If you are reading this article it means that you are thinking of buying a new camera or improving the model you already own.
You’ve probably arrived here after reading detailed reviews of dozens of different models on the web. You will have frequented social groups or forums looking for advice
The ability to record 4K footage to cameras quickly went from a niche to a standard feature. It’s something you can very well find on most flagship smartphones and new cameras today, except the most basic entry-level mirrorless models.
Best 4k Camera Under $ 500
That said, not all 4K cameras offer the same level of quality. Different sensors, capture methods, output possibilities, and more mean that some 4K cameras are much, much better than others. Frame rate is an important consideration to think about before purchasing (most cameras are limited to 30fps with 4K, but some can record 60fps), as well as registration profiles for post-shot color correction, the availability of accessories, and easy-to-use features such as the zebra pattern.
Now, after an overdose of different data and opinions, you will be incomplete confusion.
Nothing strange, don’t worry. The Internet is a formidable means of knowledge, but if you are not sure what to look for, it is very easy for it to confuse your ideas rather than clarify them.
So if you have the idea of buying your first camera (or upgrading the one you already have), what you need is a guide to help you put it all together.
In this article, first of all, I will help you “think” about what you really need. If you don’t get it right on this point, you’ll never be sure you’re making the right step.
Best 4k Camera Under 500 USD | Comparison Table 2022
|Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera Features 12.1 Megapixel, 1/2.3-Inch Sensor, 4K Video, WiFi, Splash & Dustproof Camera Body, LEICA DC 24X F2.8 Zoom Lens - DMC-FZ300K - (Black) USA||Panasonic||Check Price|
|Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Video Creator Kit with EF-M 15-45mm Lens, Rode VIDEOMIC GO Microphone, and Memory Card, Black||Canon||Check Price|
|4K HD Video Camera 48MP 60FPS WiFi Vlogging Camera 18X Digital Camera IR Night Vision Camcorder Video Camera for YouTube with Handheld Stabilizer, Microphone and Remote Control||SEREE||Check Price|
|Sony DSCHX80/B High Zoom Point & Shoot Camera (Black)||Sony||Check Price|
|Canon EOS 2000D / Rebel T7 Digital SLR Camera Body w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Multi 3 Lens DSLR Kit with Complete Accessory Bundle + Tripod + 64GB + Flash + Case & More - International Model||Canon Cameras Inc.||Check Price|
|Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Digital Camera w/ 50x Optical Zoom - Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black), 1 - 1067C001||Canon||Check Price|
|4K Digital Camera Camcorder, WiFi 48MP 60FPS Video Camera with 180° Flip Screen, 2 Charging Mode 16X Digital Zoom Vlogging Camera for YouTube with 32GB SD Card and Wide Angle Lens Macro Lens||PYTSUDIN||Check Price|
|48MP 4K HD Digital Camera Vlogging Camera with 3.0 inch 180° Flip Screen WiFi Digital Camcorder for YouTube with Wide-Angle Lens and 32GB Memory Card||LUCKYCAM||Check Price|
|Dragon Touch 4K Action Camera 16MP Vision 3 Underwater Waterproof Camera 170° Wide Angle WiFi Sports Cam with Remote 2 Batteries and Mounting Accessories Kit||Dragon Touch||Check Price|
Best 4k Camera Under $ 500 | 2022 Guide and Products Overview
4K reflex camera: which one to choose
Until recently, finding a reflex camera capable of recording video at a maximum resolution of 4K was almost impossible. With the evolution of technology and the increasing interest from users for this function, companies have decided to present models that support 4K recording.
With 3840 × 2160 pixels, the 4K format offers more than four times the resolution of Full HD (1920 × 1080). Since even integrated displays on televisions, computers, smartphones etc. are reaching very high levels of quality and resolution, it goes without saying that those who produce video content are increasingly interested in exploiting this high resolution. DCI 4K resolution is also available in many cameras, which is used in filmmaking. It is the same as standard 4K in height but 4096 pixels wide.
There are several criteria to consider when choosing the right 4K SLR camera for your needs. Let’s start from the first, which can only be the quality of the videos produced. Beyond the resolution, which we have already talked about before, it is important to focus on the supported frame rate .
This element represents the number of frames per second that an SLR camera sensor can capture. The higher the number of fps, the smoother the video will be. 24/30 fps is the standard used in cinema, but to obtain optimal results in terms of fluidity, in particular for content to be shared on the web, it is recommended to shoot at 60 fps. The matter is different if you need to shoot slow-motion videos: in this case, you will have to focus on models that support a frame rate of 120 fps and beyond.
Let’s now move on to the second criterion, which concerns the quality of the photos produced by the sensor . APS-C and Full Frame (FF) type sensors are integrated into the reflex cameras. The difference between the two lies in the size: if the Full Frames measure exactly like the classic analog 35 mm film, the APS-C are slightly smaller, and have a 1.5x crop. Generally speaking, FFs allow for better results as they are physically larger and can capture more details and light, and for this reason they are preferred for portrait, fashion and landscape photos. For most other uses, APS-C sensors are more than enough.
The number of megapixels integrated into the sensor must also be evaluated . Having more detail available allows for larger images, a useful feature that can come in handy for printing or large format graphic projects. For this type of use it would be better to use cameras with sensors of over 20 megapixels. While to share images on the web and social networks, or similar uses, this value is not essential.
