When we come across a really nice slow-mo video, such as a predator attacking its prey, or a water balloon bursting into millions of droplets, we all wonder the same question, “How was this filmed?”
If you’re a video fanatic, you’re probably going to want to buy that very kind of slow motion camera to shoot similar footage yourself. If this is the case, a good starting point is to have a look at the best options for the job. This is why we’re going to grant you a closer look into the best slow motion cameras for 2021.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best slow motion cameras, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look For in a Slow Motion Camera?
- How Do Slow Motion Cameras Capture Videos?
- #1: DJI Osmo Action 4K Slow Motion Camera (Best Value All-Purpose)
- #2: Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera (Best Overall Action Camera)
- #3: Sony Cyber-Shot Digital Camera (Best 1000 FPS Camera)
- #4: Sony RX100 IV Premium 40x Super Slow Motion Camera (Best Slow-Mo Camera)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Your Best Slow Motion Cameras
What Should You Look For in a Slow Motion Camera?
We’re about to introduce you to a list of factors you need to consider while shopping for your slow-mo arsenal. By keeping these considerations in mind, you will be able to decide which slow-motion cameras in our review are the best.
But before we can jump into the juicy details, you should first think about how you plan on sharing what you capture. If you plan on sharing your footage online with others, you should know that most video-sharing platforms only allow for 1080p resolution. For this reason, you should first check the requirements before dreaming about uploading 4K.
Also, there isn’t really going to be a need to buy a premium 4K slow-motion camera if you’re only planning on posting your creations on Instagram. In contrast, for most people, a camera that is equipped with a 1080p camera should be a sufficient choice and, in most cases, a cost-effective option.
With that said, here are the most important considerations while choosing slow-motion or super slow-mo cameras.
Criteria #1: Sensor Size
Arguably, one of the most important factors besides the video capabilities of the device is its sensor size. This sensor size, in its simplest form, signifies the quality of the resultant image. This is, basically, because of the differences in light collection and pixel dimensions between the different sizes of sensors.
With all things considered, a camera that has the largest sensor will be able to consistently outperform the camera with a small sensor. That said, full-frame cameras, whether they are mirrorless or DSLR, are considered to be the best slow motion cameras for consumers, especially when it comes to low light situations.
These cameras produce the best quality images despite the fact that they have similar capabilities as smartphones or point-and-shoot devices.
Criteria #2: Resolution
Resolution illustrates the frame size being used by the camera to record its videos. Generally speaking, most slow-motion cameras offer 1080p Full HD, which is typically a 120 FPS camera. However, you can have several other high-end models that have a 60 FPS 4K or a 120 FPS video.
Be that as it may, for most people, 1080p resolution is quite sufficient. The only real need for 4K is when your whole video project needs to be viewed in 4K, delivered, and exported. 4K also comes in handy when your goal is to capture slow motion videos professionally.
Criteria #3: Frame Rate
Also known as FPS or frames per second, the frame rate denotes how fast a camera can record video per second. As you bounce around on the Internet, you will come across cameras that have frame rates that range from 24 to 960 FPS. Simply put, the higher this number, the slower you will be able to see the resulting footage.
Most slow-motion cameras are able to shoot videos at 24 to 30 FPS, however, 60 FPS is where the good quality slow-motion takes place because this frame rate is able to produce a 50% reduction in the speed.
When you jump up to 120 FPS, you will be able to quadruple this effect because it brings your speed down to 1/4, or 25%, of normal. Generally speaking, 60 FPS may be quite enough to create the distinguishable slow-mo video, but super slow-mo cameras shoot videos between 120 and 240 FPS.
Now that you know the basics of slow motion cameras and how they capture those awesome videos that you love, it’s time for us to finally introduce you to the very best products in 2021.
How Do Slow Motion Cameras Capture Videos?
As mentioned before, slow motion cameras need to be able to capture videos at high frame rates to be able to replay videos in slow motion. If you really think about it, your favorite slow motion videos on the Internet have a lot of fluidity in movement.
Try to recall the high jumper gliding over the bar or the diver hitting the water with an exploding splash. All of these videos may have been recorded in real-time, but they are slowed down by the slow-motion camera. If they’re recorded with a lower FPS, like at 30 FPS, then the video will seem very choppy. In other words, all the movements will seem stuttered.
However, if your camera records videos at higher frame rates, such as at 120 FPS or even as high as 940 FPS (like some of the best cameras), you will have more leeway to shoot pristine slow-motion videos.
These extra frames recorded in each second will allow for more movements to be captured for slow motion, making the video appear more natural and fluid.
#1: DJI Osmo Action 4K Slow Motion Camera (Best Value All-Purpose)
Here’s a quick introduction to the DJI Osmo Action. It is a compact waterproof camera that can shoot 4K videos and has a front LCD with full color.
