Playing with time is one of the superpowers of a videographer. You can do it several ways, but the slow-motion effect is by far the coolest. Whether you’re after action shots while surfing or stunning special effects scenes, here’s a look at some of the best slow-motion cameras for consumers.
What Are The Best Slow Motion Cameras?
Finding the best slo-mo cameras is all about HFR (high frame rate) recording. If your project has a target frame rate of 24 or 30 frames per second (fps), you can slow down anything recorded at a higher frame rate.
Every camera is made for a different purpose, and slo-mo is still a pretty specialized activity. Many manufacturers work hard to keep up with overall video resolution, with 8K becoming the new benchmark. But most cameras still cannot record in slo-mo at even 4K. Most are limited to 1080p (Full HD) or lower to capture full slow-motion quality.
To find the best slow-motion cameras, you’ve got to take both the video resolution and the frame rate into account. And of course, there are many other factors you’ll want to consider, like the lens selection and other functions for regular video recording.
Sony Cybershot ZV-1
Sony’s line of high-end point-and-shoot cameras is custom-made for vloggers and other video content creators. Among their many impressive features, Sony has added a fantastic HFR recording setting.
Both the ZV-1 and the older RX-10 IV are capable of recording video at up to 960 fps! Like most cameras, to capture this level of detail, the sensor resolution is dropped well below standard HD. At 960 fps, the effective pixel resolution is only 1,138 by 380. At full HD quality, slo-mo is captured at 120 fps–which is still pretty impressive. Sony’s action camera, the RX0 “tiny tough camera,” has similar slo-mo specifications.
With so many different camera models and lens combinations in their compact camera lineup, Sony cameras make an excellent option for slo-mo videos. Pick from ultra-compact and waterproof to feature-packed with super-telephoto lenses.
GoPro HERO9 Black
Every iteration of the now ubiquitous GoPro action cameras has better filming specs, and slo-mo is just one facet that the company works hard to bolster. The HERO9 Black features 5K video recording and what they call “8X slo-mo.” But as with all cameras, you can have one or the other, not both. 5K video recording maxes out at the standard 30 fps. 4K video can go up to 60 fps, while 2.7K video can do 120 fps. For maximum slo-mo power, the HERO9 can capture 240 fps in 1080p.
Even still, the GoPro is a terrific option for slo-mo recording. Their new Hypersmooth 3.0 stabilization features horizon leveling, and the camera is waterproof to 33 feet without a case.
DJI Osmo Pocket 2 and Osmo Action
DJI is best known for their drones, but they’ve taken what they’ve learned in manufacturing high-quality small aerial cameras and applied it to a line of adventure action cameras they call the Osmo series.
The Osmo Action is very similar to a GoPro-style stand-alone action camera. It will record 4K video at 60 fps and 1080p or 720p video at up to 240 fps.
The Osmo Pocket 2 is an interesting action camera and stabilizing gimbal built very small to fit in your pocket. The camera specs on the Pocket 2 are truly impressive. It features a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor capable of 64 MP stills. It can do 4K, 2,7K, or 1080p video up to 60 fps.
Canon Powershot G7X Mark III
Canon’s top-of-the-line compact camera offers up 4K video at 30 fps or FHD video at 120 fps. While less than the competitors, the camera has a nice mix of features and can meet most videographer’s needs.
On the other end of the Canon spectrum, their EOS interchangeable lens cameras can also record slow-motion movies. The EOS 1Dx Mark III, for example, can record 1080p at 120 fps. This Cadillac of DSLRs isn’t the sort of thing you’d run out and buy for slo-mo, though. This just happens to be one capability of the camera. As Canon expands their mirrorless lineup with their new EOS R cameras, expect better video resolutions and possibly better slow-motion performance in the future.
Speaking of mirrorless cameras, Sony’s line of APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras is also capable of recording at Full HD 1080p with 120 fps. At the low end, the a6100 offers a powerful camera that accepts all of the beautiful Sony E-mount lenses for under $1000. The a6600, on the other hand, offers up some premium options like in-body stabilization and weather sealing.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K Pro
Blackmagic makes a full line of “digital film cameras” that use the Canon EF-mount lenses. On the part of the company, this is a pretty genius move. It means they can access one of the most robust lens series available and focus on making modern SLR-sized film cameras. The 6K Pro, 6K, and 4K models can record up to 60 fps at full resolution. They are also all capable of recording at up to 120 fps at 2.7K resolution or 1080p.
Sony a1 and a7s III
Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras may all look alike, but each model is designed with a specific goal in mind. Some models, like the a7R IV or the a9, are built for maximum resolution and still photography. But the a1 and the a7S III are built for speed and quick video recording. Among other things, their slow-motion specifications are better than their siblings’.
The a1 is an 8K video camera, and it can record at the standard 30 fps up to its full resolutions. But drop it down to 4K, and both it and the a7S III can catch up to 120 fps. The a7S III can go one better, and in high frame rate mode, can catch 240 fps at less than HD quality.
Nikon Z 6II
Nikon is a late-coming to the mirrorless market, but their Z camera lineup offers many capabilities. Specifically, the Z 6 and Z 6II are built for performance. They feature a 24.5 MP image sensor that can grab 4K UHD video at up to the standard 30 fps. For slow-motion mode, the camera can grab 1080p videos at up to 120 fps.
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Panasonic’s Lumix mirrorless cameras have a micro four-thirds (MFT) sensor. These cameras have a standardized lens mount so that you can take your pick of four-thirds lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, and others. The top of the line GH5 is an SLR-style body built to tackle 4K video at up to 60 fps. It’s got dual-axis stabilization built-in. In Full HD mode, it can grab 180 fps.
Slow-motion is such a specialized part of video that not many cameras emphasize the capability. Many cameras can do it, yes, but they do it at low resolutions. As processing power and image sensors get better, expect more cameras with high frame rates to hit the market.