Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Best 4K Cameras

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If you are looking for the best 4K cameras, you may find the available choices a bit confusing. In the past, it was only found on high-end models, but today it has become a basic specification for everything from high-end broadcast equipment to cell phones. However, it’s fair to say that just because a camera offers 4K functionality doesn’t mean it’s the right model for you. Good quality 4K video is not just about high image resolution, so you also need to think about sensors, output formats, frame rates, etc.

Most consumer models allow you to shoot in 4K at up to 30 frames per second, but high-end models can give you 60 frames per second or more for a very smooth recording. If you plan to make color corrections, you will also need a camera that supports log profiles. Other specifications should also be taken into account, such as the zebra pattern, and the range of accessories compatible with the camera of your choice is also an important consideration. Putting all this together, it becomes obvious that not all 4K cameras are created equal.

Best 4K Cameras

So with that in mind, if you don’t know where to start, keep reading. We’ve put together the best 4K cameras you can buy, subjecting all of them to extensive testing to bring you our recommendations.

1. Fujifilm X-T4

in stock
1 used from $2,148.00
as of 2021-09-15 12:12 pm

The Fujifilm X-T3 has been hard to keep up with, with high-speed continuous shooting, advanced autofocus, and class-leading 4K video capabilities, but the Fujifilm X-T4 takes it to the next level. Almost everything we wanted in the X-T3 is there, including body stabilization, a variable-angle touch screen, and increased battery life. We still want more (of course), including better buffer depth in continuous shooting mode, but that would be just the icing on the cake. The X-T4 isn’t just a great camera, of course. It also has state-of-the-art 4K video performance, with 60p 10-bit internal recording. It’s a shame that Fujifilm dropped the headphone plug (you’ll need an adapter now). Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

2. Sony A7S III

It may have been a long wait, but it seems to have been worth it. The Sony A7S III is the mirrorless camera that does what only professional movie cameras can do, i.e. filming in 4K at 60p without cropping, recording it internally, in 10-bit 4:2:2, and with no recording time limit. It may not have the 6K or 8K resolutions of other manufacturers’ cameras, but what it does, it does it exceptionally well. The other half of the A7S’s image is its legendary low-light performance, and the A7S III is a camera that can more or less see in the dark with its maximum ISO ceiling of 409,600. Pure photo enthusiasts will probably be put off by the low resolution, but if you’re interested in video, this is one of the best cameras you can buy. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

3. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

in stock
28 new from $1,294.98
5 used from $1,110.75
as of 2021-09-15 12:12 pm

If you want the best camera to shoot 4K video, then this is the right one. Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is designed for end-to-end filmmakers and is not to be considered if you’re looking to film still images as well. Based on a Micro Four Thirds sensor and lens mount, it has a huge 5.0-inch touch screen and is operationally video-centric, head and shoulders above other MFT shooters. The range of on-board connections is also best-in-class, and the fact that it has dual memory card slots outweighs much more expensive cameras like the EOS R.

Not to mention decent onboard audio recording capabilities and of course, the $299 worth of software – a license for DaVinci Resolve Studio is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Last but not least, the fundamental quality of its 4K video accepts much more expensive cameras and, when you know how to make it work, it handles noise better than some full-frame sensors as well, thanks to its native double ISO. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

4. Panasonic Lumix S1H

With the Lumix S1H, Panasonic has used its extensive video experience to bring many of its high-end VariCam features to the Lumix S series. The controls, interface, and certainly the hardware have been designed for video and film, and the fact that it is also a very practical 24MP camera is a bonus. It is a really convincing “bridge” between conventional cameras and high-end film cameras, especially for today’s Panasonic videographers. However, it is expensive and specialized, so it is not necessarily the first choice if you want to cut costs, even though the “regular” S1 now seems to be the second-best.

Its official Netflix accreditation is a major asset, but its continuous AF proved to be quite uneven in our tests, so that, combined with the considerable size and weight of this camera, it excludes the possibility of run-and-gun vlogger type videography. However, a recent upgrade to offer ProRes RAW output via HDMI to Atomos Ninja V devices adds to the S1H’s credentials as a regularly priced movie camera. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

5. Nikon Z6

There are many reasons to love the Nikon Z6, it has the same build quality and controls as the more expensive Z7, it can capture full-width 4K oversampled video and it is better with high ISO settings. And thanks to Nikon’s recent aggressive pricing, it is much cheaper. Photographers may prefer the Z7’s extra resolution of 45.7 megapixels, but for 4K video, the Z6 is clearly one of the best 4K cameras. Nikon’s internal image stabilization is really effective.

If you connect an external recorder, you can record 4:2:2 footage in 10-bit high quality – Nikon has also announced an agreement to allow RAW video capture on an external Atomos camera, although this requires a hardware upgrade. Nikon offers a high dynamic range N-Log mode for those who want the ability to perform color calibration work later, and eye AF has been improved (also thanks to a firmware update). Finally, the Z6 (and Z7) have been updated to be compatible with CFexpress memory cards.

6. Panasonic Lumix GH5S

Although it can take pictures with a lot of happiness (although at a rather limited resolution of 10.2 Mpx), it should be considered first and foremost as a video camera; if you want to do both, you have the Lumix GH5 (below) to fulfill this mission. While the lack of built-in image stabilization may be a disappointment for some, this point, aside from the extent of the video features, is incredibly impressive. If you want to shoot professional-quality footage without having to re-mortgage your house to buy a professional video camera, you won’t find a better 4K video camera at the moment.

