Whether you want to shoot movies or are keen to create high-resolution footage, this guide will introduce you to the best 4K cameras for your needs.
The best 4K Ultra HD video cameras cover a very diverse spectrum. While sifting through the market, you will have a range of sizes, prices, and specs to choose from. Since 4K is a very common feature in video cameras nowadays, you are bound to come across portable mirrorless and beginner-friendly models or professional-level ones that are good enough to shoot Netflix-quality videos.
If all of this sounds too overwhelming to figure out on your own, keep reading our buyers’ guide for the best 4K Ultra HD video cameras. We’ve researched a long list of UHD video cameras in the market to find the very best. But before we share our top 5 in today’s market, let’s teach you a thing or two about how to sift through the thousands of products to find the best mix of features and video quality. Or jump straight to our #1 one pick here.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look For in a 4K Ultra HD Video Camera?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best 4K Ultra HD Video Cameras
- #1: Canon EOS M50 Mark II 4k UHD Video Camera (Best for Value)
- #2: Sony Alpha a6400 UHD 4K Video Camera (Best FPS for the Price)
- #3: Nikon COOLPIX P1000 4K UHD Camera (Best Optical Zoom Lens)
- #4: Canon EOS 90D DSLR UHD 4K Camera (Best High Resolution)
- #5: Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII UHD 4K Camera (Best Video Quality)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Your Best 4K Ultra HD Video Cameras
What Should You Look For in a 4K Ultra HD Video Camera?
Choosing the very best 4K UHD video camera isn’t such a big deal, especially if you’ve read a guide like the one you’re about to. The following are some things that you will have to keep in mind when you’re considering buying a 4K video camera on a budget:
Criteria #1: Video Resolution
Since you came looking for 4K resolution, all of the cameras we have reviewed in this guide are capable of recording 4K footage. However, some photographers may not be comfortable with the size of the 4K video files since they tend to be larger. For instance, it could take hours if you want to edit your videos.
This is why you should make sure that you always pay attention to other kinds of video resolutions which include 1080p at 30 or 60 FPS or 2.7K at 30 or 60 FPS. Nowadays, 1080p at 60FPS is somewhat of a standard resolution among YouTube content creators. However, these people and many others are going to be shifting to 4K very soon. This is why you should think about making the switch before the rest of the herd.
Criteria #2: Photo Resolution
As you already know, video cameras aren’t only used to record videos. There are also going to be times when you will have to use it to snap pictures as well. If you think this is the case, you shouldn’t overlook the photo resolution of your video camera.
Generally, the photo resolution of cameras is denoted in megapixels (MP). But how much should you settle for? If you would like to take our word for it, we’d recommend a video camera with 24MP to capture high-quality and brilliant images.
Additionally, video cameras typically have a larger sensor that goes up to 48MP, and it allows photographers to capture very detailed and crisp images with just a click of a button.
Criteria #3: Display
Are you searching for a camera that can record 4K Ultra HD video? Well, you should also check to see whether the camera’s display is optimally designed as well. You see, most of the video cameras out there come with flip screens, which is very useful. This will especially be the case if you are capturing footage of yourself performing in front of your camera.
If this is the case, all you will have to do is flip the screen over and see yourself perform on the screen. What’s more, rotating displays are also helpful when you want to capture high-angle or low-angle shots with your 4K UHD video camera. Besides this, you should also consider whether you want a touchscreen display or not. These screens are a lot easier to use as compared to traditional buttons.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best 4K Ultra HD Video Cameras
To find the best 4K Ultra HD video cameras, we weighed in all of the best specifications of the most popular products in the market. Also, we compared the specs of these products based on the list of considerations we mentioned above to see how well they did and whether they were worth buying.
After our extensive research, we also checked out blog posts, customer reviews, and other reviewer’s posts about the best 4K Ultra HD video cameras. Now that you know where we got our information from, it’s finally time to dip into our list of products.
#1: Canon EOS M50 Mark II 4k UHD Video Camera (Best for Value)
The EOS M50 Mark II can be described as an easy-to-use and compact camera that comes with an APS-C 24 MP sensor. It comes with a very attractive price as well as solid video/image resolution and ergonomics.
