So you’re looking to make your videos stand out from the rest of the pack in the world right now? You’ve come to the right place. 4K video quality is something our eyes can’t ignore — watch any comparison video or read a 4K resolution article and it’s quite obvious there’s a difference when compared to other popular video resolutions. However, it still isn’t quite the industry standard, mostly because a lot of devices can’t support the resolution completely for playback as well as many video cameras out there don’t offer the filming resolution at all. Although we ultimately love the Sony a7S as our pick, there are many others out there to keep in mind — that’s why we decided to help you find the top 10 best 4K video cameras on the planet to help you stand out from the rest.
Table of contents
Is filming in 4K worth it? We think so. Although the jump from 1080p to 4K isn’t as obvious as SD to HD was, you still have many benefits if you use a 4K video camera.
As of now, standard video playing websites like YouTube only support up to 1080p video quality (unless the person’s unit allows for 4K, it will adapt). So what if your video clip(s) are filmed in 4K — will it be differentiated from others even though YouTube only supports 1080p? Unfortunately, this Reddit post about 4K states otherwise. However, in our opinion, shooting your videos in 4K now will leave room for growth in the future when 4K video quality does become a norm. There are also quite a few other benefits to filming in 4K:
- You have more room for image stabilization (especially in post-production)
- Better detail due to the quadruple of pixels as compared to 1080p (we love this 4K video compilation)
- Great for filmers who need versatility since it allows for more flexibility (larger area of filming, zooming, stabilizing post-production, etc.)
- Future compatibility — we know 4K will continue to become a norm as time goes on
- 4K images are obvious to the human eye if you plan on using your camera for photography as well
- Pricing – The main factor in determining which video camera that films in 4K resolution is best for you depends on how much money you have saved up (or how much you come to learn you’ll need after reading this guide). They aren’t exactly cheap, and for those that are the most expensive, there is a very big price range you’ll have to decide to enter in to. We tried to find the best of numerous price points to help give you some options.
- Type of camera – There are a few different types of video cameras out there that supports 4K HD video resolution. We tried to grab a few of each to give you some options, and below are summaries of each.
- DSLR – Not many DSLR cameras film in 4K; however, we found a few to give you some options. They’re typically the most popular types of cameras for photography and (now) video filming, but usually only support up to 1080p (hence their lower price than many out there in the 4K world).
- Mirrorless – The most popular type of video camera when it comes to filming in 4K. These are a step up from DSLR cameras and although still on the rise, continue to make a name for themselves when it comes to more professional and higher-quality photography and video filming applications.
- Action cameras – These are great for sports and other activities you’ll be moving around a lot in, different types of weather, and rugged environments that call for a more versatile, smaller-sized cameras (you can use mounts and accessories to place them in different spots). A lot of these actually come with 4K resolution.
- Professional-grade – These are those cameras that look like the types TV and newscasters use. They typically rest on your shoulder, are a bit bigger (rightfully so, they have more complex internal systems), and have higher costs than many others. This is when you start to get into the cinematic look of your videos, especially in 4K HD mode.
- Camcorder – Some call them ancient, while we still feel they’re useful. They’re the cameras that were super popular up until a decade ago, fitting in your hand with a strap around your fingers — it may be the perfect solution for you.
- Point-and-Shoot – These are what many associate with “digital camera” — they’re compact, are great for optical zoom and autofocus, and aren’t as loaded with additional features and specs as many others. Many only film in 1080p; however, we found a few gems that possess our desired 4K to help.
- 360 degree camera – These are super fresh in the market and haven’t stood the test of time (we’re still seeing if they’ll be here to stay or not); however, quite a few of them now record in 4K, so we figured we’d at least include it in this list. To sum it up, these are cameras that basically film the entire field of view around you in panorama, with some giving you the option to later move the video around yourself.
- Extra features – What extra capabilities do you want your video camera to have? Aside from our main 4K HD quality requirement, some have higher quality image processors, auto focus systems, compact sizes, interchangeable lenses, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, low light sensitivity, and more. We list the highlights of each model to give you a feel of them.
- Additional accessories – Do you need some extra gear to accommodate your 4K video camera? Tripods, external microphones, windscreen, cases, and more. Oh, and don’t forget about lenses if you plan on grabbing an interchangeable model. Do you have your video editing and production software yet? Factor this into your budget.
Now that the debate is over and you are a bit more educated before making your big purchase, the following is our top 10 best picks of 4K video cameras. Let us know in the comment section if you have any questions or feel we are missing a recommended camera and we’ll keep it in mind!
This is by far one of the best 4K video cameras in the market right now and it’s backed up by many user reviews around the internet. It’s a mirrorless camera with a 12.2 MP full-frame sensor, has interchangeable lenses, and a very wide sensitivity range from ISO 50 all the way to 409600. The internal processing engine is also extremely high quality (it’s a high-speed BIONZ X) that gives you immense detail with rich tonal gradations and lower noise. The uncompressed 4K video resolution goes all the way up to 3840 x 2160 pixels and you also have some additional XLR audio inputs for external microphones to capture better quality audio. Grab this thing if you have the cash — you won’t be disappointed with the quality you’ll be getting, not to mention the relatively affordable price it brings (as compared to others in this class).
Blackmagic Design Production Camera
If you haven’t heard of this unique little thing, you’re in for a real treat, especially if you have the budget handy. Aside from the 4K quality (you can also shoot in 2.5K wide) and compact, easy-to-hold design, you have a wide dynamic range and versatility with PL, EF and MFT mount capabilities for endless lens choices. There’s a built-in touchscreen for monitoring settings and the sensor is a whopping Super 35mm. The detail is amazing with this sensor, giving you super rich colors and a solid depth of field. This is giving you a great size and design that’s very user-friendly, as well as some cinematic quality that will make you stand out from the rest, unless you’re trying to compete with Hollywood and everything.
