There was a time when 4K recording was something reserved for serious videographers, but those days are long past us. The recognized standard for high definition video is available to just about everyone these days, but all 4K isn’t built the same, and there’s still a pretty wide gulf between the best 4K cameras and the worst. And if you don’t know the ins and outs of how these cameras work, it’s easy to walk away with a sub-par camera.
Fortunately, you have HotRate. We’ve found 10 of the best 4K video cameras for a range of different budgets, and we’ve provided a concise review for each. After the review section, we offer tips you can use to shop smarter even if you don’t find your perfect camera here.
TL;DR - 10 Best 4k Cameras:
- PANASONIC LUMIX FZ80 4K Digital Camera
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame SLR Camera
- PANASONIC LUMIX FZ300
- Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR
- Sony Alpha a6300 4k Digital Camera
- Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- Sony a7R II
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Camera
- GoPro HERO 7 Black
1. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ80 4K Digital Camera
If you're looking for an entry level 4K camera that best blends together value with accessibility, the Lumix FZ80 is a model well worth your time. The point and shoot interface makes it one of the best choices around for YouTube personalities who don't necessarily want to pick up a whole new trade to capture their personalities on camera, but there's still some strong functionality in this 4K camera.
That includes a 60X zoom that can help you get up close and personal with your subjects from any distance and a sensor that facilitates great image capture even in the lowest light settings. And the Wi-Fi connectivity in this 4K camera will ensure that uploading your footage to social media will never be difficult. There's even a post focus mode that allows you to adjust the subject of your video after you've already shot it.
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame SLR Camera
The EOS 5D Mark IV comes with an intimidating price tag, but it's easily one of the best 4K video cameras you'll find today. Just bear in mind that this is a stills camera first and foremost, so if you don't intend to use it for both video and still images, this camera probably won't be the best choice for you. But there's a lot to like about this DSLR camera, and Canon offers one of the best selections of interchangeable lenses in existence.
In fact, this is easily one of the most well rounded cameras you'll find. The autofocus system is phenomenal and even work in live view mode. And if you're looking to capture action footage, you'll love the fact that the 1080p resolution supports a range of different modes and frankly absurd speeds of 120 frames per second.
3. PANASONIC LUMIX FZ300
The Panasonic Lumix FZ300 is a far more affordable camera than Canon's 5D Mark IV, and right now it's offered at a discount well below retail price. And this bridge camera comfortably fills a niche between a point and shoot and a DSLR that's accessible but also powerful. The Leica lens is a big selling point here, but so is the zoom. Despite sporting a solid maximum range of 24X, it still performs in very low light situations and has a great sense of stability in the form of a 5 axis image stabilization system.
When you want to shoot 4K, you can rest easy knowing that you'll get a steady 30 frames per second. This camera is also weather resistant, making it one of the best choices around if you're looking for an action camera that doesn't sacrifice image and video quality for the sake of sturdiness.
4. Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR
The Nikon D500 is a DSLR that clocks in at roughly half the price of the EOS 5D Mark IV, but unless you're a serious photographer who demands the most top of the line camera available, it should more than meet your needs. It's honestly one of the best cameras around by any metric. The frame rate maintains a steady clip of 30 frames per second while shooting in 4K, and the build quality is solid and reliable.
But the big gold star for this camera is its autofocus system. It works shockingly quickly and makes use of a phenomenal 153 AF points to let you more capably focus on whomever or whatever your subject may be. And the connectivity here is also top shelf, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC so that you can transfer your videos and images in any environment and with little to no fuss.
5. Sony Alpha a6300 4k Digital Camera
The Sony Alpha series is well regarded in the professional photography community for producing some of the best mirrorless cameras around, and the A6300 perfectly threads the needle between utility and value in a way that no other models in the Sony Alpha line quite manage. Less than $1000 gets you a camera that expertly balances still and video image quality, and the lightweight design makes it a great choice for travel photographers. The result is a camera that's well suited to professional photographers but still accessible to amateurs and hobbyists.
