Best Cameras

Top 15 Best 4K Cameras of 2017 – Guide to Buying Ultra HD Camera

Want to buy an excellent 4K camera for your next cinematography project or simply for your viewing pleasure? I’ve covered the 15 best 4K cameras that fit various budgets and purposes in this article. All the cameras in my list are capable of recording ultra HD 4K video, but the quality is not equal. Read on to find out which is the best model for you!

best 4k cameras

Last year, we saw a new trend in the camera market with almost each and every big manufacturers introducing new cameras offering video recording in 4K, the second highest resolution supported by most recent consumer televisions. Interestingly, the fresh ultra HD 4K capture technology come in the form of cameras of different sizes and prices. Some 4K cameras are as bulky as you can imagine, while some others are not larger than the palm of your hand. Some are sold for a few hundred dollars, yet quite a few of them can easily cost you over 1000 bucks. Good thing is, with such diverse options, there’s no reason you can’t find a good 4K camera even if you’re in a tight budget.

That being said, not all 4K cameras perform the same. A number of key points, such as the type of the sensor, different capture methods, and default output settings, contribute to the overall quality of the footage. There are several other factors that come into play as well. To save you some time, I’ve made a list of the current top 15 4K cameras. Some are in the form of professional SLRs and mirrorless cameras, but you can also find a few consumer-grade cameras making the list. In addition, I’ve also included some tiny action cameras with stellar 4K capture capability.


Top 15 Best 4K Cameras of 2017

4K CamerasTypeSensor Res.LensMonitorUser LevelPrice
Panasonic Lumix GH5Mirrorless20MPMicro Four Thirds3.2-inch vari-angle screenExpert$$$$$
Fujifilm X-T2Mirrorless24MPFuji X3-inch tilting screenExpert$$$$
Sony Alpha A6500Mirrorless24MPSony E mount3-inch tilting screenIntermediate$$$
Nikon D500DSLR20MPNikon F3.2-inch tilting screenExpert$$$$$
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark IIMirrorless20MPMicro Four Thirds3-inch vari-angle screenExpert$$$$$
Panasonic Lumix G7Mirrorless16MPMicro Four Thirds3-inch vari-angle screenBeginner$$
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VCompact20MP24-70mm f/1.8-2.83-inch tilting screenIntermediate$$$
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300KCompact12MPLeica DC Lens3-inch vari-angle screenBeginner$
Nikon Coolpix B700Compact20MPNIKKOR Super ED3-inch vari-angle screenBeginner$
Panasonic HC-WXF991KCamcorder8MPLeica Dicomar Lens3-inch Wide LCDIntermediate$$
Sony FDR-AX53Camcorder8MPZEISS Vario-Sonnar3-inch Wide LCDBeginner$$
Canon XC10Hybrid12MP24.1-241mm3-inch touchscreenExpert$$$$$
Panasonic HC-X1000Camcorder (Pro-grade)8MPLeica Dicomar Lens3.5-inch Wide LCDExpert$$$$$
GoPro Hero 5 BlackAction Cam12MPUltra wide angle glass lens2-inch touchscreenBeginner$
Yi 4K Action CamAction Cam12MPWide-angle lens 2.68 mm - f/2.82.2-inch touchscreenBeginner$

Panasonic Lumix GH5 – Editor’s Choice

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Impressive dynamic range and high ISOs, superior per-pixel sharpness, eye-popping 4K videos/60fps with no crop, 6K photo mode, twin UHS-II SD slots, long battery life.

What’s Not: Slow buffer, navigating through menus is awkward, no low-pass filter, no built-in flash.

Panasonic Lumix GH5As the more advanced sibling of the already sensational GH4, Panasonic Lumix GH5 is loaded with even more sophisticated features; so many of them I can’t tell where to begin. Unlike its older brother, this camera makes use of the whole width of the sensor to capture the footage, which is then downsampled using the camera’s image processing power. This allows for all the frames not to be cropped and you’ll be able to use the camera’s recording function as if you used it to take still shots. In case you have no idea how it feels, it’s very convenient and the result is beyond compare.

