Once reserved primarily for enthusiast models and professional-grade cameras, 4k recording capability has become a common feature on even beginner-oriented models. The best 4k video camera shouldn't only capture sharp well-rendered videos, but should also include features to make your recording sessions a little easier. These include effective autofocus systems, in-body stabilization, and a wide selection of inputs and outputs for different videography accessories, like headphones, auxiliary microphones, or external recorders.
It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to record the kind of videos you want, but it could make your camera more of a hassle to carry around. For the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test each camera with its standard kit lens.
We've tested over 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best 4k cameras for most people to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their performance but also their feature set and price. If you're looking for alternatives, you can take a look at our list of recommendations for the best digital cameras, the best cameras for vlogging, and the best cameras for YouTube.
The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II is arguably one of the best 4k video cameras you can get outside of buying a dedicated cinema camera. It has a Micro Four Thirds sensor and has plenty of advanced video features, making it a popular choice for amateur filmmakers and videographers. It feels incredibly comfortable to shoot with, has a fully articulated screen to make shooting video easier, and features five-axis in-body image stabilization to reduce camera shake when shooting handheld.
The camera supports many recording formats and video codecs, including All-I compression for those who prefer to do frame-by-frame edits with higher-quality video files. It supports V-log recording and, depending on your video format, it can shoot 4k 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally to give you greater latitude when processing your videos. It's also capable of recording in cinematic DCI 4k and anamorphic 6k resolution and has a full set of inputs and outputs, including a full-sized HDMI port, headphone jack, microphone input, and flash sync port.
That said, its autofocus lags behind some competitors. It can sometimes struggle to keep track of subjects that are moving especially quickly, though in many cases, it'll still do a decent overall job of keeping your subject in focus. Additionally, its video quality dips a bit in low light due to its smaller sensor, but 4k video still looks fantastic in more controlled lighting situations. Despite its shortcomings, this is one of the most capable 4k cameras we've tested, and it's a great choice for studio video and more advanced video work.
If you'd prefer a camera with better low-light capability, check out the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5. It doesn't support All-I compression, and it doesn't have as many resolution options as the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. However, its full-frame sensor makes it better suited to recording video in low light. It's Panasonic's first L-mount camera, so it's also compatible with Leica and Sigma L-mount lenses as well as Panasonic lenses, giving you a growing range of lenses to choose from. Overall, the camera feels incredibly well-built, and it has a fully-articulated screen and in-body image stabilization. Its autofocus system is also more consistent than the GH5 II when tracking moving faces. Its overall video quality is excellent, and it has fantastic internal recording capability. That said, it can only shoot 4k 60p video with a severe 1.5x crop.
Get the GH5 II if you want more resolutions and recording format options, but if low-light capability and video quality are priorities, consider the DC-S5.
The Fujifilm X-S10 is the best camera that we've tested for vloggers who want to shoot in 4k. Though the flagship Fujifilm X-T4 has more advanced internal recording capability, the X-S10 shares the same sensor and many of the same video features in a simpler, more portable design, making it a better option for vlogging. On top of that, it has in-body image stabilization to smooth out camera shake when shooting handheld, as well as a fully articulated screen so you can monitor yourself.
This camera delivers excellent overall video quality, especially when shooting in 4k in more controlled lighting conditions. If you prefer to do in-depth color grading on your videos, it also supports F-Log shooting, and it outputs high-quality video files up to 204 Mbps. It can record 4k video at up to 30 fps, and it has a high-speed capture mode that records footage at 120 or 240 fps for slow-motion playback; however, this mode is only available in 1080p. It has a fantastic autofocus system, which reliably keeps moving subjects in focus.
That said, its battery life only lasts for about an hour when recording 4k video continuously; however, batter performance can also vary a lot depending on your chosen settings and usage habits. Video quality also dips a bit when shooting in more dimly lit conditions since the camera only has an APS-C sensor. If you're looking for an affordable vlogging camera with advanced 4k video features and a simple, portable design, this is a great option.
If you want something more compact for vlogging, check out the Sony ZV-1. Unlike the Fujifilm X-S10, it's got a built-in zoom lens and is significantly more portable, making it very easy to take with you for run-and-gun vlogging. It has a fully-articulated screen so you can monitor yourself while shooting, and its lens has a 24-70mm focal length (full-frame equivalent), giving you a bit of flexibility when it comes to framing. It also has an electronic stabilization feature that does a great job of stabilizing handheld 4k video, though enabling it does incur a slight 1.15x crop. Sony's autofocus system is also a little more consistent and accurate overall than the Fujifilm AF. That said, its small sensor means worse overall video quality, especially in low-light situations, although 4k video still looks great overall and is more than suitable for vlogging. Unfortunately, though, the camera's battery life is very limited, and there's a 5-minute recording time limit in 4k to prevent overheating, so it's mostly just suitable for shorter videos.
