Budget Camera for Filmmaking Student?


Oct 16, 2013
Hi! I know this question has been asked many times, but of course personal circumstances change everything. :/
I think my main issue is deciding between a DSLR and a camcorder. I was originally going to get the Canon 650d but I've heard a few bad things since in the DSLR vs camcorder debates...

Budget: maybe £1000 tops, but the cheaper the better

Background: Next year I'm entering into the second year of a film & multi-media production course. This year I'm taking a year out to do my own stuff and to practice videomaking, so I'm not too far behind the other students. I have some limited experience from working with really cheap consumer cameras, but am very willing to learn, even if it's a steep learning curve.

What I'm looking for:
- A relatively cheap camera which will give me a fairly good range of manual controls to experiment with & learn how to use.
- I want it to be fairly flexible so that I can experiment with different kinds of videos (genres, movement, shooting styles, perhaps shooting conditions like weather & lighting), though it doesn't have to be expertly good at all that.
- It should record relatively good quality, 1080p, but I don't mind if it's not quite the cinema look that DSLRs often sell for (though it would be a great plus ^_^)

My main problem is I'm afraid that a DSLR would be too hard to work with, particularly when it comes to problems with focus & depth of field. At the same time I'm afraid that a camcorder won't produce the quality I want or give me enough options for learning on the technical side.

In the end, whatever I choose should last me through this year out and the following 2 years on the Uni course as well. On the course I'll have access to high end professional equipment, but I want the flexibility to create videos any time, not just when the top end stuff's available for me. Plus it's a long walk to the Uni... :/

Any suggestions are welcome! If you think DSLR is the way to go, please explain why, and if it's camcorders could you maybe offer suggestions of the model(s) I should have a look at?

Many thanks!

(Additional info: I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a good external microphone soon (Rode videomic Pro), so I don't really care about the in-built mikes. Also I don't mind spending more money over time to build up a DSLR, say getting new lenses, right now I just need the basics so I can start filming something, anything, ASAP)

Also I should say that I'm planning to go to a camera store once I have a shortlist, so I won't be making a final decision without having had a play around first
If you don't mind a shoulder mount camera these three will fit in your budget:
Panasonic AG-AC8PJ (new camera that will soon be released) For more information: http://www2.panasonic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/prModelDetail?storeId=11301&catalogId=13251&itemId=703518&modelNo=Content10082013095920619&surfModel=Content10082013095920619

Sony HXR-MC1500E Shoulder Mount PAL AVCHD
tech specs: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/759003-REG/Sony_HXR_MC1500E_HXR_MC1500E_Shoulder_Mount_PAL.html

Sony DCR-SD1000E Handycam Shoulder-Mount Flash Memory PAL Camcorder
tech specs: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/806336-REG/Sony_DCR_SD1000E_DCR_SD1000E_Shoulder_Mount_Handycam_Flash.html

For a smaller form factor and interchangeable lenses you could consider:
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera/techspecs)

If you want something handheld you could consider this:
Canon 32GB LEGRIA HF G25 Full HD PAL Camcorder
I only suggested this one because of the manual controls available.



Oct 16, 2013
Thank you both!
I'm really interested in the GH3 now, but the price is pretty steep...

Going to research more, just wanted to let you guys know that I really appreciate the advice ^_^

Going to look into cheaper options & work out what kind of a quality-price trade-off I want to make.


Jul 29, 2011
You might want to look at the GX7 or a used GH2 (Put hacked firmware for higher bit rates)?

M4/3 is very versatile because of the amount of glass, but it does suffer due to low light performance. DSLR's will give you more shallow DOF and obviously the more "cinematic" look due to sensor size.

Larger sensor = more low light performance and DOF

In order to match the DOF and light gathering capabilities of larger sensors, you will need to use faster glass.