Which 4K camcorder is best?
Video shot in 4K isn’t as hard to find as it once was. Shooting in 4K is pretty mainstream now, so if you’re looking to produce your own top-quality video footage, you need a camcorder suited to the task.
Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera offers professional picture quality and fast processing speeds. With accessible controls, the camera is suitable for amateur users while delivering the standards a professional needs.
What to know before you buy a 4K camcorder
What you’ll be shooting
There are 4K camcorders that can excel in normal shooting situations, but if you plan to film fast movement or in low-light settings, you need a camera that takes 4K video and does well in difficult conditions.
If you need steady shots and high-quality audio, additional lighting equipment and other gear can be purchased separately. For example, you’ll likely need a good tripod and complementary audio recording equipment to complete your videos. Know that you’ll need more equipment than just a camera to capture the best possible 4K videos, so budget accordingly.
The best and most expensive 4K camcorders have manual controls and features that professional videographers utilize. If you’re new to recording video or unfamiliar with camcorder controls, you may want to get a camera that’s easy to learn to use. A 4K camera can capture excellent footage, even if it doesn’t have the fanciest features.
What to look for in a quality 4K camcorder
Adaptable manual controls
Even if you don’t yet have experience with operating advanced manual controls and settings, having the option to take complete control over your camcorder is rewarding. Once you have an understanding of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and more, you’ll want to improve the quality of your footage and adapt your camera to suit any given filming conditions and subject matter.
The last thing anyone needs in the middle of shooting video is for the camera to die. Good camcorders have long-lasting batteries and extras for you to exchange when your camera starts running low. Remember to keep multiple batteries charged so you can keep shooting for longer periods of time without worrying about a sudden interruption.
Your camera should be able to hold up to long periods of use and any bumps it might encounter during shooting. Be sure your camcorder has a safe carrying case and use protective gear to keep it dry.
How much you can expect to spend on a 4K camcorder
If you’re looking for a camera to take with you everywhere, inexpensive 4K camcorders that get the job done reliably can be found for under $500. If you’re looking for a higher-quality piece of equipment, expect to pay $500-$1,000 and even higher if you want to produce professional broadcast and film-ready videos.
4K camcorder FAQ
How do you edit 4K videos?
A. Many camcorders have some built-in editing software that allows for limited editing on the fly, though this isn’t usually the best way to edit your footage. Just like any other recorded footage, you can transfer your files to a computer and edit using any number of free video editing programs. If you’re a professional or want to use the industry standard, you may invest in a paid video editor with advanced features, like Final Cut or Adobe Premiere.
Can you view 4K videos if you don’t have a 4K TV or monitor?
A. Yes, if you play 4K videos on a screen that cannot display 4K, the footage will just be scaled down to display on the native resolution of that device. The 4K video files themselves are not altered, so you can film in top quality, view your work and save those videos for whenever you’re able to use a 4K monitor to view the highest quality.
What’s the best 4K camcorder to buy?
Top 4K camcorder
Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera
What you need to know: This camera is great for a serious videographer who needs professional-grade gear and clear visuals.
What you’ll love: It has completely manual control over exposure and ND filters for controlling the shutter speed and aperture. The 1-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor provides great picture quality. Captures still images in addition to the high-quality video footage. The controls are pretty streamlined and easy to use, even if you’re new to shooting videos.
What you should consider: If you want to get clean panning shots, you also need a tripod. Some customers found that the 4K visuals were a little shaky and bent when trying to pan, but others didn’t have difficulty, so this may vary from user to user.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top 4K camcorder for the money
What you need to know: This affordable 4K camera is perfect if you’re on a budget or if you’d like to take videos in harsh weather conditions and underwater.
What you’ll love: The camera comes with a waterproof case so you can safely film in severe rain or completely underwater (up to 98 feet). The companion app allows for remote control of the camera or you can use the wrist-mounted remote. It has built-in Wi-Fi and HDMI for easy video sharing.
What you should consider: It doesn’t have the versatility or adaptability of cameras with more extensive features. It can take some practice to figure out the quirks of the controls.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Panasonic HC-WXF981K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder
What you need to know: This is a solid camera for taking clear pictures and video in 4K quality for amateur videographers or inexperienced users who want high quality.
What you’ll love: It has a highly protected lens and extra features to help counter common shooting troubles. Better performance in low-light conditions and higher anti-shake optical image stabilization help keep your videos looking smooth. It can connect a smartphone’s camera as a wireless twin to create a seamless picture-in-picture video effect.
What you should consider: It reportedly has some trouble connecting to Wi-Fi on its own and the companion app.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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