Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best 4k camcorders 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2019
Best 4k camcorders of 2018
There are dozens of choices for an 4k camcorders these days. These are composed of modern styling with modern technology to match it. Here are some good examples. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your comfort, style, or accessibility, we have picks to fit a variety of needs and budgets.
Now, let’s get to the gist of the matter: which are the best 4k camcorders for the money? I review the three best 4k camcorders on the market at the moment.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this 4k camcorders win the first place?
I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this 4k camcorders come in second place?
The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money.
№3 – Camcorders
Why did this 4k camcorders take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work.
4k camcorders Buyer’s Guide
A sizable investment
Anyone buying a mid-range camcorder should expect full-HD resolution, a high-quality zoom lens and more control over shooting than a budget model provides.
Such camcorders cost between £250 and £650, with pricier models having more features and delivering better quality. A large LCD screen will help to frame the action, and the more pixels the better. Consider a 260,000-dot screen as a minimum. Many new camcorders omit a rear viewfinder, so bear this in mind if you’re used to traditional video cameras: you’ll have to use the flip-out LCD screen on the side.
Image stabilisation is included in almost all new models. Electronic stabilisation is the most basic but can still be effective. For the steadiest shots, optical systems work best, and may allow you to use full zoom without a tripod.
If you’re serious about getting the best-possible quality for capturing your child’s first steps or an important wedding, you’ll have to spend more money.
Features to look for in high-end camcorders include three sensors, one each for red, green and blue. This will produce better colours in good light, but a larger, single sensor may deliver better quality in low light. Also look for a range of manual controls; even if you don’t use them to begin with, features such as manual exposure are well worth having when you want to get more creative. Similarly, a microphone input will also be missed when you decide you want better quality sound than the built-in mic can capture.
The lens also plays a large role in determining image quality, but a good way to find out how suitable a given model will be is to read our reviews. When comparing zoom ranges, be sure to look for the optical zoom rather than digital figure. The latter merely enlarges a portion in the middle of the image, but can’t add any more detail.
It’s got a sleek, classic look, one that we’ve come to expect from Sony’s Handycam range. Aside from excellent video capture capabilities, it’s the little things like the USB cable built-in to the strap that give the Sony HDR-CX40the edge.
Black High Stoga Dfun STD003
For those on a budget, this practically unbranded camcorder isn’t actually a bad option. For fewer than fifty sheets, this camcorder allows you to record up to 720p onto an SD card. Bear in mind that the maximum storage option you can use with it is 32GB, so you might want to check how full your card is before a day of recording.
The screen flips out into three different shooting positions, while there’s a thread to attach a standard tripod. This is a great choice if you want a back-up camcorder or simply don’t want to break the bank.
Aside from recording in full HD, this Sony Handycam has a great trick up its sleeve with its built-in projector. One of those things you don’t realise you need until you get it, admittedly, but once you have it it’s really useful. You can show your friends what you’ve shot, or show the family your holiday videos without plugging the camcorder into a computer.
The generous 3in screen is an excellent viewfinder, while the functionality to take still images even when recording video is a superb addition. At the higher end, but you’ll appreciate the extra quality on offer time and time again.
Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Introducing HEROBlack, the most advanced GoPro ever. Featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates,HEROBlack takes Emmy Award-winning GoPro performance to a whole new level. Incredible high-resolution 4K30 and 2.7K50 video and high frame rate 1080p120 video enable stunning, immersive footage of you and your world. Waterproof to 13feet (40 meters) with 1MP photos at a blistering 30 frames per second and improved audio1, HEROBlack is the ultimate life-capture solution.
Sony FDR-X1000V 4K Action Camera
Sony Alpha aIII
Our Buying Guides cover virtually every major camera on the market, most of which we’ve tested in-depth. This includes testing of sensor performance and image quality, experience with the video shooting and extensive real-world photography in a range of situations. We selected our recommendations by prioritizing the features and performance aspects central to video shooting.
As the more advanced sibling of the already sensational GH4, Panasonic Lumix GHis loaded with even more sophisticated features; so many of them I can’t tell where to begin. Unlike its older brother, this camera makes use of the whole width of the sensor to capture the footage, which is then downsampled using the camera’s image processing power. This allows for all the frames not to be cropped and you’ll be able to use the camera’s recording function as if you used it to take still shots. In case you have no idea how it feels, it’s very convenient and the result is beyond compare.
