Camera to make a movie: Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II Review

The 10 Best Digital Video Cameras for Filmmaking in 2021

We ranked our top ten picks for the best digital video cameras for filmmaking here in 2021! Let’s see the results.

Despite a pandemic slowing down industries across the world, the digital camera game is as robust and fierce as ever. In the past year, we’ve seen major technological breakthroughs, as well as plenty of big updates and completely new cameras added to the fold.

But, which one is right for you? That question is going to come down to several questions in regards to your favorite manufacturer, skill set, and price point. However, we have you covered as we break down the top ten best cameras for filmmaking in 2021. Let’s dive in!

1. Fujifilm X-T4

Just announced a year ago, Fujifilm’s much requested follow up to their Fujifilm X-T3 hasn’t disappointed. The X-T4 kept all the elements that made the X-T3 outstanding, with its 26.1-megapixel sensor, 4K video up to 60fps, and beautiful F-Log recording. However, the X-T4 also boasts additions and improvements for In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), High Frame Rate (HFR) recording, a flip-out LCD touchscreen, better audio, and double the battery life.

We’ve included the Fujifilm X-T4 first on our list because of its robust features and highly-competitive price point, currently at $1,699 (or $2,099 with a 18-55mm kit lens). This is a nice mirrorless camera option for those starting off in digital filmmaking or videography.

Full Specs:

  • 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 Sensor
  • X-Processor 4 image processor
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • DCI/UHD 4K at 60 fps, full HD at 240fps
  • 425-point hybrid AF system
  • 3.69m-Dot 0.75x OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 1.62m-Dot vari-angle touchscreen
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Film simulation modes

Price: $1,699


Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Because the industry has moved so fast since its announcement and release, it might feel like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K is old news at this point (I mean, where’s our BMPCC8K, right?). But, nothing can be further from the truth. As we covered in our full hands-on review, the BMPCC6K is a filmmaking behemoth packed into a hand-held bundle that’s still insanely cheap for what you’re getting.

With 6K video recording at up to 50fps, a Super 35-sized HDR sensor, and a more compatible EF-mount, the BMPCC6K is the perfect upgrade to its 4K counterpart and should be a staple of the digital video community for a few years to come—which is saying something with how fast the industry advances.

Full Specs:

  • Active Canon EF/EF-S mount
  • Super 35-sized HDR sensor
  • Record 6K 6144 x 3456 up to 50fps
  • Dual native 400 & 3200 ISO to 25,600
  • 5″ 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display
  • Record up to 120fps windowed HD
  • CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II card slots
  • External recording via USB type-C
  • 13-stop dynamic range, 3D LUT support
  • Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio license

Price: $1,995

If you’re interested in the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, here are some additional articles to check out covering everything from lenses to presets to how to handle it in the cold.

  • The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K in Extreme Cold
  • The Best Inexpensive Lenses for the Blackmagic Pocket 6K
  • What to Consider When Upgrading to the Pocket Cinema 6K
  • Live Stream with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and 6K
  • Harness the Power of Blackmagic Camera Presets


Nikon Z6 II

At a similar price point as the Fujifilm X-T4 and the BMPCC6K, we have the lone Nikon offering on our list with the Nikon Z6 II. A recent follow up to the Z6, the Z6 II is another quality and highly capable camera that offers many of the same specs (like 4K at up to 30fps with 10-bit HDMI output), but with its own distinctive Nikon flair.

If you’re a fan of Nikon cameras or lenses, this is the camera for you. And, I encourage anyone looking at cameras around this sub-$3,000 price threshold (which has been argued is the current threshold for non-cinema cameras on the market) to at least check this one out, as well. You might just fall in love with its N-Log and HLG (HDR) support and well-designed aesthetic and ergonomics.

Full Specs:

  • 24.5MP FX-format BSI CMOS sensor
  • Dual EXPEED 6 image processors
  • UHD 4K at up to 30fps
  • N-Log & 10-bit HDMI out
  • 273-point phase-detect AF system
  • 3.6m-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3.2″ 2.1m-Dot tilting touchscreen LCD
  • 5-axis in-body vibration reduction
  • Dual memory card slots

Price: $1,996

4. Sony a7S III

One of the biggest camera announcements of 2020, Sony’s long-anticipated follow up to its popular a7S II has done no less than surpass expectations in every regard. The Sony a7S III fits in perfectly with the brand’s line of digital mirrorless and cinema camera offerings, at a strong price point ($3,500) and with tremendous recording capability at 4K up to 120fps.  

