The best cameras for music videos are perfect for any musician trying to make their music cinematic. Don’t believe a word “The Buggles” said back in 1980: video did not in fact, kill the radio star. Music videos are on occasion, as iconic as songs themselves. But no matter how good a song is, you’re simply not going to capture all that pathos on video without the right equipment. Luckily, not all offerings will break the bank, and many will double as more than just dedicated music video cams. Here’s a selection of the best cameras for music videos.
— Best Overall: Canon VIXIA HF G50 4K30P Camcorder
— Best Affordable: GoPro Hero8 Digital Action Camera
— Best DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera
— Best Quality: Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Camcorder
— Best Mirrorless: Canon EOS M50 Mark II Content Creator Kit
How We Picked the Best Cameras for Music Videos
What makes a good music video camera? In general, any good quality video camera will work to shoot music videos. However, there are a few more aspects you may want to consider when picking one out that’s specifically for shooting music videos. Here are the features we considered when picking out the best cameras for music videos.
Size and Maneuverability: Where will you be shooting your music videos? If it’s anywhere outside your place, be it a forest, a parking lot, or if your budget is large, a rented mansion, you’ll need a camera that travels well. Just about every expensive camera has a carrying case you can buy for it, and you absolutely should, when possible. But more importantly, will your camera be able to shoot with little to no extra setup? Staging and lighting aren’t always easy or possible when you’re out in the wild. As far as audio goes, don’t sweat it. Do what the pros do and loop your tunes in during post-production.
Durability: Cameras, even on the lower end of the price spectrum, are mighty expensive. It would be a shame to lose your investment after an accidental spill. If a camera is built cheaply, there’s a good chance that the video it captures will also be poor quality.
Technical Specs: Resolution and lighting are important, sure. And then there’s all the extra lenses available, depending on the camera. But when we’re talking about a camera for music videos, two things are paramount. One, stability, and two, shutter speed. There’s something many if not most music videos have in common, and that’s motion. You want a camera that can capture quick, sudden movements, like the kind you’d see in a Twyla Tharp dance.
Customizability: Sure, your phone may already have a camera inside it, and it may very well be a good one. But can you add different lenses, microphones, lighting equipment, and other video optimization accessories? Even lower-end cameras allow you to shake up how you shoot, and these offerings definitely take the cake over the competition.
Best Cameras for Music Videos: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Canon VIXIA HF G50 4K30P Camcorder
Why It Made the Cut: This large, but lightweight camcorder comes with all the accouterments for anyone shooting rapid movement in a myriad of environments.
— Dimensions: 3.3 inches L x 9.1 inches W x 4.5 inches H, with lens hood
— Weight: 1.91 pounds
— Camera Type: 4K video camera
— Pixels: 21.14 MP (megapixels)
— Aspect Ratio: 16:9 up to 4K
— Five-axis image stabilization
— Captures genuine 4K
— Streamlined touchscreen interface
— Less portable than other cameras
Camcorders are a little less common than they used to be with the proliferation of camera phones, but the Canon VIXIA HF G50 4K30P is perfect for budding music video directors.
Whether you’re indoors or out, this camcorder captures everything in glorious 4K. Within this camera lies a powerful DIGIC DV 6 Image Processor. This modern piece of camera tech is crucial for ensuring the best in image quality, while streamlining operability. It also stabilizes video capture, using five different axes in case things get a little shaky. It even has built-in fast and slow motion video acquisition capabilities. But like any great user-friendly device, operating it is done mostly through a handy three-inch touchscreen, which lets you do everything from adjusting focal points to tracking moving subjects, and plays back videos you shot. Different shooting modes come with clear, easy-to-understand explanations, so you don’t need a film degree to comprehend them. All you have to do is point and shoot. The Canon VIXIA is one of the pricier models offered here, but it may be the last camera for music videos you’ll need to splurge on for a while.
Best Affordable: GoPro Hero8 Digital Action Camera
Why It Made the Cut: GoPro Hero8 is built for the outdoors and built for athletes, but fairly good enough for music video directors.
— Dimensions: 2.61 inches L x 1.12 inches W x 1.91 inches H, with lens hood
— Weight: 0.91 pounds
— Camera Type: Action Camera
— Pixels: 12 MP
— Aspect Ratio: 4:3 up to 4K
— Shoots good quality video day and night
— Built tough and waterproof
— Hypersmooth 2.0 provides fantastic stability
— Less than ideal image quality
Tons of music videos are shot outdoors, usually in a location like a festival or concert where the action simply doesn’t let up. For these activity-heavy destinations, always bet on GoPro Hero8.