Recording in cinematic 4K with Panasonic Lumix GHis possible up to 60 frames per second with max bit rate of 150Mbps. The size of the video will be unbelievably big, but you need not doubt its quality. Meanwhile, shooting in full HD resolution allows you to use much higher frame rate of 180fps, perfect for high action scenes. Color subsampling is made possible up to 4:2:with the color depth of 10-bit. That will not only give you more vibrant gradations, but also deeper color information.
To aid its superb video recording capability, Panasonic Lumix GHallows users to pair it with external recorder and feed its live output into it using its HDMI port. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a feature in other mirrorless camera. Although there’s already much to be admired from the GH5, Panasonic still has a plan to release a number of firmware updates to refine the camera recording function even more. Just a quick note for those who haven’t seen the camera physically, I have to tell you that it’s big. Also, while its ISO range has been broadened to a good extent from the GH4, it’s still not as broad as the competitors such as Nikon D500.
Small and Tough
Action cameras are small, lightweight, wearable, mountable, portable, and sometimes waterproof camcorders. They’re useful because you can mount them to pretty much anything—from skateboards, surfboards, bicycles, and drones, to helmets, body parts, and even your pets.
Sure, you can also mount a traditional camcorder, which could very well feature better functionality and performance for the price. But regular camcorders are too heavy and bulky to strap onto yourself, your apparel, or your equipment. Plus, the gap between traditional camcorder and action camera performance is narrowing as technology improves. Action cams are forever getting smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Here you’ll find the top-rated action cams we’ve tested.
Frame Rates and Resolution
Before you start digging into the reviews, a few notes on choosing a cam that’s right for you. You’ll definitely want to consider frame rate, expressed as frames per second (fps). Some action cameras offer up to 240fps recording, while others only go to 30fps. For standard playback, 30fps is perfectly fine. It’s when you want to slow footage down in editing to create dramatic scenes that frame rate matters. Footage captured at 240fps can be slowed down and played back smoothly at one quarter speed. You may also want to go for a cinematic look, in which case you’ll want one that has a 24fps capture option.
Then there’s resolution and video quality. At this point, the best action cams on the market capture footage at 4K, most at 30fps. Some can also shoot in 4K at 60fps. Shooting in 4K does have some advantages, notably in the ability to crop footage and maintain 1080p quality at output—it makes the ultra-wide view of a typical action cam lens a bit more versatile. Cameras that support 4K can be set to record in lower resolutions as well, if you want to keep file sizes down.
You’ll also want to keep your specific needs in mind. Not all cameras are suitable for every sport, and certain form factors lend themselves better to certain activities. On top of that, different shapes allow for different mounting accessories and possibilities. If you want to catch a unique perspective, like an under-skateboard shot, you’ll want to pay close attention to size.
Waterproofing is important to consider if you’ll be recording footage underwater or even around water. Some waterproof cameras can go deeper than others, and some have built-in waterproofing so that you don’t need to think about extra housing. And if you’re already invested in a system, like GoPro, which uses a proprietary mount, then sticking with what you’ve got can help save money on extra accessories.
Some drones have gimbal mounts that work with certain GoPro models. We’ve reviewed several drones that work with older GoPro models, including the Yuneec Typhoon G, the Blade Chroma, and the Xiro Xplorer G. The best of the bunch, as far as GoPro integration goes, is GoPro’s own Karma, in part because it supports that latest cameras, but it has room for improvement.
There’s some appeal to using a modular action cam with your drone—but it looks like integrated cameras have won out. The aircraft that we’ve seen released in the past year have shown that DJI is just as capable of making a small video camera as GoPro, and the lenses are better tuned for aerial use, with narrower fields of view and no fish-eye distortion.
As anyone who’s attempted to record a performance on their smartphone knows, that’s somewhere your iPhone can falter.
The most obvious of these is the quality, because as anyone who’s attempted to record a performance on their smartphone knows, that’s somewhere your iPhone can falter. A video camera has a lens and sensor that are far, far better than the one in your phone, because both are bigger. The video camera can gather more light, which makes for better quality video when the sun is out and doubly so when things start to dim.
Compression is another part of what makes the footage look good. Cell phones and tablets squish your video down as tight as a lemon in a citrus juicer. With video, once you’ve lost quality by squishing it down, you’ll never get it back. By comparison, camcorders use less compression, which means better quality and the ability to edit the video later. Sure, the less compressed video will take up more space, but with SD cards being very affordable, that’s not a huge worry.
