Best DSLR Cameras for Video Filming
Choosing the perfect camera that will allow you to capture all those unforgettable moments is not easy, especially if you are not a professional photographer. I know that I have struggled a lot the last time I wanted to buy a new camera and spent so much time researching for the best one, especially for video filming since that is what I needed a camera for the most.
That is why I wanted to help others with this same problem and make a short list of some of the best cameras for video filming available and I have decided to focus on DSLR cameras since they are great for shooting videos. Here is a list of the best DSLR cameras we recommend for filming professional short films and movies:
DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras are specific because they combine the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor. In fact, this reflex design is the primary difference between DSLR cameras and other digital cameras.
If you already own a digital camera and you are not sure whether you should upgrade to DSLR camera, I would suggest you to seriously consider this. There are many reasons for this, like the image quality, adaptability, speed, large ISO range, manual controls, depth of field, quality optics, etc. Simply put, you will be able to produce better videos with DSLR cameras and I will help you choose the perfect camera for you.
How to Choose a DSLR Video Camera?
Before I start talking about some of the best DSLR cameras available on the market today, I would first like to give you some tips that can help you choose the best DSLR camera for you. To do so, you need to focus on a few factors that are pretty important when you make this type of decision.
Size and Design
Even though DSLR cameras are generally bigger than compact point cameras and other digital cameras, there are still differences in size between DSLR cameras as well. Professional photographers usually go with heavier gear, which is fine for you as well, but if you plan to use your camera on the go, you might consider opting for smaller and lighter models.
Even though megapixels can sometimes present a false picture (more megapixels alone don’t always mean better image quality), it is still an important thing to focus on. So, with a wide variety of choices on today’s market, you will have a lot of options when it comes to the resolution of your camera and to choose wisely, you need to think about how you plan to use your camera. For example, opt for higher resolution if you plan to use your camera for taking still photographs in addition to shooting videos.
The Majority of DSLR video cameras come with a standard lens, which is perfectly fine for filming videos. However, if you are looking for a specific look and you know what you want, you might consider finding a lens that will suit your needs better than these standard lenses. If you, on the other hand, plan to simply shoot regular high-resolution videos, going with a standard lens is just fine.
Extra Features and Accessories
First of all, if you have some gear that you have bought for your previous model, you should look for a DSLR camera that is compatible with that gear and many of them are, particularly when it comes to lenses and memory cards.
However, if you don’t have any gear and you are just buying a camera for the first time, you need to consider what additional accessories you might need, like lenses, straps, bags, tripods, etc. since there are cameras that come with some of these things.
The same goes for extra features, like filters for example, and you should check what additional features come with the camera you are interested in and what features you actually need.
DSLR cameras vary in prices like they do in almost everything else and even though you don’t want to choose the right camera strictly based on its price, you still have to consider your budget. My experience is that cameras that go for less than $500 usually can’t perform to a standard that you probably expect.
These are just some of the most important factors you need to consider when you choose a DSLR video camera and since there are many other factors and so many choices, I will try to save you some time and present you some of my favorite models, which I think are also the best models available.
Top 10 Digital Single-Lens Reflex Cameras for Video Making
Below you can find a short review of our top 10 recommended DSLR cameras for making professional videos and movies:
1. Canon EOS 70D
This camera is one of the best ones ever made, which is proven by the fact that it has been released back in 2013 and is still sought after a lot. There are many things that are great about this DSLR camera, so let’s check them out.
This camera has a pretty streamlined design, especially when you compare it to some previous models from the series. This allows you to shoot even with one hand because it is so easy to get a grip on this particular device.
On the top left, you will see a mode dial with a center lock button. This camera can work in manual, semi-manual and automatic modes. On the right top, just above the status LCD display, there is a multitude of buttons for metering, drive mode, ISO sensitivity and autofocus mode. On the back, there is a Live View/Movie switch with the record button which you can operate with your thumb and on the front, little above the bottom there is a depth-of-field button.
This camera has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, which is pretty much the top of the trade. That allows this camera to produce high-res images and videos. The IS STM standard zoom lens is included and it is a great lens, which means that you won’t have to even consider upgrading this part of the camera.
