So you want to document storms, sky, or weather — but you don’t know what cameras you should get. This is expected!
And hey, welcome to the club!
I put together this guide with starter kits (generally $800 or less) for people just wanting to dip your toes in and I also put together quality/cost combo kits that generally hover around $1500-$2000. That is a big jump between both categories I know, but I truly believe that you need to jump up that far in the price range to make the cost/quality improvement be worth it.
Also, check out my essential accessories section at the bottom which lists the very basics of what you should buy to surround your camera.
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With that said, let’s get shopping!
Photography Starter Kit
EOS M200 with 15-45mm lens – $549
- I chose this model because it is a great price for the quality you get.You already get a storm ready lens on the front of the camera. And Canon is one of my preferred manufacturers of camera gear.
Photography Quality/Cost Combo
Canon EOS R8 with 24-50mm lens – $1699
- This is a brand new camera from Canon, but in this weight class Canon has a lot of things to love about their full-frame sensor efforts. Finding packages with kit lenses at sub $2K that have tons of features and epic quality is a challenge, but you can also check out Nikon and Panasonic offerings here.
Hybrid Starter Kit
Panasonic G100 w/12-32mm lens – $549
- The G100 is a camera I personally own and is from one of the four manufacturers I would recommend every single time. The G100 has the video quality of the higher end models just with fewer features and options. It’s also sneaky good with still photography.
Hybrid Quality/Cost Combo
Panasonic S5 w/20-60mm lens – $1797
- This is the ‘older’ version of the S5 but let me be clear: I am probably going to buy this camera (or its successor) as my next camera. It packs great stills image quality with all the typical Panasonic overdone feature list that would appeal to most every videographer. The built-in timelapse modes in particular are well suited for storm enthusiasts.
Video Starter Kit
Panasonic HC-VX981K – $697
- Camcorders that can shoot wide-ish and that have solid zoom lenses built in at an affordable price are not very common. But the Panasonic I’ve listed here checks all of those boxes off. It isn’t the widest (30mm at the wide end) but it will get the job done in a vast majority of storm filming situations.
Video Quality/Cost Combo
Sony FDR AX700 – $1899
- The market for featured packed, 1-inch sensor cameras at sub $2000 is very small (as in this is your only option). But it is a GREAT option. The biggest drawback to this cam is the 29mm wide end focal length. Like the Panasonic above, that’s just not that great. But it will get the job done.
Action cameras are a great option for storm chasing, especially in capturing storm structure and doing on-camera work. With their set focus lenses, using these are as simple as push a button and record (but they can be far more powerful if you want). In this buying guide, I’m recommending two:
- Standard Action Camera: GoPro Hero 11 Black – $449
- 360° Camera: Insta360 One X3 – $449
I’m not going to link to recommended batteries for each of the above cameras, but I tried to leave enough room in your budget with my camera picks for you to pick up 2 spare batteries, which is my recommended path. I typically use official manufacturer models, but I also sometimes buy Watson batteries as third-party options.
Here’s the deal: Buy a tripod. And do not skimp! A good tripod will last you 10 years or more, it is a long-term investment. Here are some recommendations:
- For Video: Benro Tripod w/S6 Fluid Head – $299
- For Photography: Manfrotto Tripod with Ball Head – $179
- If you need something cheap but good: Smallrig Tripod with Ball Head – $56
Every camera above takes SD Cards. I only recommend one brand of SD Card at this time: SanDisk.
For video cameras or video uses, I highly recommend getting a shotgun microphone. Audio quality is very important for video. Here, I’m recommending a low-cost option and a higher-cost option.
- Low Cost Option: Rode VideoMicro
- High Quality/Cost Option: Rode VideoMic Go
Learn all you can about cleaning your camera, it is an important part of camera ownership! For a basic kit, I recommend this one on Amazon.
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