7. Sony A7 III

The fact that the Sony A7 III is halfway down our list shows how rapidly 4K capture technology is progressing, as when it was launched it set new standards for 4K capture among mirrorless cameras. But it is still the best A7 model for video in all areas. The new A7S III is even better for 4K video, but more expensive and limited to 12MP stills. The A7 III, on the other hand, is an excellent all-round camera for any photographer who wants to switch to full format without spending a fortune, and who also wants a good 4K video camera.

The A7 III achieves a frame rate of 30 frames per second but uses the full width of the sensor without any cropping factor to capture high quality oversampled 4K images. It features an S-Log mode for high dynamic range scenes and subsequent color calibration, as well as a fast and efficient AF system. If you don’t like the DSLR-style design, there’s also the new Sony A7C, but we’re not yet convinced that it brings something new to the table. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

8. Panasonic Lumix GH5

Exceptional for both photos and videos, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a brilliant all-rounder. It displays high resolution, thanks to its ultra-high-resolution electronic viewfinder, its fully articulated touch screen, its 20.3MP image sensor, and its 4K 60p video recording, as well as its ultra-fast 6K 30fps and 4K 60fps photo modes. The DSLR-type design provides great handling features and easy access to advanced shooting settings. You also benefit from 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization and light-speed AF.

The only drawback is that the high number of megapixels in a Micro Four Thirds sensor results in a relatively limited ISO range. But all the same – by combining the first-class 4K still images and video functions, the GH5 is a camera that continues to maintain a solid reputation among serious filmmakers and bloggers. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

9. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III

in stock
12 new from $1,649.99
5 used from $1,435.25
as of 2021-09-15 12:12 pm

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is designed as a high-speed professional sports camera, also suitable for versatile use, but it also has impressive video capabilities. It can shoot 4K UHD (3840×2160) at 30 frames/second and 4K video (4096×2160) at 24 frames/second. It also benefits from Olympus’ 5-axis in-body stabilization system, which works in parallel with the optical stabilization of some newer Olympus lenses to provide up to 7 stops of stabilization.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-100mm 1:4.0 IS PRO is the perfect finisher for this camera, combining an effective focal length range of 24-200mm with a constant maximum aperture of f/4. The Olympus captures crisp, clear, and natural movies with only slight rolling shutter effects and we found this latest version very adept at tracking fast-moving subjects freehand. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

10. Panasonic Lumix G9

With a relatively high megapixel count for a Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix G9 combines a 20.3 MP image sensor with super-fast autofocus and a continuous shooting speed of 12 frames per second. This speed increases to 30 fps for 6K photos and up to 60 fps for 4K photos. The ultra-high-resolution electronic viewfinder helps you follow the action down to the finest detail, and there’s a fully articulated touch screen in the back.

You can also expect to preserve the smallest details in your images with an excellent 6.5 f-stop stabilization system. Unusually for a compact system camera, a secondary LCD screen is also integrated into the top panel, which is useful for monitoring camera settings. This is without a doubt the quietest and one of the best 4K cameras you can buy right now.

11. Panasonic Lumix G100

Bloggers and creative people, in general, will appreciate the simplicity of the Lumix G100, which makes it easy to capture high-quality videos and photos thanks to the accessible button layout. Even people who are not interested in the technical aspects of capturing high-quality videos will be able to achieve results with this device. There is an inherent risk of oversimplifying things when creating a camera for social media creators, but Panasonic has avoided this pitfall with the Lumix G100.

By giving it a decent viewfinder and “good camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a very competitive market. It’s a great camera to start with if you’re more interested in vlogging than conventional photography and useful improvement over the GX80/85, both in resolution and video features. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

12. Sony Alpha A6400

The A6400’s lack of internal stabilization and headphone jacks can make the A6400 feel under-equipped for video recording. But its excellent image quality (smooth motion, impressive levels of detail), rugged magnesium alloy construction, affordable price, and most importantly, its superb advanced autofocus system make it an ideal candidate for most 4K cameras. Autofocus, which includes excellent tracking of eyes and faces in real life, makes video and still images much easier to shoot, especially if you frequently film other people – or yourself.

Sony’s A6600, the top-of-the-line model in the range, retains many of the features and functions of the A6400 but adds internal stabilization, a headphone jack, and longer battery life. We’ll be looking at whether this model is worth the price, but for now, the A6400 is our choice at Sony. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

13. Panasonic S1

This may be the newest of two models to launch Panasonic’s all-new S system, but the S1 is probably the best option for videographers. For starters, it captures 4K UHD footage using the full width of its full-screen sensor – no cropping factor here – and offers full-pixel playback up to 30p. It can also record 10-bit 4:2:0 footage internally using the HEVC/H.265 codec, and an upgrade scheduled for later this year should unlock even higher specifications. Videos can be shot in 4K up to 60p (with a 30-minute time limit) and there are several gamma curve profiles onboard, including Hybrid Log-Gamma.

In the real world, all this translates into very high-quality videos. The body can be heavy, but sensor image stabilization keeps the fluidity of pocket images, while the roller shutter is only a problem if the S1 is suddenly shaken. The built-in microphone performs surprisingly well, although external ports for microphone and headphones will be more popular. Overall, this is one of the best 4K cameras right now.

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