The models we looked at can use memory cards of 3or 6GB in size, enough to hold hours of video. Unless you’re packing 12GB or so, your cell phone or tablet probably won’t have that much available space after accounting for music, apps, movies, and everything else.
Of course, a smartphone or tablet is fine for the odd selfie or video—they are easy to carry and shoot with when you need them. But if you want your video to be more than a cute five-second clip on Facebook, a video camera is what you need; modern video cameras are small and light enough that they won’t weigh you down.
Why not use an SLR? “Ahah!” I hear you cry. “If my cell phone isn’t good enough, why not use a DSLR or mirrorless camera to shoot video?” DSLR and mirrorless cameras are excellent devices for taking photos and video. If you want to do both, then they are a great hybrid option. However, they can involve serious compromises when it comes to audio and video. In particular, dedicated video cameras offer major advantages for sound, focusing, zoom, and clip length.
The microphones on DSLR and mirrorless cameras are often an afterthought, capturing weak sound and often picking up the sound of the camera itself—and some don’t have options for external microphones, either. By contrast, video cameras offer glorious stereo (or better) sound, and some have zoom microphones that work alongside the zoom lenses to pick up sound from a smaller angle in front of the camera as you zoom in. Using a video camera means you’ll actually be able to hear the specific thing that you’re recording, rather than being drowned out in background noise.
Another problem with cameras is that they tend to have issues with focusing while recording: they can only do it slowly. Unless you do what the pros do and pre-focus manually, you are going to get blurry video while the camera see-saws back and forth to lock on focus and struggles to catch up. Video cameras include dedicated focus sensors that work continuously, quickly shifting the focus to adapt as you move the camcorder around.
If you’ve ever wanted to record a music recital or a play, a DSLR will leave you hanging, because it won’t be able to record the whole thing. Many cameras can only shoot clips of or 20 minutes, occasionally getting up to 30, after which the image sensor has to cool down. Video cameras can shoot for as long as there is space on the memory card. On a camera like the Canon HF500, that means between two and half hours (at highest quality) and over 12 hours at lowest quality on a 32GB memory card.
But if you’re interested in the more artistic side of filmmaking, where you can use interchangeable lenses and get a narrow depth of field, and you are willing to work around the focusing problems and record video in shorter chunks, a DSLR might be a better bet.
When darkness falls, video cameras get scared. Low-light situations means that they have to make the most of every photon, sucking in as much light as possible and amplifying the signal from their image sensors to make it brighter—which can add an ugly speckling pattern to the footage.
Both the Panasonic and the Canon did well in this test, making the most of the available light in full auto mode without boosting the signal too much, with the Panasonic producing the cleanest footage overall. If a video camera amplifies the signal too much, the video becomes noisy and grainy. The Sony didn’t fare so well, producing video that was bright, but distinctly noisy, with a visible and off-putting grain in the footage. Enabling the low-light setting made the video brighter, but also made the noise much more visible.
You may not think that you’ll be doing a lot of nighttime shooting, but it doesn’t take much of a dip in light levels for low-light performance to become important. Recording a birthday party at night, indoors? Or a family dinner? Off trick or treating? Or the ubiquitous school play? In all these cases, you need a video camera that will still deliver smooth motion and clean footage, where you can see all the details of what’s going on around you.
In near total darkness, the Panasonic automatically turns on a small LED light next to the lens. It is pretty weak and produces rather unflattering video that looks like a horror movie gone wrong, so it is best not used unless you have no other choice. At least you can disable it through the on-screen menu. The Panasonic is also the only model to offer a mount for attaching a separate light source—but this doesn’t power the light, which will need its own battery or plug.
We shot this low-light sample video in the transept of the Sanders Theatre in Harvard, which has very low lighting. The video cameras were set to their highest-quality settings, with low-light enhancement modes enabled.
A good stabilization system is crucial unless you plan on shooting from a tripod constantly. It’ll help smooth out hand shake both when you’re standing still, and when you’re in motion—and it becomes even more important when you zoom in, which accentuates even the tiniest of tremors. You need a camera capable of producing footage that looks fluid (but not unnaturally smooth) while you’re zoomed from halfway across a basketball court or when you’re running alongside your kid’s first foray into riding a bicycle.
