Amateur filmmakers who want to generate high-quality video without spending a fortune on professional video or cinema camera are increasingly turning to interchangeable lens cameras. Many still and hybrid cameras now feature outstanding internal video recording capabilities and support a wide variety of recording formats, codecs, and picture profiles, giving you complete creative flexibility from shooting to editing.
However, with so many possibilities, it can be difficult to know what to look for in a camera. In general, while choosing a filmmaking camera, you should think about the camera’s resolution and frame rate options, if it has in-body stabilization, and focusing performance, as well as your budget, ergonomic preferences, and personal taste.
1. Panasonic Lumix GH5 II
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II is a new flagship mirrorless camera aimed at both still and video photographers. This new 2021 model replaces the popular GH5 camera and adds C4K/4K 60p 4:2:0 10-bit limitless video recording, wireless live streaming in FHD/60p, a new 20.3 megapixel sensor with AR (Anti-Reflective) coating, and the latest high-speed and high-performance Venus Engine.
A higher resolution 1.84M pixel, 3-inch LCD screen with a wider color gamut and brightness, a faster frame rate of 120fps for the EVF, support for USB-C charging, larger buffer for continuous shooting, Face/Eye/Head/Body and Animal Recognition autofocusing, bigger 2200 mAh battery, and the V-Log L profile is pre-installed are among the other key new features.
Aside than that, the new Mark II GH5 is quite similar to the 2016 edition. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a 0.05 second contrast-detect autofocus system with 225 focus points, 1/8000th top shutter speed, 1/250th second flash sync speed, 1,728-zone metering system, 3,680K-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, touchscreen control system with touch-based functions like Touch AF/AE and Touch Shutter, ISO range of 100-25600, completely silent operation
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II is the same size and weight as the original GH5 model it replaces, measuring 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm and weighing 647g body only. The GH5 II’s body is built of magnesium alloy, and the front and rear frames are fully die-cast. The GH5 II is splash/dust-proof and freeze-proof down to -10 degrees Celsius thanks to its sealed joints, dials, and buttons.
The shutter release life on the camera is 200,000 shots. As with the original model, this is one of the best-built Panasonic cameras we’ve ever seen, and it should be able to withstand a lot of punishment.
While the GH5 II’s body is comparable in size and weight to a mid-range APS-C DSLR camera, Panasonic’s lenses are where the total system has reduced the most. Given the fast maximum apertures available, the Leica 12-60mm optic is tiny and light, delivering excellent image quality while being quick to focus and fully silent, making it ideal for video use.
The Lumix GH5 II is compatible with the DMW-BGGH5 battery grip, which contains an additional battery to prolong the overall battery life. The DMW-BGGH5 grip is splash and dustproof, much like the GH5 II body. The picture stabilization technology of the Panasonic GH5 II has been greatly improved. The 5-axis Dual I.S. MK II system uses gyro-sensor technology to combine the 2-axis stabilisation from the lens (if it has OIS built in) with the 5-axis stabilisation from the camera body, resulting in compensation for up to 6.5 stops slower shutter speed, 1.5 stops better than the GH5.
Rather than using a phase detection auto-focus system like a traditional DSLR, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II uses a 225-point Contrast AF system similar to that seen in compact cameras.
The GH5 II still has one of the fastest autofocus systems of any interchangeable lens camera, be it a compact system camera or a DSLR, with a claimed speed of just 0.05 seconds when used with certain lenses, thanks to the inclusion of DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology, which reduces the time it takes to focus even more.
This is extremely fast, and the GH5 II virtually never failed to lock onto the subject, especially when using the center AF point, giving in a responsive and, more importantly, reliable AF system. The Human Detect AF and Animal Recognition autofocusing algorithms, which were inherited from the full-frame Lumix S5, are new to the GH5 II. Human/Animal Detect, Tracking, 225-Area, Zone (Vert/Horz), Zone (Oval), 1-Area+, 1-Area, and Pinpoint are among the AF modes available.
