Help me find the right camera!

So, I've been a YouTuber for 2 years now and have yet to buy a real camera. I usually just borrow or use my phone and that worked great. But lately my Samsung Note 4 has been dying at 40%+ unexpectedly and is all around unreliable. I hate always asking to use other's high end cameras so its time to buy one.


  • I leave for Europe in less than a month and would like to purchase it before then. 
  • Price range: Under $800 (Preferred, but I could spend more and just open a credit line and pay it off over a couple of months at 0% APR)
  • I really want to be able to shoot 4K as well as 120fps or higher at 1080p
  • And external mic jack would be great


My research has lead me to the following, but please suggest more:

  • Samsung NX1
    • Meets requirements
    • A little over budget $1150
  • Sony RX100 IV 
    • 1000fps at 1080p
    • 4k
    • no audio input
    • a little over budget $1000
  • Sony a6300
    • Meets requirements
    • a little over budget $1500
  • Lumix GH4
    • 4k
    • 1080p at 96 fps
    • a little over budget $1150
  • NX500
    • 4k but heavily cropped
    • 120fps at 720p HD
    • no audio input
    • Significantly cheaper $500

This camera will be my primary until I can afford a real $2000-$7000 production camera. Your thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated!


  • I don't want to be a douche, but YouTube is compressing when you upload to it, so you won't notice the difference between a really expensive camera, and a "cheaper" camera. As far as I'm concerned, 4k on YouTube looks better because of the higher bitrate playback, not because of the resolution. Without knowing how the other cameras perform, I'm just gonna go ahead and say the GH4, seems to be a popular choice for YouTubers.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    The Samsung NX1 and NX500 record to h.265 I think. This is important, because Hitfilm doesn't support h.265 yet, so you would have to transcode your footage before editing. (Usually transcoding from h.264 to a better format, or transcoding h.264 to h.264 using @NormanPCN designed settings is a good idea, but it's still nice to be able to take your camera's footage "out of the box." Maybe you're only using a tiny shot and don't really care about the transcode.) So I'd rule that out.

    Sony makes good cameras (If I were in the market for a DSLR right now I'd be looking at the A7sII, which is way out of your current budget, but it's a great camera), but there's one little thing about Sony that's a "gotcha." Sony uses a slightly different control protocol than other manufacturers, so certain third-party add ons won't work with Sony cameras--I'm taking about things like modules to add wireless controls letting your smartphone control  the camera. This probably can be ignored, but I'm trying to be complete.

    The Panasonic GH4 seems, to me to be the best choice of these options. It was a game changer at the time, and it's price has dropped quite a lot in the last year--assuming you're in the USA, I've found a couple of vendors selling it at about $950. That said, these may be "grey market," camera without a warranty. The Gh4 also has a crop factor when shooting 4K video, but it's not nearly as extreme as the Samsung. However, I happen to have camera accessories that will work with Canon (my current cameras) and Panasonic cameras that won't work on the Sony (see above.) so that's going to influence my choices. The Sonys are good cameras.

    Remember that these are interchangable lens cameras. Has your pricing included lenses? That's additional expense. Ideally you can stretch your budget for two lenses, if not three. For a two-lens setup you'll want something between 35mm and 70mm (these two numbers basically border the "normal" focal length--anything below 35mm and you're obviously wide angle, above 70mm and you're obviously telephoto) and something above 100mm... maybe even 200mm or 300mm. Wherever you're going you're going to run into something too far away that you want to get closer to. If you can get a third lens, then you're going to want something about 24mm or below. At some point you're going to end up in a small space that you want to take pictures of and want that wide angle. ;-) Depending on the camera you buy you should be able to find zoom lens to cover the ranges you want. For example I have a Canon 24-70mm lens and a 70-300mm lens. These two lenses cover a great range. I also have an 8mm Fisheye and a 50mm Prime. For the record, on my Honeymoon in the UK/Ireland last year, my 8mm Fisheye ended up being my most used lens. When moving quickly or just shooting while wandering, the wide DoF and FoV of the fisheye made things very fast to shoot. I happen to like a fisheye look, but, when needed, there are tools in Hitfilm or software like GIMP or Photoshop (or Mocha pro) to de-fisheye.