Recording in cinematic 4K with Panasonic Lumix GH5 is possible up to 60 frames per second with max bit rate of 150Mbps. The size of the video will be unbelievably big, but you need not doubt its quality. Meanwhile, shooting in full HD resolution allows you to use much higher frame rate of 180fps, perfect for high action scenes. Color subsampling is made possible up to 4:2:2 with the color depth of 10-bit. That will not only give you more vibrant gradations, but also deeper color information.

To aid its superb video recording capability, Panasonic Lumix GH5 allows users to pair it with external recorder and feed its live output into it using its HDMI port. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a feature in other mirrorless camera. Although there’s already much to be admired from the GH5, Panasonic still has a plan to release a number of firmware updates to refine the camera recording function even more. Just a quick note for those who haven’t seen the camera physically, I have to tell you that it’s big. Also, while its ISO range has been broadened to a good extent from the GH4, it’s still not as broad as the competitors such as Nikon D500.


Best 4K Camera under $2,000

Fujifilm X-T2

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Stellar image quality in JPEG and RAW formats, amazing high ISO performance, weather sealing, twin UHS-II SD slots, fast hybrid autofocus, great 4K video.

What’s Not: Fly-by-wire focusing makes manual control less convenient, average battery life.

Fujifilm X-T2Fujifilm X-T2 has been receiving a major spotlight since last year. Not only because it’s the first of Fuji’s X series camera that’s capable of recording video in 4K, but also it shows everyone that Fuji means real business when it comes to video recording. Oversampling is the method used by this camera to produce 4K videos. For those unfamiliar, it’s a process in which the camera sensor captures more details of the images than what’s necessary, giving you much cleaner footage and less digital artifacts. Log gamma can be accessed by outputting the footage through its 8-bit HDMI port, allowing you to record an expanded dynamic range, while keeping the file bit depth limited.

Perhaps, the best thing about Fujifilm X-T2 recording capability is that the company’s Film Simulations modes can be used to capture video. Originally, such feature is only intended to take still photos. Fast focusing, fantastic viewfinder, and weather sealing are only a few of a bunch of other goodies that the camera offers. Still, I found a couple of shortcomings that may give you some concern. First, the video duration that you can record in 4K is limited to around 10 minutes. Also, it has no port for a headphone. To get around those two, you must pair the camera with the grip, which is sold separately. I believe those two issues don’t change the fact that Fujifilm X-T2 is still the smartest retro-styled camera there is currently.

Sony Alpha A6500

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Ergonomic design, subject selection via touchscreen, excellent image stabilization, outstanding image quality, JPEG stills are great in high ISO, burst capture up to 11fps, deep buffers, 4K video with no pixel binning.

What’s Not: Quite expensive for an APS-C camera, color accuracy in JPEG not always spot-on, buffer clearing can be slow, no headphone port.

Sony Alpha A6500Sony’s previous APS-C model camera, the Alpha 6300, was not a disappointment in the slightest. It attracted a good number of enthusiasts to using it, thanks to its superb autofocus and magnificent viewfinder. That didn’t seem to make the company satisfied, though. Sony decided to up the game by launching the upgraded version, Sony Alpha A6500. In addition to the wide range of great specs from the previous model, this camera also offers 4K recording capability. Such is achieved by downsampling the 6K footage that the sensor originally captures to 4K, improving its overall quality. All videos recorded in 4K are saved using Sony’s XAVC S codec and bit rate of 100Mbps.

Full HD recording can be done on higher frame rate of 120fps, although the bit rate remains the same. To complement its video recording functionality, Sony Alpha A6500 also offers Log gamma profiles and refined zebra patterning to help you monitor the exposure. If that’s not good enough already, hear this out: internal weather sealing, lightning fast focusing system using 425-phase detect point, OLED viewfinder up to 2.36-million dots, and burst shooting in full resolution at 11fps. You think Sony has stopped there? Wrong! The company equips the camera with 5-axis digital image stabilization to help you get non-wibbly-wobbly footage. Only minor issue is the rear LCD is not very bright.

Nikon D500

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Fantastic image quality, performance in high ISO is amazing, robust weather sealing, ergonomic design, bright vari-angle touchscreen, continuous shooting up to 10fps for 200 frames max, 4K UHD video, a lot of connectivity options.