Of course, you won’t be wrong to also check out the Sony a7R IV, which similarly turned heads with its recent release. But, we’re going to recommend the a7S III here just based on the camera’s popularity and familiarity to so many in the digital photo and video communities.

Full Specs:

  • 12MP full-frame Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor
  • UHD 4K up to 120p video, 10-bit 4:2:2 internal
  • 16-bit RAW output, HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
  • 759-point fast hybrid AF
  • 9.44m-Dot QXGA OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 1.44m-Dot vari-angle touchscreen
  • 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization
  • Dual CFexpress type A/SD card slots

Price: $3,499

5. Panasonic Lumix S1H

Moving up from the $2,000 range, we take a look at the fantastic cameras offered by Panasonic with their Lumix S1H. As you can read in our initial write-up, the S1H is most definitely a camera designed with the modern video professional in mind. With capabilities to shoot 6K video at up to 24fps (along with a respectable 4:2:2 10-bit DCI 4K), the S1H isn’t to be confused with the more dual-purpose focused Lumix S1.

Overall, while the S1H does come at a higher price than say the BMPCC6K, for fans of other Panasonic cameras—like the uber-popular Lumix Gh5 and GH5—the S1H will be one of the best options outside of the pure cinema cameras that we’ll get to later on our list.

Full Specs:

  • 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 6K up to 24fps video
  • 4:2:2 10-bit DCI 4K/UHD 4K
  • V-Log, dual native ISO
  • 5.76m-Dot 0.78x-magnification OLED LVF
  • 3.2″ 2.33m-Dot tilt/free-angle touch-LCD
  • Contrast-detect 225-area DFD AF system
  • 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization

Price: $3,999

6. Canon EOS R5

Alright, moving on to the big names on our list, the Canon EOS R5 has almost single-handedly ushered in a new age of 8K the moment it came out in March, 2020. It’s an audacious camera that pushes everything we thought was possible for something so small and affordable, with its 8K RAW recording capabilities at up to 30fps (and 4K at up to 120fps).

However, as expectations have fallen back to earth, we’ve been forced to ask ourselves: “Is the Canon R5 actually a good camera for filmmakers?” The answer is: It simply depends on what you’re looking for. The R5 certainly packs a major punch in terms of pixel count, and Canon is no slouch when it comes to color science and video-focused features, but it might not be for everyone, either.

Full Specs:

  • 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC X image processor
  • 8K RAW up to 30fps
  • 4K at up to 120 fps (10-bit internal video)
  • Sensor-shift 5-axis image stabilization
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF II with 1053 points
  • 3.2″ vari-angle touchscreen LCD
  • Subject tracking with deep learning
  • CFexpress & SD UHS-II memory card slots

Price: $3,899

7. Sony Alpha 1 

In more recent news, and perhaps as an answer to Canon’s EOS R5, Sony has also announced an 8K mirrorless offering of its own with the Sony Alpha 1 (stylized as the Sony a1). While this camera is technically yet to come out, it’s due to hit stores March 2021, so we’ll include it on our list as it’ll definitely be one of the hottest options on the market for years to come.

But, what makes this Sony a1 stand out? It is, indeed, similar to the Canon R5 with 8K video up to 30fps and 4K up to 120p. For one, the a1 promises to actually capture its 8K video at 8.6K and oversample it to 8K, along with the usual run of Sony color science and S-Cinetone recording. The biggest initial downside appears to be the price, though. So, pre-order if you’re a fan, if not, you can wait until the release and the first hands-on reviews before making your investment.

Full Specs:

  • 50MP full-frame Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • 8K video up to 30fps
  • 4K video up to 120p in 10-bit
  • 4.3K 16-bit RAW video output, S-Cinetone
  • 759-point fast hybrid AF, Real-time Eye AF
  • 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization
  • 5 GHz MIMO Wi-Fi
  • Dual CFexpress type A/SD card slots

Price: $6,499

8. Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K

Moving on to our cinema camera range, we can now venture into the wild world of 12K video with the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K. Originally announced back in July 2020, the URSA Mini Pro 12K came as a bit of a surprise. Blackmagic already had a great documentary workhorse cinema camera with the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2. However, the industry loves to chase that pixel count and the URSA Mini Pro 12K doesn’t disappoint. (The only question remains: when and why do you actually need 12K?)

