With new and more innovative video cameras continuing to find their way into the market every year, making a buying decision can seem like an eternity even for seasoned professionals.
While one camera can be best for the person seated next to you, the truth is that it might not be the best choice for you because of a number of factors not forgetting your budget.
To help simplify your buying decision we have reviewed the 10 best professional-grade 4k video cameras and included a number of factors you might want to consider before investing on your next camera.
Our Top 10 Picks
Whenever you hear of Blackmagic Design, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the DaVinci Resolve color grading software. However, this time the company has added a new budget-friendly camera for professional filmmakers, dabbed BMPCC 4k.
This decent-sized camera packs a sizeable 5-inch touch screen, external SSD recording capabilities, and offers three video shooting resolutions: one full HD (1920×1080) and two 4k settings; 4096×2160 (4k DCI) and 3840×2160 (ultra HD).
The camera is made from carbon fiber that offers an impressive grip that makes it comfortable to handle. The controls buttons are also well laid out making them easy to access.
When it comes to connectivity, this unit packs a Full-sized HDMI port and a USB-C port that supports faster data transfer and charging. In addition to this, the Blackmagic is compatible with MFT (Micro Four Thirds) lenses.
Designed by Sony for today’s content creators, the Sony PXW-FS5 II is a smaller version of the Sony PXW-FS7 and an upgrade of the original PXW-FS5. This camera offers most of the features available in the FS7 and FS5 but in a smaller and more compact form factor.
Looking at the features, the FS5 II includes the ability to capture RAW footage in 4k via SDI output and record uninterrupted High definition videos at 120fps. The camera also includes new color technology borrowed from the company’s leading Venice digital cinematography camera.
For quicker operations, the camera packs a mechanical ND filter wheel along with an electronic ND. Moreover, the FS5 comes with 14 stops of dynamic range.
When it comes to ergonomics, the F5S II offers an excellent grip that makes it an ideal camera for shooting at low or high angles. Its modular design also makes it easy to use on a gimbal or drone.
If you are looking for a pro-grade video camera that delivers high-quality videos even in low light settings, then the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S is worth a shot.
This mirrorless camera comes with a 10.2 megapixels Micro Four Thirds sensor which is ideal for filming in 4K resolution. On top of this, the camera features a higher photoreceptive surface per pixel that delivers a wider dynamic range.
With this camera, you can achieve 4k/60p (cinema 4k) recording with no limit on the recording time or 1080p Full HD footage at 240fps for slow-motion playback.
The camera also offers excellent image stabilization and autofocus just like you’d expect to get from a good hybrid camera.
In terms of design, the GH5S is built like a DSLR and is slightly heavier than most mirrorless cameras on this list. The control buttons are conveniently placed for quick access and the sturdy magnesium alloy body ensures that it can withstand harsh conditions in the field.
Just like the Panasonic GH5S, the Sony A7S II is a full-frame camera that offers excellent video capturing capabilities.
Ideally designed for capturing stills and video footage in low light settings, this model offers a wide dynamic range and ultra-high sensitivity across the entire ISO range along with a 5-axis video stabilization for improved controls while shooting.
Unlike its counterpart the Sony A7R II that sports a 42mp sensor, the Sony A7S II camera cuts the resolution to 12.2mp to significantly improve low-light shooting.
Like most pro-grade video cameras, the Sony A7S allows you to record full-frame 4k videos internally with full pixel readout. You can also capture full HD footage at 120fps. Another thrilling feature about this camera is that it delivers an ISO sensitivity range of 50-4096004 for both stills and video.
In terms of design and ergonomics, the camera features a smooth textured body made from magnesium alloy that offers a deeper and better in-hand feel.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an upgrade of its predecessor the Canon EOS 6D. This model sports a 26.2-megapixel sensor that uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor for fast-phase detection even in Live-view mode.
The Mark II regular autofocus is also upgraded and comes with a 45-point all cross-type AF system and Canon’s DIGIC & image processor that aids in faster image recognition and focus tracking.
The incorporation of DIGIC 7 and the new sensor allows the camera to deliver an ISO range of 50-104,400 and 100-40,000.
The camera also features a 5-axis built-in digital stabilizer that eradicates any undesirable camera movements allowing you to shoot 4K time-lapse footages with incredible detail.
More still, you the cameras Bluetooth feature allows you to connect it with your smartphone remotely control it. This feature also allows you to browse and select images then share with friends via your smart device.
6. Sony A7 III
The Sony A7 III is a full-frame camera with some of the best features available in the market. Thanks to its persuasive blend of value and capability.
This near-perfect all-around camera comes with an advanced 24mp BSI CMOS sensor that does incredibly well in all types of light while offering a great dynamic range.
This camera can shoot at 10fps, with a stunning AF system that features 693 phase-detection AF points (covering close to 93 percent of the image area) and 425 contrast-detection AF points for improved focus.
The Sony A7 III also offers excellent image stabilization and silent shooting which lets you capture pleasing 4K HDR video footages. Other features include tilting touch LCD, dual SD slots, focus joystick, and many more.
