A camcorder or a video camera recorder is a device that combines the properties of a video camera and a recorder. In the last decade, the term 'camcorder' has been used to describe a particular type of cameras that offer more advanced options. Companies like Panasonic, Sony or Canon have produced some of the best camcorders the world has ever seen, but with such an abundance of models that are available for purchase, it is often hard to make the right choice and find the camcorder that best fits your needs.
We selected the best 4K camcorders in 2017 to help our readers avoid the confusion that is often related to the process of finding the right 4K camcorder. Let's have a look at some of the best 4K camcorders that will take the image quality of your videos on a higher level.
Sony is and has been for decades at the forefront of the revolution caused by digital cameras. The Sony FDRA53/B 4K camcorder is by no means an exception. The camcorder is equipped with Sony's state of the art image stabilization technology that helps you create crystal clear footage even when the camera is shaking. This 4K camcorder is light and easy to use, but many of its options are automatic, which prevents the user from controlling all the parameters during the recording session.
Perhaps FDR-AX33's greatest advantage over FDR-AX53/B is the Zeiss Vario-SonarT wide-angle lens which shoots video at 26.8mm. Optical zoom can go as high as 20X in both HD and 4K modes, while the Clear Image Zoom feature can provide an additional artificial zoom boost to 30X zoom for 4K and 40X zoom for HD. The Sony FDR-AX33 4K camcorder is an excellent and above all affordable choice for average users who are not in need of the high-end professional equipment.
The list of things this 4K camcorder can do is almost endless. The Sony FDR-AX100/B is capable of producing resolutions four times higher than Full HD, it can capture video in 4K Ultra HD at 24fps or 30fps and it can also create still frames that are as large as 20MB. The users can choose between XAVC S, AVCHD or MP4 file formats, but some of these formats demand special SD cards that can support them. Although its properties are nothing short of amazing, Sony FDR-AX100/B offers less than its price suggests.
The Sony's PXW-Z100 4K camcorder is an excellent tool for professional videographers who demand only the best performances from their cameras. Although the camcorder features a G lens with 20X optical zoom, the lens isn't interchangeable. The Sony PXW-Z100 4K is capable of recording true 4K 4096x2160 resolution videos at up to 50 and 60fps. It utilizes Sony's XVAC 4:2:2 recording format, which means that converting the footage into a video format that can be easily played or distributed through the Internet can take a significant amount of time.
If you wish to create corporate videos or some other similar kinds of footage, then Sony PXW-Z150 4K camcorder is the right choice for you. This camcorder enables you to record Ultra HD 4K videos at up to 30fps, while you can create HD videos at up to 120fps. The camcorder has an integrated 1.0"-type Exmor RS CMOS sensor with 14.2MP that guarantees the high image quality. The Sony PXW-Z150's Night Shot enables you to use this camera even in the worst light conditions.
This 4K camcorder was designed to bring 4K videos to common users and to enable them to enjoy incredible image quality that was reserved only for professionals in the past. Sony FDR-AX1 4K is equipped with 1/2.3" Exmor R 8.3MP CMOS Image Sensor that is identical to the image processors Sony uses for their professional video cameras. The FDR-AX1 produces 4K videos in 3840 x 2160 resolutions at 60fps, while it also features a built-in microphone and Dual Pro XLR jacks.
This is a simple but powerful 4K camcorder that combines easy to use interface with amazing camera features. HC-WXF991K is a great choice for young filmmakers, YouTubers, travel videographers and people who want an affordable camcorder that can produce 4K Ultra HD videos at 24fps or 30fps. It features a great built-in microphone and allows users to connect to a sound mixer. The HC-WXF991K's battery life is somewhat limited and the camcorder's lens lacks a control ring, but at $897.99 this 4K camcorder is still a great buy.
In its long history, Panasonic has produced numerous state of the art cameras that changed the way we see and use cameras. HC-VX981K is certainly a worthy mention on our list since it is a consumer camcorder that enables common users to record videos in high quality. The Panasonic HC-VX981K camcorder can capture video in 4K Ultra HD at up to 30fps, which makes it a reliable choice for buyers who can't afford professional cameras but still want to enjoy the great image quality.
Panasonic's AG-DVX 100 is an iconic camera that symbolizes an entire era of digital video production. AG-DVX200 is following the footsteps of its famous predecessor. It is a handheld 4K camcorder that can record video in Ultra HD 4K at 60fps and is equipped with a powerful Single 4/3 MOS Sensor with 12 Stops DR. AG-DVX200 4K camcorder can capture 4K video in both MP4 and MOV file formats, which makes video sharing and editing much easier. The camcorder's biggest flaw is that it hasn't performed well in low light conditions.
AG-UX90 4K is a camcorder for professional filmmakers and videographers. The camcorder has a 1-inch Type CMOS Sensor, it can shoot in Ultra HD or Full HD, it is equipped with Relay and Simultaneous Recording features that all guarantee that the footage you create with this camcorder meets the highest professional standards. In addition to already amazing properties, the camcorder's integrated lens has 3 manual control rings that enable you to adjust focus, zoom, and iris manually. AG-UX90 4K is a must have a camera for both aspiring filmmakers and accomplished veterans.
AG-UX180 is a model from the Panasonic's UX series that is quite justly labeled as a 'Premium Professional Camcorder'. It is priced at $3,495, but the 1-inch Type CMOS sensor, Full HD Slow Motion Recording at 120fps or Ultra HD/Full HD Dual Codec Recording more than justify the AG-UX180's seemingly high price. The camcorder has an integrated Leica Dicomar 20X optical zoom lens that combines four lens groups. Panasonic's AG-UX180 4K camcorder is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to create video professionally, but it might take some time to get used to this amazing 4K camcorder.