    Don't forget--you're going to need SD cards, and for 4K video they are going to need to be fast. 4K video and High-res still are going to be sucking up a lot of storage space. Are you taking a computer with you? On my honeymoon we didn't take laptops--just tablets--, so I wasn't going to be able to offload cards while overseas. I made sure I had a lot of cards with me. I took ten cards and came back with most of them filled. Still, $300 of card was a smart choice for me than risking a $2000 laptop.

    As I assume you've noticed, you're not really going to find anything that meets all your requirements at your desired price point yet. The NX500 is the closest you'll come, but that crop factor is a killer.

  • edited April 2016

    I think you're right @Triem23.

    To address a few things, the 4k is for editing in post (more play room if something swayed from the center of frame)

    There are several mods (samsung made their software open source) that allows the NX500 to shoot 2.5k with 0 crop. This would probably be sufficient. 

    The 120fps is more of a request than a demand, I'm heavily interested in action shorts and VFX, slow motion is a great way to build suspense at times. So having it at 720p would probably be acceptable for YouTube when used in short and combined with fast paced 1080p+


    I was able to calculate the cost of lens's but forgot to include the cost of storage. 



    • Samsung has discontinued their cameras ( support and resell value will be limited)
    • Sony's limited and overpriced lenses (rip me a new one when I upgrade)
    • GH4 will likely be replaced by the GH5 this year (a camera I am very interested in buying upon release)

    I think my best bet is to bite the bullet and get the cheapest option, save up, and use it as a B-Roll camera when the GH5 or something better is released.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

     Look for lens adaptors for the Samsung? I know with Sony you can get things like a Metabones Speedbooster which will do three things--connect a Canon or Nikon (depends on model of speedbooster purchased) lens to the Sony, widen out the FoV a bit and give you another stop of low-light.

    However, buying a cheap camera for now to save up for later is also a good idea. You'll be stepping up from the Note 4 no matter what. I didn't realize the Samsungs had been discontinued! Still, a second B-roll camera is always good to have later on. The Nx500 might be your best choice.

    While Sony lenses are expensive (but so are a lot of the Canons), remember vendors like Sigma and Rokinon make lenses compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony and Micro 4/3 mounts. There are options. For future film work Rokinon has a series of Cine Lenes that shoot very well for the price and are designed where every lens is the same size and weight--if you expand later to rail mounts and stabilizers these are nice since changing the lens doesn't require moving anything like a follow focus or rebalancing the weight load. Just a random thought for future reference.

    I mention Sony again, simply because the A7sII currently has the best low-light shooting on the planet. For event and run-and-gun shoots this can be a lifesaver!


  • edited April 2016

    Yeah, @Triem23 I had considered lens adapters, but since I am not migrating from a system already (no prior lenses or equipment) I'd prefer to avoid them for the time being as they pose to be just a very large upfront cost.

    My step-dad has the A7sII, but as stated above... I hate asking to borrow things as a 19 year old. Not really a pride thing, just it seems to be subjectively immature. Especially when I was using his equipment more than he was haha.

    I posted this same question on the Linus Tech Tips forum and got a suggestion for a Lumix G7K which lacks the 120fps and cost $100 more resting at $600. Thoughts? 

    The pros of the G7K:

    • External Mic Input
    • Supported company (Samsung Discontinued NX line)
    • Upgradability - I plan on upgrading to the GH5 when it releases (rumored to shoot 6k and some crazy good slow motion)
    • In-body stabilization (Huge perk: I can buy cheaper "Dumb" lenses)
    • Wide variety of lenses

    Trade Offs:

    • No slow motion
    • $100 more
    • NX500 has more dynamic range (Huge Loss: Dynamic range=more cinematic)
    • NX500 would have better B-Roll later down the road

    EDIT: The Price of the G7K and the NX500 is the same (Adorama is offering the camera at $600 with a $100 gift card so... free external Rode mic? haha) 


  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    If you're seriously thinking about a GH5 in the future and something cheaper for now take a look at the Lumix LX100. Fixed lens but it's a very good one, quality is very similar to the GH4 and external mic jack but only 60 fps @ 1080. I've seen it as low as $540.00 recently from reputable dealers.

