*Updated for summer 2018* Choosing the best Nikon DSLR for video isn’t easy. Nikon has drastically improved it’s video capabilities in the last few years, making it possible to get professional results with less expensive cameras. However, some camera models make video production easier than others.
This list also takes into account price for the features. Value is something every photographer should think about, especially if running a videography business.
That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the 5 best cameras for Nikon Videography.
It’s worth noting that lens selection is often more important than camera choice. With proper lighting techniques, a Nikon 70-200mm mounted on an entry-level D3300 will give you beautiful video. So, don’t blow your entire budget on a camera and forget about how important lens choice is. Check out our top 5 lenses for Nikon videography post for more on lens choice.
Best Nikon DSLRs for Video
All of the cameras on the list shoot 1080p/24fps, which is our go-to setting for nearly everything we shoot. 24fps is what gives the soft ‘film look’ to your videos, and 1080p is still considered professional and high-quality.
1) Nikon D750
We detailed our love-affair for the Nikon D750 when it was released – and wondered if it would be the D810 and D610 killer. It’s now become one of Nikon’s best sellers (along with the D810 – so it hasn’t quite killed that camera model…yet).
It’s got all the video settings of the D810 (including the most important for filming live events: changing the aperture while recording) but costs $1000 less.
For all its capabilities and reasonable price, it’s hard to beat the D750.
D750 Prices/Buying Options
Nikon D810 Nikon D850
If you like to shoot video, but also have a need or desire to shoot high-quality still photos (46MP compared to the D750s 24MP) – then you may consider the Nikon D850.
Our favorite improvements vs the D810 are the tilting screen, ultra slow-motion at 1080p using 120fps, and ultra-fast 9fps for still shooting with more focus points. These are features we would actually use often.
The Nikon D850 also includes the ability to shoot 4k video, and 8k and 4k time-lapse videos. (The D750 can also do 4k timelapse). We discussed the use of 4k in a real-world videography business, and it holds true today. TL:DR For most business, 1080p is still the standard.
View the D850 sale price.
Nikon D7200 Nikon D7500
Moving into the more affordable cameras, the Nikon D7500 is an excellent camera for the money. It’s in Nikon’s DX line of cameras, which have a slightly smaller sensor. The smaller sensor means the focal distance (zoom) will be intensified on each lens. Focal distance will be increased by a factor between 1.3 and 1.5. (E.g. a 35mm lens performs like a 50mm lens).
We started our video business with a single D7000 (a couple versions ago) and rented another D7000. We filmed one or two weddings with a 2nd rental before we bought another body. You can get professional results with the D7500. We were charging about $2,000 per wedding at the time (we then doubled that in a year). After the first year and a dozen weddings, we moved up to full-frame cameras (D800 and later the D810)
Every videography business plan is a little different, so you have to use what works for you and your budget – but we filmed a LOT of weddings (and made a great side-income) with cameras just like these. They can be more challenging in fast-paced environments, but it can be done.
D7500 Prices/Buying Options
Camera Body Only – $1249 (See Current Sale Price)
Body + 18-140mm VR Lens Kit – $1,749 (See Current Sale Price)
Body + 18-300mm VR Lens Kit – $1,999 (See Current Sale Price)
Previous Models: D7200 (New Price / Used Price) , D7100 ( New Price / Used Price), D7000 (Used Price)
4) Nikon D5600
Families, students, or beginners would be served well with the Nikon D5600. You can experiment with all of the same video frame rates and quality settings of the higher-end Nikon DSLRs. It would be more challenging to shoot professionally with this camera, but you could get excellent results in some situations.
For instance, this camera would do fine when filming a documentary, short film, or any other scenario with enough time to adjust lighting. Same with product videos or corporate videos. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a wedding, though.
D5600 Prices/Buying Options
Camera Body Only – $699 (See Current Sale Price)
Body + 18-55mm Lens – $799 (See Current Sale Price)
Body + 15-55mm + 70-300mm – $1149 (See Current Sale Price) (Best Deal)
Body + 18-140mm – $1,199 (See Current Sale Price)
D5500 (Previous model, slightly cheaper) (See Current Sale Price)
5) Nikon D3400
This is Nikon’s lowest entry level DSLR and has the lowest price to match, but the Nikon D3400 is still a very good quality camera for the money and capable of shooting great-looking video. Despite it’s lower price point, it’s still an excellent camera for the beginner or hobbyist who’s getting started with photography and videography.
Noticeably Absent from the list of best Nikon DSLRs for Video: Nikon D610. Priced $500 less than the D750, it’s not quite a bargain for the features you lose including 60fps at 1080p and the ability to change the aperture while recording. If you’re short on cash, get the D7200, but if you’ve got cash for a D610 – save for another month or two and get the D750 – it will be worth the wait in capability, results, and resale value.