True 4k resolution has changed the way we see film and video. To react to the desire for true 4K videos, a good number of the camera manufacturing companies have launched 4K cameras in the recent past. However, not all of the cameras are true 4K cameras. A true 4k camera needs two things present; a true 4k sensor and a true 4k viewfinder. Though numerous cameras are marketed in the same tones, a good number of them don’t meet the criterion to make their way into the group. This article will guide on the best true 4K Cameras in 2020. It will also show you a few nifty hacks to determine whether a camera supports true 4K resolution.
These are the best true 4k Cameras in 2020. Over the last two years, we have seen an increase in the number of true 4k cameras being introduced. Each company wants to leave its footprints in the sand. Unlike in the DSLR industry where the attention swivels from Canon to Nikon, then to Sony, the 4K industry has smaller manufacturers competing with the big boys. The competition has become cut-throat in some niches of the industry. Despite the tough competition, the following 7 cameras outpace the rest of the field.
- Sony Alpha A6600
- Fujifilm XT IV
- Panasonic Lumix S1
- Sony A7R IV
- GoPro Hero7 Black
- YI Technology 4K
- Nikon Z6
Introducing You To The Best 4K Cameras in 2020
What are the advantages of 4k?
Does 4k have an upper hand over the other available resolution options? You bet it does. However, I’m afraid that information has not been packaged as it should. What we have, are flat, tasteless conversations on how 4k is here to replace HD. Funny enough, the speed of replacement has been slow. Come to think of it, there might be a war of attrition between 4k and HD. HD is trying to hold on for as long as it can. 4K keeps attacking. After all, we 4K agents have been attacking HD for the last decade. However, you don’t expect the total conquering and subjugation( forgive the war wording) of 1080P HD to happen that fast.
4K videos have several advantages. I don’t want to bore you to death with details right now. That will come a little later. However, here’s a snippet of what a true 4k camera will offer you.
- Higher pixelation even when the video is truncated down to 1080p- 4K has four times the number of pixels per unit space that HD resolution has.
- 4K gives you closer viewing than 1080p.
- Clearer, crisper and sharper videos– While the resolution will show you more vivid colors, using 4k cameras will ger you more powerful videos. We’re talking power in the sense of sharp, well-defined videos.
- Unlike HD, 4K is not as predictable– With HD, you somehow expect the resolution to be drab as you go on. On the other hand, 4k offers you a chance to exercise more creativity in your videos.
- 4K is where all films and videos are going to. You can’t afford to be left out. You might be the next Kodak case study if you don’t jump ship early enough. While 4k is taking shape a little sluggishly, most video-sharing platforms have opted to use it early on. For instance, Netflix has decided to take 4K videos only from filmmakers. Hulu and Amazon, the other two major film streaming platforms are also moving in that direction. If you have a true 4k camera, you can easily tap into the developing market for such films.
To understand more about the difference between 4k and HD, you might want to an article I recently wrote on whether you should shoot in 4k or 1080p?
Are you a content creator, or a content receiver?
In order to appreciate what 4K has to offer, you can choose to be on either side of the demand and supply conversation. The demand for 4k is huge. The audience is constantly growing. in 2019, 4K TV companies saw a spike in their sales. However, the supply side is not as large. To be a supplier of 4k content, you need a true 4k camera.
Let’s get our hands dirty with the top 8 True 4K Cameras of the year then. Here come the details you wanted.
The predecessor of the Alpha A6600, the A6500 has been the king of the 4K streets for a while. It has been an amazing journey. The camera was ranked at the top of every list. Every 4K photographer had it on their bucket. But its time to let it go. Here comes a more recent entrant, and a perfect replacement for the A6500.
For anything, the Sony Alpha A6600 can’t fall in the same sentence with the word cheap. It’s sacrilege. This camera costs an arm and a leg. But the A6500 wasn’t a cheap option either. It’s only fair that the camera remains true to its pricy heritage. We don’t want anything to be watered down because most of us couldn’t afford it. Lest we ramble too much, it should remain right there in the bucket list, until we afford it. Despite the price, it delivers the money’s worth on all fronts.
Sony’s mirrorless investment finally paying off
Sony has heavily invested in its mirrorless tech. They have redesigned cameras, built and deconstructed others. They have also created new trends and buried quite a few of them. Sometimes, they have made mistakes with horrid mirrorless products. On more frequent occasions, they have also stunned the world with the lucid, stable and amazing 4K cameras coming into the market. The investment has paid handsome returns. That’s the reason why you have the Alpha A6600 bullying the rest of the cameras when it comes to comparing the best true 4k cameras around.
