Last updated: August 10, 2021

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4k cameras are currently the highest resolution cameras on the market and popular with photographers, streamers, youtubers and influencers. They can be used to capture sharply focused images and videos, as the resolution of these cameras ranges from 3840 x 2160 pixels (ultra high definition) and up to 4096 × 2160 (true 4k). A distinction is made between SLR cameras, system cameras, camcorders and action cameras.

In our 4k camera test 2021 we will show you some information and criteria that will help you find the right camera for you. We have also compared several 4k cameras and made a pre-selection of products for you and worked out their advantages and disadvantages. These should help and simplify your choice of 4k camera.




Summary

  • 4k cameras are high-resolution cameras that achieve incredible image quality in video recordings and photos.
  • They are used in professional photography, as well as for image videos and recording vlogs, streaming and creating social media content. But also amateur photographers and beginners can use these cameras to take ultra-sharp and above all beautiful pictures.
  • Some models do not need a waterproof housing to be water resistant and allow filming of underwater landscapes and water sports scenarios.

The Best 4K Camera: Our Choices

4K camera: buying and review criteria

In this section we show you what to look for when buying a 4k camera. These should support you in choosing your 4k camera:

In the next sections, we explain what you should look for in the criteria.

Resolution: the difference between UHD and 4K

When buying a 4k camera, you should definitely pay attention to the resolution. While every 4k is also Ultra High Definition (UHD), UHD is not necessarily always 4k. These terms are often confused, even by the manufacturers. One speaks of Ultra High Definition from a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. 4k, on the other hand, means a resolution of 4096 × 2160.

UHD and 4k differ minimally in resolution.

You can't tell the difference with your eyes when you're an amateur, especially if your monitor isn't 4k either. Where you could see a difference, however, would be in film recordings where many and especially fast movements (skating, surfing, dancing, etc.) are recorded.

You can see subtle differences in the sharpness of the image quality, but both resolutions produce sharply defined moving images.

This would be particularly important for professionals who shoot advertising or image videos, as well as for influencers who create vlogs on YouTube and other platforms, because video quality is a factor in their success.

Professional photographers can also benefit from the enormous resolution, because sharply focused, breathtaking photos of a movement can be created. However, UHD comes close to this resolution, so that one can speak of 4k quality in common use.

Camera system: system camera or SLR

Another criterion to consider is the system the camera works with. SLR cameras have been established for more than 100 years and can capture every single sharp image, especially in sports or fast-moving shots.

System cameras can now keep up just as well and you can adjust the focus of the photos or videos on the display itself, as the lens already recognises the scenery by itself, without having to manually change the lens or the lens focus. Both have their advantages, whereby SLR cameras are more suitable for experienced photographers while system cameras can also achieve good results for beginners.

Both system cameras and SLR cameras have their advantages. Both achieve a very high recording quality.

Another advantage of system cameras is their light sensitivity, so that night shots are possible with little light, without special lighting or flash.

In general, SLR cameras are heavier, while system cameras are lighter and usually more compact. Ultimately, the choice of camera system is determined by personal preference and the possible applications. System cameras are easier to take with you because they are so handy and allow you to take spontaneous pictures. SLR cameras, however, are the unbeaten winner when it comes to capturing fast movements.

Action cameras

Another and quite popular form of 4k cameras are action cameras. These are small, can be placed anywhere and taken with you, and most models are water resistant without a waterproof housing, allowing for beautiful underwater shots or water sports footage.

Action cameras are the ideal companion when travelling or for athletes who want to film their passion.

Because they are so small, recordings can even be made in first-person perspective, as they can be attached to clothing or helmets. The change of perspective can create interesting shots. The 4k resolution makes the movements look fluid.

Connectivity

Connectivity is important, especially when it comes to transferring videos quickly. Most cameras use SD or XQD memory cards to store the videos or images. But there are more features that allow transferring the files from the camera to another device or even directly to social media platforms, namely:

  1. Wifi
  2. NFC
  3. Bluetooth
  4. USB port
  5. HDMI connection

Wifi function allows sharing the videos directly from the camera to the social media platform or website. NFC function enables the transfer of the files, either live or during playback directly to an NFC-enabled monitor without a cable connection.

Wireless functions are possible if the devices have a Wifi, Bluetooth or NFC connection. This facilitates operation and data transfer.

Bluetooth works similarly to NFC, except that the transfer is somewhat slower. The USB connection makes it possible to transfer files to almost all devices and the HDMI connection facilitates the transfer of files to TV monitors and enables seamless transmission when streaming on Twitch or YouTube.

Battery life

Battery life, as with most technical devices, plays a major role. Most lithium-ion batteries have a capacity of 1900 mAh and 14 Wh. This means that the batteries are now so strong that they can easily film for over 3 hours.

If you are on the road and want to film for longer, you should consider getting additional batteries and taking them with you already charged. Depending on the model, the additional batteries usually don't cost much.

