How much should you spend to get high-quality 4K images if your budget is limited?
Looking for the cheapest 4K camera for shooting professional videos? Earlier these cameras were very expensive, but today you can buy an affordable 4K camera under $1000. Have a look at these 15 inexpensive 4K (DLSR/mirrorless) action cameras and camcorders, and choose the one that meets your requirements and allows taking detailed shots with minimum crop noise.
Using budget 4K cameras from my list, you can capture any subject in great detail. Thus, when zooming in on skin, foliage or similar objects, you will see clear textures.
However, you should understand that along with more details, your images will contain more defects visible, so if you are shooting in 4K, you must devote enough time to photo and video editing. This is especially important if you are using a cheap camera.
Usually, when it comes to portrait editing, professional retouchers smooth skin, get rid of acne or blackheads, remove hair on the skin, and more. If you have no editing experience, you can always order FixThePhoto services.
Shooting type: action, slow motion, accelerated, underwater, standard ground survey, aerial from drone | Sensor: 12 MP | Focusing: automatic AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 2-inch | Weight: 4.16 ounces
If you’re looking for the best affordable action camera, I recommend choosing GoPro Hero 7. It has a waterproof body, useful apps that provide superior phone integration, a touchscreen that allows previewing your videos and photos, and Cineform. We’re talking about the functionality of professional-level gear implemented in a miniature action camera.
Design-wise, Hero 7 is nearly identical to its predecessor, GoPro Hero 6. The only differences are the new body color scheme and reworked microphone meant to improve the audio quality (But its quality is still too low). This is the best 4k video camera thank to its improved image stabilization system Hypersmooth, user-friendly UI, straightforward controls and the “Prepare it and forget it” philosophy.
Shooting type: sports, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 45.7 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3.2-inch | Weight: 2.02 lbs
This 4K video camera is ideal for wedding, nature, portraiture, and action shots. The D850 has a state-of-the-art 45.4MP full-frame sensor, an innovative 153-dot autofocus system, a rotatable touchscreen. It also offers a broad range of connectivity options.
This model is the most impressive 4K DSLR ever produced by Nikon. Also, since most of your video footage will be 4K, remember that the camera has to perform a huge amount of image processing to accommodate video resolution. It means that the quality of the footage processing and the camera’s lenses will matter more than the number of megapixels it has. You can check out a full Nikon D850 review to see how it performs in other areas.
Shooting type: sports, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 16 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 0.90 lbs
This 4K camera Panasonic represents a multifunctional video recording camera that offers great image quality, a highly efficient AF system, and 4K support packed into a tiny unit operated by external controls. The camera’s UI can be uncomfortable to use at times but has several neat functions such as the ability to employ a rear display as a touchscreen to determine an autofocus point.
I recommend this camera for rookies who want to evolve as photographers and DSLR owners who want a compact spare camera. It’s especially great if you’re planning on recording a lot of videos. While it isn’t the cheapest 4K video camera here, it’s a good choice for high-quality filming.
Shooting type: sports, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 18.1 MP | Focusing: manual and automatic| Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 1.36 pounds
The DC-FZ80 is not the best professional video camera but can still shoot beautiful videos. It has a relatively small 1/2.33” sensor and offers an 18MP resolution. It’s supplied with a large lens that has a focal distance of 20-1200mm (equivalent to 35mm film) and a mind-blowing 60-times digital zoom. If you use zoom to the max, you can take pictures with a focal distance of up to 4800mm.
The FZ80 has an integrated image stabilizing system known as Power O.I.S. It combines elements of optical and digital stabilization and is used for both image and video recording. It offers nice performance but starts to show flaws when taking photographs at 1200mm. To avoid this problem, I advise purchasing a tripod and stabilizing your camera to create sharp images and shake-free footage.