    @Triem23 If I had the money the A7sII would be my top choice too. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Camera market is so saturated, I'm not familiar with the g7K. Let me take a look.

  • edited April 2016

    Honestly, the LX100 is a great camera @Aladdin4d, but I think the G7K has it beat at only $50 more.

    Difference being, interchangeable lens and shoots 4k.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Well. $50 more for the G7k, then cost of lenses.

    Hmmmmmm.... You might want to start planning for the future here. The Lx100 will, of course, limit you to the fixed lens, but, with interchangable lenses... Lenses are usually what cause a photo/videographer to settle on a brand, since lenses are expensive (but can move to a new camera).

    If you're really committed to staying with a Panny system, whether moving to a GH4 or GH5 in the future, then, of course, any lenses you buy for the G7k should transfer to the new body. On the other hand if you're still going back and forth on the system you'll eventually end up with then the Lx100 is a smart choice.

    Bottom line here is anything you buy is going to be a step up from the Note 4 camera, and the skill of the user is more important than the gear used. I've seen things shot on Canon t2i's that looked absolutely gorgeous, and I've seen things shot on a RED that looked terrible. Hell, I've seen $200 million dollar films shot on RED that looked terrible and $100 million films shot on GoPros and Canon C500 that looked amazing.

    Again, the camera market is so saturated right now it's really hard to just pick a camera. The only thing making it somewhat easier right now is that Canon has gotten really boring with their lineup, falling behind competitors on the new/sexy feature option.

  • edited April 2016

    Current Prices

    G7K (New w/ Lens):

    NX500 (w/ Lens)

    LUMIX LX100

    Thanks for your input @Triem23 and Aladdin4d. It helped me narrow down to 2 cameras.

    As awesome and CHEAP as the LX100 is: not having audio input, 4k, or slow-mo is too many drawbacks. Im sure the RAW and dynamic range is great, but I just don't think its what I'm looking for.

    Forever I will kick myself for not buying the used NX1's going for $750 before they rocketed back up to $1000... oh well... live and learn. 


  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    The LX100 shoots 4k too and to be honest I had forgotten about the G7K because I heard it's low light performance wasn't very good and I ignored it ;)

  • I love the Gh4 I have been using it for a while and I love it. It's only downside is its crop frame sensor which wasn't really a big issue for me. If you want to see its quality here are some videos I have made with it.

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited April 2016

    Not to muddy the waters, but a buddy of mine just bought a Pana FZ300 that does 4K.  He spent a lot of time researching and was happy with the choice.  For $570 U.S. it looks like a pretty good deal.

    Note, there are several bundle types including a "Video Kit" that comes with an external mic. 

  • My vote goes to the SONY 6300, it's like a baby A7S.


  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited April 2016

    @PaulHesh ; I was looking at the A6300 myself, but steered away from it because of the issue with rolling shutter that was very evident with the pre-production model.   Do you know if that has been addressed and or fixed?

    Great looking video, otherwise.

  • Don't know, but I did see that....hoping a firmware update could fix it.


  • Rumors - post NAB 2016

    Note: We've been arguing about how relevant 4K is for day to day production.  Now vendors are pushing 8K. 


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Stargazer54 8k lets feature films shoot for IMAX 4k with space for post reframe of course. And, eventually movie theater screens can move to 6k or higher. 

    Hince why I just want a B-Roll camera for now and have made up my mind on the NX500. It'll take awesome footage later for my YouTube series after the Paris Trip Considering it scoredin the top 5 percent of Dynamic Range when compared to 70+ other leading cameras under $3000.

    It should only take me a month or two when I get back to save up for a production camera i.e. 6K and 8K camera.... anyone know if HitFilm will be able to handle 6K and 8K though?