This model produces some legitimate cinema 4K video while also incorporating an ultra quick autofocus system that will make you feel like a master photographer without much effort at all. The OLED viewfinder has a phenomenal resolution, and the wide range of articulation on the LCD screen makes it easy to capture shots from even the trickiest of angles.
6. Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera
There are few cameras with the great sense of balance that the Fujifilm X-T3 offers. If you're looking for a model that can support both quality video and photos, this is going to be one of the best options for you. This black and silver camera has a classic vibe, but it packs in a whole lot of cool new features that really improve its value.
A touchscreen display makes navigating the autofocus system a complete breeze, and the dynamic range is significantly above average, offering a beautiful sense of contrast between white and black. The weather sealed construction makes it a great model for outdoor use, and the Live View clocks in at a smooth 60 fps.
7. Sony a7R II
The a7r II is a significant step up in quality from the previously reviewed Alpha a6300, and it's one of the best cameras if the ability to shoot quality stills is important to you. The 42 megapixel sensor is phenomenal and practically unmatched, and the 35 millimeter BSI CMOS sensor is the first of its kind.
But the best in class stills quality isn't the only thing to be impressed about with this camera. The autofocus has an incredible amount of pep, and it can even work with lenses that aren't native to the Sony ecosystem. Then there's the five axis stabilization system that will allow you to get steady and beautiful footage even in extenuating circumstances. And if you choose to shoot 4K in the Super 35 crop mode, the camera will even oversample for better results.
8. Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Most of the cameras we've focused on here find the best balance between stills and videos, but the Blackmagic Design focuses exclusively on shooting high-quality cinema 4K footage. As a more specialized model, it's very impressive and maybe the best choice available if your interests exclusively relate to the ability to record top notch video.
The big selling point is the fact that it can run at 60 frames per second, double that of what you'd find in many of its contemporaries. It also promises a dynamic range of 12 stops and a great sense of contrast between black and white. Despite being marketed as a "pocket" camera, this model won't fit in your pocket, but it still has a nice lightweight frame and an ergonomic grip that makes handling it a delight.
9. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Camera
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II by Olympus has been on the market for a few years now, but it continues to be arguably the best micro four thirds camera available anywhere. The weatherproofing here is especially tough, resilient enough to even take a bullet. And the autofocus is similarly impressive even when trying to capture high speed action footage.
More advanced users will love how customizable this model is. The control interface can be tweaked to your specific needs. Meanwhile, the image stabilization in this camera is the best in its class, so you won't need to worry about shaky results when you're working in less than ideal situations.
10. GoPro HERO 7 Black
In the world of action cameras, there's GoPro and then there's everyone else. And in the world of GoPro cameras, the Hero 7 Black occupies the top of the heap. The Hero 7 Black offers great 4K video and still quality in a tiny frame, and it's designed to be mounted on your helmet or handlebars with any compatible GoPro mounting accessories (you can also find an upgraded version of the Black that comes with a whole collection of accessories packed in).
And while this is an incredibly easy to use action camera, it comes with a healthy variety of shooting modes too. Whether you're looking to capture slow motion or time lapse footage, you'll find the whole process to be a cinch. The Hero 7 is both waterproof and shockproof.
4K Camera Buyer’s Guide
Our review section serves as a great introduction to 4K cameras, but a review alone can’t convey the information you need to shop smarter. We’re here to break down the most important features you should look for when tracking down 4K cameras for filming.
We’ll start by outlining our criteria for picking models for review and then explain the different types of 4K filming camera so you can narrow in on the features, specializations, and pricing that suits your specific needs. We’ll follow that up with a description of the most important specs and features you should look for when tracking down a 4K video camera and finally wrap things up with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we hear at HotRate.
Our Review Criteria
We’ve already provided a guide for the best 4K camcorders available today, so we decided to focus this list on the best filmmaking cameras that support 4K shooting while also offering capable still shooting options. That fortunately still left us with a lot of room to cover cameras in a variety of price ranges. If still photography isn’t a big deal for you, you may want to turn your attention to our guide to the best 4K camcorders of 2020.
