Camera under 300 $

Marty111 wrote on 12/2/2019, 10:02 AM

Good evening everyone !

I have some spare (euro) bucks this month. I was naturally thinking about giving it all to an NGO to help end famine in Africa, but then I came back to my senses and though about our comrade Musicvid's advice to shoot videos by myself.

So can I hope to get anything other than a gadget for under 300 $/€ new or used ?
I'm not a color maniac, but I would be shooting without any light gear in places where the light isn't optimal, so for what I know stuff like gopro isn't an option. I need great stability and smoothness, 1080p is enough, and I would need some good slow motion.


Musicvid wrote on 12/2/2019, 11:30 PM

I almost never make equipment recommendations, but in that price range, Canon Vixia probably has the best optics.

Marty111 wrote on 12/3/2019, 5:18 AM

Thanks Musicvid, You are talking about the Canon Vixia HF R800, right? Can I buy a lens to make the video look cinematic ? Do they cost a lot ? And use some kind of stabilization device like that :
Apparently It only shoots at 60fps, is it really enough to do all kind of slow motion effects ?

Marty111 wrote on 12/3/2019, 5:45 AM

When I got interested in cameras, a couple of years ago, I did a bit a research to try understand what's to be understood about cameras, and I though the C100 MKII was what I needed :

But the slow motion is also 60fps, and the 1500$ price with no accessories whatsoever makes it really hard if not impossible for me to buy.

Marty111 wrote on 12/3/2019, 8:17 AM

The Vixia HF R800 looks more like 480p, but maybe the cameraman isn't very skilled : Anywway I would need some good slow motion.

Marty111 wrote on 12/3/2019, 8:48 AM

Well, I guess I'll wait another ten years, when affordable digital cameras will be decent, would have been nice to play around with a camera though. It's just not the right decade to buy a camera if you don't sell your footage, let's wait until 2030.

Musicvid wrote on 12/3/2019, 7:58 PM

It's just a general suggestion -- Canon makes pretty good glass. Even consumer models.

Marty111 wrote on 12/4/2019, 9:09 AM

Isn't glass just glass ?

It seems the main thing is the sensor. It has to be large and good enough to allow good picture size, a lot of light and a lot of fps, all at ounce. For the common man everything is about resolution, and if he gets bad holiday footage he will blame it on himself, not on his few hundred $ camera. So the companies have no scruples to charge a few grands fee for normal smooth filming.

Marco. wrote on 12/4/2019, 9:25 AM

With a poor lense in front the best sensor is pretty lost. That's why actually there are only few "real" 4k (and up) cameras.

Former user wrote on 12/4/2019, 9:47 AM

Isn't glass just glass ?

No, lens quality varies greatly and affects the price. This is shown by the variation in prices for DSLR lenses. Some Nikon lenses sell for a couple hundred dollars. Others for thousands. All because of the quality of the glass and how it transfers light and colors. I am really happy with my Canon Vixia HFM40. But it seems that they have downgraded the quality since this camera. But they are still good cameras. Check out the Canon Refurbs on their site to get a decent price on them. I bought my Refurbed and it was like new (I think it was new but was sold as a refurb)


This video was shot with my Vixia and if you disregard the artifacts from youtube, it is very good quality.

Be sure to select 1080p quality.

Musicvid wrote on 12/4/2019, 12:03 PM

Isn't glass just glass ?

No, it's the first thing that sees your image. Sorry I won't be able to make further suggestions.

Marty111 wrote on 12/4/2019, 2:03 PM

Yes you're right. It's just that I don't get it. When they design a lens, what variable is left once the needed shape, angles, and curves are determined ? How can a piece of glass be worth thousands ? Sorry for the rude question, I didn't do too well in physics at school.

@Dot Your video seems really nice. It seems also extremely saturated. How does your Canon Vixia HFM40 deal with swivelling and motion in general ? How well does it shoot in low light situations ?

Marco. wrote on 12/4/2019, 2:23 PM

It's the quality of the cut, the coating and of the glass itself which makes a galaxy of a difference. Even a spotting glass with only few lenses costs thousands of dollars if of high quality.

Former user wrote on 12/4/2019, 2:34 PM

Another thing to remember, it is not just one piece of glass. It is several working together and each adds its own characteristics and sometimes aberrations. The better the glass, the less aberrations, less errors, and more light passing through.

