As the tech revolution climbs to the highest ever peaks, the filming world too has seen considerable changes.
Do you remember the days when Full HD used to be all the rage? Now it no longer shines with that glorious badge.
4K and 8K are all the rage now. 4K in particular is in the heat of the action because the quality is extremely detailed yet without storage issues.
And now, every other photographer is dying to get their hands on a 4K rig.
Unfortunately, many 4K cameras tend to cost an arm and a leg. Heavyweight content creators understand that.
But the good news is that there are many cheapest 4k cameras for filmmaking for both beginners and intermediate photographers.
You just need to know where to look.
In this article, we are going to highlight a few worthwhile choices you can try out. But first, let’s find out what really makes a good 4K video camera.
Things to consider when buying a 4k camera for filmmaking
Here’s a checklist of all the important factors to consider before pouring your money on a 4K camera:
Image sensor resolution
Many 4K cameras shoot clearly detailed footage. However, the quality and number of megapixels will determine just how richly detailed the results are.
A 32MP sensor obviously outshines a 16MP. As such, whenever possible, go for enormous megapixel counts.
Filming rarely happens from a stationary point. This minute you are indoors and the next you are expected somewhere out in the field.
You won’t always have the luxury to use tripods. Therefore, consider cameras that come with built-in image stabilization.
Latest inventions like 5-axis image stabilization should be given priority. Although they exist in fairly costlier camera models.
If you’ve ever realized, shooting at 4K quality over taxes the processor. This in turn puts strain on the battery.
This means that not many 4K cameras can operate for long hours.
Nevertheless, you can still land on a rig that runs longer footage on a single charge.
But to save yourself some headache, always consider carrying an extra battery for when emergency knocks. Sometimes it just does and it sucks.
A good and fast autofocus system takes the hassle out of your everyday routine.
The latest cameras don’t wait for you to track the eye or face; they just do it automatically and save you time. You need to prioritize such cameras.
Next, you want to ensure the phase detection contrast points are as many as possible. Lastly, it can be great for a camera to have the manual focusing option for creative control.
You don’t want to leave everything to the rig.
The essence of shooting videos and stills is to share them with your audience or transfer them elsewhere for future use.
Normally, transfer or sharing happens through a Wi-Fi, USB port, or NFC.
Nature of your work
A DSLR is a reliable monster on many shooting occasions.
However, it would be practically useless for high-octane personal shoots, where compact GoPro Hero models rule.
Point-and-shoot cameras have their places too.
The point is, use the right camera and you might just get way more from it than going with an arbitrary choice.
Now that you are through the buying guide, let’s go through some affordable 4K camera recommendations.
Cheapest 4k camera for filmmaking
Here are a few selections that come highly recommended:
1. Panasonic LUMIX G7
Many beginners and intermediate photographers have Panasonic LUMIX G7 in their good books. It’s easy to see why.
To begin with, it’s one of the cheapest 4k cameras for filmmaking and comes from a widely trusted household name.
Pro photographers love to control and guess what, this camera lets you run the show. Its body has six button controls and others on the menu system.
These allow users to preset favorable working conditions and explore many creative wings.
Unlike many traditional DSLR cameras, Panasonic LUMIX G7 is mirrorless. It offers cutting-edge performance in a light body.
You can pause any memory in a stored video and extract high-resolution 4K photos from it.
- Micro four-thirds 16MP sensor
- 2360k dot LCD display
- Focus peaking
- High-speed, quiet autofocus system
- External mic port
- Intelligent focusing
- Confidently captures clear footage with a rich dynamic range
- Allows photo extraction from 4K footage in high resolution
- Intuitive controls
- Works with multiple compact lenses
- Lacks weather-sealing
2. Panasonic LUMIX G85
The price range for Panasonic LUMIX G85 and Panasonic LUMIX G7 differs a little.
The former, for a few more bucks, brings aboard class-leading 5-axis dual image stabilization for removing shakes in both stills and motion pictures.
Most photographers would be satisfied with a burst mode of even 11fps. Now, this beast takes it all the way to 30fps-ideal for action sequence movies and travel videos.
The quick-access controls let you run the show without drawing too much sweat.
You never have to stop exploring when Panasonic LUMIX G85 is in your hands. The exterior is rugged to keep going even when the weather gets uncomfortable.
Quite noteworthy, the camera has a “post focus” mode that lets you improve sharpness on some sections after shooting.
