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Updated December 2022
- An HD camcorder is a good choice for under-12s
- Mirrorless/SLR cameras may suit creative teenagers
- iPhones, iPads and iPods are a good all-in-one solution
- The tiny, stabilised DJI Pocket 2 offers lots of scope for creative camera moves
What’s the best video camera for younger filmmakers?
If you want a ‘real’ video camera, a basic HD camcorder is a good choice for children under 12. It’ll be easier to film with than a phone, and they can learn about different lens settings. But they’ll need to copy the files to a computer for editing.
Teenagers could use a higher quality camcorder: these are better in low light, and offer more creative options.
For young people who are serious about creative filmmaking, a mirrorless camera may be the best choice. But for filming news and events, a used semi-professional camcorder could be better.
Alternatively, you could use a mobile device like an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. They have better cameras than basic camcorders, and you can shoot and edit on the same device.
If you already have an iPhone, you may be better off kitting it out for filmmaking rather than buying a separate video camera.
Camcorders for under-12s
HD camcorders are an easy way to shoot high-quality video. They’re easy to handhold and most of them feature better image stabilisation than phones and tablets. I’d go for a well-known brand: Panasonic and Canon camcorders come top in reliability surveys.
The Panasonic HC-V180K is small, easy-to-use, and has a good wide angle lens and optical image stabilisation. It can also shoot time-lapse and slow motion.
Cameras for teens
The Panasonic V785 offers a great set of features. It has a microphone socket, an accessory shoe, a filter ring, slow motion and excellent image stabilisation.
DJI Pocket 2
DJI’s tiny stabilised camera lets you get smooth tracking shots and steady static shots in almost any circumstances. It’s also good for action and can shoot 4K slow motion. It comes with a built-in touchscreen, or you can control it from your smartphone or the optional extension rod. It’s a good alternative to a camcorder (though it doesn’t have a zoom lens, and it needs to be handled with care). It costs
Teens who are seriously into filmmaking might prefer an interchangeable lens ‘mirrorless camera’. They’re trickier to use than camcorders, but their images look more ‘film-like’, they’re better in low light, and you can get creative shallow focus effects.
The Panasonic G80 is the best value mirrorless camera you can buy. I use one myself. It has a good-quality kit lens, weather-sealing and very good image stabilisation.
You could also look for a used semi-professional camcorder like the Canon XA10 or XA20. These have better controls, handling and audio than mirrorless cameras, which makes them more suitable for news and events.
What else you need
I recommend budgeting for a basic tripod: video looks much better without camera shake. You’ll also need memory cards, and a spare battery can be useful.
If sound is important, get a camera with a microphone socket. You can use a budget lavalier (clip-on) microphone for presentations to camera. More about microphones
iPhones, iPads and iPods (all ages)
Apple’s mobile devices are a great option for starting with filmmaking. Children can shoot and edit on the same device, and you can get dozens of apps to extend their capabilities. They don’t have zoom lenses, but their video quality is better than low-priced camcorders.
An electronic gimbal stabiliser like the DJI Osmo Mobile 6 (around
Making Movies Make Sense is my interactive introduction to filmmaking for ages 9 and up. It explains how to use the camera, sound and editing to tell stories, and how to plan, shoot and edit a movie.
This 148-page multitouch book includes dozens of video clips, stills, interactive pictures, audio clips and pop-up tips and questions, with practical activities and links to downloads. It’s made for Apple Books, so you can use it on iPad, Mac or iPhone.
You can download a free sample.