Best Cinema Cameras Under 500 (2022)

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Editor’s Choice: If you’re a filmmaker on a budget, then a previously-owned Lumix DMC GH4 16MP provides an excellent value for your money.

You get a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body with all of the professional video tools you need for vlogging or your next indie film. You get 4k video recording at 30p/24p 100 Mbps, and 1080p at 24fps at 200Mbps.

Plus you get a 3.5mm port for external microphones, and microphone input.

You get the ability to shoot in UHD 4K 3840×2160 30p/24p and cinematic DCI 4K 4096×2160 video at 24p. And you get the option to shoot in cinematic color profiles such as V-Log, Cinelike-D, and more.

The interchangeable lens options make this a great plug-and-play option for the amateur or advanced filmmaker aiming to save a few dollars.

One of the most significant setbacks in finding the best professional cinema camera for independent filmmaking is the hefty price tag. 

Finding a top-notch camera capable of producing state-of-the-art cinematography involves expensive bodies, lenses, lighting equipment, and more.

What if a little due diligence, and internet sleuthing could give you the most bang for your buck? 

The secret is in the modularity and ergonomics of cinematic cameras. These are just fancy words that mean every uniquely designed camera comes with different components and functions for every type of filmmaker.

Like cars and other technology, the market creates new models frequently to keep up with the curve, but each upgrade isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker to shoot a great film.

If you’re willing to make do with an older or used model, you can find an affordable, cinema camera with high-grade quality. Online marketplaces are a treasure trove of previously owned, budget-friendly cinema gear. You just need to know where to look.

Fortunately, I put together a list of the best cinema cameras under $500 in 2020 for every level of a filmmaker looking to get the best deal on a previously-owned camera.

1. Panasonic Lumix DMC G85 16 MP

The Panasonic Lumix DMC G85 16 MP is a great affordable camera for the filmmaker on a budget. 

This mirrorless camera with a 6MP MOS sensor has a sensitivity range from ISO 200 – 25600 suitable for various lighting conditions.

You get a variety of shooting speed,s including 10 fps with single-shot, six fps with continuous autofocus, and 30 fps at 8MP with its 4K Photo Mode.

UHD 4K Video recording (3840 x 2160) with 30p or 24p frame rates at 100 Mbps. If necessary, full HD 1080p/60 is supported at 28 Mbps in the MP4 format, along with HD recording and Full HD in AVCHD. 

It’s an extremely durable design, built-in stereo microphone with a 2.36-dot electronic viewfinder, auto flash modes, and connectivity for external mics, HDMI, and WiFi. 

ProsCons
Great image quality
High ISO performance and dynamic range
Fast and accurate autofocus
4K video recording quality and features
Viewfinder low light adaptability
Limited continuous autofocus in 6fps
Battery life

Check out these great finds on eBay.com for an opportunity to purchase a cheap, previously-owned cinema camera. 

2. Panasonic Lumix GH4 16 MP

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 16 MP is another affordable option with similar, updated models for a reasonable price.

This camera’s best feature is the unlimited 4K video recording in Cinema 4K (4096×2160) at 24 fps and QFHD 4K (3840×2160) up to 30 fps in MOV and MP4 formats. 

A high-precision, high-speed dual OLED display provides quick response and minimal time lag when enhancing resolution. 

The focus point is increased from 23 points in the previous GH3 to 49 points for increased flexibility within your compositions, in addition to a custom multimode to isolate the focus of the 49 points.

ProsCons
Micro Four Thirds
Low shutter lag
High-quality video with dynamic range
Variable frame rate video
High bitrate video (100Mbps for 4k and 200Mbps for Full HD
Headphones output
Mic input
Cinematic color profiles
Flip-out OLED Screen
In-built flash
Built-in Wi-Fi
Weather-sealed
Slow buffer clearing with RAW files
Not as compact as competition
Single memory card slot

Check out these great finds on eBay.com for an opportunity to purchase a cheap, previously-owned cinema camera. 

3. Nikon D3200

A great, cost-effective option for an entry-level DSLR is a previously-owned Nikon D3200.

The Nikon 3200 comes with a 24MP CMOS sensor.

4 frame-per-second continuous shooting with Full HD 1080p30 video (with both 25p and 24p options).

It’s an easy-to-use camera with a useful Guide Mode for beginning filmmakers. 

ProsCons
Compact and easy to use
Great image quality
ISO range minimizes noise
External mic input
High resolution for cropping
Guide Mode is limited
No internal AF motor
Minor issues with monitor quality
Simple kit lens
Narrow flash coverage

Check out these great finds on eBay.com for an opportunity to purchase a cheap, previously-owned cinema camera.

4. Sony Alpha a5000

If you dig a little further back, you can find reliable cameras from an earlier time that still hold up pretty well in 2020 like this Sony Alpha a5000.

Capture professional detail with this 20.1 MP mirrorless camera with versatility for casual photography and professional cinematography.

It’s compatible with a multitude of Sony E-lenses to enhance image quality.  

ProsCons
Very light
Great LCD screen placement
Quick autofocus
Outdated Camera
No 4K video recording
Not weather sealed

Check out these great finds on eBay.com for an opportunity to purchase a cheap, previously-owned cinema camera.

5. Panasonic Lumix G7 Mirrorless Camera

The mirrorless G7 comes with an interchangeable lens with 10x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom.

Panasonic Lumix cameras have professional quality video creation with ultra-high bitrate video recording at 200 Mbps without a recording time limit.

The 16 MP camera, like its counterparts, comes with general features like built-in flash, autofocus, and image stabilization.

Where the best deal lies, is with the package deals available on the internet.

Since these are older models, many internet marketplaces sell them with camera kits and lenses. It can be a massive plus since particular lenses can be a costly addition to your camera’s body.

ProsCons
Great resolution
Improved low light performance
Data save speed
3.5mm microphone input jack
No audio monitor plug
Top plate, dials, and button placement
Less dynamic range than APS-C rivals

Check out these great finds on eBay.com for an opportunity to purchase a cheap, previously-owned cinema camera.


Myke Thompson is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and humorist based out of Los Angeles. When he’s not working on his own projects, he supports other artists as a creative manager in music, art, film, and television.

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