Some of the best upgrades in this camera include vertical video shooting, autofocus refinements, and the ability to directly stream on to social media platforms like YouTube if you have a strong enough connection with a Wi-Fi router.
Reason #1 to choose this product: Video Resolution
The EOS M50 has the ability to capture 4K videos, but its 1080p recording is the best. The 24p/4K video will be heavily cropped, and you wouldn’t be able to use its dual-pixel autofocus because this resolution comes with contrast detection only. To put it simply, the camera’s focus is sadly unreliable when it is in 4k video mode unless you are standing right in front of the subject. Also, cropping these videos will make it difficult to capture wide-angle scenes or film yourself at arm’s length.
Reason #2 to choose this product: Live Streaming
If you’re looking for a camera that streams live directly to YouTube, the Canon EOS M50 offers this promising feature. It offers users a lot more flexibility as compared to a setup for desktop streaming as well as higher quality as compared to streaming from your phone camera. Unfortunately, a major limitation here is that you should have 1000 YouTube subscribers in your channel to be able to stream with the EOS M50.
#2: Sony Alpha a6400 UHD 4K Video Camera (Best FPS for the Price)
The Sony Alpha a6400 features pristine image quality as well as an APS-C 24MP CMOS sensor which delivers awesome noise performance. Shooting with this camera is super easy because it focuses on the subject very quickly. Also, it has unlimited 4K UHD video recording, which makes it a great choice if you are traveling and because of the compact size of its system.
The Sony Alpha has the same APS-C 24.2MP CMOS sensor as our #1 camera, but it also has improved autofocus performance. This camera now also offers autofocus speeds of 0.02 seconds as compared to its predecessor’s 0.05 seconds. Besides, the available ISO speed has now been increased to ISO 32000 (Native), which could easily be extended to an ISO 102400, thanks to its latest Bionz X image processor.
This camera also has updated autofocus tracking, which includes a new algorithm for subject recognition – which happens to be perfect for moving objects. You will also find it easy to select the subject by clicking on the camera’s touchscreen feature. Other than this, the a6400 also features eye recognition with the help of its real-time Eye Autofocus feature. This means that you will not have to press any button to activate it, and it will automatically track eyes when the shutter button is half-pressed.
#3: Nikon COOLPIX P1000 4K UHD Camera (Best Optical Zoom Lens)
With this camera’s 125x optical zoom (which is equivalent to 24 to 3000mm full-frame pictures), and its BSI 16MP CMOS sensor, the Coolpix P1000 is truly a unique video camera. The only closest rival of this model is its predecessor, the P900.
However, the P1000 has no Raw video shooting capabilities, an inferior zooming range, an inferior electronic viewfinder, and can only shoot full HD videos. This is why the P1000 is perhaps the most feature-rich 4K UHD camera photographers have witnessed until now.
If you are shooting the ocean’s horizon and attach a long enough lens to this camera, you will be able to see large ships that are many miles away and in their entirety. This not only proves that the earth is flat but also that the P1000 is able to see and capture what you aren’t able to see with your naked eye.
This camera has a super impressive zooming range that stands at 24 to 3000mm. This is why we believe that this camera is the perfect camera to shoot distant objects. So to put it simply, if you are looking for a camera that isn’t much of a ‘do it all’ camera and grants more field of view and gets you closer to your subject, this camera is the way to go.
#4: Canon EOS 90D DSLR UHD 4K Camera (Best High Resolution)
Moving further, the Canon’s EOS 90D is a mid range DSLR which is an upgrade from the EOS 80D (which came out 3 years ago). This new model has been upgraded with a sensor with higher resolution and excellent image quality for Raw images. It also offers a very competitive autofocus live view that comes with an eye detection feature.
The EOS 90D can essentially be described as the DSLR version of its mirrorless predecessor, which is the EOS M6, which had been introduced simultaneously. Since both of their features are quite identical, it seems as if Canon is allowing photographers to pick cameras based on the kind of shooting experience they want.