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @TriFlixFilms The short answer is no HitFilm does not currently handle anything over 4k. A longer answer is there's a very good chance your computer can't handle anything over 4k either. Check this thread for some sobering numbers.

  • @aladdin4d While I respect your opinion, I am fairly confident my computer could handle 6K and maybe even 8k... but just to be sure what would you say are the minimum specs?

  • @TriFlixFilms, take four 4k streams and you should be at 8k in terms of performance, but is it even supported? Not in this program, I trust Aladdin4d.

  • edited April 2016

    @kevinthefilmmaker My GPU would need to be upgraded, which I was planning on doing anyway. But as of now the CPU never rises over 10% no matter how demanding the game, render, or edit. I have 64gb ram and I struggle to ever use more than 12, not that I don't want to but nothing demands it currently. The rest of my computer is already up to spec though so... GPU upgrade to NVIDIA Pascal and I should be fine.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited April 2016

    Well that's why I said read the other thread ;) I put links to what several developers are saying is needed so I'm not saying what the specs are, they are.

    This has Grass Valley's guidelines for editing 4k content in Edius. They have examples for different codecs and frame rates. XAVC is an x264 variant and HQX is their codec designed from the ground up for editing 4k - 8k. Keep in mind this table is for 4k and 6k is 2.25 times the data of 4k

    A quad core i7 is good for one 4k video layer/stream at a time meaning you could have multiple sequential clips and you would be able to do basic edits and transitions without resorting to non-real time methods.. NormanPCN did some informal tests that basically confirm that's what you could reasonably expect as an upper limit (same processor) and it's all inline with the data rates involved so no surprises there. To state the obvious during a transition you're dealing with the twice the data rate and decoding overhead of a single 4k stream so what does that mean for 6k? The decoding overhead for a 6k stream is going to be higher than it is for a 4k stream and shouldn't be as high as it is for two 4k streams but it's also a higher data rate than two 4k streams. The same system might not even be able to play a 6k stream much less edit it and even if it could play it you're not going  to edit much of anything. Doing a transition with 6k is going to be 4.5 times the data and and more than twice the decoding overhead compared to a 4k transition. 8k, which is 4 times the data rate of 4k is out of the question. 

    Ok so current gen processors are faster but in the grand scheme of things only marginally so making it pretty reasonable to say as a guideline working with a 6k stream is roughly equal to two 4k streams. Grass Valley says between 6 and 16 physical cores depending on codec and frame rate for that.

    Moving on to Sony's Catalyst Edit which was built from the ground up just for 4k editing recommends 8 physical cores for 4k. Pretty generic but it is inline with Grass Valley's recommendations.

    Avid's recommendations are 12 physical cores (Dual 6 core Xeons) for Windows and 6 physical plus hyperthreaded logical cores for OS X and up for anything over 2k. That's a lot higher compared to Grass Valley or Sony for a lower resolution. It's likely that if you contacted an Avid system builder for a 6k capable machine it would have dual 12 core Xeons.

    Adobe's recommendations are in this Intel white paper which lists a 12 core Xeon as "better" but then immediately says "Minimum to playback 4K video and any other operations encoding"

    I've been accused of overstating things but again none of this is my recommendation it's what the developers are saying and for the most part they're all in agreement you're going to need something more than your average Core i7

    My personal recommendation would be to look for used/off lease HP z800 series workstations.



  • The Pascal card should come out late summer if I remember, due to HBM, been a while since I researched this. But NVIDIA is only going to boost performance by around 10%. They will want to make as much money as possible. The GTX 660 and the GTX 960 are 4 years apart, roughly 40% faster is the GTX 960. If you need a new GPU now then buy one. Remember that HitFilm can edit up to 4k, not further.

  • @kevinthefilmmaker Yeah I just bought the 970 for my new build less than a month ago to manage things for the time being. I knew I was going to sell the 970 upon Pascal release so I'm eager :) 

  • @aladdin4d Thanks for the information :)

  • According to me you should replace the NX500 with Lumix Fz80 (that is a 4K camera) and Samsung NX1 with Canon EOS 80 D. Fore more options check this list :

This discussion has been closed.