This camera has a 24.2MP mirrorless sensor. As a complementary package, it also comes with a BIONZ auto image processor and a 5 axis stabilization system which is powered by AI. For the urbane filmmaker, the camera’s high battery capacity and aluminum-coated design will have you going gaga. The 4k HDR will also get you a good set of goosebumps. Once you add the realtime auto-tracking technology to the whole setup, you get a camera that can easily shoot a Disney Movie in pocket-size.
As a fan of the Sony brand, I would recommend going for the A6500 if you can’t afford the A6600. However, if you have the patience and the money, you can also wait for the release of the A6700. According to Sony Rumors, the camera is already in the pipeline. It’s slotted for soon.
When Kodak was reigning over other cameras, the only company which came close to rivaling this supreme monopoly was FujiFilm. We probably forgot about the reel, Kodak years. However, we didn’t forget about Fujifilm. If at all, we kept going back to Fujifilm options when others didn’t work out for us.
Just like with the Sony A6600, the XT4 is also a subsequent development of a sturdy and well respected 4K camera; the Fujifilm XT3. In retrospect, the XT3 was the best selling of the mirrorless Fujifilm range for a long while. In terms of sales, and positive critique, it outperformed even the formidable XT100 by far. While the XT3 was a worthy comrade of the other best true 4k cameras, it has taken quite some time for Fujifilm to design the new XT4. As of review, the XT4 is only good on paper. The market entry has been put off a few times. Nevertheless, we won’t hold our breaths for tooling.
26 MP CMOS Mirrorless Sensor
With a 26.1 MP mirrorless sensor, the new XT 4 will overpower a large number of more powerful cameras. Okay. I know the whole of that sentence is an oxymoron. unfortunately, there was no better way to put it. The 26 MP sensor is complemented by a better 4k resolution. The initial tests have shown that the camera performs exemplarily even when you switch up the frame rate to 60fps.
As a show of might more than anything, Fujifilm also decided to include a 6.5 EV correction system for videos, and a stronger than normal electronic viewfinder. Come to think of it, we haven’t seen any 3.68 dot electronic viewfinders, especially when they come with a staggering 100fps refresh rates. Aside from all this, the camera has inherited the X-Processor 4 from the XT3 along with the 26.1 MP sensor. On the XT3, the quality of video processing was astounding. On the XT4, it remains true to its nature. The processing speeds have only been made better.
A blend between the XT3 and the FH1
In the recent past, Fujifilm owners wanted a blend between the XT3 and the FH1. Each of the two had their ups and downs. The XT was critically acclaimed. On the other hand, the FH1 was the next best thing for filmmakers. It was the perfect package for vloggers and smalltime movie makers. Not only was it highly stable, but it was also fast, and seemingly lighter than the XT3. As a result of this feedback, Fujifilm has gone proactive with the XT4. For anything, the XT4 looks closer to the FH1, than the XT3. However, you shouldn’t confuse this closeness for an overhaul of the subtle magic that the XT3 had when it came to shooting in 4k. The quality of the 4K system is constant in the equation.
Since the XT4 is yet to be let loose into the market, you have to preorder it. Yes, the pre-order costs are quite high. The fact that you only get a camera body with the pre-order is also slightly disappointing. Most of us love getting stock lenses together with the camera package. For an amateur filmmaker, you might want to pass this. However, a diehard Fujifilm fan will probably take that pre-order before the first round of stock fly off the shelves. They literally do that. After that launch of the XT3, it took exactly three days for the first round of shipment to get exhausted in Japanese shops.
Among mirrorless cameras, the Panasonic Lumix is a definite heavyweight. It is an unbeaten champion of sorts. In case you know Floyd Mayweather and his 49-0 record, you might as well compare this camera to him. It is a flawless piece of design art. Moreover, it has arguably the best mirrorless sensors ever created for a camera. We won’t argue about that. It is a time-tested fact for now. Period.
The spec sheet on this camera reads like a well-written epic movie. You get a well designed 24.2 MP mirrorless sensor, a 10-bit internal 4K recording( this is the real true 4k camera) with zero cropping, 5 axis body stabilization, two memory card slots,weather-sealed outer body, and a strong phase-detect system. additionally, you also get a new L-mount lens system and arguably the best electronic viewfinder.
