With the explosion of YouTube and streaming platforms, video has become much more than a progression of photography, and today’s equipment allows you to create cinematic footage in your own front room. It’s now easier to express ourselves and find an engaged audience, or even make it your day job, than ever before, but which are the best budget video cameras to get you in on the action?
The best cheap video cameras for 2022 shortlist:
If you harbour aspirations of being the next JJ Abrams or want to go viral on Facebook or YouTube, you’ll need the right kit. While some of the high-end kits will set you back as much as a pretty swish car, you don’t have to break the bank to get your start in the world of video production. This list is perfect for you.
We’re taking a look at some of the best budget-friendly video cameras. We take a look at everything from action cams, compact cameras to mirrorless CSCs, all of which now come with impressive videos specs. There’s even an option with a built-in gimbal! All you need to do now is watch some tutorials and start perfecting your wipe transitions, J-Cuts and slow-motion panning.
The best cheap video cameras in detail:
GoPro Hero 7
This action cam is probably the most versatile choice on our list. Its tiny body is waterproof to 10m out of the box, features a 12MP camera and the ability to shoot 4K video at 60fps, or 1080p Full HD at a super slow motion 240fps. It comes with a wide-angle lens that captures tones of contextual, jealousy-inducing detail, a mount that allows for endless accessories and HyperSmooth Video Stabilisation for ultra-professional results. It also has a handy touchscreen, and accepts voice commands for hands-free use u2013 because who has time for hands when you're adventuring?
|• Lightweight||• Small size makes for fiddly controls|
|• Great image quality|
Panasonic Lumix TZ90
This entry from Panasonic has one of the most appealing prices on our list. This compact houses a 1/2.3in sensor that's capable of 20.3MP stills, as well as filming in 4K video at up to 30fps, or 1080p Full HD at 60fps. The flip-up 180-degree screen is ideal for budding vloggers, while the compact body slips right into your pocket - perfect for travellers. Finally, it boasts a microphone jack for improved audio and comes complete with an image stabilisation system for smooth footage.
|• Compact||• Low-light performance could be better|
|• Built-in zoom|
|• 1080p at 60fps|
Related: The best point-and-click cameras
Canon EOS 2000D DSLR Camera
Canon's mirrorless packs offer some great features for both stills and video, thanks to its 24.1MP APS-C sensor and Digic 8 processor. There's the obligatory flip-out screen - a necessity for video - as well as the ability to shoot Full HD 1080p at 60fps for slow-motion action. You can shoot 4K video at 30fps, and it has a maximum focal length of 55mm.
|• Great for video and photography||• Not mirrorless|
|• Flip screen||• No 4K at 60fps|
|• 1080p at 60fps|
Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Camera
Fujifilm's iconic style oozes from their latest travel mirrorless APS-C camera. Featuring the excellent 26.1MP APC-S X-Trans 4 sensor, it's one of the most powerful mid-priced cameras on the market. You get 4K video at 30fps or 1080p Full HD at 120fps. There's the ability to shoot internal F-Log for flat colour profiles, the brilliant Film Simulation colour profiles and a USB-C interface, which takes headphones with an adapter. The video quality is excellent, though it does lack a flip-out screen or in-body image stabilisation, so you may need to invest in a gimbal.
|• Excellent sensor||• No flip-screen|
|• 1080p at 120fps||• No OIS|
DJI Osmo Pocket
Drone maestros DJI have turned their hand to a stabilised action camera/gimbal hybrid - and it's amazing. You get a 1/2.3in sensor, like the GoPro, that belts out a maximum of 4K video at 60fps or 1080p Full HD video at 120fps. The slim profile is just a touch bigger than a good cigar, and slides right into your pocket, while the 3-axis mortised gimbal provides incredibly smooth footage. You can control your options, which include following and selfie modes and hyper lapses, through the 1in rear touchscreen, or attach your phone and take advantage of a larger screen via the free app - a revelation.
|• Motorised gimbal||• Must connect to phone before use|
|• 4K at 60fps|
|• Free (good) phone app|
What to look for when buying a budget video camera:
We can’t tell you which budget video camera is the best for you. The reason is that - as the list above attests - the video camera market is a broad church. Each camera has its specific uses, pros and cons - so the one that is best for you is the one that meets your needs.
We recommend putting together a list of priorities - what are the essential features for you? To help you get some fresh perspective on this, here are a few questions to consider.
Are you recording indoors or outdoors? If you’re looking to vlog from your home office, your needs are very different from someone capturing footage of mountainside trials.
An indoor-based recording will need good low-light performance (unless you have a studio) and, generally speaking, a short focal length. If you’re filming outdoors, you need to account for weather protection, video camera weight, battery life and focal length.
Are you recording action? If you’re capturing action, then you need a camera with quick autofocus and high frame rates. Image stabilisation (in-built or via a gimbal)will help here, too, as it will ensure that panning and movements are silky smooth.
Are you recording yourself? If you’re recording yourself, it’s a good idea to pick a video camera with a flip-out screen. This will allow you to make sure you’re in focus. If you’re recording yourself when you’re walking around, image stabilisation (in-built or via a gimbal) will result in smooth, jolt-free footage.
Are you travelling with your new video camera? If so, consider size and weight seriously. Small compact video cameras and action cameras are ideal for travel, as they are discreet, reliable and can sit in carry-on luggage for air travel.
Are you recording slow-motion? There’s no denying that slow-motion is huge fun, whether used to see a dog shake off after a bath or for adding drama to tabletops at the skatepark. Good quality slow-motion requires as many frames as possible - we recommend at least 60fps, but the more frame there are, the slower you can go.
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Kirk Schwarz is one of our resident tech experts. A tech-addicted photographer with more than a decade's experience, Kirk's used to putting new gear through extreme field-testing.
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