Every videographer active within the industry knows that shooting in 4K is the only way to stay ahead of the game. Though some videographers continue to shoot in 1080p, whether due to budget or some other reason, 4K is the apex of quality available.

Ultimately, few have the need to export in 4K, but the ability to shoot at such high quality is essential for any videographer — and luckily, not every 4K camera breaks the bank. Check out our top and find the cheapest 4K video camera for your budget and needs.

How to Choose a 4k Camera: Camera Features You Need to Be Aware Of

Knowing what to look for in a 4K camera is half the battle, as any professional photographers and videographers will tell you. Remember that there’s no real budget 4K camera because your getting premium technology, but any Ultra HD camera is an investment, because of the clear, future-proof videos you will be able to take.

Let’s discuss the things you need to check on when looking for the best and cheapest 4k professional video camera within your budget.

Video Formats

Most 4K camcorders offer additional video formats. Manufacturers market them as  “Full HD” and “HD,” but simply put, these tags have the corresponding resolutions. 4K is Ultra HD; Full HD is 1080pixels, and HD is 720pixels. Recording in these video formats creates smaller files, which is convenient for getting high-quality video when 4K isn’t necessary. These HD formats also have higher FPS (frames per second) options which are suited for slo-mo video recording.

Frames Per Second

The frames per second are how fast a camera can record. 120 FPS is a reference for slow-motion video because it takes twice as many frames per second to record as compared to the standard 60 FPS that many cameras use today. The 120 FPS rate means more frames and more details on the video quality for slowed down videos. For regular or recreational use, 30 FPS is fine for most videos. But for professional use and other applications requiring higher FPS rates, a 4k camcorder is the best equipment.

Camera Weight

Many of the full-featured 4K cameras in the market today weighs about 2 lbs, while basic 4K cameras are lighter. Choose a camera that is easy to store in between uses can carry comfortably for long shots and short videoes. 4K and portable action Go-Pro Hero-style cameras offer maximum portability. You can attach these action cams to a bike, motorcycle, scooter, helmets and other objects for a first-person POV experience.

Zoom

Some 4K camcorders don’t have optical zoom, but with their high resolution, these cameras have better digital zoom and image sensor than many standard cameras. Zoom comes in handy for shooting people and nature scenes but may not be necessary for action shots.  A camera’s zoom capabilities are usually around 5x or 10x optical, but can range as high as 20x or more for the best zoom image quality.

Camera Dimensions

Many 4k cameras can fit the palm of your hand, but small 4K cameras tend to lack the features of larger high-end cameras such as built-in Wi-Fi, optical zoom, interchangeable lenses, night model a longer battery life or manual settings. Larger 4K cameras are will also have extensive setup options for microphones, flash, and shoes. If you’re mobile and wants to take more action shots, then a smaller action cam is the way to go.

Touchscreen LCD

Many 4k cameras come with touchscreens for fast and easy editing and settings adjustments. Touchscreens are vulnerable, so if you want to use the camcorder in rough conditions, you may opt for a camera with a smaller LCD screen or just push-button operation. Otherwise, touchscreens are a significant advantage for casual filmers and professionals, especially for in-camera editing.

1. Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder with Twin Camera

Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder

With a 20x zoom lens and a twin camera for simultaneous capture from two different angles, the Panasonic HC-WXF991K is not the cheapest 4K video camera on this list but it’s definitely one of the best. Packed with useful features, like HDR Movie Mode, 4K Photo Mode, and more, this camcorder offers users a simple way to quickly shoot in 4K.

The camcorder has a 1/2.3″ backside-illuminated CMOS sensor with an 8.29-megapixel resolution. It combines with the propriety Crystal Engine 4K image processor to support 4K UHD video at 24/30 fps and 1080p full HD video up to 60 fps.

Never miss a second of the action and easily share your footage with the world by utilizing the live stream capability. The in-camera editing features are of superior quality and make this camera a supremely practical option for just about any videographer.

Specs

  • Video Capability: 4K Ultra HD at 24/30 fps.
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch BSI MOS.
  • Lens: Leica Dicomar Optical Zoom.
  • Zoom: 20x.
  • Megapixels: 25.9.
  • Image Stabilization: 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.+ and Level Shot.
  • Display: 3.0-inch 460k-Dot LCD Touchscreen.
  • Viewfinder: 0.24-inch 1,555k-Dot Tilting Viewfinder.
  • Microphone: Built-in, plus input.
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in.
  • Dimensions: 2.7 by 3.1 by 6.4 inches.
  • Weight: 14.2 ounces.

 

2. Sony FDR-AX53 4K Ultra HD Handycam Camcorder

Sony FDRAX53/B, one of the cheapest 4K video camera options

Available at a slightly lower cost and certainly one of the cheapest 4K video cameras out there right now, the Sony FDR-AX53 is an excellent choice. Keep in mind, however, that this camcorder may better suit the videographer who isn’t too concerned with live streaming capabilities. While said capability is indeed offered, Wi-Fi connectivity can be unreliable at times.

There’s no AC power adapter included in the package to bring the price down. Instead, charging is done with the FDRAX33 base in the Handycam. If you want a longer battery life for recording videos, look for the battery pack upgrade.

Simply enjoy the glorious 4K footage and beautiful stills you will be able to capture, the incredible features, a user-friendly interface, and 20x zoom. It is the cheapest Sony 4k video camera that you can get.