Another great thing about this camera is a responsive touch screen, which allows you to get complete freedom of angle when you shoot your videos. Let’s not forget the autofocus feature (Dual Pixel CMOS AF) that allows you to take sharp and focused images, but it is also a great improvement that helps you shoot clearer videos. This camera also has a built-in Wi-Fi and allows for faster continuous shooting.
2. Sony a7 Full-Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera
You will not be able to find a camera that has a more compact or smaller body and also includes all the necessary features that every DSLR camera must have. This camera has a truly classy design that I adore and I also love the LCD display that this camera offers since it allows me to quickly confirm my settings and change things without going through many dedicated menus.
This camera has a built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability which allows you to transfer your videos and images as quickly and easily as possible. It also has a remote shutter control which you can access via tablets and smartphones.
It also has a USB remote control connection that allows you to adjust still photos, but also has video capture control.
This camera has a very high resolution – 24.3 megapixels, to be exact. This is amazing and guarantees clear and sharp images with a full-color palette. Another great thing is the hybrid autofocus feature that is surprisingly fast and reliable. This is further enhanced with amazing burst-shooting performance, which comes at 5 fps.
Sony a7 accepts existing Alpha-mount and E-mount lenses, which is great if you have some of them from your previous camera. The most important thing, for people that are interested in buying a camera primarily for shooting videos, it is good news that this camera comes with full HD 1080 video capture with 24p/60i/60p frame rates.
The only thing that I have found that isn’t really the best as it can be is battery life, which is pretty mediocre when you use the electronic viewfinder.
3. Nikon D810
If you are familiar with D810 predecessors, D800 and D800E, then you will understand what I mean when I say that Nikon decided to stick with the winning formula when it comes to the design and ergonomics. However, there are a few small modifications. For example, this camera is a bit smaller than its predecessors, thus allowing for a stronger and easier grip, even though it can still be classified as a large camera.
What remains similar as well is the 3.2-inch TFT-LCD screen, which has also been significantly improved in the quality department. This device is made of magnesium alloy, giving it a much sturdier feel than cameras that are made of plastic. Another thing to remember is that this camera is fully waterproof.
Since this is such a high-end camera in terms of image quality and performance, that might present a few problems as well. For example, 36-megapixel RAW files are enormous, which means that they will fill up even a 64 GB memory card pretty fast.
On the good side, filming a video at full resolution tops out at 5fps, which is considered a standard in the industry. Of course, another thing that works great is the autofocus that works at an amazing speed, particularly if you are not using Live View mode. As it is expected of one of the best full-frame DSLR cameras, image quality is superb and frankly, incredible. On the video shooting side, Nikon has improved video capabilities of previous models by expanding 1080p to 60p. However, they include 4K video mode, which has become a standard today. Same thing goes for the lack of in-built Wi-Fi and GPS.
4. Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Canon 7D Mark II is an upgrade from the previous, EOS 7D version, which was loved all around and showed amazing performances. That is why this model was universally anticipated and when it finally came it didn’t disappoint.
When it comes to the body of this DSLR camera, it is of course very similar to the previous model. It is a classy chunky-frame camera with dimensions that are primarily attractive to serious photographers and hard-core enthusiasts.
The build is amazing since this camera is made of magnesium alloy, but this model sports improved weather sealing which allows you to use it in basically any condition imaginable. That is why this camera is often the preferred choice for action or wildlife photographers.
Most of the improvements that Canon made with this model when you compare it with its predecessors are related to image quality and performance. For example, this model has burst shooting speed of 10 fps, which is pretty impressive. Another improvement comes in the autofocus department, which is now significantly faster. Also, this camera uses two types of phase detection focusing that guarantee great performance whether you are using the viewfinder, live view or are filming a video.
EOS 7D Mark II has a 20.2-megapixel sensor which can produce a great level of detail in the images. When it comes to video shooting, this is done at 1080p, 60 frames per second at the max, with 24, 25 and 30 frames per second modes also available. A small disappointment comes from the fact that this model lacks 4K video capture.
Another small flaw comes from the fact that this device doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity, which is pretty normal for most DSLR cameras. However, it does a substitution in the form of Eye-Fi card support. It also supports GPS.