A small focus-assist and self-timer indicator lamp, lens release button, configurable unmarked Function6 button, metal lens mount, flash sync socket, and a sculpted, rubberised hand-grip are all found on the front of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II. The Fn6 button toggles between displaying a live preview of the effects of the current aperture and shutter speed by default. The latter will be especially valuable for beginners, since it will allow them to see how varying shutter speeds effect the capture of various subjects, such as rushing water.
The majority of the GH5 II’s exterior is matte black plastic, with a more tactile rubberized covering on the handgrip, right-hand, and left-hand corners.
The Panasonic GH5 II’s top features include a burst mode/6K photo/bracketing/self-timer/time-lapse dial on the left, an external flash hotshoe, stereo microphones, a lockable shooting mode dial surrounded by the on/off switch, shutter release button, front control dial, white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation buttons, a customisable Photo Styles button, and a large one-touch movie record button that is now entirely red. There’s also a little LED that indicates if wi-fi is turned on or off, as well as whether USB charging is active.
The camera’s primary exposure parameters are easily accessible thanks to the row of white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation buttons, while the two control dials make using the fully Manual shooting mode simple.
The GH5 II combines both a classic mechanical shutter and a silent electronic shutter, which ensures that your subject is absolutely crisp by preventing pixel shifting as well as not spooking your subject. By releasing the shutter after a set amount of time, the Delay Shutter option helps to eliminate the effect of handshake (8, 4, 2 or 1 seconds).
2. Sigma fp L
With a 35mm full-frame picture sensor, the Sigma fp L is the world’s smallest mirrorless camera. A back-illuminated Bayer CMOS sensor with 61 effective megapixels is at the core of this camera, which is encased in a sturdy, fully weather-proof die-cast aluminum alloy housing that weighs only 375g (5g more than the original fp model).
It has a huge heat sink to keep the camera from overheating in hotter environments or when used for long periods of time. The Sigma fp L uses an electronic shutter instead of a standard mechanical shutter for quieter shooting without shutter shock. The Sigma fp L can record 12-bit CinemaDNG externally at 4K UHD/24fps quality, as well as 10- or 8-bit 4K UHD at 24/25/30fps in MOV format.
The Sigma fp L boasts a top shutter speed of 1/8000th second, a 3.15-inch 3:2 LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 2,100K dots, a hybrid phase-detect and contrast-based auto-focus system with 49 points and Face/Eye Detection AF mode, and 14-bit RAW format support.
It has 15 color options for stills and video, including new Powder Blue and Duotone modes, as well as a new Crop Zoom function that digitally zooms into the image as you shoot, a tone curve modification function, an Auto HDR function, and a new USB charging option while the camera is in use.
The Sigma fp L, as an L-Mount camera, may be used with the numerous L-Mount lenses produced by Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma. A black, embossed “L” stamped on the front panel beneath the “fp” logo and a different name in tiny text on the printed label on the bottom of the camera are the only two minor aesthetic variations between the cameras. They’re like two peas in a pod, as the saying goes.
The improved image sensor and auto-focus system are by far the most significant differences between the fp L and the original fp, so we’ll spend the most of this review discussing those features. Before we do that, we should note that almost all of the information included there applies to the new fp as well. Then return to this page to learn more about the fp L’s new features and what they contribute in terms of handling and functionality.
The Sigma fp L is just the second Sigma camera to not feature a Foveon sensor, which Sigma really owns. Instead, the fp L uses a standard Bayer sensor, this time a 61 megapixel back-illuminated type, which offers significantly more resolution than the original fp’s 24 megapixel sensor. Sigma has also added a low-pass filter to the fp L’s sensor, which will assist eliminate aliasing and moiré.
Instead of a low-pass filter, the 24 megapixel sensor utilized in the fp camera does not have one to aid maximize clarity. Both of these modifications are expected to bring a whole new audience to Sigma fp. The new 61 megapixel sensor inside the fp L will instantly turn the heads of landscape and studio photographers looking for the ultimate in resolution, whereas the first model was clearly aimed at filmmakers.