4K camera: Frequently asked questions and answers

In this section we answer the most important questions about 4k cameras. In this way, we want to give you a better insight into the subject.

What is a 4K camera and who is it suitable for?

A 4k camera is a camera that can record images and videos with a resolution of at least 4096 × 2160 pixels. The beauty of this resolution is the sharpness and clarity of the image.

4k cameras can capture any scene with pin-sharp clarity. Effects can be set or added later. (Image source: Justin Main /unsplash)

4k cameras are suitable for professional and aspiring photographers and directors, as well as for streamers and influencers, and for extreme athletes who want to capture their activity. But 4k cameras are also suitable for those of you who want to take beautiful snapshots.

What types of 4K cameras are there?

In this section we want to give you an overview of the different types of 4k cameras and have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each.

There are 4k SLR cameras, system cameras, action cameras and camcorders.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
SLR camera razor-sharp images and video recordings possible, even with strong movements relatively heavier compared to system cameras, requires photographer's know-how
System camera lighter and more compact body than SLR, easier to take along, many additional functions like autofocus, more light sensitive only comes close to the quality of SLRs
Action camera very small, can be attached almost anywhere, particularly suitable for taking along on trips, can be shot in first-person perspective, water-resistant very small display
Camcorder videos in 4k quality, handy no professional pictures, rather only intended for video shooting

All these variants have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the use of the cameras, you should think carefully about which variant you choose. While the system and SLR cameras provide brilliant images and are suitable for vlogging and streaming, an action camera is more suitable for outdoor and extreme sports shots from a first-person perspective. The camcorder is more suitable for pure video shooting, depending on the model.

How much does a 4K camera cost?

The price range for 4k cameras is between 170 and 2500 pounds. This comes about because many cameras have more or less features, such as the possibility of 360° shooting or depending on the equipment supplied with the camera. Battery charging time, different lenses as well as settings and connectivity of the camera or complexity can also drive up the price of the camera.

Type Price range
4k SLR camera 340 - 2100 £
4k system camera 250 - 2500 £
4k action camera 200- 1700 £

However, you don't necessarily have to spend thousands of euros to get a decent 4k camera. You can get good models of SLR or system cameras for as little as 300£, action cameras for as little as 170£.

What are the alternatives to a 4K camera?

There are alternatives to the 4k camera, albeit few. In the following, we have listed and described the most relevant alternatives so that you can get a better idea.

Alternative Description
Smartphone with integrated 4k camera Most smartphones today already have really good cameras that can even film in 4k quality. The advantage is that the camera is always at hand. The disadvantage, however, is that the device itself is usually much more expensive.
Camera drone Drones with integrated (4k) cameras can take breathtaking pictures and videos from a bird's eye view. One disadvantage is that drones are not allowed to be used everywhere, and that devices with integrated 4k cameras can be very expensive. If you have a smartphone with a 4k camera, you can connect it to a smartphone-compatible drone. These are a bit cheaper.

Each of the alternatives has its pros and cons. However, they don't beat the 4k camera when it comes to quality footage.

Can I rent a 4K camera?

Yes, there is the possibility to rent 4k cameras. This is particularly advantageous if you want to have access to the latest models and if you don't shoot on a daily basis, for example, because jobs come in sporadically.

In the meantime, 4k cameras in particular can take brilliant pictures even in low light. (Image source: Kobu Agency/unsplash)

You can rent cameras for as little as 20£ a month, depending on the model. Of course, there are also daily or annual rates.

Do I need a 4K camera for streaming or for Youtube vlogs?

In the social media world, the importance of image and video quality has increased significantly. If you want to keep up with the competition, you need breathtaking recordings in razor-sharp quality. Streaming also achieves a greater reach if the video and transmission quality is very good.

A 4k camera captures even the fastest movements. That is why they are also used for sports footage. (Image source: Andhika Soreng/unsplash)

It is important to remember, however, that in addition to the 4k or UHD camera, the other equipment must also have high performance and be compatible with the camera. A higher resolution means a high load for the computer, the internet line and also for the monitors used, which should not be underestimated, as otherwise the devices could crash during the stream, for example.

Conclusion

4k resolution is currently the best quality in which images and videos can be recorded. Especially in the area of social media and influencing, an extremely good quality of videos and images now plays a major role, as this has become a must in order to keep up with the competition. Therefore, it is not wrong to invest in a good camera that makes 4k recordings possible.

But also in the field of photography, image or general video shooting, the 4k camera is indispensable. The sharp and above all beautiful video quality gives the works the final touch. A 4k-capable camera can capture everything, especially in sports shots where fast movements happen in seconds.

For those who don't like SLR cameras, there are either system cameras, camcorders or mini action cameras. Depending on how, what and where you want to film, there is a suitable camera for the professional as well as the beginner.

Image source: serezniy/ 123rf.com

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