This camcorder is designed to make handheld shooting as easy as it can possibly be. Panasonic HC-X1000 is a valuable addition for anyone who wants to shoot outdoor scenes and avoid camera shaking. HC-X1000 features both Power Optical Image Stabilization and Hybrid O.I.S that compensate for shakes up to 4000 times per second. The Panasonic's 4K camcorder also features ND filters that allow for better control of light sensitive outdoor scenes. The 4K recordings produced by HC-X1000 4K camcorder are compatible with editing software like the Apple's Final Cut Pro.
Aimed for professional use, Panasonic's HC-X1 can meet almost every demand an experienced professional might have. The camcorder's 1-inch MOS sensor is large enough to enable filming even in the worst light conditions, while the simultaneous recording option allows the users to record high and low-quality video simultaneously on separate SD cards. The HC-X1 can create MOV, MP4 or AVCHD file formats which enable the videographers to adjust the video properties to the specific workflow. The HC-X1 4K camcorder doesn't have SDI outputs that are commonly featured on professional cameras.
Canon XC10 is a professional 4K camcorder that has DIGIC DV 5 processor and a 1-inch CMOS sensor. It can capture Ultra HD, recording, and 50Mpbs HD recording, therefore there is no doubt that this camcorder is among the very best on the market. However, XC10 can only record 4K to CFast 2.0 cards that can be quite expensive. The camcorder's lens has a 10X optical zoom and rings for manual focus and zoom control that almost provide the feel of a DSLR, but the lens cannot be changed, which at times can limit the videographer.
If you would like to capture your memories in crystal clear quality, Canon XC15 is the right choice for you. AXC15 is lightweight and small which makes it perfect for those who often work outdoors and have to carry a lot of equipment with them. The camcorder can be used with Canon's C300 Mk II on sets when more than just one camera is required to create consistency. The XC15 4K camcorder produces stunning results, but the camcorder's controls can be confusing even to an experienced professional.
JVC's ultra 4K camcorder is packed with a lot of automatic features that enable amateurs to create breathtaking videos, but on the other hand, GY-HM170U has manual settings that allow more experienced users to have full control over the device. The Ultra 4K camcorder can shoot in 4K or 1080p modes and it is equipped with a 1-inch CMOS Sensor and DIGIC DV 5 Processor. GY-HM170U's automatic settings might not be the best in the poor light conditions, but the JVC's 4K camcorder has more than a few manual settings that can help the filmmaker to capture beautiful low-light scenes.
This camcorder is designed for professionals and skilled video enthusiasts, so understanding how the GY-HMQ10U works might take some time for less experienced users. It is the world's first camcorder capable of recording video at 4 times the resolution of full HD. The GY-HMQ10U's optical system is what makes this camcorder so unique. The integrated lens is specifically designed to shoot in 4K, with F2.8 10X optical zoom. The GY-HMQ10U is smaller and more compact than most professional cameras on the market, which makes it a perfect companion on your journeys.
18. JVC GY-HM200 4K
If you want to record 4K Ultra HD, Full HD 4:2:2 or stream video on the web GY-HM200 is the right choice for you. The camcorder's state of the art 1/2.33-inch CMOS Sensor with 12.4MP is capable of delivering amazing performance over a wide scope of lighting conditions. The 12X F1.2 - 3.5 lens produces sharp images that grab the viewer's attention. If the GY-HM200 has Wi-Fi access, it becomes a streaming that can deliver live HD video directly from the scene.
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Things worth considering when buying a 4K camcorder
1. Easy to take with
Most camcorders available on the market today are easy to carry around, so when buying a 4K camcorder you should think about how easy the model you are planning on buying is to carry around. Also, keep in mind that lightweight cameras are more difficult to hold still.
2. Wide lens and large sensors
The sensor of a camera is perhaps its most important part. The 1-inch sensor pretty much enables you to record video in any light conditions. Most of the 4K camcorders have integrated wide angle lenses, but it is important to find out what the lens on your camcorder can and cannot do.
3. Built-in viewfinder
As great as camera displays are, they are not always reliable and you can't always be sure that the images you are seeing on the display are going to look like that once you transfer them onto your hard drive. A good viewfinder can help you to make sure that your videos are not overexposed or underexposed and that your footage is always in focus.
4. Optical Zoom
Using a camera often means that you want to record something that is not near you. Sometimes you might want to film only a detail, but without a proper lens, this task is impossible. 4K camcorders do not have interchangeable lenses which is why an optical zoom can be crucial in situations when you want to record something that is out of your reach. Most 4K camcorders also have a digital zoom, but digital zoom reduces the picture quality and it is best to avoid using it.
5. Image stabilization
Capturing motion isn't as easy as it sounds. Moving objects tend to create a blur, which is why Image stabilization techniques are such an important factor that determines the quality of any camera. Camera shake can result in unusable footage and if you are looking to buy a 4K camcorder make sure that the camera you wish to purchase has a superb Image stabilization.
6. External Microphone Jack
Internal camera sound is often too terrible to be used in the post-production. If you'd like to record professional sound for your videos make sure that the 4K camcorder has at least one XLR jack.
7. Night Vision
The camera's ability to record in the low-light conditions is not important to all users, but professionals sometimes have no other choice, but to record in terrible light conditions. Night Vision feature is important if you are planning on recording concerts or any other events that are not perfectly lit.
Max Wales is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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