What’s Not: Very bulky, expensive compared to other DX cameras, cropped frame for videos, no built-in flash, autofocus for Live View mode still uses contrast-detect.

Nikon D500Nikon D500 sits at the pinnacle of all the company’s APS-C-based cameras. Specs wise, the camera brings a good deal of major improvements from its older siblings. Nikon knows that in order to rival Canon EOS 7D Mark II, it must not hesitate. Fresh and more advanced features are squeezed into this DSLR camera, such as 20.7MP CMOS sensor, 153-point AF system, tilting touchscreen, exhaustive connectivity options, and 10fps continuous shooting up to 200 frames. If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’re definitely going to love this camera at the first sight.

Still, that’s not why Nikon D500 makes this list. It’s because of the camera’s ability to capture ultra sharp 4K videos at three different frame rate options, namely 30/25/24fps. Higher rate recording is only available in full HD resolution. Headphone and microphone ports are on board, so you dan’t have to buy a separate grip. Unlike Panasonic Lumix GH5, however, the all the footage it records is not in full frame. Rather, it’s processed using 1.5x crop factor in addition to the existing APS-C crop factor. This may sound like a shortcoming for some of you, but thanks to the crop, this camera is able to shoot at much higher speed. Ask anybody who knows about action photography: what’s the fastest DX camera today? They will likely answer Nikon D500.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Great image quality, superb high ISO and dynamic range performance, fast-locking hybrid AF, impressive burst rates, 4K videos in UHD and DCI (Cinema), double card slots

What’s Not: Pricey, only one slot that supports UHS-II SD card, no low-pass filter, no native flash.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark IIIt was rather difficult to decide whether it’s Panasonic Lumix GH 5 or Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II that should be on the top of this list. Despite being less popular, the latter impressed me nearly as much as the former. In video department particularly, Olympus has made a significant leap with the E-M1 Mark II. Recording in 4K will give you two options; whether it’s in the common UHD or in DCI standard (for those who don’t know, UHD is best for 4K television while DCI is best for projector). This is something that sets the camera apart from the competitors as none of them has it.

In addition to that, the in-camera image stabilization system that comes with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the best I’ve seen so far. It works so well in keeping your footage shake-free, you will hardly ever need a handheld stabilization device. On the other hand, the camera’s responsive Hybrid AF system can work hand-in-hand with its touchscreen, enabling you to shift the focus on different object very quickly. Other features that will help you get an outstanding 4K video include 4:2:2 HDMI output and a dedicated port for a headphone. Actually, there are still a lot more about Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II than just that, but they’re more intended for photography, whereas in this post I try to focus only on the cameras’ video recording functionality.


Best 4K Camera under $1,000

Panasonic Lumix G7

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Compact and lightweight compared to competing models, fast autofocus system, overall performance far from disappointing, deep buffers, fully articulating LCD, attractive price

What’s Not: Not very comfortable to grip for those with larger hands, Wi-Fi is very limited in range, muted colors.

Panasonic Lumix G7Panasonic Lumix G7 is one of the most well-rounded camera in this price range; OLED viewfinder, vari-angle touchscreen, ISO up to 25600, and pretty good support in low light. Although it still offers the same old 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor that’s equipped in the previous G6, a number of upgraded features do come along. The most noticeable of them all is probably its ability to capture ultra HD 4K videos. At 30fps, the 4K footage it records looks vibrant in colors and doesn’t seem to leave out any small details. You can activate the camera’s Continuous AF mode to help focus its lens on a fairly fast moving object. It doesn’t work very well for super high speed actions, though.

If you’re into photography as well, you’re going to love to hear that Panasonic Lumix G7 also offers some 4K photo modes. In this 4K Pre-burst mode particularly, the camera will record 2-second footage at the same frame rate of 30fps. You can then extract the still photos out of that footage, giving you 60 images in total. Unfortunately, the images you capture using this method will not be in 16MP as it should be if you capture them manually. Rather, they’ll be halved to 8MP. On the other hand, continuous shooting mode will only give you 6-8 frames per second, but all of them will be in full resolution of 16MP.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Pocketable design, wicked-fast burst capture, responsive and precise autofocus, uncompressed HDMI output, superb image quality, great high ISO noise levels.