- Micro four-thirds 16MP sensor
- 3-inch tilt LCD screen
- Lumix 4K photo
- Burst mode of up to 30 fps
- 0.74x live viewfinder
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- Class-leading image stabilization
- Performs amazingly even in low light
- You can extract high-resolution images from videos
- Weather-sealed for uninterrupted performance
- Stunning ergonomics
- Impressive autofocus
- The camera’s battery life is that great
3. Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera
If you are starting your journey into YouTubing and vlogging, point-and-shoot cameras might interest you.
And when you are thinking about getting 4K footage without spending an arm and a leg, Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera could be your rescue raft.
This digital rig caters to vloggers’ biggest problem-camera shakes. It packs image stabilization technology so footage comes out with admirable smoothness.
The built-in microphone, flip screen, and live streaming capabilities make it a top choice for those who are always on the move.
With its 20.1MP Exmor CMOS sensor, Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera strives to deliver crystal clear footage.
The sensor is actually back-illuminated, meaning low light conditions won’t stifle its performance.
There are quite a few pro video functions to explore. These include S-Log3/2 and Hybrid Log-Gamma.
Automatic exposure, bokeh effect, and product Showcase Settings, amongst other things, make Sony ZV-1 a reliable companion for those on a tight budget.
- 20.1 MP Bionz X sensor
- ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
- Background defocus switch
- Built-in image stabilization
- Built-in mic
- Real-time eye autofocus
- Side-flipping LCD screen that can tilt up and down as well
- Automatically grabs the focus of a product
- The autofocus reliably sticks to the face and eyes
- Adds bokeh to footage
- Compact and lightweight for carrying around
- Marvelous image stabilization
- Lacks manual focus
4. Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera
For under $1,000, Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera lets you capture nature’s inherent magic in full-blast 4K mode.
This is a modern, mirrorless model, bagging a powerful and dependable 24.2MP Exmor sensor.
In an effort to minimize tracking hassles, the camera comes with real-time object tracking. Operating at 0.02, we can all agree that speed is supremely fast.
Notwithstanding, the sensor has a whopping 425- contrast detection points.
Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera takes great shoots, with minimal input from the user.
Its ISO is capable enough to let it shoot clearly even in low-light situations with acceptable noise levels.
The only issue is that its electronic viewfinder isn’t of the best standards. More so if we are comparing it to Fujifilm XT-30, Sony A6400, or The Canon M6 Mark ii.
But if you intend to have a camera that regularly accepts recent updates, shoots decent footage, and won’t dent your bank account, then Sony Alpha A6100 is a good grab.
- 24.2MP Exmor sensor
- Real-time AF tracking
- 425-phase contrast detection
- ISO up to 51,200
- 11fps continuous shooting mode
- Touch tracking
- 180-degrees tiltable 3’’ touchscreen
- Built-in mic
- Shoots in 4K up to 30fps
- Has one of the fastest AF systems
- An affordable 4K video camera
- Multiple data-sharing options
- Can be seamlessly updated to adopt the latest features
- Stunning image quality
- Has an easily manageable size
- The electronic viewfinder gets glitchy at times
5. Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera
Truth be told if you want to shoot magical professional videos, the components of the camera body matter a lot.
As such, you don’t expect a $100 to shoot as flawlessly as fairly advanced models like Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera.
Without adding too many accessories, the Sony Alpha a6400 still remains an inexpensive camera rig, yet insanely reliable.
It guarantees you high-quality 4K video footage with fast and accurate continuous shooting modes.
Sony Alpha a6400 boasts a next-generation processor. So, yes it’s indeed a tireless workhorse that gets more done without overheating.
Since it has over 425 phase-detection points, it fully obeys what you want to capture and does so with awesome clarity.
When it comes to movie features, there’s plenty to explore from slow-motion to fast-moving shots.
In super 35mm format, the camera offers full pixel readout with no pixel binning.
Other attractive video features include HDR format, Gamma Display Assist, and Enhanced Zebra functionality amongst others.
- Bionz X image processor
- 24.2MP sensor
- Tiltable LCD Screen
- Ultra-fast 0.02 AF system
- 425- contrast detection points
- Real-time object tracking
- 11 fps continuous shooting mode
- Wi-Fi & remote control
- A powerful sensor that captures crisp clear colors
- Customizable for vlogging needs
- Abundant movie functions
- Robust processing engine for many hours of shooting
- Multiple touch functionality options
- Could use built-in video stabilization
6. Canon EOS 90D
One of the cheapest 4K cameras for filmmaking that could easily please a discerning content creator is Canon EOS 90D.
