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There are many advantages to having higher resolution cameras, and now 4K, 5K, and even 6K cameras are affordable to the independent filmmaker. Even 12K has become somewhat affordable with the URSA Mini Pro 12K.
These exciting changes allow even low-budget productions to experience the benefits of cameras exceeding 4K video.
Whether it is the ability to crop, edit in pans, or have extremely detailed and crisp images, shooting 5 and 6K videos will change your workflow and open your filmmaking to new possibilities – even when delivering to a client or uploading video to YouTube in 4K UHD.
Suppose you have yet to shoot above 4K resolution or have only traditionally shot in standard HD. In that case, I will begin this article by briefly describing why 5K and 6K cameras are exciting. Then I will list the five best affordable cameras with 5K and 6K capabilities.
Why Choose A 5K And 6K Camera?
Considering most methods of viewing video barely support 4K, you may be wondering why this is necessary.
I can assure you it’s not just future-proofing your cameras if YouTube suddenly supports 6K video. You will experience many benefits with 5K and 6K immediately.
The first benefit is the ability to crop in and edit in pans without a drop in resolution. Especially if you’re hoping to export 4K resolution video, having a 6K camera will allow you to crop in significantly, edit in pans, and do zooms in post-production without a visible loss in quality.
This is significant and allows for a massive amount of control. Perfect tracking shots or the ability to mimic two camera angles via cropping is extremely useful for independent filmmakers.
Especially in documentary settings, techniques like this can help hide jump cuts as you edit out the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ from your subject’s interview.
There is also the benefit of stabilization in post. Because stabilization requires cropping, 5K and 6K cameras will allow for higher stabilization without losing resolution.
Finally, having a higher resolution and more pixels helps with post-production. Using a green screen tends to be more effective the more detailed the image is, and visual effects will have more information to work with. This will be very helpful, provided your editing rig is powerful enough to handle VFX in 6K.
The 5 Best Affordable 5K and 6K Cameras
Now that we understand why 5K and 6K cameras may be beneficial let’s list the top budget-friendly 5K and 6K cameras independent filmmakers can get their hands on.
It’s important to note that the perfect camera depends on your filmmaking type and your budget.
As always, be sure to do your research. Also, know that shooting in 4K and up is intensive. Make sure you have memory cards fast enough to capture this footage and a computer powerful enough to handle such large files.
1. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro
Sensor Size: Super 35-Sized HDR Sensor (6144 x 4356 pixels)
Highest Video Resolution: 6K 50fps
Pros: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is an affordable cinema camera with 6k video capabilities.
The BMPCC 6K Pro is an updated version of the popular 6K, and it is obvious that BlackMagic has listened to its users.
The Pro-version includes a larger sensor, in-built 2,4, 6-stop ND-filters, a bright and adjustable tilt HDR LCD screen, two mini XLR audio inputs, and a larger NP-570 battery.
You can even attach an optional electronic viewfinder (EVF), as shown in the photo above.
The camera lets you capture Blackmagic RAW footage in-camera. This gives the user much control over color grading and a high dynamic range.
Blackmagic cinema cameras are designed with video in mind first, making them a great option for indie filmmakers.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K also has a Canon EF mount useful for lens compatibility. Canon has a lot of quality cine lenses that would pair very nicely with this camera.
Cons: There aren’t many cons to this camera. However, given that it’s designed for filmmaking, it isn’t great for videographers that still need photo capabilities.
Additionally, the form factor of these cameras makes it difficult to build a rig and incompatible with some gimbals.
Check out the great bundles on Adorama.
2. Panasonic Lumix S1H
Sensor Size: 24.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
Highest Video Resolution: 6K24p
Pros: The Panasonic Lumix S1H is an extremely powerful camera capable of 6K, 24fps video recording. It features a full-frame 24.2 CMOS sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range. This camera has been optimized for video, meaning you get many great features any filmmaker would want.
The S1H comes with V-Log, giving a flat image allowing for maximum control in coloring. Other camera modes include Cinelike V and Cinelike D and in-camera LUT monitoring.
Cons: A downside to the S1H is its autofocus. If that is something you rely on, it is important to note that this camera sometimes struggles to find focus on its own. Another thing to consider is the Leica L mount.