What’s Not: One of the most expensive compact camera, no touchscreen, telephoto capture is limited by the lens, 4K videos no longer than 5 minutes.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VSony Cyber-shot RX100 V expands the glory of the RX100 cameras even further by adding 4K video capture to its hordes of features. As with RX10 III, the video is initially recorded with up to 1.7 times of the required amount of pixels. Using the in-camera processor, it is then downsampled to 4K. At the moment, recording in 4K is only possible at 30fps for the duration of no longer than 5 minutes. The control ring around the lens is stepless which is ideal for motion video recording as it helps keep the exposure consistent and prevents an aperture equivalent to zoom creep. Additionally, you cal so benefit from wide range of supporting features for video such as slow-motion recording, focus peaking, S-Log2 gamma, and zebra patterning.

As a compact camera, it is rather expected that Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V won’t have any microphone and headphone ports. The flip-able LCD display at the back is not a touchscreen, which is quite a letdown. Focusing your shot can’t get any easier with Sony’s outstanding hybrid AF system. It allows the camera maintain its autofocus and auto-exposure while performing a blazing fast 24fps burst-shooting. Knowing that all of those come in such a pocketable compact design makes this camera even sounds more awesome. The drawback is it’s very expensive for such a small camera.


Best 4K Camera under $500

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Improved viewfinder and LCD display, good image quality for its price, versatile lens, 4K videos and photos, fast autofocus.

What’s Not: Rather bulky, default noise reduction is too much in lower ISO range, Continuous AF is not not consistent.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300KOf all 1/2.3” sensor cameras, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K is one of very few – if not the only one – to feature 4K video capture. Even its closest rival, the Olympus Stylus 1s, doesn’t have such functionality. With all the premium specs and notable features it offers, I think it’s safe to say that this camera is the mini version of the more expensive Lumix FZ1000. As a matter of fact, it manages to best its bigger sibling in some ways. Its smaller sensor, for example, allows for a greater zoom range. Also, it’s more resistant to dust and moisture as it’s equipped with internal weather-sealing layer, something that the Lumix FZ1000 doesn’t have.

Capturing 4K video with Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K is possible up to 30fps. You can also use the said functionality to take still photos of 8MP. Continuous shooting can be done up to 12fps with Single AF, and will be dropped to 6fps if you choose to use Continuous AF instead. Composing the images can be done on the camera’s 3-inch fully articulating display or using the high resolution OLED viewfinder. There’s also Raw option to help you reduce the noise on the images, while performance on high ISO range is definitely better than any other cameras in this price range.

Nikon COOLPIX B700

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Superzoom lens allows for up to 60x optical zoom, crisp 4K UHD videos, free-angle LCD display, built-in flash, easy control for manual focus.

What’s Not: No touchscreen, AF sytem still relies on contrast detect, no integrated ND filter, no headphone jack for monitoring audio.

Nikon COOLPIX B700If you want an affordable compact camera that’s good both in taking still images and capturing videos, Look no further than Nikon COOLPIX B700. It’s a superzoom camera with incredible range and superb sensor. The 20.3MP BSI CMOS sensor it boasts is no child’s play. It’s a serious spec that can give you amazing image quality and perform very well in low light situations. On top of that, the camera is also equipped with NIKKOR ED glass lens capable of 60x optical zoom and 120x dynamic fine zoom. It can smoothly shift from wide-angle to telephoto zoom, helping you maintain your accuracy and precision with every shot.

Its video recording is also not to be taken lightly. Capable of capturing 4K/UHD footage at 30/25fps, Nikon COOLPIX B700 can help you figure out what it’s like to be a director of your own mini movie. Maximum duration for videos is up to 8 minutes and like all cameras previously mentioned, you can extract some still images from the footage you record. Face-priority autofocus, 5-axis in-camera image stabilization, and a dynamic stereo zoom mic are a few of the supporting features for video you’re likely going to appreciate. The autofocus can be set to only engage when the object you’re shooting is moving. The only thing that might bother you is it has no touchscreen.


Best 4K Action Camera

GoPro Hero 5 Black

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Outstanding image quality, waterproof without external housing, LCD touchscreen, voice command, Pretty good image stabilization.