A small-sized 4k filmmaking beast
In retrospect, the 4K qualities packed into this camera make it a beast in filmmaking. Little wonder, therefore, why the camera’s front part is crammed tight with manual dials and an endless array of buttons to change the settings. In case you skipped using DSLRs, you might find the use a little weird at the start. Everything looks a little different on Panasonic cameras.
As a filmmaker and photographer, I thought that the Panasonic Lumix would perform horridly on photos because it is awesome with videos. After all, quite a few companies sacrifice the photo quality on their cameras to manage acceptable video quality. However, the Lumix S1 is as versatile as they come. You get equally great 4k stills while using it.
Most people compare this camera to the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A7 III. While the two are certainly great options, they don’t hold a candle to some of the things that the Lumix S1 can achieve. I’m not putting down their competitiveness in terms of true 4k quality. Instead, I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be comparing the Panasonic to any of the other Mirrorless bougies produced around the same time. Each of them is exclusive and different from the other.
I’m afraid to talk about prices. But I won’t pass. We still have to talk about it, don’t we? Here’s the gist of the price conversation. If you want to buy anything among the best true 4k cameras, anything apart from the action cameras that is, you have to get ready to spend some good cash. This camera, for instance, comes at a whopping $3300.
The recent Coronavirus pandemic has had countries gripping in the dark on how to control it. It has torn apart the stock market and killed the hopes of a good number of events. Even the Olympics is in limbo as we speak. It totters in the balance. The only time the world had to cancel the Olympics was during the two world wars. However, none of those things have hurt filmmakers, as much the putting off of the market release of the A7R IV has.
Prospectively the A7R IV ought to be the final word in terms of sensor power. We all know that the A7S III was always the elephant in the room whenever we conversed about the best mirrorless cameras. As a precursor to everything, Sony has let us know that this camera comes with the same 61.2MP mirrorless sensor that we all admired in the A7S III. As a prospective successor to the reign of the A7R III, the bar for the camera’s quality ought to be very high. Most of us are yet to experience how high sony has pushed the bar once more. Nevertheless, we’re happy to give it the benefit of don’t until we get our hands on the camera.
A balance between power and shooting efficiency
The A7 line of cameras is perhaps the most efficient mirrorless cameras you will see in a while. We’re talking efficiency in a broad sense. the design ratios are just right for the camera to be highly portable but not minute. The lens mounts are shaped for efficiency. The battery life is hinged around a highly efficient energy-saving system. It occurs to me, that efficiency runs in the Sony bloodline with apparent ease.
But how does Sony balance sensor power with the general camera specs? You can’t really have a 60.2 MP sensor if you can’t support good designs, can you? Once again, the Sony designers have outperformed themselves and every other camera designer in the world. In the usually familiar design, the camera has a great hybrid AF system, slightly cropped 4K resolution at 30fps, 5 Axis stabilization system for videos and outstanding low-light performance.
For a camera that might be dogged by the shadows of the A7s III, or the incoming A7S IV, we might have to contend with the fact that Sony went for a balance between design efficient and ultimate sensor power with this flagship product. Although it sounds and performs like a more subtle version of the more powerful cameras, it does give enough juice to warrant a place in the best true 4k cameras hall of fame if there ever was one.
There are two things you won’t find anywhere else on this list.
- A true 4k camera that goes for anything less than what the GoPro Hero7 has for its ultimate mark price.
- A camera that is more suited to the extremes of its specific job than the GoPro
Over the years, we’ve become accustomed to what GoPro has to offer for the action-packed films that we forgot how good the GoPro line of cameras can be. I’m sorry about that. It’s time to go back to the fold. This time, we’re skipping every other camera for the GoPro Hero8 Black.
The predecessor to the Hero8 was the GoPro Hero7. If at all there ever was a camera that brought true 4k resolution to shooting action scenes or tumbling down waterfalls with, or skydiving with, it was the Hero7 black. As a result of the positive critique the camera generally had, GoPro decided to switch up only a few things when coming up with the whole Hero8 concept.
A few unnoticeable improvements from the Hero7 Black
Although there’s a considerable level of improvement, you won’t notice them until you have the camera in your hands. For anything, the same tight, hardy, and ready-to-rumble look has been kept. The lenses are in the same position too. However, the new Hero8 is actually bigger than the Hero7, though just by a few millimeters on either side of the height and width.
