This article was updated on March 12, 2018.
Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K
While it’s not an action camera in the GoPro sense, Blackmagic’s Micro Studio Camera is designed to squeeze into the same tight confines, while offering plenty of professional options and delivering a high-quality image. You can record 4K video at 30p or full HD at 60p. Though small, the Micro Studio delivers 11 stops of dynamic range via its Micro Four Thirds-sized sensor. It has an active MFT lens mount as well and can livestream with full remote control over its settings. There’s an SDI and HDMI output (though video output via HDMI will be HD resolution).
At nearly half the price of a GoPro 6, the YI 4K+ certainly doesn’t scrimp on features. It sports a 2-inch touchscreen display built from Gorilla Glass. You’ll enjoy better-than-average battery life on this camera with up to two hours of 4K/30p recording on a single charge. There’s Wi-Fi, a gyroscope and accelerometer for image stabilization, dual microphones and Bluetooth Low Energy for remote control from mobile devices. The YI features a 12-megapixel Sony sensor that can deliver 4K at bitrates up to 60Mbps.
For about the price of a GoPro, the OSMO not only offers an inexpensive on-ramp to 4K video, but a highly stabilized solution as well. The X3 features a 1/2.3-inch Sony CMOS sensor capable of recording 4K at 4096 x 2160 at 24/25p or at 3840 a 2160/30p. High-definition video can be recorded in several frame rates including 30, 48, 60 and 120p. It uses a 20mm lens (35mm equivalent) with a 94-degree field of view and a fixed f/2.8 aperture. The camera has an ISO range of 100-1600 for photos and from 100-3200 for video, and a shutter speed range of 30-1/8,000 sec. When the X3 camera is resting on the stick-like OSMO, it can tilt from -35 to 135 degrees, pan up to 320 degrees and roll up to 30 degrees. While the OSMO gimbal has several hardware controls, the camera’s settings are only adjustable via the free DJI Go app (Android and iOS). The OSMO generates its own ad-hoc Wi-Fi network and can be controlled by a smartphone up to 82 feet away. Footage is saved to a microSD card.
DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras
Panasonic’s hybrid mirrorless, the GH5 offers the best in-camera file quality you’ll find for the price. For filmmakers, you can save a 10-bit 422 file at 30p to an SD card or shoot 4K at up to 60p. Full HD frame rates top off at a blistering 180 fps. The 20-megapixel GH5 builds on Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode with a new 6K Photo mode that isolates an 18-megapixel still image from a short 6K clip. Like other Lumix models, the GH5 supports dual image stabilization so that the camera’s stabilizer can work in tandem with compatible image stabilized lenses from Panasonic. Firmware updates have unlocked recording using the new HEVC video codec, anamorphic shooting and more.
The D7500 records 4K movies (3840 x 2160) at 30p via an APS-C sensor (with a 1.5x sensor crop). Full HD movies can be filmed at 60p. You can use Bluetooth low energy to automatically transfer JPEG images to your mobile device and use Wi-Fi for quick transfers and remote control over the camera. The D7500 has a weather-sealed body and an impressively long battery life for models in its class.
While ostensibly more still-photo focused, the X-T20 can nonetheless record at 3840 x 2160 at 30p for up to 10 minutes at a clip. It can also record full HD at up to 60p in one of the camera’s nine film simulation modes—a nice, if sub-optimal, way to achieve a filmic look for your video.
Olympus E-M1 Mark II
This camera competes with the GH5 for the hybrid shooter looking to split time between serious video recording and still work. If the GH5 is tuned a bit more to video, the E-M 1 Mark II is a bit more tuned to stills, but it is nonetheless a capable video camera. Thanks to its in-body image stabilization, you can get excellent handheld footage. You can record 4K at 4096 × 2160/24p or 3840 x 2160/30p with clean HDMI output, focus peaking and time code.
Sony a7S II
This low-light beast records 4K video using the full width of the sensor with no pixel binning. You’ll have picture profiles such as SLog3 for creating flatter video files with high dynamic range (up to 14 stops), for post-process color grading, time code, clean HDMI output (8-bit, 422) and 5-axis internal image stabilization. When shooting in SLog, the a7S II offers a Gamma Display function to help preview your image. You can shoot movies at high ISOs-up to the same range as stills (409,000 on the high side). HD video frame rates top off at 120 fps.
The XC15 is Canon’s rather unusual hybrid camera, blending cinema-friendly features with a DSLR-friendly build. The XC15 features a 1-inch CMOS sensor with up to 12 stops of dynamic range when shooting in the Canon Log profile. The camera records 4K video (8-bit, 422) at up to 30p using Canon’s XF-AVC codec. It can also record full HD video at up to 60p and snap 12-megapixel still images. 4K footage can be stored internally to a CFast 2.0 card. There’s also an SD card slot which can store HD video and still images. Unlike an EOS DSLR, the XC15 has a fixed lens: a 10x optical zoom lens (27-273mm, f/2.8-5.6). It’s also bundled with the MA-400 microphone adapter which slides into the XC15’s cold shoe mount and has two XLR inputs for adding external audio sources. You’ll also find Wi-Fi for wireless remote control and image preview.
Sony FDR AX700
Boasting a 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor, this video camera offers a Hybrid Log Gamma recording mode to capture HDR video. Its Fast Hybrid AF system features 273 phase detect AF points covering 84 percent of the frame. You’ll frame your scene through an OLED viewfinder (0.39-inch OLED, 2,359k dots) or a 3.5-inch touch display. The AX700 sports an integrated 12x optical zoom optically stabilized lens (29mm-348mm) and a four-stop ND filter.
Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro
Like the earlier Mini, the Mini Pro offers a 4.6K image sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range. Unlike the original, the Mini Pro ships with an EF mount that can be removed by the user and replaced with a PL or B4 mount. The Pro also offers built-in ND filters with IR compensation (2, 4 and 6 stops). There are also more external controls and each control is redundant so you won’t have to dive into the menu for settings changes. You’ll be able to record 4K/60p footage internally alongside 2K footage at 120p in high-quality codecs direct to CFast cards. You’ll also find a pair of SD cards for Ultra HD and HD recording.
Canon Cinema EOS C200B
The C200 aims to ease filmmakers into the high-dynamic-range era. It records 4K (4096 x 2160) video via an 8.85-megapixel, Super 35mm-sized CMOS sensor with a sensitivity range of 160-25,600 (expandable to 100 and 102,400). It delivers 13 stops of dynamic range and supports two new 4K file formats designed, in Canon’s words, to make “HDR recording more accessible to filmmakers.” The C200B model is a body-only unit.
The boxy Terra can be easily outfitted with extra, largely proprietary modules (monitors, recorders, etc.) as your filmmaking needs evolve. The Terra has a Super 35mm-sized sensor available in either 5K or 6K resolution. When using the 5K sensor, the camera is capable of frame rates up to 60 fps with ProRes footage stored to Kinefinity’s SSD memory. 4K frame rates top off at 100 fps while 2K footage can be recorded up to 200 fps. The 5K model has a dynamic range of 15 stops when in rolling shutter mode or 13 stops if you switch to a global shutter. If you opt for the 6K sensor version of the Terra, you’ll get up to 25 fps at 6K and 4K recording at 100 fps with slightly faster 2K recording at 225 fps. You’ll have the option to record in Kinefinity’s KineRAW, a 12-bit RAW format, or a 10-bit ProRes 422 file. You’ll have your choice of a Canon EF mount body or a KineMOUNT which is a variant of a PL mount that accepts PL mount and Nikon F mount adapters.
Price: $5,400 (6K); $4,600 (5K)
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