Buying a Video Camera in 2017

What's the go with video cameras? It seemed so easy, a few years ago we had simple choices. In 2008 the 5DmkII was released, and it revolutionised the videography and filmmaking industry. All of a sudden, filmmakers had a low-cost lightweight camera with a super-35 sized sensor, which outputted to a video codec which was somewhere between film and video. It wasn't perfect, but with some tweaks (and a little tool called magic lantern), we were well on our way to having a new, better kind of cheap film camera.

The years were quite kind to Canon, and later on the 550D and 60D were released, with APS-C sized sensors. These cameras approximated the size of film camera sensors, and were geared at the hobbyist photographic market. These cameras were again, agents for change to the video industry and heralded a whole new generation of silky-smooth bokeh pictures that glazed over the home pages of Vimeo and YouTube alike.

After this revolution (and sometime around 2013), things quickly became much more serious (and harder to track). An Australian company called Black Magic released the Black Magic Cinema Camera, and later the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC). These cameras had raw imaging capability, and were compact and produced stunning results. They're often credited as being the equivalent to Super-16 film for junior filmmakers that were used extensively during the 80's.

Nowadays, there's a whole plethora of options, but the landscape hasn't changed all that much. If you're buying a camera for video purposes and want to produce nice, narrative pictures in 2017, your options will always end up boiling to a few options.

  • For 4k and nice images, it's hard to look past the Lumix GH5 or a used Lumix GH4 if you want a slightly cheaper alternative.
  • For amazing HD footage for a low price, but to be limited in versatility and with greater risk of cost later on, get the BMPCC (There might be a new one coming soon, so just wait out a bit)
  • For a less sturdy and less-compatible but nonetheless beautifully adequate camera, the Sony A6500 is the natural choice
  • If you want a full-frame camera for wider frames, either get the Sony A7SIII or the Canon 5D Mark 4
  • If you want an all-purpose HD camera for all sorts of situations, which also takes great stills, do yourself a favour and get the Canon 80D as the autofocus in video really has no competition.

And that's it. You will honestly be fine if you pick any of the above cameras. You're welcome.

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