The best camera for video doesn’t necessarily need to offer that bombastic resolution. If that’s your case, then the 8K video resolutions of Canon EOS R5 and Sony A1 might please you. However, it is important to be aware of the caveats of 8K cameras: overheating. This results in limited time recording capabilities of such cameras. This is why 4K cams are getting more and more attention in the market.
Cameras offering 4K should be enough for most of your needs. Nonetheless, the resolution isn’t the only matter that should be checked when you want to produce high-quality footage. The frame rate is a great factor that will dictate how smooth the actions or movements would be in videos. This is where higher frame rates are coveted.
Sony A7S III can offer you a generous 120fps for its 4K. What’s more, it can go up to 240fps in HD. With this, you have the liberty to enjoy it in creating stunning slow-mo effects on your clips which will give your works additional artistic touch.
On the other hand, while Canon EOS-1D X Mark III can only offer 60fps on most of the video modes and up to 120fps for Full HD, it excels in AF technology. It utilizes Dual Pixel CMOS AF system during movie shooting. Compared to its predecessor, its Movie Servo AF comes better with the help of the new DIGIC X processor which executes automatic adjustments to AF speed and tracking characteristics.
To get better insight about the said cameras and other best models for videography projects, we reviewed them with the guidance of Evangeline Summers, Solidsmack’s Photography Editor. We also highlighted other important aspects you need to look for such as the LCD movements, bit depth, color sampling, and more. And to assure we could cover all the specific needs of various users, we also considered other types of cameras from drones to sports cams and more.
1. Sony A7S III
4K at 120p
It doesn’t have the best resolution when it comes to stills (you get 12 MP!), but if you need a camera that can do so much in video… A7S III is your best bet.
“Though it can’t compete with the high-resolution category of stills, its video capabilities and features are one big, fat package,” said Summers. “It can shoot 4K videos in 120p just like the other leading camera models, but where it excels the most is the uncropped 4K 60p full-frame videos.”
Further, its resolutions aren’t the only gems it could offer. You can enjoy the best bit depth and color sampling experience by recording in 10-bit 4:2:2 without worrying about time limitations and overheating. Even the availability of the fast Hybrid AF system in any setting is brilliant! You can go up to 240fps in HD and you can still enjoy it. No limits, as well.
Its AF system can’t still beat what Canon is offering. But with 759 on-sensor phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection AF points, it is still one reliable AF even in low-light conditions down to EV-6. Users can also customize the AF system which makes its video capabilities more convenient. The focus speed has 7 increments that you can adjust to match your video needs and get better control of the camera. Further, with its touch-focus function on the screen, the camera can easily track subjects. It doesn’t disappoint and it is capable enough to follow subjects even if they are facing away from the camera.
2. Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
5.5K RAW/60p, DCI 4K/60p
If you are looking for a camera that highly specializes in one specific section, expect to have some tradeoffs. In the case of Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, you get a fixed screen (which, as Canon claims, is for the sake of the unit’s durability) and the cam’s body is so huge.
Having a huge build is fairly normal among DSLR units; however, the lack of a fully articulating LCD (or even a tilting one) might bother some users. Shooting videos at creative angles could be a challenge and together with the fact that it lacks IBIS, users might end up using a tripod. Using lenses with IS could apparently solve this (if you really insist on holding it) but a huge camera body and a huge lens sound inconvenient. With all that, what makes EOS-1D X Mark III the superstar of the list? The software.
It starts with the variety of resolutions you have in your hands such as the 4K RAW, 4K DCI, 4K UHD, 4K DCI Cropped, and Full HD. And the frame rates? Generous. It offers 60fps to most of the video modes and up to 120fps for Full HD. Even better, it can now record MP4 and RAW at the same time since the model caters to two CFexpress cards!
However, there is a caveat here. While you can still shoot with the autofocus running in full-frame 4K and 5.5K RAW at 30fps, the AF won’t be available when you start filming at 60fps. Yet, if you are willing to get some crop factors for the sake of 60fps, you can shoot in 4K Cropped mode.
On the other hand, the autofocus system is absolutely brilliant. It employs the new and improved AF technology, thanks to its powerful Digic X processor.
“It is one of the best focus systems now in the market and it is very responsive,” says Summers. “It can create that shallow depth of field effect with ease and it can catch up with the movement of the subject pretty well.”
3. Canon XA40
4K at 30fps
1/2.3" type CMOS Sensor
XA40 was released when the market for camcorders was already being owned by huge brands like Sony. Yet, it still managed to steal the limelight due to its five-star features that will certainly benefit users. Besides the 4K at 30fps, it can deliver cinema-level videos through oversampling at 1080p.