Still, this camera is a beast, with its 12K Super 35 HDR CMOS sensor, which records 12K up to 60fps, DCI 8K up to 120fps, and can still push 14-stops of dynamic range to make even the brightest or darkest of situations look cinematically beautiful. This space for high-end cinema cameras (perfect for docs and features) is suddenly crowded, even at the $10,000 price range.

Full Specs:

  • 12K Super35 HDR CMOS sensor
  • 12K 17:9 up to 60fps
  • 12K 2.4:1 up to 75fps
  • DCI 8K up to 120fps
  • 4K Super16 up to 220fps
  • 14-stops dynamic range
  • User-changeable PL lens mount
  • 80MP/frame Blackmagic RAW
  • Dual CFast or SD card recording

Price: $9,999


Canon C300 Mark III

The Canon C300 Mark II had long been considered the “gold standard” for high-quality documentary filmmaking. However, with the introduction of the C300 Mark III, Canon appears to have outdone itself with an even more powerful, versatile, and reliable option of one of its flagship cinema cameras.

With its Super 35mm DGO sensor, the C300 Mark III can push 4K video at up to 120fps while offering 16-stops of dynamic range, along with 4K DCI/UHD up to 120fps. However, the real crux to the C300 Mark III’s offering comes from the myriad of accessories, add-ons, and overall versatility of the camera to shoot for long periods of time and in a wide-variety of situations. It’s perfect for documentaries, along with corporate videos or short films.

Full Specs:

  • Super 35mm dual gain output (DGO) sensor
  • 4K up to 120fps
  • 2K crop up to 180fps HDR
  • Cinema RAW light and XF-AVC H.264 codec
  • EF lens mount, DIG!C DV7 image processor
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF and face detection
  • LM-V2 4.3″ LCD touchscreen monitor
  • 12G-SDI and 4-channel audio recording
  • 2 x CFexpress slots, Canon Log2 and 3

Price: $10,999


Finally, we round out our list with the large-format ARRI ALEXA Mini LF, which represents the highest class of professional digital filmmaking. The ARRI brand has long been synonymous with high-end video production for everything from big-budget television spots to indie and blockbuster features. However, as we saw when first announced, the ALEXA Mini LF is unique in its design, which fits its large-format sensor snuggly into its ALEXA Mini body.

The overall result is a “large format, small camera” construction—a perfect camera for anyone looking to hit that Netflix-level UHD, while pushing native 4K in ARRIRAW at up to 60fps. For many, though, this camera will be a rental prospect as it still retails still at around $60,000 or more, depending on the gear you’ll need to handle it. Still, as far as high-end cinema cameras in 2021 go, this might be the ultimate option for your feature breakout.

Full specs:

  • Large-format 4448 x 3096 sensor
  • Native 4K recording in ARRIRAW & ProRes
  • Large-format optimized LPL lens mount
  • Open gate, 16:9 & 2.39:1 anamorphic mode
  • Native 800 ASA, 14+ stops dynamic range
  • Array of ARRIRAW & ProRes capture modes
  • PL-to-LPL adapter included

Price: Rental

Cover image by gnepphoto.

For more camera reviews, guides, and insights, check out these articles below.

  • The 6 Best Filmmaking Cameras Under $1,000
  • From ARRI to Sony: The Most Exciting Camera Rumors of 2021
  • All About Magic Arms: Conventional and Unconventional Uses
  • From Filming to Editing: Should You Still Be Shooting in 1080?
  • Filmmaking Gear Highlights of 2020 – Indie Edition

LomoKino 35mm Movie Camera – Microsite

What is a LomoKino?

The LomoKino is the only camera in the our experimental arsenal that allows you to create short analogue movies on 35 mm film — and you can shoot up to 30 seconds of silent footage per roll! It’s super compact and easy to use. So what are you waiting for? Start directing and shoot your own mini-masterpiece!

Shop Now →

Buy in the shop →

How Does the LomoKino Work?

It shoots 4 frames per single frame of 35 mm film. Movies are made at a measurement of frames per second. So, being able to shoot multiple frames on a single frame of 35 mm lets the the movie play at the correct pace. The LomoKinos run at 4 frames per second. And you can wind the reel to shoot up to 144 frames on any standard 35 mm film to make movie magic!

