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Whether you’re shooting digital or analog, still photography is a speciality field vital to the fabric of filmmaking. If you’ve ever picked up a film photography book, or scrolled through a digital library of images from your favorite movies, then you understand just how beautiful the art form can be. They may not always get the credit they deserve, but photographers are a necessary part of the film crew. How else would you see snapshots directly from the set?
As with any kind of photography, you’ll need to have durable and reliable equipment on deck in order to capture the best images. To get you started, we rounded up five versatile and affordable photography cameras that should be on your shopping list. You can get pretty much all of the cameras listed on Amazon, and if you’re a Prime member you’ll get free, two-day shipping with your purchase (if you’re not signed up, click here to join for just $12.99 a month).
The Sony Alpha 600 lets you capture still images in stunning quality. The camera has a 0.2 AF mode, up to 11fps continuous shooting, and Eye AF for continuous eye tracking when shooting in motion, just to name a few of the many features. You can use the camera to capture video as well, and there’s also an external microphone jack to widen your audio options. And of course, wifi to transfer photos in a snap.
Canon’s mirrorless camera is one of the better choices if find yourself constantly shooting in different environments. The camera usually gets high marks for image quality and color rendition. It has a 30.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 8 Image Processor that delivers stellar low-light performance, 20mm flange focal distance, and a large 54mm diameter, which decreases distance between the rear lens element and sensor to give you a combination of image quality, performance, and compact lens design. Also, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system has a maximum of 5,655 manually selectable AF points, and it records 4K video.
The Canon AE-1 has somewhat of a vintage aesthetic, and it’s a good photography camera for newbies. Canon introduced the AE-1 line in the mid-‘70s, and that fact that it’s still around speaks volumes to its endurable legacy. The 35mm SLR camera features electronically controlled automatic exposure, and comes with a 50mm 1:1.8 lens, but you can easily swap it out for a different size.
Sony a7R II raises the bar of versatility. The camera is a good fusion of still photography and video with quick autofocusing, 15-stop wide dynamic range, 4K 120p1, extra-strong image stabilization, and more. For still photos, the camera boasts improvement in color reproduction by way of a newly developed image sensor and image processing engine.
The Nikon Z50 is a compact, lightweight, durable mirrorless camera with a 55mm lens mount (the largest of its kind). Apart from photo capabilities, it has some cool features such as the “Selfie” flip-down touch LCD screen that can be used for stills and video (vloggers might find that feature appealing). On the technical side, the Z50 records 4K UHD video, and is equipped with wifi and bluetooth so you can easily pair it to your smartphone. If you’re in the market for more from the Nikon line, check out the Nikon Z6, Nikon D4, and the Nikon D3200.