Get the Fujifilm if you want a more advanced vlogging camera with better internal recording specs and video quality. If portability is your top priority, the Sony is a solid alternative with an excellent autofocus system.
If you're looking for a fixed-lens point-and-shoot for 4k video and want to step up from your smartphone, there are some very capable point-and-shoots on the market these days. Chief among them is the Fujifilm X100V, which is not only one of the best compact cameras we've tested but is also a pretty formidable video camera. Though it's not the most compact video option, it's still fairly portable, so you can easily fit it into a small bag or coat pocket and get shooting at a moment's notice.
The camera uses the same 26-megapixel APS-C sensor you can find on the Fujifilm X-S10 mentioned above, so video quality is fantastic. It can shoot uncropped 4k video at up to 30 fps and has several film simulation profiles to help make the colors in your video pop. If, however, you prefer to shoot in a flat profile and color-grade your own footage, it supports F-log recording. While it's limited to 8-bit internal recording, it can output a 10-bit 4:2:2 video to an external recorder via HDMI to give you more latitude when grading. This will also eliminate the 10-minute recording time limit for longer shooting sessions.
Although the camera has a high-speed recording mode that shoots slow-motion footage at 120 fps, it's unfortunately only available in 1080p. The camera also lacks any stabilization feature, though the short focal length of its built-in lens means you can still get usable footage out of it if you don't want to use a tripod or gimbal. That said, the fixed focal length can also be a drawback if you prefer to shoot video with a zoom lens. All in all, though, this makes for a surprisingly good hybrid camera, especially for travel or less advanced video work.
The Sony α6400 is the best budget camera we've tested for those interested in shooting 4k video. It's a crop-sensor mirrorless camera with a relatively small, portable body and a screen that can flip up for vlogs. Its weather-sealed construction, along with its portable size, makes it a good choice for shooting video on the go or while traveling.
This camera offers a lot of value for its price, and it's especially notable for its amazing autofocus system. It does a fantastic job of tracking and keeping moving subjects in focus when shooting 4k video. You can fine-tune settings to adjust how responsive it is and how quickly it switches focus, or whether to prioritize keeping faces in focus instead of objects or other things that may be in frame. 4k video quality is also excellent and stays sharp and relatively noise-free even in low light. If you prefer to color grade your videos, it supports S-Log and HLG recording.
However, its frame rate options are a bit limited in 4k. It can only shoot at 24 or 30 fps, and the latter incurs a slight crop. On top of that, it doesn't have in-body image stabilization, and with the Sony 16-50mm 3.5-5.6/PZ OSS kit lens attached, it does a poor job of reducing camera shake in 4k. Despite its flaws, though, this is one of the best cameras for filmmaking if you're looking for something lightweight and affordable.
Action cameras are a great option if you want 4k video in a more portable and rugged package, and the best action camera we've tested for 4k video is the GoPro HERO10 Black. This premium action camera is sturdy and well-built, and it's waterproof to an advertised depth of 33 ft. You can easily mount it to any number of action cam rigs and mounts or simply use it with a stick or tripod. It also features a front-facing screen with Live View, making it a great option for vloggers who prefer a simpler setup.
It supports several frame rate and resolution options, including 4k at up to 120 fps, so you can easily capture smooth action footage or incorporate slow-motion sequences into your videos. If you like, you can also record video in 5.3k at up to 60 fps or 1080p at up to 240 fps. The camera's 4k video quality is fairly good overall, especially compared to other action cameras. It performs relatively well in low light, thanks to its upgraded processor. There's also no recording time limit, which is great.
That said, the battery life on this camera is unremarkable. It lasts for approximately 80 minutes of video recording, which isn't bad but may not be enough for long days of shooting. However, battery performance can also vary drastically depending on your usage habits and settings. Overall, this is one of the best action cameras we've tested, and its relatively good video quality and high 4k frame rates make it a great choice for 4k action video.
Feb 23, 2022: Changed the Sony ZV-1 from 'Alternative With Optical Zoom' for the Fujifilm X100V to 'Compact Alternative' for the Fujifilm X-S10.
Dec 20, 2021: Renamed the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 from 'Full-Frame Alternative' to 'Low Light Alternative'.
Dec 07, 2021: Replaced the Fujifilm X-T4 with the Fujifilm X-S10 as the 'Best 4k Camera For Vlogging' and moved the X-T4 to Notable Mentions. Removed the Fujifilm X-E4 from Notable Mentions.
Nov 16, 2021: Replaced the GoPro HERO9 Black with the GoPro HERO10 Black as 'Best 4k Action Camera'.
Oct 26, 2021: Renamed 'Best Compact 4k Camera' to 'Best 4k Point-And-Shoot Camera.'
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 4k cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for 4k-capable cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.