For this sample video, the video cameras were set to their highest-quality video mode, with stabilization enabled and set to the default setting.
All the camcorders recorded acceptable sound, but the best by far was the V770K’s predecessor, the functionally identical V750K. With excellent stereo separation and a good balance between the subject and the ambient noise, it gave the strongest feeling of being in the middle of the action. It also has the neat trick of zooming the microphone as you zoom the lens, focusing in on the subject and lowering the surrounding sound. It works well and can make someone’s voice more audible in a crowd, separating it from the background noise. Panasonic labels this as a “5.1ch” microphone, and the camcorder can capture dolby digital 5.1-channel sound and the more standard 2-channel stereo sound.
The Canon also captured decent stereo sound, but picked up much more of the ambient noise, which sometimes overwhelmed the subject. This effect was even more extreme in the Sony, which was much more sensitive to noise such as aeroplanes flying overhead.
No on-camcorder microphone can do miracles, though, and if you want to upgrade, the Panasonic is the only one of the cameras we tested that offers both a microphone input and a place to put it—the Canon only had the former, and the Sony neither.
The V770K also includes a Wi-Fi interface, which allows it to connect to a cell phone or tablet as well as a standard Wi-Fi network. The free app for iOS and Android can remotely control the camera with a live preview. From here you can zoom in and out and stop/start recordings, but the more complex manual controls are not available. When connected to a Wi-Fi network, the V770K appears as a DLNA device, so any compatible computer (Windows or Mac) or device, like a Roku, can play back video from the memory card. Wi-Fi can’t be used to transfer the original recordings to a PC or Mac. It can, however, be used to livestream video to Ustream, a neat feature for things like family events that someone can’t get to.
Of the three models that we spent hands on time with, it was the Sony HDR-CX330 that came last. It produced decent quality video and was smaller and lighter than the Canon and Panasonic models, but the joystick control was awkward to use, the video stabilization was not as effective, and the audio quality wasn’t as good as the other models.
In early 2015, Panasonic announced three low-end models, the HC-W570, HC-V270, and HC-V160, and then in 201the HC-W580, HC-V380, and HC-V180. But all six have substantially worse sensors than the V770K.
Act 3, the opening night and Cirque at end were shot on Sony Alpha a6000. The rest was shot on a Canon C100 II.
Panasonic Lumix GH(and for a sweet deal the GHtoo!)
Killer video shooting set-up. Panasonic GHwith Rokinon 35mm lens and a DIY light gel.
A Gift From Me To You
Shot on Canon C100 Mark II. Sigma 18-35mm. Canon 70-200mm. With strobe lights. A wig. Sunglasses. And a willing wife.
Camera Buying Guide: convince your spouse to dress up as a DC comics super villain don her Black Swan alter ego for the sake of playing with your new camera, then power to you my friend.
Clinton directs and shoots videos for Stark Insider. Recent projects include BTS short LUZIA with Cirque du Soleil, short film collection WHO IS STARK INSIDER?, and art-doc WRONG’S WHAT I DO BEST shot on location at the San Francisco Art Institute. His Broadway shorts, such as SHREK UNMASKED, have garnered acclaim. He’s worked with DreamWorks, Disney on Ice, and “studied under” filmmaker Werner Herzog. He also writes on Stark Insider about the San Francisco arts scene, Napa, Silicon Valley and gadgets.
Canon Legria HF R606
Despite the onslaught of smartphones, all of which now come equipped with sensors and hardware that allow them to produce at least HD quality video, video cameras and camcorders are still very much worth investing in.
That’s assuming that you plan to record high quality footage that is likely to be edited or viewed on a high quality platform (capable of playing full HD or even better).
The age of full HD or even 4K video for everyone is very much upon us, with everything from our mobile phone, stills camera and even webcam able to capture these 2-megapixel videos with ease.
So what is the best camcorder to buy in this ultra-modern age? The good news is that you have a full range of features and specifications open to you – fully automated, hardware stabilised, broadcast quality video in the palm of your hand, and often for less than £500.
Too low to display
This wide field of view creates an immersive experience, and roughly equates to the field of view of human eyesight.
However, such a wide angle does also create a fisheye effect, where straight lines become increasingly curved the nearer they get to the edge of the frame.
The effect gives action camera footage a unique style, and it could be argued that this distortion has become the expected norm for action video. But some users aren’t keen on it.
