Now of course many will say that a good camera doesn't make a good movie and that it doesn't matter which camera you shoot on if the story is good. While this is true, the camera plays a large role in the final look of the image, regardless of the filmmaker's skill. That said the best video camera for a beginner filmmaker is the one you already have. However if you want to upgrade from your old camera into a fancy new camera, here's a good place to start.
Now these are above the $300 limit, however they are for a reason. There better. If you have more money to speed, start here.
This one just scraps past the limit. I was able to find one for $305 on ebay. This is probably what most people would suggest for beginner filmmakers and I would have to agree. I happen to have a T3i which is great you can see my review here. The only difference between the T2i and the T3i is the flip screen. This camera creates a beautiful image, don't just take my word for it. Check out one of my videos with it bellow.
This happens to be slightly more expensive but also is often suggested. It's only negative is a slightly small sensor, however that leads to cheaper lenses. I don't have too much experience with it but it seems to do fairly good. On eBay it goes for about $635.
This is a very common route because it is the most logical. Buy a camcorder to record video, much more sense than buying a DSLR (although I prefer DSLRs). Here are a couple cheap camcorders.
Honestly a GoPro camera should never be your main camera, they are more for specialty shots. If you are a semi-professional with something like a DSLR looking for a second cam, this would be a good choice or if your a sports athlete like a skater that just wants to record himself this would also be a good choice.
Canon Consumer Camcorders
Almost all of my cameras have been canons. They seem to keep up very nicely. One of my first cameras was the Canon HF R20. I had everything a beginner filmmaker could want, manual controls as well as auto controls, 1080p video, a mic input and headphone output. These are excellence choices and I can personally recommend them. The bellow is a short film I shot with one. The only Con to them is the small sensor. So if you are super concerned about image quality and that awesome blurred background or low light abilities, a DSLR or Mirrorless camera will be a better choice.
^with Canon hf R20
Kodak Cameras ?
I have a fair amount of experience with Kodak's cameras and although they are often limited in image quality and features, these two seemed fairly good spec wise and price wise. The Zi10 is $120, the Zi12 is $140
Zi10 & Zi12
They both record 1080p but for only $20 more, the Zi12 records 1080p60 which allows full HD slow motion, which is awesome for the price range.
Another cool camera for it's Price is the Nikon 1J1 Mirrorless. It can be found for around $160. It offers full HD video. It may come with limited video features but it has a larger sensor which will help better image quality.
Well I hope I exposed you to some new cameras and just keep looking for some new cameras. As Video cameras get cheap and cheaper, it will be even easier for beginners to get the ultimate camera.
Zachary Will is an Award-Winning Filmmaker creating short films and content for the Internet as the owner of Riverside Studios. He has a Bachelor's in Film from Full Sail University. He has worked on productions for companies like Webmd, Sears, Home Depot, Six Flags and more!
"the trick is to never give up... I think the secret of success is not how little you get knocked down but how often you get back up." - Gareth Edwards