The Sony A7R IV is the only other full-frame mirrorless camera in the same class as the fp L, as Sigma has probably certainly used the A7R IV’s 61mp sensor inside its new product. When compared to the fp, the dual base ISO values of the fp L have changed slightly due to the new sensor. The Sigma fp L now employs a hybrid phase-detect and contrast-based auto-focus mechanism, which is just as significant as the upgraded image sensor.
The original fp still has 49 points and Face/Eye Detection AF, but the inclusion of phase-detect pixels makes it substantially faster and more reliable in practice than the contrast-detect-only system on the fp. One of our major issues in our Sigma fp review was the slow and frequently inaccurate auto-focusing, so it’s nice to see that Sigma has taken this input on board and done something positive with it.
While the transition to a 61-megapixel sensor with phase-detect pixels increased resolution and dramatically enhanced the AF system, it inevitably slowed the camera down when it came to burst shooting. What’s less acceptable for real-world use is that both cameras have a small buffer that can only record 12 photos in a single burst, therefore offsetting the actual speed at which they can shoot.
The brand new Crop Zoom option, which isn’t accessible on the ordinary fp model, is the fourth and another joyful result of the upgraded image sensor. As the name implies, this variety lets you to apply an in-camera crop to both stills and video, with parameters ranging from 1x to 5x (1x, 1.53x, 2x, 2.5x and 5x). However, some people may prefer the fact that you can clearly preview the crop in-camera and so be more exact when taking the photo.
Even if you’re shooting in Stills mode rather than Video mode, the Crop Zoom function values shown in the main menu system differ from how they’re represented on the Quick menu screen, where Sigma has chosen to use 9.5K, 6.2K, 4.8K, UHD, and FHD as the five options.
The most obvious way to utilize the Crop Zoom function is to pinch to zoom on the LCD touch screen, which lets you to select any zoom level, or you may use the control dial or rear control wheel to select one of the five preset selections. Powder Blue and Duotone have been added to Sigma’s Color Modes, bringing the total number of Color Modes to 15. Duotone creates a dramatic two-color image, while Powder Blue has a bright and clean feel with a blue tint. Both stills and video can benefit from all of the Color Modes.
3. Nikon D780
The Nikon D780, which replaces the five-year-old Nikon D750, can easily be classified as a “entry-level” full-frame model. Nikon, on the other hand, claims to recognize the value of keeping its existing customer base pleased, which includes a sizable percentage of DSLR owners. As a result, if you own a DSLR and a collection of Nikon F mount lenses, you’ll be glad to find that they’ll work with the new Nikon D780 model.
Nikon appears to be running its DSLR lineup alongside its mirrorless Z cameras, with technology moving back and forth. In this regard, the D780 can be comparable to the Z6, which was released alongside the Z7 in 2018. The D780 has a full-frame 24.5-megapixel sensor and an EXPEED 6 CPU. Inside the Z6, the same combination can be found. Other common features include up to 12 frames per second shooting and the same autofocusing module (when shooting Live View anyway, more on that later).
4K video capture, in-camera USB charging, twin SD card memory slots, and ISO speeds up to 204,800 are among the other notable features. If you enjoy the hefty feel and handling of a DSLR and have been putting off transitioning to a mirrorless camera, a camera like the Nikon D780 is likely to suit your needs.
When compared to the camera’s predecessor, the D750, there isn’t much of a difference, which is fantastic news for anyone who enjoyed the D750’s handling. It means you’ll have a satisfyingly hefty grip and a fair distribution of dials and buttons over your body. Many of the D780’s shooting controls are on the right side of the body. The on/off switch, the shutter release, the video record button, the ISO button, and the exposure compensation button are all included.
There’s also a dual dial control setup, one under your fingers that works in tandem with a dial under your thumb to manage settings like aperture and shutter speed (depending on the shooting mode you’re in). A secondary LCD on the top of the Nikon D780 displays a number of important settings, such as aperture, card space remaining, battery level, ISO, and so on. This is useful for rapidly checking how your camera is set up, and it can also be lighted by moving the on/off switch one notch to the right.
