Using a cheap camera

As part of being a poor film maker I use a very inexpensive camera. It has some limitations but I work around them. Here is my camera.

my camera

my camera

It is very inexpensive. I think I paid $99 for it a few years back. This is the tech spec sheet.

tech specs

tech specs

So, it shoots in HD at 1440×1080. That is what I shoot at. So, when you use a cheap camera it has some limits. The first one is cheap cameras do not do very well in dark light. To combat this, almost all of my shots are done in bright sunlight. This is part of working around the limitations.

The next thing is the zoom. It has some sort of zoom on it, but I never use it. I am pretty sure you lose quality when you zoom on a cheap camera. I just move the tripod.

the viewfinder

the viewfinder

Another thing a cheap camera does really poorly is sound capture. I never use the onboard microphone on my camera. The sound would be horrible. My sound is done separately and so should yours. I use a separate system for sound. I will talk about that later.

So, my camera works for me. It is very cheap. Your Iphone or Ipad probably shoots better video. The point is, use what you have, use what you can afford. If you can get a really nice camera, then by all means do it. But if not, a cheap camera should not prevent you from making a film. Avoid dark lighting situations, put it on a tripod, don’t zoom, don’t use the onboard microphone.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

2 responses to “Using a cheap camera

  1. That camera may be ‘cheap’ but, I put ‘cheap’ in quotes because it’s more than good enough to do what you need… it’s just INEXPENSIVE is all. What can’t it do?

    I have two old video cameras (which are identical) which I really should throw away (Sony Handycam) because they only shoot something like a 640X480 resolution video on 8mm tape. The only reason I hang on to them is because I still haven’t finished copying all my old home videos over to digital yet and I probably never should toss them as long as those tapes exist. (just in case)

    I have a digital camera that’s sort of like that, it’s a good small camera but it has an odd sized memory card (a ‘stick’) and there’s no really good manual setting on it. (because it still tweaks focus a bit even when it’s set on ‘manual’)

    I have two Super-8 movie film cameras that apparently still work but, I’ll never shoot anything with them again and just keep them for the memories… and so THOSE are examples of ‘cheap’ cameras that are useless for any number of reasons, but it seems that what you described here is actually a very useful camera for most things… a keeper! 🙂


  2. Great article John! 😎 I do the same with relatively cheaper still cameras, lower-cost lenses and often surprise people. “You took that with what!??”, right? 😎 It’s all in the skillz and technique, and you sir Rock!


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