In other words, would you like a midsize DSLR that has an optical viewfinder as well as more physical controls or a lighter and more compact mirrorless camera that has a removable electronic viewfinder.
Of course, the difference between the two is the lineup of native lenses between their M and EF mounts. Based on these features alone, photographers can make a decision about which camera they would like to invest in.
#5: Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII UHD 4K Camera (Best Video Quality)
Sony’s RX100 is the latest compact 1 inch sensor camera. It makes use of the same 24 to 200mm lens that is equivalent to F2.8 to 4.5 lenses as its alternatives. However, this latest addition features an easier and more capable autofocus system.
These features come with the addition of the super impressive capabilities that we had seen in the Mark VI, which includes the HQ 4K video capture and fast continuous shooting. Also, for the first time in the CyberShot series, this video camera also features a microphone socket that can significantly improve audio recordings.
The RX100 also has the ability to capture as many as 20 FPS without ever experiencing viewfinder blackout. These specs are such that they are the perfect match for the same brand’s flagship a9 camera.
Also, the camera’s capability as well as its enhanced AF are probably why Sony talks so proudly about the ‘Power In Your Pocket’. To put things in perspective, the hardware used in the RX100 was not available in the a9 camera. So how much power do you think will be in your pocket with this UHD 4K camera?
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Most Common Video Camera Resolutions
Perhaps, the most common resolutions used in video cameras are 1080p (Full HD), 4K and 8K. High definition or Full HD is also known as 1080p or 1920 x 1080 pixels. 4K is referred to as DCI or 4096 x 2160 pixels and a little more common than this is Ultra High Definition or, in other words, 3840 x 2160.
If we move past these video resolutions, you will also find Ultra High Definition and DCI versions of cameras that have 8K and those that double the resolution in every dimension of their alternatives. This means that they stand at 7680 x 4320 pixels and 8192 x 4320 pixels, respectively.
Is 4K Resolution Better than 1080p Resolution?
There is a substantial difference between 4K resolution and 1080p resolution. 4K videos are four times the resolution of 1080p, and you can notice the quality. 4K video will contain more than 8 million pixels on a screen, compared to only 2 million pixels for 1080p videos. Therefore, if you want your videos to stand out and impress your viewers, you need a camera that can shoot 4K videos.
How to Determine Which Output Resolution Is Perfect For You?
One of the most important considerations here is how the camera is going to capture the footage. The best cameras capture over 4K resolutions and downscale their output to produce very detailed 4K videos.
However, there are other models that will have to sub-sample videos that only result in less-detailed results, which in turn, is known to be a little more prone to glitches. When we say sub-sample, it simply means that these video cameras will only capture some parts of the sensor and will lump all of the resultant pixels together.
Finally, there are some cameras that crop-in and use very small areas of their respective sensors, which will lower the quality of the video (especially if you are shooting in low light conditions). This will mean that your footage will be more zoomed-in as compared to your device’s photo mode, which will make it hard for you to capture a wide-angle view.
This is one tiny detail that most manufacturers will intentionally ignore in their marketing. Therefore, you will have to learn the technical lingo on your own to be absolutely certain.
Verdict: Your Best 4K Ultra HD Video Cameras
Now it’s time for us to wrap up our buyers’ guide and shortlist the best 4K Ultra HD video cameras. If you need a little more assistance in making a decision, you can refer to our buyers’ guide or sift through the testimonials and reviews of each product that we identified above. This information will hopefully be enough to make an informed decision.
Even if you’re still a little confused, it is safe to say that you’re better off than you were before you started reading this article. Still, we’re going to give you our verdict for all 5 of the best 4K UHD video cameras on our list.
If you’re searching for the best bang for your buck and the best mix of features and price, go with the Canon EOS M50 HD 4K Video Camera.
However, if you care more about a video camera that outperforms all of its competitor products in terms of features and shooting abilities, get the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 UHD 4K Camera.
If you want the best FPS in the market for Ultra HD video filming, go with the Sony Alpha a6400.