How to Make the Most out of Your LomoKino:

The LomoKino makes movies anywhere from 5–30 seconds. You can create as many short films as you want on one roll of 35mm! You can even use it to take quick action shots like mid-air leaps, without having to make your subject jump in the air 12 times to get the perfect shot. Since you have more frames per shot, and a faster speed than a regular still camera, you can capture more of those high-energy shots that you may have not been able to achieve before — even with the fastest shutter speed.

A Brief History of 35mm Filmmaking

All the way back in 1892, legendary inventors Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Dickson first used 35mm film and adapted it to shoot movies on their early analogue movie cameras. Over the years, all kinds of different formats appeared and disappeared, but it was 35mm that braved the test of time and became the standard format of film for shooting motion pictures.

It was only later that people began to experiment with using this 35mm movie film in still photography cameras. It was the German optical engineer, Oskar Barnack, who would eventually be credited with popularizing the format for still photography when he invented the first of legendary Leica 35mm cameras. 35mm film continues to be the standard format of film for still photography to this day; it’s now used and loved by Lomographers across the world as the medium for their creative and experimental snap-shooting.

The LomoKino has brought this history of 35mm film around full circle. When you load a fresh roll of film into your LomoKino, you are once again unlocking the moviemaking potential of the humble roll of 35mm film! Oh and for those of you who aren’t aware, the word ‘Kino’ is German for Cinema — speaking of which, why don’t we check out some LomoKino movies in the Screening Room!

Visit the Screening Room →


Let’s head behind the scenes and take a look at all the features that make the LomoKino tick!

  • Film type – 35mm
  • Exposure area – 24mm x 8. 5mm
  • Frames per. roll (36 exp.) – 144 frames
  • Frame rate – Approximately 3-5 frames per second
  • Taking Lens – 25mm
  • Angle of view – 54 degrees
  • Aperture – f/5.6, f/8, f/11 (Continuous aperture)
  • Shutter speed – 1/100
  • Film Advancing – Manual
  • Film Counting – Volume display
  • Focusing – (Normal) 1m~infinity, (Press button for) 0.6m close-up
  • View finding – Inverse-Galileo foldable viewfinder
  • Flash sync – x-sync (hot-shoe)
  • Tripod mount – Standard 1/4″ tripod screw
  • Use any kind of 35mm film

    Load the LomoKino with any kind of 35mm film that takes your fancy – Color Negative, Slide, Black and White; the choice is yours

  • Check your movie progress

    Use the handy volume display on the LomoKino to see how much film you have left on the roll – When the red flag on top of the camera pops up, the show’s over folks

  • Fast Focusing

    Shooting a subject over 1m away? You don’t have to do a thing to focus. Want to shoot closer than 1m? Just hold down the close-up button on the front of the camera and you can focus up to 0.6m

  • Grab a Tripod

    Want to look like a true analogue Director when shooting your LomoKino movies? Attach the camera to a tripod and get ready for some steady Lomographic movie action

  • Easy Aperture Controls

    The LomoKino has continuous aperture settings from f/5.6 to f/11 – There is no step between each aperture, so you can effortlessly adjust the aperture setting at any time during shooting

  • Look through the Viewfinder (if you want to)

    Use the LomoKino viewfinder to get an idea of what you are shooting – Or just ignore it and shoot from the hip

  • Simple Shooting

    Shooting a movie with the LomoKino is easy – After you’ve loaded your film, just rotate the advancing crank to start making your movie – Rotate the crank slowly for a low frame rate or fast for a higher frame rate – With the LomoKino you can shoot up to 3-5 frames per second at full speed!

  • Light up your movie

    Use the hot-shoe mount on the top of the LomoKino to attach your favourite Lomography flashes

Choosing a camera for shooting a movie

Now you have a great dream – to shoot a movie or a high-quality video. Since I believe that you, our readers, are goal-oriented guys, the dream will definitely develop into a clear goal. And many questions will arise: where to start, what to shoot for, how to write a script? You will definitely learn about all this on the pages of Say-Hi magazine, and today we will come to the technical side of this wonderful process – the necessary equipment. Namely, a video camera.

Part I Beginning

I can’t deny the possibility of a question: why buy a separate camcorder when you can shoot with a professional camera or smartphone? Here the words “the main thing is not the technique, but the very idea of ​​the author, its embodiment” are recalled. But we, sane people, understand that if the goal is to shoot a high-quality video, then everything must be high-quality – from the script and the acting, to the picture itself.

