Last year, we welcomed several new cameras equipped with advanced 4K video recordings, and now almost every major camera manufacturer has implemented 4K recordings somewhere in its line. Some will be more successful than others. But perhaps the most impressive, the technology has been successfully stretched over models of all invoices. So whether you have just a few hundred pounds or dollars to spend or are willing to extend to a handsome sum of four figures, you can probably afford one of the Best 4K Cameras.
Just because the cameras have a 4K recording does not mean that they are the same. The use of different sensors and different recording methods, together with variations in output options, means that two 4K cameras can behave differently. Even something as simple as whether the camera uses the full width of the sensor or applies a crop factor is of vital importance to consider, as this has a significant effect on your effective viewing angle.
Best 4K Cameras
For people with little or no background knowledge regarding 4K cameras and their technology, it can be a challenging task to choose the Best 4K Cameras. However, if you are familiar with cameras and all of their necessary information, you should still think about a few things before making a decision that you have just read above. In short, all we can say is that 4K technology has given us a whole new perspective for taking photos and recording videos, and this technology is sure to leave its mark here.
A powerful 4K camera
The world’s attention seems to be focused on full-frame cameras at the moment, but the X-T4 is much cheaper and also has very advanced 4K video capabilities. These include the ability to record 4K video at up to 60p, for a smooth 2x slow motion effect. Not only that, it can also record the slightly wider Cinema 4K format at the same speeds. And there’s more. Most 4K cameras capture 8-bit video internally to memory cards, but the X-T4 can capture higher-quality 10-bit video internally and, if you connect an external recorder, can store video at a higher 4:2:2 color sampling quality.
The big step forward with the X-T4, however, is the new built-in stabilization, which can reduce or eliminate the need for a gimbal, especially when used alongside the digital image stabilization system. For all-around size, performance, power and price, the X-T4 is hard to beat.
Canon EOS R5
With improved 8K recording times, the EOS R5 looks even better
As a still camera, the Canon EOS R5 is simply Canon’s best product ever. It is the perfect combination of the form of the EOS R, the functionality of the EOS 5D, and the professional autofocus of the EOS-1D X. If you shoot stills or hybrid stills and alternate between shooting stills and video, this is one of the best cameras you will ever have at your disposal. The camera has attracted some attention for the wrong reasons, most notably overheating (or the threat thereof) when recording 8K video.
However, this should not detract from the extraordinary capabilities of this camera. It’s not perfect in everything, but given its resolution, frame rate, and video capabilities, this is truly a groundbreaking camera. It is expensive and it looks like there is still some development work to be done on the video side, but as a crossover pro photo/video camera it is a huge step forward. The only reason this camera is not number one on our list is the price.
Panasonic Lumix S5
Serious 4K video power in an affordable full frame camera
Despite its compact size, the Lumix S5 shares the impressive 24MP CMOS sensor of the Lumix S1, but with improved autofocus. The camera also has a rugged, weatherproof body and offers up to 6.5-stop image stabilization with compatible lenses. Among its most notable features are class-leading dynamic range and 4K video recording, as well as high-resolution 96MP RAW+JPEG recording.
It’s hard to beat in this category, and if you had your eye on the Lumix S1H (or the Lumix S1), you should look at this first. Panasonic has created a brilliant camera for content creators at an affordable price and in a portable package. Bravo! Panasonic’s autofocus technology is not on the same level as other brands, especially Sony and Canon, but that is not the only factor in choosing a camera for 4K video.
Not exactly adventurous, but a really competent 4K camera!
The Sony A7C’s specifications are unambitious to say the least, especially in terms of video capabilities, but its practical performance, from its handy vari-angle screen to its excellent AF system, is very effective. But why did we include this camera and not the mighty Sony A1? Because the A7C does the right job at the right price, where the A1 is overkill for most users. We’ll leave it to you to decide if the silver A7C’s two-tone design is attractive, but for us it doesn’t have the quality “feel” of the other A7 models.
With that new 28-60mm retractable lens, the A7C is also compact. Most important for videographers is the very usable vari-angle screen, in-body stabilization and Sony’s excellent autofocus system.
