If you’re searching for a 4K camera, you will probably find the choices available a little baffling. It used to be a headline feature only found on top-end models, but it’s now just about a basic spec on everything from top-of-the-line broadcast products all the way down to mobile phones.
However, it’s fair to say that just because a camera offers 4K features, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right model for you. There’s a lot more to good quality 4K video than just high image resolution, so you will also need to think about sensors, output formats, frame rates and so on.
Most mainstream models give you the opportunity to shoot 4K from a maximum of 30fps, but the higher-end ones can give you 60fps or faster for super-simple recording. If you’re planning to do some color correction, then you will also need a camera that supports log profiles.
There are other specifications to think about too – such as zebra patterning, while the range of add-ons that is compatible with your camera of choice is also an important consideration too. Throw all of this together and it becomes pretty obvious that not all 4K cameras are created equal.
So, with that in mind, if you don’t know where to begin, keep reading. We’ve brought collectively the best models you can buy, putting them all through a thorough screening to bring you our recommendations.
Panasonic has long been considered the brand of choice for filmmakers, but these days, the market is a little more varied. While Panasonic is still an excellent option, we’ve also got models here from other manufacturers including Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Fujifilm, Blackmagic and even Leica.
10 Best 4K Cameras in 2021
1. Sony NEW Alpha 7S III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera
The Sony A7S III is almost certainly the best hybrid camera available today. With the goal of being the greatest 4K camera you can buy, it keeps resolution low and output limited to 4K (as opposed to the 6K/8K capabilities of some other models).
Aside from amazing output and up to 120fps shooting for super-smooth recording, there is a slew of other highlights on offer. The ability to capture 16-bit raw over HDMI (along with a full-sized HDMI connection), a shockingly high-resolution viewfinder and a fully articulating screen with an upgraded touch interface are all included.
Other connections include a headphone and microphone socket, as well as compatibility with Sony’s XLR-K3M hot-shoe attachment, which allows for up to four audio inputs.
Make no mistake, this is a costly camera, but if you want something that performs the job very well, we don’t think you can do better than this.
Sony NEW Alpha 7S III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera
3 used from $4,185.00
- 12.1MP1 Exmor R sensor, optimized for 4K, sensitivity and speed
- New BIONZ XR processing engine delivers 8x more processing power2
- Low noise images w/ ISO up to 409,6003 and 15+stop dynamic range4
- Up to 4K 120p5 10-bit 4:2:2 and full pixel readout in all rec. modes
- Up to 4K 120p5 in XAVC S (AVC), XAVC HS (HEVC) and XAVC S-I (All-I)
2. Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
If you want a cheap camera to shoot 4K videos, this is the best option right now. Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is built for filmmakers — just don’t acquire one if you want to shoot stills as well.
Based on a Micro Four Thirds sensor and lens mount, it has a massive 5.0-inch touchscreen, and it stands head and shoulders above other MFT cameras in terms of video-centric operational capabilities. The number of on-board connectors is also class-leading, and the presence of a dual card slot outperforms considerably more expensive cameras like the EOS R.
Not to mention the great onboard audio recording capabilities and, of course, the $299 sweetener – a license for DaVinci Resolve Studio, it truly is a present that keeps on giving.
Finally, and most crucially, the fundamental quality of its 4K video competes with far more expensive cameras and, when used correctly, manages noise better than certain full-frame sensors as well, because of its two native ISOs.
Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
9 used from $1,110.75
- Full-size 4/3 sensor/ 4096x2160 resolution
- 4K DKI video recording at 60 fps / 13 stop Dynamic Range
- Carbon fiber composite build / Black magic operating system
- 5" touchscreen LCD / 4 built-in microphones
- Authorized Black magic Design Dealer - Includes 12 Month Limited manufacturer's
3. PANASONIC LUMIX GH5S Body 4K Digital Camera
While it can photograph stills (albeit at a rather limited 10.2MP resolution), this camera should be viewed first and mainly as a video camera; if you want to do both, the Lumix GH5 (below) can fulfill that role.
While the lack of built-in image stabilization may be a disappointment for some, the variety of video functions is quite amazing.
You won’t find a better video-focused camera right now if you want to shoot broadcast-quality footage without remortgaging your house to buy a pro video camera.
PANASONIC LUMIX GH5S Body 4K Digital Camera
9 used from $1,150.00
- PROFESSIONAL PHOTO AND VIDEO PERFORMANCE: 10.2-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor and a significantly higher photoreceptive surface per pixel deliver an ultra-wide dynamic range; Dual Native ISO provides ultra-sensitive video capture with impressively low noise
- RUGGED SPLASH or FREEZEPROOF DESIGN: Durable magnesium alloy body withstands heavy use out in the field and is freezeproof down to -10-degrees; Splash/dustproof construction with weather sealing on every joint, dial and button
- UNLIMITED IN-CAMERA RECORDING OF C4K: Capable of internal SD card capture of 60p50p 8-bit, 30p25p24p 4:2:2 10-bit, 4K: 60p50p 4:2:0 8-bit, 30p25p24p 4:2:2 10-bit; 1080p up to 240fps and C4K 60p VFR
- ANAMORPHIC VIDEO MODE: 4K Anamorphic professional video production interchangeable lens camera system enables high performance, durability and mobility
- CONNECTIVITY AND PORTS: TC In or Out or Synchro Terminal (via included BNC cable), 3.5mm mic jack with line input, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm remote socket, HDMI Type A Socket and USB-C 3.1 Socket; Available twin SD Card slots (UHS-II U3 compatible)