5. Canon EOS 5D Mark III
This is the third camera in this series, so it is understandable that it features a similar and familiar design like the previous models, which is a rugged and solid design that offers a lot of stability to the user. However, this camera is more rounded than previous models, on all corners. Also, memory card bays and battery are now spring-loaded, which can save you a few seconds in crucial situations since it is much easier to swap memory cards or batteries. Another improved thing is the weather sealing which is made from aluminum and is very important if you are an outdoors enthusiast. There are some modifications to the button layout as well.
This camera comes with a beautiful 3.2-inch LCD display where you can find the menu system. The menu is also now colorized, with a different color for every section, which can be useful if you don’t have the time to read the name of the category in certain situations. There is also a 100% viewfinder coverage that comes with an adjustable LCD grid and AF overlay.
EOS 5D Mark III comes with a great 22.3-megapixels resolution, which combined with other performance features allows you to take amazing photos and videos. Of course, one of the most important features that are included in this model is the autofocus system, which has been significantly improved and performs at the highest level. This allows you to create breathtaking still images. However, this is not all since this camera also performs great when it comes to shooting videos since it has a full HD, 1080p video at 24, 25, and 30 frames per second.
6. Nikon D7200
This camera is ideal for enthusiasts that like taking beautiful pictures and recording beautiful videos, but it is also a chosen camera of many professional photographers as well since it is very powerful and versatile.
The design of this particular camera is literally the same as it was with the previous model, D7100 and I have to admit that I expected at least some minor modifications to be done, even though I like the design and the way it feels in my hands when I handle it. Most of this camera is made from magnesium alloy and D7200 really feels like some of the most expensive models.
This camera is completely waterproof which makes it more rugged and allows you to use this camera in various conditions, making it a perfect choice for shooting action videos and filming wildlife. The mode dial is on the top left of D7200 and has only nine options, including two slots left for custom settings.
Another thing that stays identical is the 3.2-inch, 1229k-dot LCD screen, and the viewfinder, which provides complete coverage.
This device has great video shooting capabilities since it shoots movies in full HD 1080p at 30/25p. It can even go up to 60p/50p if you use a 1.3x crop mode. To add another great thing, this camera is also compatible with a Nikon ME-W1 wireless microphone that allows you to capture sound up to 160 feet away from you. Let’s not forget the autofocus feature which improves the overall performance of this intriguing device a lot. The D7200 provides fast and snappy focus in Single AF mode, but you also won’t be let down by its performance with subject tracking.
The D7200 has both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity within the body itself, which is great since there are some models that don’t include Wi-Fi connectivity even though that has become standard today.
7. Sony A77II
This is an innovative interchangeable lens camera that comes with a compact body and provides great performances, especially when it comes to videos since it allows you to shoot in 4K video resolution. That, among other things, is what separates this camera from others on this list.
Similar in design to the previous model in the series, Sony A77II is one of the most compact DSLR cameras on our list. Its body is made from magnesium and is supposed to be a premium solution for photography lovers that want some style to go with the quality of images and videos.
This camera is completely weather sealed, so it is a perfect choice for shooting videos outdoors. When you take into account how much smaller and lighter this device is compared to other DSLR cameras (I mean, it weighs only 23 ounces!), I really can’t think of a better solution when it comes to traveling and shooting videos than this little gem.
This camera offers 24.3 megapixels, which is pretty much up there with some of the best cameras when it comes to resolution. Also, thanks to the autofocus system that this camera has, with a pretty high number of phase-detection points and amazing tracking capabilities, you will be able to take still photos and shoot videos in the best possible way. As I have already mentioned, this camera allows you to shoot videos in 4K, in addition to 1080p, and all this paired with up to 12fps continuous shooting feature.
Another great thing about this camera is the fact that you get built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, allowing you to share your videos and photos with your friends and family instantly and easily. This camera comes with a rechargeable battery and excellent LCD display. Add a large and bright viewfinder to the list of good things that this camera brings to the table as well.
8. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema
The name of this camera reveals the biggest advantage that comes from buying and using it – it can fit in your pocket (it is only 5 inches wide). The size of this camera is truly something unprecedented in the camera world, especially when you consider the performances that this camera is able to deliver.
This is a very streamlined camera that is light and slim enough for you to take it wherever you go without even knowing you brought it. It has a rubberized grip that really allows you to handle it with ease. To put it shortly, this camera has a simple layout and appearance made from magnesium alloy body and I love that.