And if you need a 4K SLR that performs well even in difficult lighting conditions, with few light sources, then you will have to evaluate the performance at high ISO sensitivity values . ISO sensitivity determines how much light the sensor can absorb. Using low values is therefore ideal for sunny days, with very strong ambient light; on the contrary, when it gets dark it becomes necessary to raise the sensitivity levels. You will therefore have to choose a 4K SLR camera that supports a wide ISO sensitivity range, with a maximum value of at least 6400.
There is also another factor to consider: increasing this value makes it more likely that a grain will appear on the image, called digital noise . This effect can ruin the photo, causing it to lose sharpness and blur colors. The 4K SLRs we have chosen for this guide perform very well even at high ISO levels.
The fourth and final criterion to differentiate for 4K SLRs is the presence of a reliable and performing autofocus system . Autofocus usually come in two types, contrast or phase detection. The second technology is preferable, particularly if you often take photos or videos of moving subjects.
The AF must be precise enough to quickly identify the subject we intend to frame, in order to offer a better shooting and shooting experience. Particularly during video recording, the autofocus system must be able to keep the lock on the frame for all the action, without losing sharpness. And the same thing must also happen if we take bursts of photos. The number of AF points supported by the sensor must also be considered . The higher the number, the more precise and faster the autofocus will work.
In this guide we will tackle the best 4K SLR camera models currently available on the market. At the moment, there are not many SLRs capable of recording videos in 4K presented by the various companies. In particular, there is no model that supports recording in 4K at the low end of the market, so to get this feature you will have to turn to models of higher ranges: medium, high or pro . Let’s start from the mid-range, which includes advanced models, with good quality while maintaining low dimensions and costs . In the high-end we find advanced cameras , for amateurs with a certain shooting and video recording experience.
They offer excellent performance at a high but not excessive price. Instead, the various top of the range 4K reflex manufacturers find their place in the pro range : they include the latest technologies developed by companies, and are the best in terms of image quality. These are the cameras to choose if you are a professional and need a reliable tool for your jobs. Let’s find out our picks of the best 4K SLRs on the market , sorted by their price.
How to interpret the technical characteristics of digital cameras? Each camera must be evaluated on the basis of its technical characteristics. Here are the most important ones you need to consider regardless of the type of camera you want to buy.
- Megapixels – Megapixels indicate the number of pixels that make up the images made by a camera, expressed in millions. This is an important value but not as fundamental as the advertisements would have us believe. Furthermore, it should be noted that it is equivalent to multiplying the pixels of the horizontal side of the image by those of the vertical side, and not to the measurement in width or height of the photos (this means that, for example, a 20MP camera does not take large photos. double that of a 10MP, but only 41% larger). The final quality of the shots depends largely on the optics used and the sensitivity level of the sensor to light (ISO value), so don’t let yourself be “dazzled” by a camera just because it has more MP than another.
- ISO – the ISO value indicates the sensitivity level of the sensor to light. The higher the maximum value of this parameter (which is adjustable), the more you will be able to take clear pictures in low light conditions. But be careful: raising the ISO value of a camera too high generates image disturbances called “noise”. To find out beyond what ISO threshold a camera begins to show “noises” (each camera behaves differently) do a search on the Internet.
- Sensor format – broadly speaking, the larger the sensor in a camera, the higher the quality of the shots it generates. Smaller sensors are generally found in point-and-shoot compacts, larger ones in DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras. Going into more detail, there are the Full Frame sensors that measure 24 x 36 mm and are equivalent to the 35mm film format (with a 1: 1 conversion ratio); the APS-C which measure 23 x 15 mm and have a conversion ratio of 1.5: 1 or 1.6: 1 (depending on the cameras used) and the Quattro thirds system which instead measures 17 x 13 mm and has a conversion ratio of 2: 1 (mainly used in mirrorless cameras).
- Focal and zoom – camera lenses have different focal lengths and zoom degrees, it being understood that not all lenses are also zooms. Focal length is the distance from the sensor surface to the center of the objective lens when it is set to focus at infinity. It can be normal (by 50mm), wide angle (with a lower focal length than the normal lens, ideal for capturing very large areas) or telephoto (with a greater focal length than the normal lens, magnify objects compared to the vision of the human eye. ). Zooms are combinations of lenses with different focal lengths and allow you to frame distant objects without moving. If you want to know more read my post on which lens to buy .
- Lens aperture – Another parameter to look at is the maximum aperture of the lens. This value is expressed in F-stops (e.g. f / 1.4 or f / 5.6) and measures the aperture. A lower number equates to a greater ability to capture clear images even in low light conditions.
- Number of photos per second and focusing speed – if you intend to take photos in “hectic” conditions (eg during sports competitions) make sure that the camera you want to buy can capture a high number of photos per second. It also tries to inform you about the focusing times of the camera, which is another extremely important value for high-speed shooting.
- Video recording – many cameras, both SLR and compact cameras, are capable of recording video as well. If you are interested in this feature and you need to make high quality movies, check the maximum resolution of the movies made by the camera (HD, Full HD or 4K) and their framerate (i.e. the number of frames captured every second).
- Processor – the processor in digital cameras performs the same task as film in analog cameras. In other words, it is what converts the light captured by the sensor into a photo. The quality (and power) of this component affects the shutter speed, the ability to create photographic bursts and various parameters of the images generated (eg color fidelity).
- Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS – two useful but not essential functions. Cameras with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC allow you to easily share photos with other devices. Those with GPS are able to indicate the location where a photo was taken in the EXIF data (as smartphones do).