First of all, answer the following questions for yourself:

1) Will it be a video, a short film or a feature film?

2) Where will you shoot: mostly indoors or outdoors?

3) Will we mainly shoot static scenes – compositions of nature, streams, leaves, birds on trees? Or dynamic – walking, running, shooting cars, noisy streets, exclusively action?

After you have decided on the idea, you should pay attention to the main characteristics of the video cameras.

Part II. Study

The main features are: resolution standard, optics and zoom, recording media, image sensor type, image stabilizer type.


The desired good picture quality on playback devices will depend on the resolution of the camcorder.

SD (Standard Definition) – I must say right away that when choosing a camera with this standard, you should not count on the clarity of the picture. Such a resolution will be acceptable for watching videos on ordinary TVs and computers, while on HD screens the picture will be extremely blurry. Such cameras shoot at a resolution of 720×576 pixels, which corresponds to the quality of DVD-video.

HD (High Definition) – footage will be in higher resolution. Such cameras have a relatively normal price and shoot with a resolution of 1280×720 and even 1920×1080 pixels.

Full HD – Full HD resolution supported by AVCHD (Advanced High Definition Video Codec) cameras. Video in this format immediately has a frame size of 1920×1080, while other HD cameras first record video in 1440×1080 format, and then the image is enlarged to Full HD when playing the file. AVCHD camera content is best viewed on a Full HD screen.

Optics and Zoom

Optics is one of the most important features of a camcorder. An image enters through the lens, and the quality of the image depends on the quality of the optics. It is difficult to assess the quality of optics by formal features. Even the presence of the name of a well-known brand (Carl Zeiss, Leica and others) will not help here. You can evaluate the image quality after a trial shooting.

One optical parameter that can still be assessed is the maximum viewing angle, that is, the minimum focal length. The human visual angle is approximately 36°, which corresponds to a focal length of 6.9mm. Video cameras with a lens focal length of less than 6.9 mm will visually move the image away, more than 6. 9 mm will zoom in accordingly.

Magnification is also important if you are going to shoot subjects that are far away from you.

Zoom is optical and digital . With optical zoom, the image that is projected onto the matrix changes, and with digital zoom, the image itself remains unchanged, and the increase occurs through the program.

I’ll try to explain a little more. With optical zoom, the focal length changes – the lenses move away and approach the lens. It’s like in childhood, when you move the lens away from the object or bring it closer, and you see either an enlarged image, or a reduced one. Digital zoom, on the other hand, leaves the previous image on the matrix and only selects a part of it, stretching it to full screen.

I think it’s clear which magnification is better.

Recording media

Digital cameras store video on DVD, HDD, Flash memory cards and analog cassettes MiniDV .

Cameras using DVD media are inexpensive and allow you to view footage immediately on your computer or laptop. But now such video cameras are considered somewhat archaic. Plus, they are inconvenient during transportation, as they can easily be scratched or damaged, which in turn damages the material.

MiniDV media are mini video cassettes that also record digital video. Their main disadvantages are large dimensions, poor sound quality and relative fragility. But despite this, they are very fond of operators and they are still used in professional shooting

I consider HDD and Flash drives to be the best solution for shooting. They allow you to shoot everything in the same high quality, easy to use and transport.

Sensor type and size

Photosensitive matrix – an analog or digital-to-analog microcircuit that converts the light signal that enters the lens into an electrical one.

There are two types of sensors: CCD and CMOS.

The first type allows you to get high image quality, less noise, but it has a large pixel size and consumes a lot of power. In addition, such matrices are very expensive.

The second type consumes less power, is less expensive, does not have the effect of “smearing”, but these types of matrices increase the degree of noise.

Image stabilizer type

An image stabilizer is needed to reduce camera shake when shooting without a tripod. This is of great importance for amateur photography and is important to us. There are two types – optical and electronic . In electronic – stabilization occurs due to image processing algorithms in the video processor. It is very difficult to achieve high-quality stabilization here.

The meaning of optical stabilization is that the lens in the lens is not fixed rigidly and can move along the x and y axes. This stabilization system captures camera shake by electronic systems and forms a corrective effect on the lens of the lens.

The optics are installed in medium and high class cameras, its efficiency is much higher. One of the best stabilizers in amateur camcorders is O.I.S. Panasonic company.

If you decide to shoot with a camcorder with an electronic stabilizer, it’s better not to give up on a tripod and take into account its help.