Shooting type: landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 18 MP | Focusing: automate and manual | Screen: 3.2-inch | Weight: 2.3 pounds
XC10 stands out from other Canon cameras because it’s a universal model that supports 4K and Full HD videos and 12MP photos. Another great feature of this camera is how comfortable it is to hold when shooting, leading to reduced camera shake. It has an integrated 1” sensor, Canon Log support, and twelve dynamic range settings. Optics-wise, the camera employs a fixed zoom supported by an optical picture stabilizer and an integrated ND filter.
This 4K camera Canon has a lens with a focal length of 27.3-273mm for video recording and 24.1-241mm for taking pictures. It also has an extremely useful Vari-Angle touchscreen paired with a loupe that can be used to see the display better in direct sunlight. If you’re a beginner who spends more time recording videos than taking pictures, this Canon 4K video camera can become the perfect device for creating almost cinema-level content. I also recommend this model to students who study cinematography or journalism.
Shooting type: landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 16 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 0.9 pounds
The Olympus Mark III has everything you can want from a mirrorless 4K camera. Its 4K footage is of high quality, it’s comfortable to hold, includes a broad range of features, requires minimum space in your backpack, and takes stunning pictures.
Among other impressive characteristics of this affordable 4K camera are a handy 3” rotatable touchscreen, integrated flash, and a 2.36m-point digital viewfinder. Considering the low price, advanced features, and several Art and Scene modes, it could be viewed as entry-level gear. But nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to tell apart such a progressive multifunctional camera from an enthusiast model.
Shooting type: snapshot, wide, macro, microscope, HDR | Sensor: 12 MP | Focusing: AF | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 0.56 pounds
The OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 is a great camera that is well put together. It can easily fit in your pocket because of its compact size. The size of its body is 2.6 x 4.4 x 1.3 inches. Its weight is only 0.56 pounds. It’s one of the most durable models I have ever used. This camera is fully protected from shock impact, dust, fog, and cold temperature, which allows photographers to use it in severe weather conditions.
The model is fitted with a 12MP CMOS sensor and features a powerful True Pic VIII image processor. It’s suitable both for shooting photos and video footage of the highest quality. You can use it to shoot 4K content.
Shooting type: action, slow motion, accelerated, standard ground survey, aerial from drone | Sensor: 12 MP | Focusing: automatic | Screen: 2.2-inch | Weight: 4.4 ounces
This model is the cheapest 4K action camera that supports recording 4K and the maximum fps rate of 240 frames (shooting in 1080p). DJI Osmo Action has better weather-sealing than Hero7 (36 ft. versus 33 ft). There is also the RockSteady technology, which combines EIS with sophisticated algorithms to deliver stable, shake-free shooting no matter how intense and quick the action gets.
If you’re planning on using the camera for taking photographs, you’ll be impressed with the sharpness and colors of 12MP pictures. Moreover, you can also take images in RAW format (although only when HDR is disabled). The DJI Osmo Action offers an HDR video feature, which slightly improves dynamic range, but, in reality, it just increases exposure and saturation a bit, sacrificing the possibility to record stabilized video (and 60fps).
Shooting type: sport, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 24.2 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3-inch| Weight: 1.55 lbs
Sony a6300 is a mirrorless camera that shares the same 24MP introduced with a6000. However, this camera’s autofocus system, video recording-, viewfinder-, and design quality have been significantly improved. I believe that the a6300 is the best 4K camera under $1000 and I recommend it to everyone who is looking for gear that allows taking amazing photographs and 4K videos.
The most impressive upgrade if compared with the previous model, in my opinion, is the new a6300 sensor. Although the pixel count remains the same, here sensor has a whopping 425 phase-detection AF points. When it comes to object identification and tracking, the a6000 already offers one of the best AF systems in its class, so an upgrade in this area sounds very promising.
Shooting type: sport, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 20.9 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3.2-inch | Weight: 1.90 lbs
The D500 is 20 MP DSLR camera with an APS-C image sensor. It boasts a burst shooting mode of 10fps that is paired with a 200-photo buffer for RAW files. This 4K camera Nikon D500 was designed with action-oriented videographers and photographers in mind since they don’t care about the smaller sensor and instead enjoy its additional reach. The camera has 153-dot autofocus and a 180k-px RGB metering sensor powered by D5’s EXPEED 5 processor. The D500 allows recording video in either 4K or UHD and comes with a “SnapBridge” function that enables your phone to be constantly connected to the camera via Bluetooth.