GoPro HERO 4
We’re sure you’ve heard of GoPro and their domination in the sports and action video camera market, but did you know their higher models can shoot in 4K video? This is definitely a more specific camera for those with particular needs, but if you dig the point-of-view clips you see around the video world and want to make your own in 4K, check this out. Aside from the video quality, some additional features include (the Black version): great night vision support, waterproof (up to 40m), 12 MP photos, and control\view\sharing function via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (you can watch what you’re filming on your phone with their app). There are also countless mounts and adapters out there to help with merely any use you’ll need your GoPro for. This may be the perfect solution for you, and although we’re focusing on 4K video quality in here, they offer other models for cheaper prices that still film in 1080p. PCMag’s GoPro HERO 4 review has some more information on the overall performance.
Sony DSC-RX100 IV
If you were looking for one of the least expensive video camera that films in 4K resolution, here’s our pick. It has a great compact and stable size that’s especially handy if you plan on traveling frequently with it. You have a 20.2 megapixel Exmor sensor for some great photos, ISO of 125 to 6400, and a 24-70mm lens for some great image quality. The viewfinder is a bit different from others being a pop-up device but it works pretty well to see what’s in front of you. It’s a great 4K video camera for the price if you were looking to save some space in your wallet — although it doesn’t have touchscreen and there isn’t as much zoom as some others out there, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a few of these features, grab this for sure.
Here’s a solid professional-grade 4K video camera that’s lightweight, versatile and of course, gives us our beloved full HD 4K video resolution (3840 x 2160). You also have 12 megapixel pictures if you please, a nice 10x wide-angle zoom lens, 2x digital teleconverter and great optical image stabilization. Additionally, there’s some Wi-Fi, built-in ND filter, and clear LCD monitor with touch-panel for on-the-fly control of settings. The codec is up there (Canon XF-AVC) when it comes to quality of the raw clips, so you’ll have some more freedom when it comes to post-production. Now we’re starting to get into the professional territory so if you wanted to take a step above the mirrorless or action cameras out there to grab a more detailed and cinematic feel to your 4K videos, check this thing out.
Here’s a quite popular video camera often listed in the best 4K category. As seen below in the video demo, the feel is very warm and clear (we always recommend watching a demo to get a feel of that unique resolution each camera provides). The specs of the D-Lux include 12.8 MP four thirds MOS sensor, 3.1x zoom, 35mm equivalent (24-75mm), a nifty electronic viewfinder (2,764k-dot), a 3″ LCD monitor, and some very solid optical image stabilization. The ISO goes up to 25600 so it isn’t necessarily the widest in this guide, but you’re pretty covered there considering the price and you can go up to 40 fps shooting. Lastly, the Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC is super convenient for sharing and uploading clips to edit. Just another solid 4K video camera here that isn’t too expensive if you’re comparing it to the average in this guide. Recommended for those on a stricter budget than others.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7
Here’s a very popular mirrorless camera by Panasonic. With 24 compact lens options (micro four thirds), you’ve got some options if you feel like customizing your clips. It has a 16 MP sensor, great low light support, and ISO up to 25600. The design isn’t necessarily as compact as others but it is still feasible for most applications that don’t involve running around with their camera. You can also shoot photos in 4K so if you also wanted a camera that was great for photography, here’s a nice one to grab since it’s pretty cheap when compared to other heavy-hitters in the best 4K video camera category. DPReview’s rating of the DMC-G7 gave it their Silver award.
Here’s one of the best camcorders that shoots in 4K, and for those who say camcorders are a thing of the past, we beg to differ if you have specific needs. Although many in here are just about professional-grade or mirrorless with interchangeable lenses and fancy features, we recommend the FDR-AX53/B if you don’t want much pizzazz and need a mere solid, easy-to-travel-with camcorder that films in 4K video quality. Aside from the essentials, its equipped with an Exmor R CMOS sensor, a very fast auto-focus system, solid built-in microphone that captures it’s surroundings great, and an electronic viewfinder in front of you to see what’s getting captured. This may be the perfect and best 4K video camera for you, and don’t let others steer you away from the camcorder game if you feel an itch to grab one.
This is another one of the cheapest 4K video cameras in here; however, don’t let that fool you when it comes to the overall quality of the unit. The NX500 is quite popular among the budget-friendly photo and video enthusiasts, giving us interchangeable lenses, 16-50mm power zoom lens and flash, a 28 MP BSI APS/C sensor, a super-fast auto focus system and a very stable and convenient compact design. The image processor is called “DRIMe Vs”, which is considered to be one of the brand’s best processors that provides solid speed, performance and accuracy for your pics and video clips. It’s also pretty versatile with most conditions you’ll find yourself filming in. Grab this one if you didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a 4K video camera. CNet’s NX500 review thought it was solid.
Canon Cinema EOS C500
To top off our list, we have a beast here that should be taken seriously by professionals. This 4K video camera has a Super 35mm, 8.85 MP CMOS image sensor. The image processor itself is DIGIC DV III — and you’re getting full on professional cinematic and\or television quality here (you have two modes for 4K that adapt to either cinema or TV standards). What makes this 4K video quality even more unparalleled to others is the fact that it’s raw and uncompressed (you can shoot in 2K if you want as well). To export your clips or shoot live, the camera has an HD-SDI out ports for monitoring or the content can be written to CF cards (dual on-board) to offline systems. This one is listed last because of the obvious price, but if you aren’t messing around, this 4K video camera isn’t either. It’s for strictly professionals.