Types of Cameras
One of the most important criteria when looking at camera models is whether or not they have interchangeable lenses. Interchangeable lenses are largely a necessity for professional videographers because they allow you to shoot a wider variety of footage. Whether you need a specialty zoom lens or something that can capture an ultra wide angle, you’ll have a lot more options with an interchangeable lens camera.
Interchangeable lens cameras take the form of either mirrorless cameras or DSLRs. DSLRs tend to be heavier and more expensive, an while the fact that they’ve been around for so long means that they often support more accessories and lenses than mirrorless models, that’s quickly changing. Some of the best DSLR models, like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, can cost thousands of dollars. Due to its smaller weight and price tag, we generally recommend mirrorless models as the best choice for most people. A good model like the Sony Alpha a6300 can be picked up for less than $1000.
Cameras without interchangeable lenses tend to be far less expensive and easier to just pick up and use. These are often the best cameras for hobbyists and amateurs. Point and click cameras are the most common, and while they don’t come with many of the advanced features you’d find in an interchangeable lens model, they require almost no training. Bridge cameras don’t use interchangeable lenses but offer many of the advanced features and support for accessories you’d find in a mirrorless or DSLR model. Finally, action cameras like the GoPro Hero 7 Black are built tough, designed to be mounted, and the best option for recording action footage.
The quality of 4K footage will be more or less consistent across avery camera. What you need to pay more attention to when shopping for the best model is frames per second. Frame rate can have a major effect on how smooth your footage looks. 30 frames per second is pretty standard for 4K, but there’s significantly more difference in the frame rates of lower resolution 1080p footage. If you’re willing to take a downgrade in the quality of some of your resolution for the sake of higher frame rates, you may want to dig deeper into those specs.
The resolution of still cameras is measured in megapixels. Generally, the higher the megapixel count, the better the footage, but that can vary depending on whether you’re using a micro four thirds or a differently sized sensor.
A good stabilization system is especially important when shooting video. Built-in image stabilization ensures that your footage will look clean and smooth and avoid “shaky cam” results. It’s especially important when using zoom. But if your camera doesn’t have great image stabilization, you can always help reduce the problem with accessories like gimbals or tripods.
The size of a camera sensor can have a major effect on both how well it performs in low light settings and the perspective of your footage. Micro four thirds is one of the most common types, but it’s not the only one. If you want to learn more about the difference between ifferent types of sensors, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to mirrorless cameras.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 4K Camera?
4K cameras are simply cameras that offer film shooting at a maximum resolution of 4K. They allow you to capture footage at the standard cinema resolution of 3840 x 2160. For this list, we’ve focused most of our attention on cameras that can capture both still footage and video.
What Canon Shoots 4K?
Canon offers a wide variety of cameras that shoot footage in 4K, but our attempt to provide as diverse a selection of cameras as possible means we were only able to highlight one Canon camera. The EOS 5D Mark IV is one of Canon’s most expensive models, but it’s also one of the best professional cameras you’ll find anywhere.
Which is the Best Camera For Filmmaking?
The answer to that really depends on the type of film you’re looking to shoot. Whether you’re looking to capture action footage, YouTube videos, or simple family films, there’s something on this list that will suit your needs. We suggest you list out the features that are important to you and use them to narrow down the models of camera on our list.
What Phones Have 4K Video Recording?
4K functionality is becoming a regular feature in mid-range and luxury phones. The most prominent phones that support 4K filming are the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel XL, and the iPhone 7 Plus. But if you’re serious about videography, we recommend that you make use of a real camera rather than a phone for your cinema 4K footage.
4K video is quickly becoming the new norm in cameras, so there was fortunately a healthy selection of cameras to choose from. But that doesn’t mean we were able to cover everything. The limitations of our list means that some cool models like the Sony Cyber Shot didn’t make the cut. We hope you find what you’re looking for in our reviews, but even if you don’t, we’re confident that you can use our guide to shop smarter.If you liked our article on 4k cameras, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.