What’s Not: Touchscreen loses its responsiveness when wet, image stabilization doesn’t work in 4K mode.

GoPro Hero 5 BlackJust because it’s an action camera geared more towards outdoor use, it doesn’t mean GoPro Hero 5 Black can’t be your best buddy to record casual 4K videos. As a matter of fact, you’re going to benefit a lot from its tiny size if you frequently move from place to place. The support for voice command also makes this little guy absolutely easy to use. It also has a touchscreen on the back, although it’s not as large as the one you find on any regular cameras. To capture audio, the camera has built-in dual microphones at the front and back respectively. They work pretty well, though if you want a more professional result, you’re going to need an external mic which can only be paired if you have the adapter.

Ultra HD videos in 4K resolution can be taken at 30fps. As the most premium camera from the company, GoPro Hero 5 Black also offers a slew more recording options; one that might get your attention is probably 1080p at staggering frame rate of 120fps, which is perfect for high speed actions. The camera achieves as much in photography as it does with videos. Obviously, you can’t expect it to perform just like a dedicated SLR camera. However, it does offer quite a few things to get excited about: 12MP still photos, single, burst, and timelapse modes, support for Raw files, Wide Dynamic Range mode (equals to HDR).

Yi 4K Action Cam

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Amazing 4K/30fps videos, longer recording duration, high speed recording in full HD, lightweight, touchscreen larger than Hero 5 Black by GoPro.

What’s Not: No GPS, awkward buttons layout, Raw files not supported, need the case to be waterproof.

Yi 4K Action CameraYi 4K Action Camera tries to mimic GoPro Hero 5 Black with its key offerings and it does so in impressive fashion. It can record 4K/30fps video up to 2 hours long, perform high speed recording at 120fps in 1080p resolution, and capture 12MP still images. On the flip side, it does lack GoPro’s bells and whistles such as voice command support, Raw files, GPS, and fully rugged construction. Still, where it loses to GoPro, it makes it up with other neat features. First off, it has bigger touchscreen and longer battery life than GoPro. Its overall weight is also lighter, although if you pop it into its waterproof housing – which comes at a separate cost – it weighs just the same.

The main advantage of Yi 4K Action Camera over GoPro, however, is its selling price. Currently, you can get this camera for less than half the price of GoPro. Call this mad, but it’s real. Performance-wise, it doesn’t fall too far behind from GoPro. Heck, I’d go on and say that both are comparable. The 4K/30fps video is super bright and vibrant, although you might notice a little bit of distortion around the top corners of the images. That’s not the camera’s fault, though. It’s just what you normally get if you capture footage with wide-angle lens, which is the signature spec of all action cameras.


Best 4K Camcorder Consumer-Grade

Panasonic HC-WXF991K

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Easy to use, 4K videos on main camera, secondary camera captures footage in full HD, many editing features on-board.

What’s Not: Expensive for a camcorder, noticeable moire effect.

Panasonic HC-WXF991KCES 2017 welcomed a new member of 4K video camcorder by Panasonic, the HC-WXF991K, the upgraded version of the older WX970 camcorder which was unveiled the year before. While there are some features that are retained by the company, some nice improvements expand both its user friendliness and capability. Among the new features are tiltable electronic viewfinder and an additional frame rate option of 24fps for its 4K recording mode. Moreover, you can also find a couple of fresh in-camera video effects, namely the slow-motion and dolly-zoom. Other than that, the camera remains the same. It still sports a dual recording camera system and allows users to extract still images from its 4K footage using 4K Photo mode.

Probably, the most intriguing feature of Panasonic HC-WXF991K is the little twin camera that’s attached on the corner of its tiltable LCD touchscreen. You can use it to capture videos from two angles at the same time. It’s worth noting that the maximum resolution for the secondary camera is only full HD. Still, should you feel like making a picture-in-picture video, there’s no other camera that makes it any easier than this one. A suite of editing tools are available on-board and if you want to make your 4K footage looks more cinematic, you’ve got lots of effects to help you. Just be a little cautious when using the zoom function as turning it to max might blur the images slightly.

