If you are looking for the best way to capture a moment, you should record a video of it. Photographs are excellent but having the video of saying your child’s first steps are pretty much priceless. For that reason smartphones, these days have some great video recording qualities, however, once you check out the performance of a proper high quality video camera, you see that those smartphones are nowhere near.
But then again a lot of people stay away from such devices because they are pretty expensive and not viable for most of us. But what if I say that there are some excellent budget video cameras out there. There are a lot of them, from cameras that can be perfect for recording family gatherings, to action models, to models that you can create some excellent artistic movies with.
Today we are going to take a look at the guide to getting the best budget video cameras out there. We will check out the best options in the market first, things that make a good budget video camera, types of them and so much more. I will try to inform you as much as possible so you get the best option in the market. Let’s get going.
Best For Beginners
|Canon EOS Rebel T6|
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Best Compact Option
|GoPro Hero7 Black|
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Best 4K Camcorder
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Best For General Use
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Best For Travel
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The Top 5 Best Budget Video Cameras
5. Sony a5100
We are going to kick off this best budget options list with a superb model, the Sony a5100.
Sony has delivered some great mirrorless cameras in recent years, and this one here is an entry-level model that delivers a great performance, some interesting features and so much more. It also provides you with a great video shooting experience which is surprising at this price.
The Sony a5100 is a small and compact camera, that you can pack it in your jacket pocket without any problem. It measures just 4.3×2.5×1.4-inches in total, but it weighs a substantial 14-ounces.
It has a great handgrip though that makes it pretty ergonomic for recording in extended periods of time. My favorite thing about this video camera is that it has Wi Fi and a multi-interface shoe, for adding a flash or microphone.
The best thing about this camera is that there are a lot of different lenses for anything you might need. In our Sony a5100 lens recommendations article, we listed 5 of them that can be used for travel, landscape photography etc.
The Sony a5100 utilizes a 24 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor that takes some great stills, with the help of its Bionz X image processing engine. That also boosts its autofocus performance which works with a contrast-detect sensor with 179 focus points.
The autofocus performance also will help you when shooting videos and it can shoot great Full HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second which is amazing.
4. Nikon D3400
When it comes to entry-level DSLRs Nikon has delivered some of the most exceptional models for a long time, and the D3400 is one of the most exceptional of them all. It excels in a lot of areas, stills, videos, ergonomics, and has one of the lengthiest battery life in its category, yet it is still pretty affordable for budget shoppers.
First off let’s talk about the build and design of the Nikon D3400 which is exceptional with just one word. It is pretty small and very light, one of the smallest in its range, but it still has a great handgrip to hold the camera properly. However, I felt that it is not the most balanced when combined with larger lenses, which can be a little annoying.
The Nikon D3400 is based around a 24.2MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor that delivers some great stills with its great 11 point autofocus system. It also lacks an optical low-pass filter o deliver more detail and it can shoot Full HD video at an impressive 60 frames per second while keeping the focus tight.
3. Panasonic HC-V770
Coming up next we have the Panasonic HC-V770 which is a great camcorder coming from the company at a super affordable price.
It has all the features to make a user happy such as its amazing ease of use, great optical zoom, nice sensor, image stabilization features, WiFi connectivity and so much more. So let’s take a look.
The Panasonic HC-V770 is an entry-level camcorder with some excellent features. It has a super-compact body and it is pretty lightweight overall compared to most DSLRs and prosumer level camcorders. You can easily pack it away in your backpack and it has all the ergonomics to give you an easy recording experience.
The Panasonic HC-V770 is built around a 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor with 12.76 megapixels as its predecessor. Of those just 6 megapixels are used for your videos and photos though, but it is more than enough for Full HD 1080p footage.
The 20x optical zoom gets the job done and the Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization system works wonders overall. A great high quality camera.
2. GoPro HERO7 Black
The GoPro HERO7 Black is one of the most iconic action cameras in the market, and these days there are more advanced models in the manufacturer’s lineup, so it has a lower price.
It delivers great value for the price and it has some amazing features that will be very useful for you, such as its great video resolution, waterproofing, great stills, image stabilization and so much more.
The GoPro HERO7 Black has a pretty similar design to the Hero 6 Black and is waterproof down to 33 feet without any case, which is amazing.
The video camera itself looks pretty rugged overall and it does a great job. I can comfortably say that the GoPro HERO7 Black has a wide range of mounts you can utilize for different scenarios and it is my favorite thing about GoPro’s.
The biggest selling point of the GoPro HERO7 Black is that it can deliver 4K video at 60 frames per second which is amazing. On top of that, it can go down to Full HD resolution at a maximum of 240 frames per second for super-smooth slow-motion footage.
It’s also pretty good at recording in slow motion. If you do sports, you will appreciate the slow motion feature that this camera has to offer.
While we are at it I should talk about my favorite feature about this video camera, the HyperSmooth that delivers a perfect performance acting as a proper gimbal without actually having one. Definitely a very high quality camera.