It’s unlikely that Michel Gondry or Tom Scharpling will start shooting music videos using GoPros but for amateur shooting, the GoPro Hero8 could easily qualify as close to best as the Canon VIXIA. The Hero8 simply has many features packed into a device that can fit comfortably into any pocket. Hypersmooth 2.0 adds an almost unfathomable amount of stability to everything you shoot. GoPro works in plenty of different lighting environments, making it perfect for beach parties and midnight raves. Plus, with the wide array of in-camera effects and video-customization capabilities, you’ll likely have to do far less work in post. It even works as a great livestream camera, should you decide to go unplugged for the fans. Even if you don’t use it as your go-to camera for music videos, the Hero8 is inexpensive enough to pack along as a pinch hitter.
Best DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera
Why It Made the Cut: For remote shooting and still shots, Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR is affordable, as long as you don’t mind a few trade offs when it comes to aspect ratio.
— Dimensions: 5.1 inches L x 4 inches W x 3.1 inches H
— Weight: 1.04 pounds
— Camera Type: DSLR
— Pixels: 24.1 MP
— Aspect Ratio: 17:9 up to 1080p
— Great still camera, pretty good video
— User-friendly interface
— Ready for remote shooting
— Tops out at 1080p
The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is fairly clunky without any of the travel-friendliness of the camcorders in this compilation. But there’s no debating how crisp images and video come in using a DSLR camera.
There’s far less mobility here, but the technical specs speak for themselves. With WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 could easily be set up to shoot remotely by linking it up to a post-production friendly laptop. Every good music video needs its YouTube still, and Intelligent Auto Mode makes taking great photos easy in any lighting situation. Sadly, if 4K video is your aim, the video capture tops out at 1080p. Images still come in incredibly crisp and clear, even if they’re a tad less smaller than the 4K standard. Like any camera, shooting works through a viewfinder, but video shooting is done completely through a large LCD screen. Plus, it’s primed for customization and compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses including ultra-wide, standard, macro, and telephoto lenses.
Best Quality: Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Camcorder
Why It Made the Cut: Shooting music videos on a Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K is as close to channeling Dave Meyers as you can get.
— Dimensions: 14.9 inches L x 7.9 inches W x 8.8 inches H
— Weight: 8.25 pounds
— Camera Type: Action Camera
— Pixels: 80 MP
— Aspect Ratio: 17:9 up to 12K
— Powerfully good image quality
— Cinematic sensors with tons of range
— Packed with post-production features
— Incredibly expensive
Is using the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Camcorder overkill for shooting music videos? Maybe. But if you’re looking for the kind of cinematic glow you find in TV shows and movies, URSA Mini Pro is your best bet.
With 80 megapixels per frame and up to 12K video, the capture capabilities of this camera are simply massive. Video capture isn’t just big, it’s fast. Shooting in 12K nabs 60 frames per second. At 8K, bump that up to 120 frames, with an ungodly 240 frames at 4K. And with 14 stops of dynamic range, images look great near and far. Here’s the best part: no matter what range you use, the Blackmagic RAW file format lets you reframe in editing so there’s never a need for reshoots. Despite its massive file size, this format is highly optimized and works across multiple CPU cores. It’s also GPU-accelerated so post-production is as smooth sailing as shooting video. Pretty much every aspect of shooting is user-friendly, which is why it costs about as much as a downpayment on a mid-sized sedan. If you can stomach the cost, there’s plenty to love in the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro 12K.
Best Mirrorless: Canon EOS M50 Mark II Content Creator Kit
Why It Made the Cut: The Canon EOS M50 Mark II Content Creator Kit comes with everything a music video cinematographer needs, including a fantastic microphone.
— Dimensions: 14.9 inches L x 7.9 inches W x 8.8 inches H
— Weight: 0.58 pounds
— Camera Type: Mirrorless Camera
— Pixels: 18.5 MP
— Aspect Ratio: 4:3 up to 4K
— No camera person necessary
— Excellent for livestreaming
— Comes with a microphone for music capture
— Slower frame rate in 4K
In many cases, buying a new camera involves buying more than one product. Canon’s Content Creator Kit cuts out the middleman and packs everything a new music videographer needs.
The main event is of course the EOS M50 Mark II mirrorless camera. Because the screen flips up, the subject that the camera is pointed at can keep tabs on the video being captured. This of course makes the camera perfect for livestreaming on YouTube and Twitch, when it’s not being used to shoot music videos. While it does shoot in 4K, expect lower frame rates. Bumping it down to 1080p unlocks a pretty dependable 120 frame rate, though so it’s not all bad. But remember this is a kit, which means it comes with more than just a camera. It also comes with a tripod that doubles as a selfie stick, and a remote to operate the camera from nearby. The Canon Stereo Microphone DM-E100 that’s included in this package is perfect for capturing crisp, clear, high fidelity sound. Basically, it’s an all-in-one package at a fairly reasonable price.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Camera For Music Videos
There’s a good chance you’re reading this article on a device that has a camera that can shoot music videos. That’s not a stretch, some popular music videos made today were shot entirely on smartphones. Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love,” Selena Gomez’s “Lose You To Me,” John Legend’s “Good Night,” Grimes’ “Butterfly,” and Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You,” were all shot on an iPhone 11 Pro. And that phone is two years old at this point. Cameras on smartphones get better and better, and there’s just no competing with their versatility. The iPhone 13 Pro even has a dedicated “Cinematic shooting” mode. Plus, if you’re shooting music videos, you’re likely also hyping up fans on social media, and consolidating all your media for content creation in one place is very handy.