“It is a compact camcorder but despite its size, it doesn’t lack controls and functions that will allow a better experience,” said Summers. “It includes the 20X optical zoom lens accompanied by a 5-axis image stabilization. With this, even when shooting in 4K resolution and utilizing its zoom, the footage comes out smooth and it can even create a nice bokeh effect. Generally, the image quality is clean and the color appears natural. Even the details in low-light conditions are great and the overall dynamic range doesn’t disappoint.”
Further, according to Summers, the controls of XA40 are pretty great. Besides offering you the option to go manual or full auto, it comes with a touchscreen function which makes its use even easier. This would also allow users to easily establish focus using the touch-focus function of the cam. As expected, the AF of Canon in XA40 is still unbeatable and fast. Even when used for infrared, it can lock easily.
4. GoPro Hero9 Black
5K at 30fps
Hero9 offers the latest features of GoPro cameras that can make the videography experience of each user easier. First is the front LCD screen that will certainly appeal to vloggers as it will now allow you to easily frame yourself on the screen. Nonetheless, there Hero9 has a lot of other things to offer.
“When it comes to the appearance of the Hero9, it is undeniable that GoPro has really created big upgrades on this model,” Summers said. “However, there are still lots of things to praise about Hero9 such as the improved resolution of videos and photos which now come at 5K and 20 MP, respectively. Not just that, it offers great flexibility since you can also capture videos in 4K resolution at 60fps which is very, very amazing!”
Hero9 also includes the latest updates of GoPro software. This includes the HyperSmooth and TimeWarp which are now at their 3.0 version.
“The upgraded versions of Hero9’s features are very flattering,” Summers said, “Especially the Hypersmooth 3.0 which gives you stabilized videos in any resolution you fancy. This is very exciting, not to mention that its Boost feature helps a lot to get more even shots.”
5. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
4K HDR at 30fps
1/2.3” 12 MP CMOS
Imagine taking videos hundreds of feet above the ground. In the past, this would require you a great deal of effort from using cranes and other equipment just to get that satisfying shot. This is why the introduction of camera drones is a huge breakthrough in the field of photography and videography.
The problem with camera drones, however, is the size of the camera sensor. In the case of Mavic 2 Zoom, you get an underwhelming sensor size which is a 1/2.3” 12 MP CMOS. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t discourage you since it can still meet all the right standards and can still provide you the best set of details.
Mavic 2 Zoom also comes with an optical zoom which is something you won’t see just in any camera drone model. The 2X optical zoom lens of Mavic 2 Zoom isn’t just simply about giving your camera extra reach to the subject; it enables it to do tricks that other drone cameras are incapable of doing up in the air.
“With just a few models offering optical zoom capability in a such kind of camera, it is amazing. Mavic 2 Zoom’s lens with an effective focal length ranging from 24 to 48 mm allows you to play with your shots. For instance, the drone comes with a Dolly Zoom quick shot feature which can help you to achieve a short yet impressive continuous perspective distortion. It executes this classic technique by playing on the optical zoom of the camera together with some movements by the drone itself. This is a huge attraction for videographers who need creative features that will aid them in their projects,” said Summers.
Best Cameras for Video - Buyer's Guide
Besides getting uncropped 4K videos, it is also important to check for the frame rate options of the camera, especially if you are a fan of slow-mo clips.
If video is the sole reason why you are buying a camera, a camcorder model should be enough. Nonetheless, mirrorless and DSLR models are slowly becoming the standard now due to their versatility in delivering quality stills and videos. There are also other types of cameras that will address the more specific needs of users. This includes the action cams for those who want to film themselves while doing extreme activities and drone cameras for shooting videos hundreds of feet above the ground.
If you are just going to shoot videos with the camera attached to a tripod, there won’t be a problem with camera shakes. However, stabilization can be a huge need now in most cameras, especially action cams.
The prices of cameras depend on their types. If you need something for a serious videography project, a mirrorless camera can be a good choice. There are also dedicated camcorders that can do a great job at filming high-quality videos just like Canon XA40. However, as you would expect, they come at overwhelming prices. If you think that is too much for you and if you don’t mind getting videos at lower resolutions and quality, there are affordable point-and-shoot units that can also shoot videos.
Best Cameras for Video - FAQs
It depends on your needs. The 1080p resolution should be enough for most needs, especially if you are just a beginner or enthusiast. However, to catch up with the current standard, it is best to have the 4K.
There is no difference between 4K and UHD. Both terms just refer to the resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels. On the other hand, Cinema 4K or DCI 4K comes with a 4096 x 2160 resolution.
Most professional cameras now come with IBIS. This should stabilize little movements while you are standing; however, if you plan to record footage while running or walking, a gimbal might be needed.
Yes, frame rates have direct effects on the quality of the 4K video. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video would be in terms of the actions of moving objects. Low frame rates will cause uneven and obvious transitions of actions in each frame.