Specs

  • Video Capability: 4K Ultra HD at 24/30 fps.
  • Sensor: 1/2.5-inch EXMOR R CMOS.
  • Lens: 26.8mm Zeiss Vario Sonar T* Zoom.
  • Zoom: 20x Optical Zoom and 40x Clear Image Zoom.
  • Megapixels: 16.6.
  • Image Stabilization: Balanced Optical SteadyShot.
  • Display: 3.0-inch 921k-Dot LCD Touchscreen.
  • Viewfinder: 0.24-inch 1,555k-Dot Viewfinder.
  • Microphone: Built-in, plus input.
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in.
  • Dimensions: 2.9 by 3.2 by 6.6 inches.
  • Weight: 22.4 ounces.

 

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Digital Camera

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K 4K Camera

With a splash and dust-proof body, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is not only one of the cheapest 4K video cameras but also the perfect selection for the on-the-go videographer. Despite being a digital camera in its overall form, shooting in 4K is where this camera truly shines.

The camera 12.0MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor and features Venus Engine processor. Shots can be at a maximum resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels with aspect ratios of 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9. The camera has a native ISO range of 100 – 6400 and files are saved in RAW format.

The DSLRs 24x zoom makes it even easier to capture all the action, not to mention its ease of use and built-in image stabilization mode. Further, the ergonomic body of the mirrorless digital camera fits nicely in the hand, allowing it to be used for long shoots without discomfort. This is one of the best and cheapest 4k DSLR video camera today.

Specs

  • Video Capability: 4K Ultra HD at 30 fps.
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch MOS with Venus Engine Image Processor.
  •  Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8.
  • Zoom: 24x Optical Zoom.
  •  Megapixels: 12.1.
  •  Image Stabilization: 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.+, DFD AF System.
  • Display: 3.0-inch 1,040k-Dot LCD Free Angle Touchscreen with 100% Coverage.
  • Viewfinder: 1,440k-Dot Viewfinder with 0.7x Magnification and 100% Coverage.
  • Microphone: Built-in, plus input.
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in.
  • Dimensions: 5.2 by 3.6 by 4.6 inches.
  • Weight: 24.3 ounces.

 

4. GoPro HERO5 Black

GoPro HERO5 Black

The GoPro HERO5 Black brings together everything that videographers loved about the original GoPro and ramps it up more than ever before. It’s truly a professional tool that offers an incredible waterproof capability and crystal clear audio that beats out any other action camera on the market.

The action camera has a 2.0-inch touchscreen interface, and voice-activated camera controls make it more user-friendly. 4K video capture at 30fps, 12MP still images and smooth, super slow-mo shots can be created with a 1080p resolution at 120fps. It’s waterproof to 10 meters/33 feet without the external case. It has an SD card slot and a longer battery life compared to older Go-Pro models

Although it is true that this particular unit isn’t the best for shooting all types of footage, the GoPro HERO5 Black is the second cheapest 4K video camera in our list of top of best products, and it is hard to beat in terms of price and overall quality.

Features

  • Video Capability: 4K Ultra HD at 30 fps.
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS.
  • Lens: Ultra Wide-Angle Glass.
  • Zoom: None.
  • Megapixels: 12.
  • Image Stabilization: Electronic.
  • Display: 2-inch LCD Touchscreen.
  • Viewfinder: None.
  • Microphone: Built-in, plus input.
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in.
  • Dimensions: 1.3 by 2.4 by 1.8 inches.
  • Weight: 4.2 ounces.

 

5. YI Technology 4K Action Camera

YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera

Just a slight notch below any GoPro model in terms of quality is the YI Technology 4K Action Camera. Although the quality of the audio lacks slightly when compared to the GoPro HERO5 Black, this camera is still an extreme bargain when it comes to 4K capabilities. It’s also the cheapest 4K video camera on this list but a perfect buy nonetheless.

The Yi 4K  can record in Ultra HD at 60fps and stills at 12 MP. the camera uses 12MP Sony IMX377 1/2.3-inch Exmor R  CMOS sensor to deliver the best image quality. Despite having a slightly larger touchscreen than the GoPro Hero5, it is lighter at 93g vs. GoPro at 117g. It has built-in image stabilization and charges using a USB-C port.

With the help of the YI Action Camera app, easily prepare and edit your footage, adding in filters and music — then once ready, share your footage right from the app to a variety of social media platforms. One of the cheapest 4K video cameras around, this

Specs

  • Video Capability: 4K Ultra HD at 30 fps.
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS.
  • Lens: Ultra Wide-Angle Glass.
  • Zoom: None.
  • Megapixels: 12.
  • Image Stabilization: Electronic.
  • Display: 2.19-inch LCD Touchscreen with Gorilla Glass.
  • Viewfinder: None.
  • Microphone: Built-in.
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in.
  • Dimensions: 2.6 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches.
  • Weight: 3.4 ounces

 

Final Thoughts on the Best and Cheapest 4k Video Camera

Despite the high cost often associated with shooting in 4K, the options provided above show off an array of some of the cheapest 4K video cameras available. While many of the cameras mentioned above will do the trick, the price points do vary.

For instance, the GoPro HERO5 or the YI Technology 4K Action Camera are two perfect options for those on an especially limited budget, whereas either of the Panasonic options or the Sony configuration would perfectly suit those who have a bit more monetary freedom.

Any of these cameras make shooting in 4K entirely possible even while maintaining a budget, so go ahead and pick the cheapest 4K video camera you can afford!