Nikon Z6 II
It’s an evolutionary upgrade of the original Z6, but still worthwhile
The Nikon Z6 II is a slight refresh of the original Z6, with a second memory card and processor providing a jump in burst shooting, now up to 14fps, and the promise of 4K 60p video via an update. However, 60p video is trimmed (and won’t be here until February 2021) and the camera still doesn’t have a hinged screen, making it less attractive for video and vlogging. Existing Z6 owners won’t find it necessary to upgrade, but new buyers get a very capable camera at a pretty good price. The dual card slots are a definite plus, Nikon’s in-camera stabilization is very good, and the list of Nikkor Z lenses is steadily growing.
Panasonic Lumix G9
The Lumix G9 is nipping at the heels of Panasonic’s pricier GH5
At one time we would not have hesitated to recommend the more expensive Lumix GH5 as the best Panasonic Lumix G 4K camera. However, a series of firmware upgrades has brought the cheaper Lumix G9 to the point where it more or less matches the video capabilities of the GH5, but is a slightly better still camera (thanks in no small part to the pixel-shift high-res mode, for example). The Lumix G9 combines a 20.3MP image sensor with super-fast autofocus and a fast continuous drive speed of 12 fps.
Originally launched as a photo-focused camera, its video capabilities are formidable, and were made even better with a v2.0 firmware update in November 2019, which brought improved autofocus and 10-bit internal video recording. The G9 includes Panasonic’s excellent 6.5-stop dual stabilization system (in-body and lens-based, where available). This may be a bit intimidating for beginners, but for serious filmmakers and photographers it is a very strong proposition. Even better, recent price drops have made this camera extremely affordable.
Sony A7S III
The 12MP stills may not be useful, but the 4K video specs are great
It took Sony five years to upgrade the video-focused A7S II to a Mark III, but the wait has been worth it for avid enthusiasts and professional filmmakers. It may not have the 6K or 8K video resolution of some of its rivals, and at just 12.1MP it’s not a powerful super-stills machine either. But aside from being a large and expensive cinema camera, it is the only camera that can shoot 4K at 60p full frame with no cropping, shot internally, in 10-bit 4:2:2 with no recording time limitations and with all the advanced AF features still working.
The 12MP resolution means the A7S III is pretty bad as a still camera, but a natural in 4K, so it’s more geared towards video than stills. Sports fans should know, however, that the camera can take photos at 10fps and has an incredible raw buffer of 1,000 shots (with new CFexpress Type A cards).
Panasonic Lumix S1H
Panasonic’s video-focused 6K cinema camera also shoots 24MP stills
With the Lumix S1H, Panasonic has used its considerable video experience to bring many of its high-end VariCam features to the Lumix S series. The controls, interface and certainly the hardware are designed for video and cinematography, and the fact that it is also a very usable 24MP still camera is a bonus. It really is an attractive “bridge” between conventional system cameras and high-end cine equipment, especially for existing Panasonic videographers. However, it is expensive and specialized, so not necessarily the first choice if you want to keep costs down – although the ‘regular’ S1 does seem to be the next best thing right now.
The official Netflix accreditation is a big plus, but the continuous AF proved rather lacking in our tests, so that, combined with the considerable size and weight of this camera, rules it out for vlogger-style run-and-gun videography. However, a recent upgrade to offer ProRes RAW output via HDMI to Atomos Ninja V devices adds to the S1H’s credibility as a cinematic camera at a normal camera price.
Panasonic Lumix G85
Significant features squeezed into a small body
Before we look at expensive and best 4K cameras, we wanted to emphasize a slightly more affordable alternative. It may not be a drip of features, but Panasonic’s Lumix G85 (known as the Lumix G80 in the UK) is still a competent and cost-effective option for people looking for a budget 4K camera. There is 4K video recording up to 30p (with a bit rate up to 100 Mbps) and a special microphone connection. The focus is fast, while the touchscreen with varying angles, the frame material friendly and easy to make. The G85 is also weatherproof to protect it from the elements.
Panasonic Lumix GH5S
This is one uncompromising video tool
Although it is quite quiet to take pictures (although with a reasonably limited resolution of 10.2 MP), this should first and foremost be seen as a video camera – if you want to do both, you have the Lumix GH5 (below) to fill that gap. Although the absence of built-in image stabilization may be a disappointment for some, the issue is unbelievably impressive in addition to video capabilities. If you want to record professional-quality images without having to retake your home to buy a professional video camera, you will not find a better video-focused camera right now.