Running on the latest DIGIC 8 processor, this right here is a beast of some sort.
It has an abundance of video-making features but its biggest plus is its generous sensor.
Shooting at 32.5 megapixels, this gem delivers high-resolution images—even those done in fast continuous mode.
The existence of multi-control buttons, AI capability, and vari-angle touch screen greatly makes Canon EOS 90D a convenient and wonderful companion.
Particularly on those busy days when it’s easy to miss those once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Like most products from Canon, Canon EOS 90D is a long-lasting rig.
The magnesium alloy body plus weather sealing components ensure it will withstand tough use and harsh elements.
Not to forget, the battery life is fairly okay, doing close to 1300 shots per charge.
- 32.5MP CMOS sensor
- 1ofps continuous shooting mode
- DIGIC 8 image processor
- 3’’ Vari-Angle Touch LCD
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Shoots 4K UHD in 30p and full HD in 120p
- 45-point cross-type AF
- Shoots clearly detailed videos and photos
- Reliable battery life
- Weather-sealed construction
- A highly intelligent autofocus system
- Can be turned into a high-quality webcam
- Decent burst mode
- The buffer may be disappointing because of the large 32mp sensor
7. GoPro Hero 10
For those shooting personal videos of their high-octane sports, models like Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera, or any DSLR for that matter won’t cut it.
You need a gear with extreme portability like GoPro Hero 10.
Despite its miniaturized size, this camera shoots excellent 5.3K videos at 60fps with an option to downgrade the quality to 1080p.
The processor, a new GP2 engine, helps it record stellar quality footage for many hours.
Previous models used to get hot but it appears firmware updates have resolved the problem in the latest entrants.
GoPro Hero 10 can shoot in 8x slo-mo mode to deliver 2.7k quality. Plus, you can pause videos to extract ultra-clear 15.8MP pictures.
Unlike DSLRs, the camera comes equipped with revolutionary Hypersmooth stabilization technology.
No matter how fast-paced the action is, the camera will effortlessly manage to shoot smooth videos and photos.
Data transfer on GoPro Hero 10 happens on the fly.
As long as the camera is linked to your GoPro cloud. Optionally, you can export data to your phone or PC through a USB port.
- 23MP sensor
- 5.3K video resolution
- Waterproof action camera
- Live streaming and webcam
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Burst mode at 60fps
- HyperSmooth image stabilization technology
- Amazing weatherproof performance
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Massively affordable 4K camera
- Next-level video stabilization
- Enhanced low-light performance
- It’s likely to overheat if you run in 4K mode for long
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better, 1080p at 60fps or 4K at 30fps?
It all depends on how fast-paced the event you are recording is. 1080p at 60fps is ideal for fast-moving scenes.
However, 4K at 30fps will do just fine for moments that are not super-fast.
Can you shoot 4k videos from a phone?
4k is no longer a big deal as it used to be a few years ago.
Lately, some phones like iPhone 13 have the capacity to shoot 4K footage, albeit shorter ones with supreme clarity.
How much should you spend on the cheapest 4k camera for filmmaking?
To reach the right answer, you’d have to ask yourself what quality standards are you aiming for.
Otherwise, the cheapest 4k camera for filmmaking purposes can cost as little as $300 to upwards of about $1500.
Do you need 4K during filmmaking?
The truth is that 4K has become the most preferred standard for shooting films.
It would be therefore paramount that content creators follow the same route.
You can keep smaller, 1080p versions and share them with the audience that prefers easily streamable material.
Professional filmmaking demands the use of the best cameras.
While 4K remains the hottest format, getting such a rig can mean burning a hole in your pocket or denting your bank account.
Thankfully, we’ve given you a rundown of a few cheapest 4k cameras for filmmaking.
Some like GoPro Hero models are good for shooting personal projects and adventures. Others like Canon EOS 90D are for discerning professionals on a tight budget.
For the best performance, it’s best to stick around $1000-$1500 to get a good deal. Otherwise, there are some models at or past $500 that still pack a good punch.
Once you have a good idea of what you want and how much you are willing to spend, there are stellar choices in this article worth taking for a spin.