If you’ve ever used a Nikon DSLR before, the button layout on the rear of the camera will be familiar to you. When shooting through the viewfinder, there’s a multi-directional navigational pad for selecting an autofocus point, as well as an I button that works as a shortcut to a fast menu for frequently used settings.
The “Lv” button, which allows you to switch to Live View photography, is an important button to discuss. This is a significant shift from prior Nikon DSLRs, such as the Nikon D750, because activating Live View gives you a distinct method of working, similar to the Nikon Z6.
When you activate the screen, you’ll be able to shoot at up to 12 frames per second, with the same autofocusing system as the Z6. When shooting through the viewfinder, the 51 points are crowded at the center of the frame, whereas this is a 273-point system that covers a far broader spread of the subject in front of you.
The screen on the Nikon D780 tilts up and down, making it useful for a variety of shooting angles, especially from above or extremely low down. It’s less handy for video, self-portraits, and portrait-format shots because it’s not fully articulated, but it’s still pretty versatile when you need it. We have an optical device that provides a 100 percent view of the scene for individuals who want to shoot through the viewfinder.
Consumers who prefer the look and feel of an optical viewfinder are still plenty. There are many reasons to be made for the advantages of electrical devices, but if you are solidly in the optical camp, you should be happy with the item on offer here. It provides a bright and clear picture of the scene, as well as some important information beneath it.
The rest of the Nikon D780’s dials and buttons are located on the left side of the camera. A mode dial on the upper left allows you to choose the proper shooting mode. For more sophisticated photographers, there’s a fully automatic mode as well as the normal PASM (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual) settings.
Finally, there’s a “Effects” mode, which allows you to add digital filter effects to your photo if that’s your thing. A button in the centre of the mode dial must be held down to switch between modes, which is useful for preventing inadvertent changes while carrying the camera in a backpack.
A second dial, just beneath the mode dial, allows you to change the drive mode. Again, you must press and hold a little button to rotate the dial and prevent any adjustments you did not plan to make. Single, continuous low, continuous high, quiet, quiet continuous, timer, and mirror up are some of the options available.
4. Fujifilm X-T4
The Fujifilm X-T4 is the successor to the X-T3, the company’s flagship APS-C mirrorless camera. Fujifilm, on the other hand, believes the two cameras will complement each other, and has placed the X-launch T4’s RRP at roughly £250 higher than the X-T3 from 18 months ago. It has a superb 26.1-million-pixel sensor, 4K films up to 60fps, and full HD slow motion up to 240fps, making it ideal for discerning photographers and filmmakers.
So, how does the Fuji XT4’s greater price justify itself? It does, however, come with a brand-new in-body image stabilization system. It’s Fujifilm’s best sensor-shift stabilization to date, with a range of up to 6.5EV depending on the lens. It’s a move that will undoubtedly thrill filmmakers.
As a result, the Fuji X-T4 is slightly larger and heavier than the X-T3, but it also has a redesigned articulating LCD screen, much increased battery life, and perfected continuous autofocus. There are, of course, good deals on older cameras. For the time being, the X-T4 is a major upgrade over the 18-month-old X-T3, which you can acquire with a high-quality kit lens and save a few pounds over the RRP of the X-T4 body alone.
The ethos of Fujifilm’s flagship X-T cameras has long piqued the interest of “purist” photographers. The sturdy metal top plate studded with dials to adjust ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation is one of the first things you’ll notice about the X-T4.
When you combine an X-series lens with an aperture ring, you have immediate access to the main exposure controls without having to look at a screen. It’s difficult to move back (or should we say forward) to the ‘conventional’ manner of doing things once you’ve become accustomed to it.
This method to dealing is refreshing to us. The Fuji XT4 isn’t a dinosaur, though. Under the shutter speed dial, where there used to be a metering mode selection, there is now a choice between Still and Movie photography. This is a camera that is capable of both photography and videography.
Those expecting rapid access to metering modes may be disappointed, but we think the change is quite appropriate for a hybrid camera (plus you have reliable evaluative metering and an exposure compensation dial at your fingertips).