Sony FDR-AX53

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Excellent image stabilization, 4K UHD videos, high-res OLED viewfinder for shooting outdoor, bit rate in 4K mode up to 100Mbps, manual focus ring.

What’s Not: Small sensor no for professional use, Sony’s BOSS image stabilization can’t be activated in 4K.

Sony FDR-AX53Sony FDR-AX53 is the better and updated version of the AX33. Featuring Exmor R CMOS sensor that’s 1.6 times bigger than its predecessor, this camcorder is able to deliver much better performance in any conditions. You will likely notice the difference when you’re shooting in a setting where the lighting is scarce. The lens has also been upgraded, now allowing you to set optical zoom up to 20 times closer. To top it off, this Handycam also brings forth the stability made possible by Sony’s enhanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization technology. With such advanced specs, the 4K UHD video you capture using this camera will not only look crisp and sharp in colors, but also professionally smooth.

Other aspects of Sony FDR-AX53 that have been refined from the previous model include faster and more accurate autofocus system and also high speed recording up to 120fps in full HD resolution. To monitor your recording, the camera provides a 3-inch LCD touchscreen. Alternatively, you may also use its high-res OLED electric viewfinder. As for connectivity, it offers HDMI port, Wi-Fi, and also NFC. Default recording settings are good enough for those who want to make a quick high definition video capture of their precious moments. If you’re a more experienced videographer, the comprehensive manual controls allow you to tweak various settings; from the exposure to white balance. All in all, Sony FDR-AX53 is an amazing consumer-grade video camcorder.


Best 4K Camcorder Professional-Grade

Canon XC10

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Crystal clear 4K videos, 10x optical zoom, 12MP still photos have better quality than any camcorders.

What’s Not: No interchangeable lens, no port for XLR microphone, recording in 4K must use CFast 2.0 cards.

Canon XC10If you make it to this point, you’ve probably been wondering why there’s none of Canon Cinema EOS series cameras in this list. Well, it’s because they’re extremely expensive, hence, not delivering the best value for money. However, if you’re a devoted Canon’s fan, you can consider this Canon XC10. Geared more towards video recording, the compact hybrid camera excels as well in capturing still images thanks to its 12MP 1-inch CMOS sensor. Its versatility is also aided by the 24.1-241mm lens and also adjustable grip, not to say the internal image stabilization too, which apparently works very well in keeping the footage steady.

The prosumer Canon XC10 can capture 4K UHD videos at 8-bit and 4:2:2 ratio. Canon log option is there too to help you increase the dynamic range up to 12EV stops. In very bright conditions, you can benefit a lot from the built-in ND filter to reduce the amount of light in the image; no more need to adjust the aperture. Surprisingly, the camera has no internal electronic viewfinder. In exchange for that, Canon equips the camera with a loupe, enabling users to make full use of the LCD touchscreen on the back. Other notable features include HDMI output and focus peaking. If you think the sensor is a bit too small for shooting in low light condition, you can choose the upgraded version, Canon XC15. The price gap between the two is astronomical, though.

Panasonic HC-X1000

In a Nutshell

What’s Hot: Recording in 4K UHD resolution up to 60fps, great value, lightweight and compact for a prosumer-grade camcorder.

What’s Not: Limited dynamic range, build quality feels cheap, small sensor translates to poor performance in low light.

Panasonic HC-X1000If you don’t mind shelling out a few hundred dollars more, you may want to choose Panasonic HC-X1000 over the previous Canon XC10. It’s a full-on video camcorder, though. So, if you’re still interested to get the best of the two worlds, this is not your thing. Anyway, this professional-grade camera sets the bar high for competitors by allowing users to capture 4K UHD videos at unusually high frame rate of 60fps. Also, instead of requiring you to insert the expensive XQD cards to its storage slot, you can just use regular SD cards with this camera. As you’re probably aware by now, such things are not possible to do with other cameras.

To complement its 8MP 1/2.3-inch BSI sensor, Panasonic HC-X1000 uses 4-drive Leica Dicomar lens system that allows for up to 20x optical zoom. Manual controls can be set quickly using the textured triple rings (focus, zoom, and iris). If you’re shooting at lower shutter speed, you will certainly appreciate the ND filter that’s built into this camera. Monitoring your shots can be done using a tilt-up color EVF or a pull-out high-res LCD touchscreen. As for audio, the camera can be paired with two high performance external microphones at the same time, thanks to the 2-channel XLR inputs.


