
Samples by users here: https://www.flickr.com/groups/panasoniclx7/

I would also suggest the Olympus Stylus 1,
another compact, a bit big for a compact , has an EVF , fixed focal length, maximum aperture of 2.8 , designed based on the Olympus EM-5.
Full file here : http://www.dpreview.com/products/olympus/compacts/oly_stylus1
Samples from users : https://www.flickr.com/groups/olympusstylus1/

Though , if you really need a DSLR, I would suggest the Pentax K-series. I'm pretty sure there's a better informed user out there about the latter as only the latter versions had the HD-film capability.

September 23, 2014 at 5:17PM

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Omar B
Video/Photo Editor
81

I started with and still use the Canon T3i with magic lantern. I prefer APS-C cameras because of the crop factor and the overall expense. The investment you're going to want to make is with glass not the camera body. So you're going to want to keep that in mind as well

September 24, 2014 at 3:34AM

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Walter Vinci
Writer. Director. Editor. Podcaster. Fun.
88

I use a Canon Rebel t4i. It's a great camera for an intermediate photographer and gives you plenty of flexibility with your shots. Depending on your interests as a photographer, there's a lot of great options as far as models go. The touch screen on the t4i is also a great additional feature upgraded from the t3i that becomes much more handy than you think it would be!

September 28, 2014 at 9:25PM

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Shivani Jhaveri
Producer
245

Maybe someone told you but the Blackmagic pocket camera?

September 28, 2014 at 11:35PM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
8689

For me, the 2 best (hands down) cameras under $1,000 are the Sony A6000 (mirrorless) and the Nikon D5300 (DSLR). I found this article quite helpful when I was choosing between the 2... Hope it helps...Best Camera under $1,000 - D5300 vs A6000

December 19, 2014 at 10:43PM

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HanaaZ
Photo passionate
156

October 18, 2015 at 10:36PM

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Wes Gray
Director
81

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