I can definitely recommend this model to photographers in need of a sturdy DSLR 4K HD camera that is comfortable to hold and use. It’s especially well-suited for people who are planning to record sports events.
To complement this powerful camera's capabilities, it is essential to have reliable 4K video editing software. With the ability to capture high-resolution footage, having a robust software will allow users to fully utilize and enhance the quality of their videos, ensuring they achieve professional-level results in post-production.
Shooting type: action, underwater, standard ground survey, aerial from drone | Sensor: 20 MP | Focusing: automatic | Screen: 2-inch | Weight: 2.90 ounces
V50 Pro is the cheapest 4K action camera featured on this list. Even though this model is nearly 4 times cheaper than GoPro’s Hero 6, it offers surprisingly adequate video quality. Moreover, the camera allows recording time lapses of extremely high quality. It’s possible to record 4K footage at 30fps, which is reasonable considering how inexpensive the camera is.
However, it’s recommended to shoot in Full HD and 60 fps instead to achieve the best results. If your goal is to produce a ton of 4K footage, you’ll need a large SD card. I suggest purchasing a card that has at least 64GB of storage space. Overall, this decent cheap 4K camera should satisfy both rookies and pros.
Shooting type: sport, landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 48 MP | Focusing: manual, AFS, AFF, AFC, MF | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 2.07 pounds
If you dream of hiking, recording your adventures, capturing the beauty of the ocean and the sky, this best budget 4K camcorder should be right up your alley. The AiTechny camcorder is extremely universe and can be used for all kinds of videos including trips, family parties, weddings, etc. It has a 4K resolution of 2,880x2160 at 24fps and is able to provide beautiful high-contrast imagery.
The camera allows capturing breathtaking landscapes thanks to its wide-angle lens and taking close-up shots with 16x digital zoom. However, be prepared that zoomed-in footage will lack clarity since this model doesn’t have an optical zoom. Even so, this is still probably the best cheap 4K camera in its category.
Shooting type: sport, landscape, studio, portrait | Sensor: 18 MP | Focusing: automatic | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 3.75 pounds
This cheap 4K camera has a sturdy body identical to the BlackMagic Cinema Camera. It is 6.5″ wide and 5.2″ tall. The weight is mere 3.8lbs. The camera comes with a 5” touchscreen with a decent 800x480 definition. The display offers high sharpness, but due to being very reflective, it can be hard to see during outdoor photoshoots.
This issue is somewhat mitigated thanks to the provided rubber touchscreen hood. However, if you want to solve this problem completely, I advise attaching an extension to the hood or purchasing a focusing cover like photographers used to do back in the day.
Shooting type: sport, landscape, portrait | Sensor: 20.6 MP | Focusing: automatic | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 1.5 Pounds
Sony released a small, user-friendly camera that weighs a mere 655g, meaning that for the most part, you can control it using only one hand. You can turn the FDR-AX33 on either by extracting the viewfinder or activating the 3-inch touchscreen. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for an inexpensive 4K camera.
This model has the B.O.S.S. image stabilizing system. It allows you to examine how the camera’s lens is moving inside to prevent camera shake. FDR-AX33’s image stabilization is especially useful when recording footage on hiking trips or during close-ups.
Shooting type: landscape, studio, slow motion, portrait | Sensor: 24 MP | Focusing: AF, manual | Screen: 3-inch | Weight: 0.95 pounds
This camera stands out for its impressive sensor. The 24.1 MP CMOS APS-C sensor allows you to take photos in high resolution and shoot 4K footage. Whether you use this camera for taking photos or shooting videos, you will be impressed with high level of detail. Another advantage of this model is that it is fitted with the DIGIC 8 Image Processor. As both its sensor and processor are quite advanced, this model has great value for the money.
