It wasn’t that long ago that 4K video was considered the most cutting edge format in video. TVs were cost prohibitive to all but the most serious consumers, and cameras that could shoot in 4K were practically unheard of. That’s not the case today. 4K camcorders are available in abundance, and you can get a decent model without having to spend a small fortune. The market is open up not just to professionals and hobbyists but to casual consumers as well.
That means that pickers can be choosers. There are a lot of digital camcorders vying for your attention, and they aren’t all created equal. We want to help you find the best 4K camcorder. That’s why we’ve put together this list of quality 4K camcorder reviews.
- The Best 4k Camcorder
- 1. Sony 4k FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
- 2. Sony HXR-NX80 4K HD NXCAM Camcorder
- 3. GoPro HERO 7 Black
- 4. Canon XA40 Professional Video Camcorder
- 5. Sony FDRAX53/B 4K Camcorder
- 6. PANASONIC 4K HC-WXF991K Camcorder
- 7. Canon VIXIA HF G50 Camcorder
- 8. Sony FDRX3000 4K Underwater Camcorder
- 9. Panasonic Bsi Sensor Multi-Camera Capture
- 10. Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder
- 11. Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Professional Camcorder
- 4K Camera Buying Guide
The Best 4k Camcorder
1. Sony 4k FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
The FDR-AX33 is Sony's second attempt in the field of 4K handheld camcorders, but it's managed to maintain the value of its original model while trimming things down to a mid-range price tag. This probably isn't going to be the best choice if you're just looking to experiment with HD footage, but more serious hobbyists will get a lot of use out of the handycam. It offers a great optical balancing system in the form of SteadyShot technology as well as the ability to shoot footage at night with infrared tech.
And while the price tag may still be a little steep to complete amateurs, this is a handy cam built with casual users in mind. The controls are streamlined without being overly basic, and it's an easy model to just pick up and use without having to learn a lot of complex techniques or menus.
2. Sony HXR-NX80 4K HD NXCAM Camcorder
If you're willing to double the price of the FDRAX33 and then some, you can get a Sony camera capable of meeting the needs of just about any professional videographer. But while it may be a pricey piece of gear, it's sure to be a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes their craft seriously. It's feature rich, while still managing to be a relatively compact camcorder, so it's a model well suited to students and one you can really grow into.
That said, the extensive menu that occupies the top of this video camcorder might be intimidating to new users, but it gives you a whole lot to work with once you learn the ins and outs. The impressive hybrid autofocus makes it easier to capture the shots you want especially when working on sports or action footage, and it can stream content easily using the smart connectivity options.
3. GoPro HERO 7 Black
The GoPro Hero 7 Black is easily one of the most affordable digital video camera recorders on our list, but there's a reason why the GoPro name is synonymous with action cameras. If you need a camera that can provide you with high intensity footage without having to master the art of videography, there are few options that can reasonably dethrone this cheap 4K camcorder. The video stabilization is some of the best in the business, allowing you to get footage with quality clarity even in extreme situations.
This is also one of the most heavy duty options around. This budget 4K camcorder is resistant to blunt force and shock, and it can be submerged to depths of 33 meters. Live streaming and voice control round out the package. And despite the low price tag, this is remarkably a 4k camcorder with 60fps maximum frame rates.
4. Canon XA40 Professional Video Camcorder
Canon's XA line is one of the most respected video camera brands among industry professionals, and the XA40 continues the legacy by offering a quality piece of equipment at a reasonably mid-range price of less than two grand. It largely resembles the Sony HXR-NX80 in design, which is to say that it's a relatively small model with a lot of controls, but it's a digital video camera with a whole lot of potential once you clear that initial learning curve.
The zoom functionality here really excels. The optical zoom can reach levels of 20x, and the five axis image stabilization system ensures that getting up close and personal with your subject isn't going to produce shaky footage. If you're looking to shoot in low light conditions, the XA40 offers an infrared mode to support that. It's one of the most compact pro models around but certainly not lacking in utility.