True 4k has always been an issue in action cameras. Well, after the success of the GoPro Hero7, I bet it won’t be anymore. The Hero8 keeps to the same tradition. It shoots 4k resolution videos at 60fps with amazing efficacy. One great thing apart from the low price that is, about this camera is the audio quality. In both stereo and mono formats, the audio is as clear as the action can allow it to be.
A perfect complementary partner to the GoPro App
We reviewed the GoPro app among the Top Nine Free Video Android Editing Apps. The app complements this camera just right. It’s like yin and yang. You can edit, and share all your film as you shoot using the app. including the app along with the camera was a neat trick on GoPro’s part.
For the filmmaker who also happens to be an action junkie or the action junkie who also dabbles with shooting videos, this camera will help you a lot. Come to think of it, you don’t need anything expensive if you can manage great videos on a simple 12MP sensor. However, don’t be mistaken. The 12Mp on this camera shoots way better than any other camera given the same environments. On the action scene, the only camera that beats the GoPro is another GoPro. More often, only a newer version removes the older one from all the fame and attention. Given this is the newest version, going for it is a must.
Aside from the GoPro Hero range and its scions of action cameras, the only other action camera worth mentioning in this article is the YI Technology 4K. It is a cheaper option when compared to the GoPro. Moreover, it also is somewhat a more subtle, better-designed camera and less powerful camera in comparison.
Just like the GoPro Hero8, the YI camera also comes with a 12MP sensor. However, it looks boxier than the GoPro does. Besides, it also has a bigger touchscreen display than the minute screen you get on its nemesis.
At 30fps shooting, you get cutting edge true 4K videos using this camera. While it doesn’t raise as much noise as the GoPro marketing mania, it certainly performs well enough to qualify for a mention. Apart from the 4k videos, it also provides an acceptable quality for stills.
Unfortunately, I have been swamped up with the information while working on this article. We need to go through everything. Even then, I can’t afford to let the Nikon Z7 slide off this list. In case I do, I might as well close shop. Nikon’s voracious battalion of fans and admirers won’t let me escape with that sacrilege. They will come after my neck for not including anything from the Nikon company in the article.
Dear Nikon fans, having the Nikon Z7 here is not an afterthought. Neither is it a product of careful Machiavelli. I just couldn’t bring myself to casting aspersion on the mirrorless beauties with the Nikon macho.
Looks like the Z6, Performs just like it too
In case you ever came across the powerful Z6, you would know just what the Z7 is all about. After all, the Z6 is just the older brother to the Z7. In case we all forgot, 2018 was the year of release for this beauty. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to believing that it’s been a whole two years since the release of the Z8. We might have a Z8 soon if the rumors are to be trusted. Although we can’t wait for the Z8, the Z7 is what the Sony A7S is to the Sony company. In case you are more of a phone person, this camera is what the iPhone 11 Pro or the Huawei P30 are to the two companies respectively. I’m talking about flagship products here.
With the Z7, Nikon designed the camera around a 45.7MP sensor which works around the CMOS technology. To make it better, they threw in phase-detection pixels as an addition. Since the camera works with manual stabilization, you won’t get the 5-point stabilization system that Sony and Canon use on this one. On 4k performance, what the camera offers will certainly please any 4k filmmaker. So rarely do we get to test out Nikon cameras that can comfortably do 4k in 30fps supported by internal video capturing. In fact, there’s a handful of them. Even among the handful of true 4k Nikon Cameras, the Z7 stands out supremely. The including of the OLED electronic viewfinder makes the shooting experience a little difference. However, the viewfinder does equally well.
Although the best true 4K cameras cost an arm and a leg, there are a few good options a little down the price ladder. While they would not outperform what you have here, older versions of the cameras can also be used as replacement options. For instance, the GoPro Hero6 does well enough in terms of 4K shooting if you can’t afford either of the Hero7 or Hero8. The Nikon Z6 or the Z5 also perform moderately well. They couldn’t find their way onto this list because they are an aging option. We shouldn’t be whining about the shortage of good 4k films when we can do something about it.
In case you are new to shooting in true 4K, you have a steep learning curve ahead. However, that shouldn’t be a cause for panic. For good 4K videos, you might want to check out The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Shooting in 4K.
Here’s a toast to amazing 4K videos, and better cameras!