7. Nikon Z6
Nikon Z6 is another full-frame mirrorless camera by Nikon. This model comes with a 24.5mp Full-frame BSI image sensor that combines perfectly well with Nikon’s advanced EXPEED 6 image processor.
The EXPEED image processor ensures that you get sharp and high-resolution images and videos. This camera is also tuned to focus and capture images in the fastest possible speeds. For instance, it’s able to capture burst shots at up 9fps when shooting in 14bit RAW format and up to 12fps when shooting in 12bit RAW format.
Apart from that, the camera’s image sensor together with the EXPEED 6 noise reduction lets you capture professional footage at enormously high ISO ranges of up to 51200 – expandable to 204,800.
The Z6 is also capable of full-pixel readout that lets you capture stunning full-frame 4K UHD/30p videos in FX-format. Moreover, this camera is capable of capturing slow-motion videos at 120fps in full HD.
Other features you’ll love include in-body 5-axis VR image stabilization, Nikkor lenses, deep grip design, extensive weather sealing, and a stunning AF system.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the latest addition in the GH series. Like most other mirrorless cameras in this rundown, the Lumix GH5 features a plethora of movie-making features.
This camera boasts a high-performance 20.3 megapixels Digital Live MOS sensor that foregoes a low-pass filter. More to this, the GH5 offers a high-dynamic-range that lets you capture super sharp images that are artifact-free.
Unlike its predecessor the GH4, Lumix GH5 features a 5-axis image stabilization, 6K photo burst mode, and the capability to capture 4K footages at a striking 60fps. The camera also supports slow-motion recording and can shoot 1080p videos at up to 180fps.
This model also features an upgraded 225-point AF system and performs spectacularly in low-light settings compared to the GH4 model.
When it comes to build and ergonomics, the Lumix GH5 does not disappoint. At first glance, the camera looks more like a DSLR. The rubber grip also makes it feel comfortable on the hands and the buttons are intuitive and easy to reach.
9. Canon XC15
The Canon XC15 is a camera designed for professional videographers who prefer a mix of quality and portability.
This fixed lens camcorder camera comes with a 12mp 1-inch CMOS image sensor along with 12 stops of dynamic range. With the 1-inch sensor, the camera has an unsurpassed capability of capturing 4K videos at a whopping 25fps. In addition to this, the DIGIC DV5 processor helps in noise cancellation.
According to Canon, It’s hybrid design makes this camera a perfect choice for both still and video captures. The camera also features a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen that comes with an innovative 2-axis parallel hinge mechanism that allows you to adjust the display in various positions when shooting at different angles.
Other features include the Canon optical image stabilization, CFast recording technology, Pro-Audio module with XLR inputs, and wireless operation options that lets you control the camera remotely from your browser.
10. Sony HXR-NX80
Just like the Canon XC15, the Sony HXR-NX80 is designed for professional videographers who prefer workflow flexibility and quality.
As you’d expect from a camera of this caliber, the HXR comes with a 14.2mp 1-inch stacked CMOS imager that delivers superior sensitivity for capturing high-quality footage in low-light settings.
Along with sensitivity, the HXR-NX80 features an amazing lock-on auto-focus technology that’s integrated with the camera’s fast precision autofocus system to deliver remarkable sharpness making it easy to track and focus on the images or non-stationary subjects when shooting.
The cameras AF system features 273 phase-detection points that cover nearly 84-percent of the image area.
As if that’s enough, this palm-sized camera has the capability to shoot outstanding 4k HDR (High Dynamic Range) footage with HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) file-based workflows.
Other features include Wi-Fi compatibility that allows you to remotely control your camera via your smartphone and duo media slots that are compatible with SDXC and SDHC cards.
How to choose the best 4K camera
Below are some factors to consider when buying a 4K camera.
When choosing the best pro-grade 4k camera, there are a number of factors you need to consider.
Since digital videos are recorded on a sensor, the sensor size plays a very important role in the quality of the video that you’ll get. This applies whether you are shooting in limited light settings or taking still images. So when you are selecting a 4K Camera consider the sensor size. The larger the sensor the higher the resolution.
The next factor to look out for is the bit-rate. For better quality footage, consider higher bit rates. However, the only downside with higher bit rates is that your memory will fill up much faster. So, this goes without saying that your choice of camera must have plenty of memory.
Nothing wrecks a video with good content like shaky and unstable footage. However, most 4k cameras offer some degree of image stabilization. When selecting a 4k camera, choose one with a 5-axis or 3-axis image stabilization. The more the stabilization axes, the more stable your footage will be in different movements.
A video is as good as the audio. The audio quality on your footage is dependent on the type of microphone used and how it’s placed. However, more expensive cameras come with advanced microphones compared to cheap ones. But this is not to say that you cannot purchase your own in order to improve the quality of your video.
As you can see, buying the best pro-grade 4k camera all comes down to what works best for you. And since 4K is a fairly young technology, it’s safe to say that very few camera models can support it. We hope that this article will go a long way in helping you make an informed decision.
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