The back of this device is featured with a 3.5-inch LCD and buttons that allow you to use some features like menu, power, auto-iris, auto-focus and a directional pad. There are also a few buttons on the top of this camera, like the record button and playback menu. On the left side of Blackmagic Pocket Cinema you will find inputs for audio, power, and external display. Beneath the Pocket Cinema there is a compartment that holds the battery and SD card slot, and a mini-USB jack you can use if your PC does not have a built-in SD card slot.
This camera allows users to shoot full 1080p video at up to 30p frame rates. However, this camera lacks is the autofocus option, which means that you will have to manually adjust focus when you shoot your videos, which takes a lot of practice with moving subjects. On the image side, you will be able to take still images in the 12 megapixels resolution, which is a bit on the lower side compared to other DSLR cameras on our list.
Another thing that you need to take into the consideration is the battery life, which isn’t great. It takes around an hour of continuous shooting to drain the battery, so you need to remember to always have extra batteries with you.
9. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70
This is a camera that has a superzoom that comes with a 60x zoom lens, which is the characteristic that stands out the most. However, this is not the only thing that separates LUMIX DMC-FZ07 from the rest of the pack.
Even though this camera can be categorized as a small DSLR camera, thanks to this superzoom that covers a wider breadth than the majority of DSLR cameras, it might seem a bit bigger at a glance. However, it actually measures 3.8 by 5.1 by 4.7 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds along with a memory card and a battery.
Controls are placed on the top and back plates, where you can find the mode dial, a power button, shutter release and zoom rocker, as well as recording buttons for filming videos. On the back, there is the LCD display that allows you to check your images instantly. There are some other controls you will find, but these are the most important ones.
This device has a 16-megapixel resolution and covers a full-frame field of view thanks to its magnificent zoom, which allows you to take beautiful wide angles without having to give up the ability to get closer to distant objects.
There are various burst shooting options, like the 9fps one that allows you to capture photos at that speed with full resolution. There is also the 5fps option with continuous autofocus that can take up to three shots before resting, and a 2fps option with autofocus that can take 5 shots before slowing down.
On the video side, this camera can film videos at 1080p60, 1080p30, or 720p60 quality. You can zoom in and out the lens even while you record the video, but beware that the sound of the lens might be heard on the film.
Despite great performances all around, this camera doesn’t include Wi-Fi or a GPS, which is a downside that many cameras have and that is pretty disappointing.
10. Pentax K-S2
This camera is actually one of the world’s smallest DSLR cameras that is also completely weather-sealed. Having such a compact and resistant camera by your side is a great recommendation for anyone that likes taking wildlife images or shooting action films.
Pentax K-S2 is so compact and has great ergonomics that it is a true joy to hold it in your hands. This is further enhanced by going back to the conventional mode dial, which wasn’t the case with previous Pentax models.
The design is true to the classic Pentax look, available in a black or white plastic body with some metal parts, with the battery compartment positioned on the base like it always is. While we are on the battery, I should also mention that this device uses a lithium-ion battery pack, which is way more convenient when you are outdoors than AA batteries.
On the side of the camera, there is a card slot that is now supported with a hinged door, which is a nice and useful addition since it allows you to have more space for fingers when you remove or add your card. As I have said already, this camera is completely weather-sealed.
There are many features that stand out when K-S2 is regarded, and one of those features is a tilted or swiveling screen. This articulated screen works amazingly when you are in need for a difficult composition. Another great thing about this camera is the fantastic optic and LCD viewfinder.
This 20-megapiexel camera can produce fantastic image quality and accurate focusing performance when you want to shoot slow-moving subjects. When it comes to video, this camera can shoot videos at up to 1080p, 30fps.
There are in-built Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities that allow you to quickly transfer your images and videos to some other device. Also, with the Pentax app, you can transfer data and even control the shutter from remote distances.
Choosing the right camera might seem too overwhelming for a simple photo enthusiast. There are so many specifications and features to consider and that might take you a lot of time, even if you are just looking for a reliable DSLR camera to shoot your videos.
That is why I have made this guide and I hope that you understand what some of the most important characteristics you need to consider when you choose the best DSLR camera for video filming are. I also hope that my list of some of the top cameras in the market has saved you at least a little bit of time on research and helped you choose your perfect DSLR camera without any trouble.