Part III. More specifics

Static scenes

If you decide to shoot static scenes, then you can use a full frame camera, such as the Canon 5D Mark II. Also remember to get yourself a decent video tripod, an extra battery pack, a good on-camera microphone, and some fast 32GB memory cards.

With this device, you can get professional quality pictures with a static camera placement or slow panning. Such cameras often shoot TV commercials and serious music videos.

Due to the large size of the sensor and high-quality built-in processing, excellent color reproduction and low noise level even at ISO 2000 are obtained, it also allows you to make good bokeh – a strong blur of the background or shifting focus from one object to another with a clear blur of the rest. But such equipment is not suitable for dynamic scenes, since the 5D Mark II does not have dynamic autofocus in video mode, you need to buy a rather expensive external drive for autofocus, or turn the focus ring manually, which is fraught with errors. But with a tripod, everything will work out fine. For nature photography, this option is excellent.

Dynamics in the frame

If you have undertaken to shoot a short film or feature film with equal dynamics and static, then you need a universal self-sufficient camera.

For example, consider the Panasonic AG-AC160. It has a normal dynamic focus, in daylight it turns out a gorgeous picture, but spectacular bokeh (blurring the background) cannot be done. But it is recommended to purchase a shoulder holder for this camera, since you can’t do without shaking with your hands, a video tripod and a second battery.

Also consider that a full-fledged high-quality film, if it is not a one-man show, is very difficult to shoot with one camera. The movie is filmed with several cameras, plus you also need a normal microphone on the boom to record the sound of dialogues immediately, or as a guide for dubbing in the studio. Therefore, it is better to buy three Panasonic X900 cameras for simultaneous shooting from different positions, which will ensure comfortable work with different shots and make your life easier. The Panasonic X900 gives a worse picture than the Panasonic AG-AC160, but in the conditions of a limited budget, the interestingness of the film, the possible embodiment of the author’s idea, should be put in the first place.

I suggest watching a video that explains the basics of shooting indoors.

In a word – action!

If you’re going to shoot a video about extreme sports like diving, skiing, snowboarding, and your scenes will consist of solid motion – it makes sense to think about compact action camcorders like GoPro. Such cameras have a wide field of view, sharper images, high-quality audio systems (for example, wind noise reduction).

GoPro 4 Black Edition shoots video in impressive resolutions of 4K (at 30fps), 2.7K (at 50fps) and 1080p (at 120fps).

You can also buy various fasteners and a waterproof case for such cameras. All this will help to create the perfect action video that will captivate many.


Filmmaking Basics: Getting Started

How to Shoot Cinematic Videos with a Simple Camera or Smartphone

Creating a cinematic video is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. And for this, it is not necessary to have at hand a professional camera or a smartphone of the latest model. All you need is to know a few tricks and constant practice. Therefore, today we have tips on shooting with a simple camera, and you have to apply these recommendations when creating your own videos.

Tip 1 – never shoot in automatic mode

If your goal is a catchy picture with pleasant colors, without unnecessary shadows and “noise”, record videos only in the manual mode of the camera. We already wrote an article about the main camera settings, where we talked about each parameter in more detail. Briefly describe what you should pay attention to:

Lens focusing

Even an expensive professional camera cannot guarantee a clear focus for the entire time of shooting, especially if the subject in the frame is moving. Therefore, it is better to switch the camera to Manual mode and control the focus of the lens yourself.

Adjusting the focus will also add interesting effects to your video. For example, you can consistently focus on different objects in the frame (using a shallow depth of field) to help grab the viewer’s attention.

ISO settings

If you have read our other articles, you already know one secret. It is better to set the ISO as low as possible when shooting – this way the picture will be less grainy, and the quality will be better.

Try playing around with the ISO settings: lower the number to 200 and see what happens. If the shooting location is dark and there is no additional light, raise the ISO to 800. The image does not always have to be bright, gloomy shots have their own special atmosphere.

White balance

This setting determines whether the color in the frame will be neutral: usually it is white or gray. Taking this shade as a basis, the camera will be able to correctly represent the rest of the colors in the picture. Without white balance, photos would go into warm or cold tones.

How can I set it manually? To do this, place a white sheet of paper in the frame so that it takes up the entire space. Take a picture of it in the lighting in which you will record the video. And then in the camera settings, select this image as a frame for white adjustment.

Aperture setting

If you are shooting in a dark room or with little natural light, open the aperture as wide as possible. Try setting it to f/3.5 – this will “blur” the background a bit and add dimension to the frame.