Key Considerations when Choosing the Best 4K Camera

Price

Whether you like it or not, the camera’s price will be the main thing to consider when you’re looking for a 4K-capable camera. After all, you cannot buy stuff that your money can’t afford. As you can see from the above list, a 4K camera can cost you as little as a few hundred dollars to all the way up to more than two grands. Obviously, the more expensive cameras have the better specifications, hence the better performance as well. Many of them feature bigger sensor and more dynamic lens. These will make quite the difference when you’re shooting in certain situations, such as low light.

Camera’s Type

best 4k cameras guide

Cameras that can record 4K UHD footage come in all forms and sizes. They can be a compact point-and-shoot camera or a bulky and heavy pro-grade video camcorder. I break down the types of the camera into the followings:

  • Mirrorless Cameras: Many of the cameras that I include in the above list of the best 4K cameras fall into this category. Currently, it’s safe to say that mirrorless is the most popular type of camera. Although they may not perform as well as DSLR cameras in low light conditions due to not having a complex mirror system, they generally offer better video quality, thanks to the faster autofocus speed.
  • DSLR Cameras: The majority of DSLR cameras today only offer video recording with max resolution of full HD 1080p. Of course, there are a few exceptions that can shoot in 4K such as Nikon D500, which is considerably more expensive than other DSLR camera with typical specs. They’re mostly used by photography enthusiasts, not videographers. The internal mirror system in DSLR cameras make them bulkier and heavier than their mirrorless counterparts.
  • Compact Cameras: These ones go by many different names: pocket cameras, digital cameras, point-and-shoot cameras. Whatever you call them, these are the best possible option if you want to capture your last vacation on the beach and turn it into an eye-popping 4K video. They might not be as comprehensive as mirrorless and DSLR cameras, but their portability is unrivaled. Needless to say, they’re very easy to use as well.
  • Camcorders: As any other cool gadgets, camcorders come in two different types: the pro-grade and the consumer-grade. There are not many consumer-grade camcorders that offer 4K video recording. Some that do cost nearly $1,000. For such reason, you might be tempted to choose a mid-range mirrorless camera as it offers the best of the two worlds (videos and still photos). The only advantages they have over mirrorless camera are their ergonomic design and superior built-in image stabilization.
  • Action Cameras: They’re an ideal option if you shoot mostly outdoor, as they’re tiny in size and have better durability. Your 4K videos might not be as impressive as the ones recorded by a high end mirrorless camera, but the technology on action camera has grown quite significantly in the last few years. GoPro’s latest flagship camera for example, the Hero 5 Black, can capture software-stabilized 4K UHD footage at 30fps. The thing that might be your concern is all action cameras use wide-angle fisheye lens that may distort the image slightly.
  • 360-degree Cameras: Although a number of 360-degree cameras can record 4K videos at acceptable rate, the technology is still rather underdeveloped. Image quality isn’t as impressive as GoPro. That’s why I exclude them from this list.

Your Skill Level

Would you buy a camera that takes you ages before you can figure out how to use it? I don’t think so. Whether you like it or not, some cameras are made for more experienced users. You will not want to buy any of these cameras if you’re new to this hobby. Although it may offer superior image and video quality, it will only frustrate you as you have no idea how to make the most of it. For beginners, it’s best to choose a camera that’s easy to use. Point-and-shoot camera like Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V offers a very straightforward operation while still delivering the best of video and image quality in its price range. You can also opt for consumer-grade camcorder such as Sony FDR-AX53. Navigating through its menu settings and monitoring your shots can’t be any easier using its 3-inch touchscreen.

The likes of Panasonic Lumix GH5, Nikon D500, and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are not meant for casual users. Just looking at the on-board buttons may give you a headache already. However, if you’re used to dealing with mid-range camera such as Nikon COOLPIX B700, those three can be a good step-up. While they might not be as intuitive as your go-to camera, once you get a good grasp on the features and functionalities, they will certainly help take your photography and videography skills to the next level.

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