1. Canon EOS Rebel T6
On top of our list, we have the Canon EOS Rebel T6 which is the definite best entry-level DSLR in the market and can take some great videos as well without any problem.
Canon is known for making some exceptional video cameras, and this one does everything you can want from it without asking for a high-price.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 has a pretty interesting design that is small, lightweight but very ergonomic overall. That is mostly due to the polycarbonate construction and great textured handgrip that gives a great secure feeling.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is based around an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor that uses the DIGIC 4+ image processing engine to take stills and videos.
The stills are great though and the Canon EOS Rebel T6 can deliver in any scenario. It can take great 1080p 30 frames per second video with great focus and it is everything that you may want at the price.
Things To Know Before Buying a Budget Video Camera
Like with everything out there, you have to consider some things when you are planning on buying an affordable video camera for shooting videos. While it will mostly depend on your personal taste and experience if you are well informed about these cameras before you go shopping and pull the trigger on something that you might regret.
The main things you should focus on at a first glance is its battery life, low light performance (you will definitely need to record in low light conditions eventually), build quality, image quality and of course, the video quality.
So let’s get started.
Generally, the most important factor when you are buying a video camera is the price, at least for most of us that have limited funds. But since we already know that we are going to shop in the budget range, we are going to dive straight into the types of these video cameras.
There are generally different types of cameras that can record videos. These days even smartphones can do that quite easily.
Camcorders are the most obvious choice and there are quite a few cheap options out there that you can buy. These devices are specifically designed for taking videos and are not quite the most versatile, as they are capable of doing just that. On top of that most of these cameras in this price range can’t quite deliver a powerful performance.
However, they are extremely easy to use, most of them are pretty ergonomic and are pretty fun overall. Not the best option overall in my opinion, but if you want to just shoot videos and not worry about anything else these are maybe your best bet. I would recommend getting some accessories for these cameras though, such as the AmazonBasics Lightweight Camera Tripod to get the most out of your experience.
If decide to go with a camcorder, make sure you get a camcorder that preforms well in low-light conditions.
DSLR and Mirrorless Systems
I will put both of these in the same category here as they are pretty much similar in terms of video performance. For those that do not know, these cameras are designed more for shooting stills and videos are often an afterthought.
However, these days most of the DSLRs and mirrorless systems deliver a perfect performance when it comes to shooting videos.
They deliver at least Full HD video with good framerates and capable autofocus performances. However, they lack a bit of ergonomics for lengthy shots. Also, the footage might come out as a little shaky if you record while holding your video camera in your hands, so I want to record a tripod for this one as well. The Mactrem PT55 is a great affordable option as well.
On the other hand, they can also be used to taking photos, and as you would expect from a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, the image quality would be perfect. If the image quality is as important as the video quality for you, definitely go with one of these.
These are more versatile too. For example, you want to go do safari photography, and you can just pull out your zoom lens, install it on the camera and enjoy the shots.
Action cameras are a pretty new addition to this category, but I can say that they do one hell of a job at shooting great videos. On top of that even, the most expensive models in this range are relatively affordable compared to DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and camcorders.
They come at a super small size, lightweight bodies that are usually mounted to helmets, handlebars, or even on the dashboard of your car. These cameras are generally waterproof as well and can be used underwater.
They are quite interesting, but then again don’t quite offer the same artistic edge of the DSLR models. I recommend them to everyone though, it is worth giving a try.
After you are sure what kind of video camera you want to buy, next up you need to check out the video resolution of it. Different cameras have different resolutions these days.
For example, you can even get a video camera that records 4K video which is top of the line and great in terms of sharpness, but it is a bit difficult to get that in this price range. Some action cameras deliver that resolution, but even the cheapest of options won’t have lesser than 1080p video quality, which is pretty good overall.
Size and Weight
You should check out the size and weight of your video camera, to determine whether or not you will feel comfortable while using it. This is not just about the measurements, but also about the overall shape of the camera and its ergonomic features.
For example, if you are planning to get a DSLR or a mirrorless camera choose one that has a deeper handgrip so you can hold it securely in your hands. Camcorders generally have hand straps and are relatively more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.
In my opinion battery life is important, and it sucks to be in a place where you can’t recharge your batteries and your battery runs out.
So for that reason choose a camera with lengthier battery life so your fun or work won’t be interrupted. Then again it is pretty useful to invest in some extra batteries and chargers.
Different manufacturers use different batteries in most cases but they are not expensive overall and it is a nice idea to invest in some for a better battery life overall.
I think that it is pretty nice to invest in an affordable video camera, even if it doesn’t have many features or a high-end performance. You will still capture some excellent moments and have plenty of fun.
I mostly recommend DSLR or mirrorless systems so you can get versatility from your camera and learn more about cinematography and photography, but then again it is your choice. These also perform well on low light conditions too.
Don’t forget to look at the top picks section to see the best options in the market, and at least have a reference point. Good luck finding the best budget option for you!