5. Sony FDRAX53/B 4K Camcorder
The FDRAX33 and the FDRAX53/B have nearly indistinguishable names, and that makes sense given how similar their specs are. Also similar are their pricing. Because while the FDRAX53/B costs a bit more than its little sibling, it offers a few distinct features that should make it a significantly more enticing HD camcorder for more serious video professionals and hobbyists. Most prominent here is the fact that the maximum optical zoom capabilities are effectively doubled. The zoom lens is further accompanied by a zooming microphone.
This is a 4K ultra HD video camera that's impressively welcoming to newcomers too. The entire frame is sleek and small, and the menu interface is simple enough to get a full grip on in an afternoon. Even if you aren't an especially skilled videographer, you can count on the intelligent autofocus and optical SteadyShot systems to help you produce pleasing footage.
6. PANASONIC 4K HC-WXF991K Camcorder
The Panasonic HC-WXF991K costs well under a thousand dollars, but it offers a lot of bang for its buck, and it's a strong contender for the best 4K camcorder in its price range. The electronic viewfinder delivers great results, and it's small enough to work admirably as a reasonable travel camera. The optical zoom can reach an impressive magnification of 20X, and it makes use of a high-quality Leica lens to produce crisp and high-quality video.
Distinct from most of the 4K camcorders today is the fact that the HC-WXF991K comes with a dual camera design. That means that you can shoot secondary picture in picture easily, and if you're willing to take a downgrade to 1080p footage, you can even do editing right through the camcorder. That dual camera functionality may be a fringe feature, but it's just a nice bonus for a camera that's pretty great all around.
7. Canon VIXIA HF G50 Camcorder
Canon makes some of the best 4K cameras in the business, but they don't come cheap. But if you have your eyes set on a Canon, the Vixia HF-G50 is the cheapest 4K camcorder they offer. It sports a very light design and easy to use interface. And despite the fact that it promises an optical zoom of up to 20X, it has great image stabilization and works exceptionally well as a low light camcorder.
But the star of the show here may very well be the Digic DV 6 processor. It ensures incredibly capable picture quality and some beefy processing power regardless of the environment or circumstances of your footage. This mini camcorder is also wired fully for sound. Not only do you get a decent external microphone, but you can also hook your headphones directly into the camera's jack for more isolated oversight when monitoring and recording.
8. Sony FDRX3000 4K Underwater Camcorder
The venerable GoPro has some competition by way of the Sony FDR-X3000. Both are good video cameras that are comparably priced, and both are designed with the needs of action photographers in mind. And while the FDR-X3000 leans into most of the strengths that the GoPro offers, it has the same weaknesses as well. Regardless, the video quality here is very strong, and it comes with a waterproof case that allows you to use it at depths of up to 200 feet. It's also freezeproof and highly resistant to dust.
And unlike the GoPro, this is a zoom video recorder. Just don't expect to reach the levels of magnification that you'd find in more expensive and more dedicated 4K video cameras. Where it can't keep up to pace with the GoPro Hero 7 is in its frame rates, but it's still a promising action cam with plenty to offer.
9. Panasonic Bsi Sensor Multi-Camera Capture
Panasonic has delivered on a fully functional 4K camcorder that's also reasonably priced. It's priced within the same range as the action cams from both GoPro and Sony but manages to deliver both a touchscreen interface and an electronic viewfinder, improving its versatility as a handheld option for amateurs and hobbyists. The 48X zoom (24X optical) is truly impressive, but Panasonic has gone all in on making sure that zoomed in footage looks good by including not one but three different image stabilization systems.
And this is also a twin-camera setup. That means that you can connect up to two smartphones to this camera to shoot multiple scenes simultaneously. While it may cost a couple hundred dollars more, we really recommend opting for the model with viewfinder. It offers a large screen with an impressive means to capture your footage accurately.
10. Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder
The FDR-AX700 is functionally pretty similar to Sony's other FDR handycams on our list, but it builds on some of the cheaper models with some luxurious extravagances. If you're willing to drop two grand on a 4K camcorder, you'll find this to be an accessible option that has a very shallow learning curve for newcomers but also offers a generous range of features well suited to the professional and semi-pro demographic.