Remove the Fisheye Effect From Action Camera Video
The fisheye effect can be fixed. The GoPro Studio software for editing GoPro videos has a “Remove Fisheye” setting, as do many image and video editing applications.
Common Photo Lenses & When To Use Them
Though there’s no photographic rulebook when it comes to focal length and aperture, there are a few best practices to remember.
Read More, but simply use a smaller part of the sensor — effectively cropping out the distorted areas around the edges.
Because you aren’t using the full sensor, there are often limitations on resolution and quality when shooting in these modes. 4K recording, for instance, isn’t possible.
There are also different form factors to consider.
Niche form factors are also available for specific uses. The Panasonic HX-A500, for example, is designed to be clipped over the ear for hands-free operation.
Cameras shoot at a range of frame rates, usually from 24fps — for softer, more cinematic-style footage — up to 60fps for a crisper effect familiar with sports and action video.
With slow motion footage, we can witness never-before-seen details in events that we usually take for granted. Here’s how to make such videos yourself.
Read More. Higher frame rates are more taxing on the hardware, and require more data to be written to the card. As a result, they’re often only available at a lower resolution. Shooting at 240fps on the GoPro HEROBlack, for instance, is only possible at 720p resolution.
Ways To Take Time-Lapse Videos
Time-lapse videos are some of my favorite videos to watch. They’re just so fascinating, whether the video shows the passage of time in a desert or the workflow of a sketch artist. There’s just something…
Other Manufacturer Differences
GoPro is the leading name in action cameras, but other manufacturers do offer additional benefits.
GoPro cameras share the same boxy design, but sometimes other form factors are more suitable. The “bullet” style, seen on devices like the iON Air Pro 3, is popular among cyclists, or for head mounting, for example.
Some manufacturers, including Sony, also offer image stabilization, something that GoPro doesn’t have. This produces far smoother video. It’s not quite up to steadicam levels, but is free from much of the jerkiness associated with action camera video.
Stabilization in action cameras is digital, so where it is implemented you either lose some of the width from the field of view or have to shoot at a lower resolution.
How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job
SD cards aren’t all about storage! In fact, there are several other factors to consider, and when purchasing your cards, you should make yourself aware of them. That said, SD cards aren’t all created equal,…
Read More you can get for best performance. A card that isn’t fast enough will cause frames to be dropped, resulting in jerky video.
Class 10, therefore, is the minimum you need. Preferably the camera will support the UHS-II standard, giving you write speeds of more than 250MB/s in the most high end cards.
Some cameras also offer built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. This isn’t just for the easy transfer of video from the camera to your PC (or upload to the web). It can also be used for accessories, such as the Live View Remote for the Sony Action Cam range, and even live streaming.
A Wi-Fi enabled action camera can also be controlled remotely via a smartphone. All the major brands have apps for iPhone and Android that include remote controls, playback and even basic editing functions.
It’s a useful feature to have, especially on a camera that doesn’t have a screen for playback.
It’s a Wrap
Action cameras are booming in popularity. And as they get smaller and more powerful, that is only going to continue.
But while they’re built for simplicity and ease of use in environments where you don’t want to be fiddling with controls, there’s more points to consider when buying one than you might have realised.
By understanding the importance of the ecosystem, and differences in the field of view and the quality of the video, you can pick the action camera that is perfect for your needs.
Sony Bloggie Touch Camera
The inch screen gives you a nice place to view your videos and has touch screen technology. Something that this camera does that not all will do, is take still pictures while taking video at the same time. Your videos are recorded in full HD 1080p video and the camera has a 4x digital zoom. Your still pictures are captured at 12.MP. Image stabilization has also been focused on with this camera and many users find that it works very well at eliminating the shake and blur you can often get.
There are no cables included with this camera as it has its own USB arm to connect to any PC. Buyers should be aware that HDMI cables need to be purchased separately. Sharing videos is as easy as ever with this camera so you can upload anytime.
Users have reported that low light shooting still leave you with grainy pictures and that it has no flash whatsoever. This could be a drawback for some. Some features that are appreciated by users are that it turns on really quick and is not complicated to get started recording. The battery life overall is also very good.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your 4k camcorders wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of 4k camcorders
- №1 — Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder
- №2 — Sony 4K HD Video Recording FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder
- №3 — Camcorders