If you don’t have a camera, use the phone

Smartphones usually have fewer options for manual camera settings. But now in the playstores you can find dozens of applications for shooting videos that allow you to set most of the parameters manually. For example, DSLR Camera for iPhone users and ProCam X for Android phones.

But before you install these applications on your smartphone, change the built-in camera settings on your gadget. Set the maximum quality of shooting (1080p will be enough) and frame rate. This will help with further editing of the video: you can slow it down a bit and get smoother and more aesthetic footage.

Tip 2 – Use extra lighting

Good lighting is one of the most important things you need to do when working with photos and videos. “Cinema” videos can also be shot on the camera of an old iPhone, if you have the right light at hand.

In an ideal world, photographers and videographers shoot only during the golden hours, but in reality, additional lighting equipment is most often required. But you don’t need to immediately run to a professional store for a softbox: even a building lamp or a table lamp will do for a start.

Your main light source should be soft. This is easy to achieve at home – you need a lamp, a white sheet and a stepladder. Hang the fabric on the stairs and place a lamp behind this design. Voila! It turned out a homemade diffuser that will save the picture on the video from unnecessary shadows and make it visually more pleasant.

You will also need a fill light – it is less powerful and needs to be placed on the opposite side of the main light source. Fill light gives the object plasticity, softness and highlights its shadow areas.

Finally, to make the image look more interesting and truly cinematic, add decorative lighting to the frame. It can be LEDs, table lamps with warm light, a garland – it depends on what mood you want to create in the video. For example, LEDs will give the picture a nice futuristic look, while table lamps and garlands will help create a warm and cozy atmosphere. Typically, such a light is placed in the background or illuminates the background of the scenery.

If you are shooting outdoors in the middle of the day, try to find a secluded spot where the light is not so harsh. And cool shots are obtained in cloudy weather, when the sun is not so active. Clouds in this case act just as a scatterer.

Tip 3 – Use Extra Gadgets

At first it may seem that some equipment is only needed for professional shooting, but we still recommend adding a couple of gadgets to your arsenal. So the picture will turn out to be of better quality and aesthetics. What will you need?

Tripod and Stabilizer

There are two important things you need to do to make good video: avoid image shaking while shooting and keep your subject in constant focus. Both gadgets will help you with this.

A tripod is used when camera movement is not required during shooting. Of course, you can hold the camera with both hands, but the maximum you will stay like this is 30 minutes. As a result, shaking of the image will be noticeable on the video, and this can spoil the impression of the video. If there is no money for a tripod yet, use improvised means – books, a chair, a bag of rice.

A stabilizer is essential when shooting in constant motion. The gadget prevents sharp jumps in the picture – the camera seems to smoothly follow the object. It looks impressive and professional.


If you don’t plan to add music to the video, but want to use natural sound, you can’t do without a microphone. It is especially necessary when recording a spoken video, otherwise the sound will be muffled and the viewer will not hear your voice.

Tip 4 – don’t forget about color grading

Any video will look more cinematic if you work on it in the editor. It is not necessary to sit on one video for a day, it is enough to spend 15-20 minutes on light editing and color correction.

In the world of video editing software, everyone can find the right software for themselves. Advanced users use editors such as DaVinci Resolve or Adobe After Effects. If you are a beginner, we recommend choosing a program with a convenient and simple interface that you will understand in 10 minutes. For example, Movavi Video Editor Plus is a video editing application that has all the powerful features for creating cool videos, but at the same time does not overload users with hundreds of complex tools.

✔️ If you do not have a stabilizer, the program can remove camera shake in a couple of mouse clicks. To do this, go to the tab Tools and select the function Stabilization . Click Stabilize and select the desired settings for your video.

✔️ In the program, you can slow down the shooting a little to make it look more epic. On the same tab Tools select the function Slow motion and set the desired speed for the video. We suggest that you first try to slow down the footage a little – for example, by about 50-75% of the speed of the original video. Check out the result – your mini-movie already looks more cinematic!

❗️ The slow motion trick won’t work if you’re filming an interview or just a talking video.

✔️ Now it’s time for color grading! If you want to quickly make a picture visually appealing, just use one of the built-in filters in the app. Go to the tab Filters and choose the one that suits the mood of the video. Or on the tab Tools and click on the section Color correction – there you can manually adjust the desired color balance.