The electronic viewfinder is an especially worthwhile inclusion. It offers a generous 273 autofocus points for its phase detection system, a huge boon especially for action and sports photographers. It's also expansive with its manual controls. The ability to automate much of the shooting process will be a great advantage to those still learning how to properly work a camcorder, but more experienced users can take the kids gloves off and have a lot more leverage to shoot how they want.
11. Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Professional Camcorder
The HC-X1000 is that rare but ideal camcorder that's incredibly accessible for new users while having a ceiling of functionality that's appropriate for true professionals. The big standout in the specs is the fact that is can shoot 4K UHD footage at 60 fps. That's a standard only achieved by the GoPro Hero 7 on our list. And if you're willing to take a knock to the frame rate, you can even shoot at the higher quality Cinematic DCI 4K resolution.
More professional videographers will appreciate the wide range of different formats you can shoot in. It gives you a lot more flexibility for your production and post-production needs and outstrips most of the other camcorders available today. The HC-X1000 also comes packed with two SD cards with capacities of 64GB each, offering you decent storage potential right out of the box.
4K Camera Buying Guide
Film enthusiasts have no lack of options when choosing cameras today, so one of the big questions you may find yourself asking is why go with a camcorder. Things have changed a lot since the days of vintage camcorders, but we’ve reached a point where these models designed specifically for shooting video aren’t necessarily the best option available. In the camcorder buying guides below, we’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of camcorders in comparison with the competing options.
GoPro vs Camcorder
Despite not being a camcorder, we’ve featured the GoPro Hero 7 on our list. There’s a good reason for that. It’s one of the best action cameras around, and it allows you to achieve 4K footage at a price well below most 4K camcorders. On the surface, that may seem odd. After all, the GoPro is the most durable camera in our camcorder reviews, equipped with great image stabilization, and capable of achieving a higher fps than any other model other than the HC-X1000.
But there are two distinct features missing from the Hero 7 and most GoPro models. The first is the lack of a traditional viewfinder. That’s a fundamental change that alters how you use it entirely, but it’s one that makes sense for the needs of action photographers. If you’re looking to mount a camera on a bike or helmet, there’s no need for a viewfinder after all. And if you need to angle your shots more precisely, the ability to use your phone as a second screen offers that. It creates a style of shooting significantly different from taking video with a traditional camcorder, but it definitely has its place.
The more damning exclusion is the lack of any zoom functionality. What you see is what you get with a GoPro, and you don’t have the option of changing your focus or zooming in dynamic ways like you can with the camcorders on our list. Ultimately, whether the lack of those two features (or the size, endurance, price, and stability of the GoPro) are going to be a breaking point is going to come down to exactly what you’re looking for.
Camcorder vs Camera
It used to be that a camcorder and a camera were two very different pieces of equipment. But that line is significantly more blurred than it used to be, and it can be hard to distinguish a mirrorless of DSLR vs camcorder in terms of general features. Most interchangeable lens cameras of today offer video features, and most camcorders allow you to create stills from video footage. But that’s not to say that camcorders don’t offer a distinct advantage when shooting video.
For one, the batteries in camcorders are designed for videos above pictures, and that means that they tend to sport significantly longer recording times than what you’d find in a DSLR. They also typically offer better manual focusing than DSLR cameras which is a big advantage once you start moving into hobbyist semi-professional videography. You also have to consider the design sensibilities. DSLR and mirrorless cameras are explicitly designed for short shoots and for maneuverability, whereas camcorders tend to be a little bulkier and intended to be held in the same position for longer periods of time.
When shooting video, there’s only really one factor where DSLR and mirrorless cameras win out: sensors. Traditional cameras have larger sensors than their camcorder brethren, and that means that they can perform better in low light settings. But that’s a fairly small concession when you take into account all the specialized advantages of a camcorder. If your first priority is shooting video, camcorders are still going to outclass comparably priced cameras in practically every way.
Camcorders are still the king of shooting video, and these 11 options represent the cream of the crop of what’s available in 2020. But read out reviews carefully! These video cameras don’t come cheap, and you should be sure you know what you need before making a purchase.