With DCI 4K and conventional 4K up to 60fps at 10-bit, Full HD and slow motion Full HD up to 240fps, the Fujifilm XT4 has an excellent video specification. In some movie modes, you can even obtain up to 400Mbps, ensuring that you get the most out of Fujfilm’s gorgeous F-Log color profile, which comes as standard.
Normally, scrolling through so many shooting alternatives to get the one you want is excruciating. Nonetheless, the in-camera video mode selection is sensibly divided into three subgroups: resolution, frame rate, and bit rate, allowing you to choose the combination you want.
The front and rear control wheels may now be used discreetly in movie mode to modify exposure settings, even during capture, which is a wonderful addition. (In video mode, the top dials are superfluous.) Most other important video variables, including as white balance and image stabilization, may be modified in conjunction with the touchscreen menu. The LCD touchscreen is one of the new features. The Fujifilm XT4 has a fully articulated screen with a resolution of 1.62-million dots, whereas the X-T3 has a tilt screen with a resolution of 1.02-million dots. There are advantages and disadvantages to both articulated and tilted screens, but we won’t get into that here. (The Panasonic S1H, which is substantially more expensive, has a dual hinge design that gives you the best of both worlds.)
Aside from the screen design, we liked utilizing the EVF instead of the X-LCD T4’s screen for photography (which protects the screen and reveals a nice faux-leather surface).
The EVF is large enough to get lost in, with a resolution of 3.69 million dots. When the shutter release is half depressed in low contrast light, there is significant distortion, but the EVF is otherwise a joy to use.
The new headlining feature of in-body-image-stabilization has yet to be disclosed (IBIS). Its effectiveness is evaluated up to 6.5EV when combined with optical stabilisation (OIS) (depending on which optically stabilised X-Series lens is in use). For photographers, this performance is said to be up to 1EV better than the X-OIS-based T3’s performance.
Fujifilm’s most effective stabilization capability is found in the XT4. IBIS is also a blessing when using non-stabilized lenses. While IBIS enhances both photography and video, we believe that run-and-gun filmmakers will benefit the most from the X-sensor-shift T4’s stabilization.
IBIS in the X-T4 is clearly beneficial to handheld footage. Panning in a smooth motion is conceivable. Vibrations from footfall are minimized when compared to non-stabilized film, but they are still noticeable. When digital stabilisation is added to the equation, things get a lot better. Even while walking, you get smoother animation, however there is a crop factor applied, and the footage doesn’t feel as genuine. We’d prefer a gimbal over the X-IBIS T4’s on its own.
Returning to the human body. The Fuji XT4 is a great-looking camera that can survive bumps and harsh weather. This is an excellent piece of equipment. It’s larger than the X-T3 to accommodate the new sensor-shift stabilization unit. However, it also houses a new battery with a far larger capacity than the previous one.
It’s a huge leap from the X-T3 economy mode’s 390 shots to the corresponding mode’s 600 shots. Also, keep in mind that the X-T4 may be charged on the road with a USB power bank. A new vertical grip has been designed to fit these larger dimensions, and it can store up to three batteries.
The vertical grip would be ideal for serious filmmakers, as it features a headphone port in addition to longer battery life (more on this in a moment). We’d prefer a deeper hand grip, given its size and reputation as Fujifilm’s mirrorless APS-C monarch. To be honest, there are alternative cameras that are more comfortable to handle for lengthy periods of time or that have larger lenses attached.
There are two SD card slots (one with a detachable door) that are both UHS-II compliant. The option to record in F-Log and a specialized film simulation to your favorite combination of SD card/external recorder via HDMI is a wonderful feature.
With the Fujifilm X-T4 becoming increasingly video-friendly, one confusing decision is the lack of a headphone connector. The connector for an external microphone is included, but you’ll need the USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor if you wish to use headphones.
When you first discover the lack of a headphone connector, it’s a bit of a shock. In actuality, the biggest disadvantage is that because two functions use the same connector, you won’t be able to use headphones and charge at the same time. For the 99 percent, it’s not a deal breaker.