Though there are still quite a few lenses available, they are certainly not as widespread or affordable as Canon and Sony. You most likely will need an adapter for your lens collection or get some new glass altogether.
Finally, this is one of the more expensive cameras on our list, coming in at $3,500 for the body only. Still, you can get some nice bundles that include everything from an external monitor to a cage and more on Adorama.
3. Canon EOS R5
Sensor Size: 45MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
Highest Video Resolution: 8K 30fps
Pros: The Canon EOS R5 is a powerful, professional-grade DSLR. This is the only camera on our list that can shoot 8K video. The R5 can also record RAW video straight from the camera, giving you high-quality footage.
It also features the acclaimed Dual Pixel Canon autofocus and an articulating screen, making this camera an incredible choice for run-and-gun filmmakers who shoot video without a crew or can use an external monitor.
This, paired with the 5-axis internal stabilization, makes the Canon EOS R5 an incredible choice for any filmmakers on the move, shooting in uncontrolled settings or not having the time to set up their shots.
Cons: There aren’t many downsides to the Canon EOS R5 besides the price. This is the most expensive camera on our list, coming in at $3,900.
However, if you can afford it, this camera is sure to impress.
Check out the current price on Adorama.
4. Z Cam E2-S6
Sensor Size: Super 35 CMOS Sensor
Highest Video Resolution: 6K 60fps
Pros: Though you may not have heard of Z Cam before, the E2-S6 is a great option for any filmmaker looking for 6K video. It’s relatively affordable at $2,500, features 14 stops of dynamic range, and can record in ZRaw and ProRes if you’re looking for RAW footage.
The Z Cam E2-S6 also has a Canon EF mount, which will be useful to many filmmakers with existing lens collections. Finally, there are some great utility features like controlling the camera through the internet and an iOS app.
Cons: There isn’t much to complain about with this camera. It is specifically designed for filmmaking, so if you’re looking for a crossover camera, this isn’t for you. Besides that, there are some compatibility issues with the ZRaw format.
You may need a plugin to import ZRaw footage into your editing software. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials online on how to navigate this!
Check out the great bundles on Adorama.
5. GoPro Hero 9
Sensor Size: 23.6MP Sensor
Highest Video Resolution: 5K 30fps
Pros: The GoPro Hero 9 is the most affordable camera on our list and capable of 5K 24/25/30fps video. It also is consistent with all GoPro cameras, being durable and waterproof. This makes it ideal for any action-oriented or outdoor videography.
It is highly unlikely that this will be your main camera. Still, given that this camera features a live view screen, live streaming capabilities, and audio capture, it certainly would be a great addition to any filmmaker’s arsenal.
Cons: Unless you are an action sports enthusiast, it is quite unlikely that the GoPro could replace your camera. Instead, this would be a very useful addition to your setup.
The GoPro Hero 9 allows users to capture 5K video in the most adverse conditions. Its only drawbacks are those you’d expect from a GoPro, such as no external audio input, a fixed lens, and limited picture profiles.
Check out the cool bundles on Adorama.
The increased accessibility of 5K, 6K, and even 8K video to independent filmmakers is awesome. It unlocks many interesting techniques that were previously not possible on low budgets.
If you typically work in 4K and have been annoyed that you’re unable to crop your footage, there is now a solution. Additionally, if you’re an independent filmmaker looking for maximum control over framing, it’s now possible to do so while editing.
That said, there are always things that can never be resolved in post-production. So even with these incredible cameras, it’s important to plan your shoot, focus on lighting, and have a great story. Luckily for you, FilmDaft has plenty of articles on these subjects!
Have you shot in 5K or 6K before? Did one of these cameras stand out to you as you were reading? Let us know in the comments below, and happy filmmaking!
Cade Taylor is a filmmaker and writer based out of Los Angeles. Originally from Seattle, he continues to work as the Outreach Coordinator for the Bigfoot Script Challenge, where he helps connect up-and-coming writers with industry professionals. When he’s not working on his own projects, helping out with Bigfoot, or covering desks, Cade loves to share what he knows with other filmmakers and promote great content.