Despite these new, powerful specs in modern smartphones, shooting on smartphones comes with a few compromises, such as the lack of lenses. In our best cameras for vlogging roundup, we recommended starting your journey to e-stardom using a smartphone. After all, it makes little sense to drop hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a fancy camera just for music videos, only to lose the desire to shoot weeks in. If you simply must have a camera for music videos separate from a device you use for Instagram surfing, the GoPro Hero8 Digital Action Camera is our budget pick.
So you bought a camera for music videos…now what? Before you start shooting, there are a few things you may have forgotten to pick up. Here are a few accessories that you may need before you yell: “Action!” If you don’t want to worry about getting all the extras with your new camera, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II Content Creator Kit contains everything you need right out of the box.
SD Card: Every camera in this list requires an SD Card to actually save your video to. We recommend getting a big one, as recording in high-quality usually takes up a lot of space. The SanDisk 1 TB microSDXC provides plenty of freedom regarding file space, and slides into any glorious post-production device.
Tripod: While many cameras here provide stability features, nothing keeps a camera still and steady like a good quality tripod. But what makes a good tripod? Like the cameras listed here, you want something durable and versatile. The Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod is built tough and offers camera angles you would never even think of. The UBeesize Tripod comes with less features and durability, but it’s a good bit more affordable.
Microphone: The eternal question when it comes to shooting music videos is: “Do I loop in the audio during shooting or after?” The answer, as far as the song in the music video is concerned, is almost always the latter. However, you may want to capture audio aside from the featured song. For that, you’ll need a good quality microphone. The right microphone will depend mostly on the camera that you use, but the Rode VideoMic Go has wide compatibility across many camera models.
“Star Wars,” the brand that’s less of a film franchise and more a full-fledged empire, looked terrible when it was first shot on film in 1977. Using movie magic, legendary editor Paul Hirsch turned the mess George Lucas captured into a coherent story that still warms the hearts of billions. This heavy editing is also done by the recording industry, something that anyone who has ever seen Blink-182 live can attest to. Music video production combines these two medias, but the magic still happens in the editing bay. Here are a few things we recommend for editing music videos.
Macbook Pro: Mac devices are a standard in all editing bays, both amateur and professional for a reason. They’re built with the kind of specs and speed you want to edit, render, and export video, with enough RAM to run a few media applications at the same time. The latest iteration of the MacBook Pro not only provides for a smooth and streamlined editing process, but it’s portable so you can do it on the fly. It’s even Climate Pledge-friendly.
Editing Software: While Macbook Pros are unrivaled editing machines, what makes for good editing software depends on the editor. There are plenty of options available, and as far as we’re concerned, editing on a Mac means you should edit with Mac software, mainly Final Cut Pro. It’s far less busy than Adobe Premiere Pro, and unlike the programs in the Adobe suite, you only have to buy Final Cut Pro once. Here’s more information on the best video editing software.
Q: Can you shoot a music video with a GoPro?
You can absolutely shoot a music video with a GoPro. It’s great for shooting in the wild. There are even a handful of guides to doing it including this one by the Berklee College of Music.
Q: What cameras do I need to make music videos?
Q: What lens do I need for music videos?
The lens that comes with your camera should be more than enough for shooting basic music videos. However, great cameras for music videos like the Canon VIXIA HF G50 4K30P Camcorder will at least allow you to switch out lenses.
Q: How do I go about creating my first music video?
Creating a music video isn’t much different from creating any other video. Some planning, storyboarding, and scripting should be done, but you may want to also record the song beforehand to produce the music video around. For more tips, consult this handy guide.
Q: What kind of camera do music video directors use?
Final Thoughts on Cameras For Music Videos
Music videos are a great way to amplify your sound and make it pop for the masses. Would anyone know who A-ha! was if it weren’t for their memorable animated romps? For a good and semi-affordable camera, the Canon VIXIA HF G50 4K30P Camcorder is our overall best pick because it’s user-friendly, especially on the go. The GoPro Hero8 Digital Action Camera is so good some indie artists like Mike and Kim use them for shooting, and who could argue with that price tag? If you want to add a cinematic edge to your music videos, Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K Camcorder is an ultra-premium device that truly does it all, so long as you’re working with a Hollywood budget.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.