Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (September 2018) *BEST VALUE*
It’s a bit too early to tell the potential of the image form this camera. Some prefer the original pocket camera either for its 16mm like perspective or for its particular saturated look. But like a good microphone we find that Blackmagic Pocket 4K produces a useable more neutral image that can be made into what you need it to be if you have the skill.
Of course there is no IBIS, the auto-focus is not usable in real-time, the battery life is short, and it will take some money to kit this camera out. But the image quality, the codec options, the forthcoming Blackmagic RAW (BRAW), and color science make this camera worth it.
Sony A7 III (March 2018)
This camera should have been good. Well it’s not horrible and if you’re already invested in the Sony ecosystem it may make sense, but it just did not live up to its video promise (we much prefer the A7R III and A7S II for video).
Panasonic GH5S (January 2018)
Well some people were disappointed by the lack of IBIS, there were definitely some professionals who were okay with that on account of some of the issues IBIS can introduce. We would have preferred to see an IBIS and non-IBIS version. Regardless, the image out of this camera is great, and Panasonic continues to lead the way in giving the most to prosumers.
Sony A7R III (November 2017)
They purposely did not make this camera as good as they could have. Probably to save market share for the upcoming A7S III. It should have improved image quality over the A7R II but it lacks 10-bit, HEVC, and 60P.
Panasonic GH5 (March 2017)
This camera isn’t perfect, but by far it’s the best value on the market and a true improvement over the GH5. The sensor size or the autofocus are the reasons you might choose against this, but Panasonic does the best job of giving value to the consumer video market. 60P. Decent codecs. IBIS. Good enough battery life. Grip and audio attachments. VLog. Anamorphic.
Sony A6500 (December 2016)
The rolling shutter is still horrible, but this camera doesn’t have the over-heating issues of the A6300 and it has IBIS. Not as good as m43 IBIS but it’s still okay. Autofocus is nice. Battery life isn’t. Next version should be better. Color doesn’t seem quite as bad as the other Sony’s.
Panasonic G85 (October 2016)
This is the best value 4K video camera of 2016 and 2017. It lacks VLog but Cine D with Paul Leemings Lut comes close enough. It has IBIS, good build quality, weather resistance, and can take a battery grip. It beats the Sony A6300/A6500 in many ways, except for autofocus and low-light. It lacks 60P (as does the A6300/6500).
Sony RX 10 Mark III (May 2016)
While we ultimately were not impressed wit the RX 10 II, this III version certainly has better video quality and a surprisingly good lens that goes all the way to 600mm. It’s an interesting option, especially if you need the reach.
Panasonic GX80/85 (April 2016)
This camera is also known as the GX7 Mark II in Japan. The 5 axis in-body stabilization (IBIS) is great and finally matches Olympus. This can be used during 4K video mode. At only $800 this is simply the best value and we prefer it to the A6300 from the point of view of video (the A6300 is a far better stills camera, however).
Rating: 52/100: Best value on the market at time of release. It does not have the best image quality of all cameras on this page (that would likely go to one of Sony’s offerings).
Sony A6300 (March 2016)
The Sony A6300 has impressive video specs for a $1000 camera. It down-samples 6K to 4K and the image is quite good. But there’s two big catches. Rolling shutter is bad on this camera, although not that much worse than some other cameras like the Samsung NX1. Secondly, this camera overheats making it not a viable option for critical work. For wide shots and locked down on a tripod this camera produces good video. Video auto-focus for this camera is decent.
Nikon D5/D500 (March 2016)
The D5 is a $6,500 full frame digital camera that can shoot 4K for 3 minutes (a future firmware update will likely allow for 30 minutes). The D500 is a $2000 crop camera that shoots 4K for 29 minutes. It’s better than having no 4K video but few will be buying this camera for its video capabilities.
Panasonic GX8 (August 2015)
The Panasonic GX8’s implementation of IBIS is lacking and the crop for video is not ideal unless you’re doing telephoto work. This camera is nice on the photography side but it wasn’t what we hoped it would be for video. That said, the video quality is good, and its low-light is improved.
Sony RX10 II (August 2015)
We had high hopes for this Sony 1-inch sensor camera but the video quality just did not cut it for us.
Samsung NX500 (March 2015)
Not the mini Samsung NX1 everyone hoped it would be. The video quality is still decent but it has a large crop making it better suited for telephoto work. And of course this model is no longer being supported.
Panasonic G7 (July 2015)
Panasonic is one of our favorite camera makers. The Panasonic G7 is far from perfect and yet it’s an amazing value. It’s the lowest budget 4K camera that we can authentically recommend.
Rating: 51/100: This rating is high on account of the value of this product. If you’re looking for low light ability, high end video features, a large dynamic range, or the like, then this isn’t the camera for you. But in the right hands and properly lit the image quality is far better than the price indicates it should be.
Sony A7s II (June 2015)
We wish the video codec was better, but this camera is a nice upgrade to the Sony A7s and its low-light abilities are phenomenal. Too bad the color science sucks.
Sony A7r II (June 2015)
This camera was a bit over-hyped but it has decent video quality and if you want amazing stills and 4K in a small, travel friendly package, this is probably your best option. Presently, if you’re just doing video, the Sony A6300 with a focal reducer is a cheaper and somewhat equivalent option.
Samsung NX1 (December 2014)
The Samsung NX1 was a bold move by Samsung. Unfortunately this excellent model was not able to keep Samsung in the camera game and they have since seemingly abandoned this model. If you can get one for cheap it’s still a great option for 4K. The image is very sharp but it’s dynamic range is not great (but is comparable with other similarly priced cameras).
Rating: 54/100: At the time of release we rated it much higher but who wants to board a sinking ship?
Panasonic LX100 (November 2014)
The LX100 is a fixed-lens portable m43 camera that shoots 4K video for up to 15 minutes. The video quality is better than we expected. If you can live within the time limits this makes for an interesting travel or ultra-portable camera.
Sony A7s (August 2014)
This camera does not shoot 4K internally but it does output it. With the external recorder the whole package gets much more expensive and larger but it is a nice image with great low-light capabilities.
Panasonic FZ1000 (July 2014)
With a 1-inch sensor and a zoom lens that goes to 400mm, this was one of the first 1-inch sensor cameras that was truly interesting. There are better options now but this camera was ahead of its time.
Panasonic GH4 (May 2014)
Panasonic won the race to make the first affordable 4K interchangeable lens camera with the GH4. It remains a great camera but some work has to be done in low light situations to make sure you get a usable image. A new model is on the horizon but this camera continue to drop in price and is a good option if you need a camera now.
Rating: 45/100: At its time of release we would have rated this camera higher. This camera has a nice grain and lots of solid video features and recently got v-log. We are expecting the GH5 to be released soon.