It’s quite clear that the Osmo Action takes most of its design cues from the GoPro design, but it isn’t quite an absolute clone. With dimensions of 1.7 x 2.6 x 1.4 inches, this slow motion camera is a tad bit wider as compared to the Hero 7 and is nearly a half-ounce heavier at 4.4 ounces.
DJI has been coming up with many cameras like the Osmo Action for quite some time. However, these cameras were being mounted on their drones as opposed to being manufactured into waterproof and rugged enclosures. With that said, the video chops created by this camera are quite strong.
The Osmo Action can capture 4K videos at a frame rate of 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, and 60 FPS, and you will also have the option to shoot at 2.7K within the same frame rates. When you drop its resolution down to 1080p, you will have a maximum frame rate of 240 FPS, and which will save videos as standard files with embedded sound. Also, you can save what you capture as slow-mo videos along with AAC audio files.
Most of the video modes use its 16:9 aspect ratio (or in the 9:16 aspect ratio in portrait mode). However, you will also have a 4:3 mode, which will utilize the full height of the sensor using 4K or 2.7K resolution.
#2: Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera (Best Overall Action Camera)
At first glance, the Sony Alpha a6400 can be described as a small 24 MP interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that has an APS-C sensor. Simply put, it can be your new best friend if you’re an amateur shooting a family documentary or are a pro photographer in search of some lightweight second bodies.
The a6400 captures very detailed 4K footage, and it has a long list of capture aids as well as a flip-up screen that can make your job easier for you, especially if you are a vlogger. Other than that screen, the a6400 is quite similar to its predecessor – the a6300.
For videographers, the a6400 can shoot up to 24, 25, and 30 FPS in 4K and can also capture videos in 1080p at up to 120 FPS. This camera’s autofocus features are quite solid, and you will easily be able to focus on rack speeds based on the subject you are shooting.
This camera’s 4K videos are colorful, lovely, and sharp, and they have just the extra pop you would expect from a 240 FPS camera.
#3: Sony Cyber-Shot Digital Camera (Best 1000 FPS Camera)
The Sony RX0 has a rather unusual “cube” shape. It actually measures 59 x 41 x 35 millimeters. It’s waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and (for reasons we don’t quite understand) crushproof.
If you are a vlogger, you’re going to love how Sony has added the 3.5mm microphone input jack, which makes way for an external mic and produces pristine audio quality.
You get a high-quality, fixed, 24mm Zeiss lens that you can put through its paces by shooting 16 FPS bursts and – what you’re most interested in here – 1000 FPS super slow-mo video.
If you get the Sony RX0 II and decide you really like it, you might even consider getting a second one because you can link them together for virtual reality and specialty filmmaking applications.
The RX100 has some real advantages over previous installments when it comes to capturing slow motion videos. This camera makes use of a cutting-edge image sensor referred to as a stacked design. In other words, the image processor, sensor, and DRAM memory driving them all work as a single unit.
If this wasn’t enough, you can also choose to use your camera to capture slower slow-motion videos. All you need to do is change its mode to its HFR position, and you will be shooting subjects at up to 960 FPS for extreme slow-mo captures.
Why is this a great feature? Well, it allows this slow-motion camera to record in some extreme frame rates which means you can shoot in 1080p with 40x slow-motion. This feature is referred to as HFR, or High Frame Rate, capture. Besides this, Sony also offers you the option to morph this model between a 240 FPS camera and a camera that works at 480 to 960 FPS.
However, the downside to HFR footage is that the videos are silent and that it is a two-step process. That said, we still consider the RX100 to be the best slow-mo camera of the bunch.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Slow Motion Camera?
A slow motion camera enables you to capture a scene in incredible detail and uses innovative technologies to slow down the action. Even though it may sound like a contradiction, slow-motion footage can only be captured with a very high-speed camera.
These high-speed cameras are capable of recording many frames per second, which means that the camera can capture more action in a short span of time so you can later slow a video down.
Slow motion cameras typically record footage at 120, 180, or 240 frames per second (FPS) and utilize a shutter speed of less than 1000th of a second. It’s quite simple really. The higher your camera’s frame rate, the more realistic the slow-motion footage will seem.
Verdict: Your Best Slow Motion Cameras
Now that we’ve reached the end of our list, you probably have a good idea of which of these slow motion cameras is the best value for your money. However, if you haven’t made up your mind just yet, all you need to do is do a little research of your own for each of these 4 slow motion or super slow-mo cameras.
If you’d like to play it safe, it’s your first time using slow motion cameras, and want the best value for your money, go with the DJI Osmo Action 4K Slow Motion Camera.
If you’re looking for the best overall slow-mo camera get the Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera.
However, if you’re considering cameras for professional purposes or want to capture superior quality slow-motion videos, we’d recommend checking out the Sony RX0 II Cyber-Shot Digital Camera and the Sony RX100 IV Super Slow Motion Camera.
We hope our guide will help you make an informed decision and you truly enjoy your brand new slow motion camera.