No-budget Camera Options in 2021

We've pulled together a few of the best options in 2021 if you're looking for a low cost camera for your no-budget film.

No-budget Camera Options in 2021

We are all guilty of coming up with excuses not to be out filming right now. One of those is not having the "right" camera. So we want to convince you that you need to cross this excuse off your list and start filming.

Creative Self Portrait with Camera
Photo by Ben Eaton / Unsplash

1. Smartphone, Anyphone ~ $0

As been said many times before, the best camera is the one you have. And considering that almost everyone these days has a smartphone, you are basically ready to get started! That's why our #1 no-budget camera option is your own smartphone.

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You
Photo by Thomas Russell / Unsplash

Remember Tangerine? It was made on an iPhone 5S in 2015. So, even if you are a few generations behind with your phone, there is a good chance your phone has a more-than-good-enough quality to get you going. Just remember that the number of pixels doesn't determine how good a movie is; now is the time to think of story, character, atmosphere, actors, location, lighting, sounds, music.

If you are going to use your phone, you may want to up your smartphone filmmaking game with these apps!

2. Ask your friends ~ $0

It may sound strange, but it's absolutely normal practice, In the industry we very often ask someone to lend us something, any tools, anything to keep the budget down. Cameras are one of the first things we ask for. Cameras and lenses.

Photo by KAL VISUALS / Unsplash

You'd be very surprised when you make a Facebook post asking for help and a few of your friends have a pretty good camera that they'd be happy to lend you for a while. If you don't think the camera is good enough, give it a chance, try it out, do some tests and you'll see for yourself how the old Canon turns into a great visual storytelling tool.

3. Old DSLR ~ $600

Old doesn't mean bad. You can buy an old used – but very good –  camera and use it to get started with at least.

Black camera on white
Photo by Andrew Hutchings / Unsplash

For example, take the Canon 5D III. You might mistakenly think that it is not suitable for serious projects and is too old (year of production being 2012), but it's still a great camera and by putting Magic Lantern on it you will turn this camera into a serious tool to implement your creative ideas.

It will even shoot RAW. You will be pretty shocked when you find out what projects have been shot with the help of this little beast. Combined with the great EF mount, it's a dream come true for about 600 dollars.

4. Old cinema cameras ~ $1000

And this is the most interesting part, because who knew that for less than $1000 you can find quite a few options to buy old but very cool cinema cameras. I'll choose one as an example – in my opinion it's a great option.

Orion Glass
Photo by Jakob Owens / Unsplash

Attention! Sony FS700! This is an incredible camera that includes everything that today's filmmakers love so much: high resolutions and frame-rates. When you buy the camera alone you'll only get 1080/60p, and although the picture looks great, you'd like something more – such a low resolution these days is a little frustrating. But everything changes when we get our hands on an external recorder!

Video Assist Inception Vertigo Effect
Photo by TheRegisti / Unsplash

With an external recorder the camera blossoms! 4K 120p RAW, 2K 240p RAW! It's just unbelievable. For less than $2,000, you get a setup (camera along with a recorder) that hits above its weight and is ready to accomplish any task.

5. Really old cinema cameras ~ $300-$1200

Now we can also go one step father back and look at the golden years of film cinema. After all these years of filmmakers upgrading to the latest and greatest, there are endless numbers of really old cinema cameras to check out.

Bolex Cinema Camera
Photo by Grace Brauteseth / Unsplash

You can pick up a decent 16mm film camera on ebay for a couple hundred dollars. The same types of cameras used back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, where some of the greatest films of all time were made! So no blaming the camera.

The trouble (i.e. cost) comes when you actually start running film through it and want to get it developed and scanned and coloured. So this isn't the cheapest option at the end of the day by any means. But, it might just be worth it to get a couple rolls of old film and take a shot at it.

What did we miss?

What cameras do you think would be the best options for no-budget filmmaking in 2021? Let us know on the members Discord channel 👌