You can shoot 4K footage, including time-lapse videos. It sets this camera apart from the rest as other models don’t allow shooting high-quality time-lapse content. In addition, this camera has a fast focus that stands out for its high accuracy.
GoPro Hero 7 BlackOUR CHOICE
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Nikon D850BEST QUALITY
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AKASO V50 Pro Native 4K/30fpsBUDGET
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While selecting the best budget 4K camera, you need to pay attention to several parameters that affect the quality of your photos and videos. Besides, understanding what stands behind every feature, you can save even more money.
Most cameras are only capable of recording 4K footage at 25 or 30 frames per second max. That being said, more expensive models, like the ones offered by GoPro, raise the bar up to 60 fps. What this means is that a camera will capture full-frame pictures 60 times each second.
Such a framerate is particularly needed for filming sports events, where shooting at 30fps won’t provide fluent footage. 60 fps footage is great for making slow-mo videos during the editing process since it will still look smooth.
Give preference to cameras that have a MicroSD slot (or maybe even 2) so that when you run out of internal memory mid-shoot, you can avoid deleting files and simply insert a different SD card for DSLR or mirrorless camera.
The majority of cheap 4K cameras that have Wi-Fi are also supplied with a dedicated app. Before you make any decisions, you should do some research and learn what each app has to offer. Personally, I like GoPro’s app since it allows working with files while they’re still on the SD cards as well as recording photos and videos. However, it does lead to the camera heating up far quicker than usual.
The availability and quality of the IS system are one of the most important characteristics of action cameras. The best option in this regard is Sony camera, with GoPro slowly reaching that level, but still not being there yet. Image stabilization allows reducing camera shake, which is a real issue since micro-movements occur even when a camera is left untouched with a mechanical stabilizer.
There are many types of 4K cameras you can choose from, including DSLR, camcorders, mirrorless, and action cameras. You need to determine the field in which you’re going to use a camera. If you’re planning on recording vlogs and adventures, I suggest purchasing an action camera due to its compact size. On the other hand, if you want to shoot movies and ads, it’s better to buy a DSLR or a mirrorless model.
The type and complexity of controls depend on the purpose of your camera. 4K cameras typically feature a power switch to turn the camera on or off. They have a mode dial that allows users to select different shooting modes such as manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program. These cameras also have a shutter button for capturing still photos or starting/stopping video recording. Controls for adjusting exposure, including exposure compensation, ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, are available to fine-tune image settings. For action videos, you require a simple model that allows starting recording with a single press of a button. Meanwhile, if we’re talking about professional videos, you need to have access to a broader range of settings and features.
The majority of cameras boast good audio recording capabilities, including a jack for a mic. The audio quality is greatly affected by wired mics, especially if you are recording on a crowded street or in windy weather.
Actually, this is one of the most important parameters. Even if a 4K video seems good, it can be rendered unwatched if the quality of the audio is bad.
4K cameras offer four times the resolution of standard HD cameras, providing incredibly detailed and sharp footage, making them ideal for professional projects or enthusiasts looking for high-quality videos.
Yes, many budget 4K cameras come with interchangeable lens systems, allowing users to expand their creative options and achieve different looks for their videos.
Yes, some budget models come with microphone jacks or have built-in microphones with improved audio quality to enhance your video productions.
In most cases, photographers choose 4K cameras if they plan to perform advanced image retouching to fix the smallest skin defects and make other miniature changes.
If you don’t record action scenes, then 30 fps will be enough for you for a smooth picture, but if you are shooting sports, then it is better to choose 1080p at 60 fps.
Nowadays, 4K isn’t a mysterious exotic function, but something that is included in almost any flagship phone of all the major companies. Smartphone cameras are best suited for recording short films. For instance, iPhone 13 pro max offers 4K support and has a front-facing 12MP camera and a back 12MP camera, with sensors from Sony (market leaders).