Former user wrote on 12/4/2019, 2:37 PM

@Marty111 I did saturate it in post to make it warmer and fit the mood of the video. My particular model was rated very good for low light. I have shot in situations with very minimal lighting and get an acceptable picture. Most of the videos on my youtube channel, especially the dog videos, were shot with my Vixia. I don't know if the other models rate as well in low light. It is a small, lightweight camera so smooth motion can be a challenge. It does have a decent stabilizer built in.

Marty111 wrote on 12/5/2019, 4:47 AM

Does any of these cheap camcorders come with the possibility of interchangeable lenses ?
So many different models, it's hard to choose one.

Some of them come with tons of buttons and look very professional: . Others look like your average family junk camera from the 1990's :

The dog footage didn't look amazing, although the dog looks cute :)

Former user wrote on 12/5/2019, 8:00 AM

Marty111, you are trying to get champagne on a beer budget. Cameras under $300 won't have interchangeable lenses. And if they did, if your budget is $300 you won't be able to afford the lenses. You might find a good DSLR refurbed or use for that but it will only be the body. You sill have to get a lens. You need to either up your budget or lower your specifications. I suggested the Vixia because it is good for the money. Or at least mine is. I have put it directly up against a $1500 video camera, and you are hardpressed to tell the difference. But like I said, my model was an exception before they scaled them back. Good luck!

Marty111 wrote on 12/5/2019, 9:23 AM

"Marty111, you are trying to get champagne on a beer budget"
Yes, that's the idea. It's always what I do, this way I'm never deceived 🙂
Actually I was thinking about buying a good camera, that has a "regular" 16/9 lens and the possibility to switch it for a more cinematic
2,35:1 "sort of Panavision" lens that I would buy later.
It's important to have flexibility when you work.

Former user wrote on 12/5/2019, 9:27 AM


Marty111 wrote on 12/5/2019, 9:58 AM

But maybe it's too much asking, as you said, no interchangeable lens under 300$. Are there any cheap camera with a fixed non removable 2,35:1 lens ?

Musicvid wrote on 12/5/2019, 8:33 PM

You are romantacizing.

Entry-level Canon EOS are here :

Marty111 wrote on 12/6/2019, 7:47 PM

I just want to make sure that what I shoot won't look amateurish. That footage looks ok : That's what our eyes are used to. Any less than that would certainly look amateurish in a music clip. This is old 4:3 format but it also looks nice, that's the quality I'm aiming for for my music clips :
The second video is 480p so it's not all about resolution. The number of frames per second is actually more important. Having full control on speed is key for musical clip production which is exclusively what I will use the camera for. It's important to have that emphatic overall impression.

edit : Used panasonic GH4 seems like an option doesn't it ? Found one for 400 €

edit : Or even the gh5 if I find a cheap one and don't mind going into debt. It has 180fps at 1080p.

edit : Yes gh5 it is, or nothing. But can I easily find an anamorphic lens for it ? If not, then is it possible to achieve the anamorphic look with a normal lens in post production with Vegas ?

Why am I romanticizing ? I think the cinema look can be quite adapted for musical clips. Especially for french music, where the lyrics are often narrative. And it looks cool in general. I consider anamorphic as a basic thing, like the use of 24fps for final rendering.

Former user wrote on 12/6/2019, 9:34 PM

So you went from a $300 budget to a $1300 camera body/only. Lenses run around $550 or more. Quite a change. :)

Marty111 wrote on 12/7/2019, 3:05 AM

Ouch... 550$ more for the lens ? Right, you, musicvid, and Marco told me lenses are expensive.



"Many have found you have to stop down to get sharp images with anamorphic adapters. Lots of compromises, ifs and buts. Which is why I’ve decided to abandon it."

So Panasonic makes a dslr for cinema but didn't do a lens for it to produce cinema alike videos. So in the end it's just one more family / amateur camera to film your cute doggy and beautiful trees.

Marco. wrote on 12/7/2019, 1:20 PM

If you buy a cheap lense you don't need a GH5 and 4k, then a GH2 will do (actually a GH2 does a very good job using an appropriate hack and a good lense).