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What’s the best professional camera for people on a moderate budget? There are plenty of excellent cameras at the bottom end of the price spectrum, but when you’re ready to move beyond shooting on your smartphone or DSLR, and don’t want to spend $40,000 on filmmaking gear, it can be surprisingly difficult to find the right camera. Although if you ask many indie filmmakers, there’s really only one easy choice: the Z CAM E20F6 Professional Full Frame 6K Cinema Camera. It’s the best option for anyone looking to take their craft to the next level but doesn’t have a major film budget behind them.
Simply put, this 6K camera does a fantastic job of delivering cinematic footage. The 35mm full frame sensor is the gold standard for professional photography, giving you pristine images in an aspect ratio that seamlessly translates to the big screen. But the real differentiating factor is its lack of restrictions. Many cameras market their 4K, 60fps capability, but the fine print reveals how limited they actually are. A camera might be able to shoot in 4K, and at 60 frames per second, but not at the same time. Lowering your frame rate gives you a higher resolution but that requires a lot of compromise. Either that, or the camera will be able to shoot its best resolution at a high frame rate, but only for short amounts of time.
The Z CAM E20F6 doesn’t make you pick between resolution and frame rate. It can shoot in 4K at up to 70fps, and if you move your resolution up to 6K, you can still hit 50fps. And there’s no time limit, so you can keep capturing the highest quality images until the battery on your recording device dies. That means every detail in your images will be visual, and the motion on screen will still be as smooth as butter.
The dynamic range is also superb, with 14 stops to maximize your flexibility. You really can’t put a price on the luxury of shooting in the brightest or darkest conditions without fear of how it will effect your images, but this Z Cam will cost you less than $5,000. The adjustable lens mounts maximize your flexibility when designing your rig, so you can really make the camera your own. The 10-bit color ensures that you can capture over one billion different shades. These features are impressive on their own, but together, they paint a picture of a camera that outperforms its price tag by a considerable margin. It isn’t hard to see why indie filmmakers love it so much.
In addition to the artistic benefits, Z CAM made it very easy to use from a logistics perspective. When the shoot wraps, you won’t have to worry about transferring your footage because the camera comes equipped with every connectivity option imaginable, including USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet capabilities.
There are plenty of obstacles that get in the way of moviemaking, but camera quality doesn’t have to be one of them. For more filmmaking content, find how RED digital cameras changed indie film, and find our picks for best cameras for any budget, and more must-have filmmaking gear.