Cheap camera that can record in 4k

Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right category for this question, where can I find a really cheap camera that can record in 4k? I'm a student with not a lot of money for a camera, so the cheapest as possible would be nice. I don't need to take still images, just record video.

Thanks in advance,



  • GoPros are darn cheap and there are several options that do 4K. Other than that, the last few generations of Phones are also 4K capable.

  • Unless you have a lot of post processing in mind after the fact, then I would instead buy a 1080p camera instead, mainly because there's more to picture quality than resolution.

    My opinion.

  • Ok, thanks a lot for both your answers. I'll look into 4k go pros, but I might just go with a 1080p camera.

  • I shoot a ballet school's performances (still not quite sure how I got roped into it, but it's fun). Since I only have a single camera to do it with, I shoot in 4k using my Panasonic FZ1000. That gives me the ability to edit in post and give the appearance of using multiple cameras. The school has been very happy with their videos. I create DVDs and the school sells them to interested parents. The last performance sold just over 100 disks.

    The FZ1000 is a superzoom, so you only get the lens that's mounted on it. The sensor size is smaller than a DSLR, but bigger than a point and shoot or smart phone. I'm not sure of your price range, but you can find it from $700 to $800 on Amazon and elsewhere.

  • Hey

    I had been researching a lot on budget and cameras with 4k, and in that order.

    As much as I want 4k (buying now, you would always want to equip yourself with the latest), the money was an issue. Some of the cheapest phones can record 4k ( as less as Rs. 10,000. But again, you doubt the auto focus, stabilisation, etc. I had also read up on GoPros and was planning to get one. Some of now, S7 can take good 4k but the problem is more about a high end spec machine that can edit 4k. And then you are talking about a lot of investment on the laptop in addition to the camera. The lag with even 2k footage is overwhelming.

  • I know what you mean about the laptop investment. I edit on an ASUS Republic of Gamers laptop that is pretty high spec'd, but it still bogs down a bit when previewing 4k video in Premiere. I get about 5 seconds of good playback, but then it drops to around 15 fps. Still works for editing, but I wish it did a bit better.

    The FZ1000 does have great optical stabilization, with one smalll caveat. If you are recording in a very quiet environment, the internal mic will pick up the small servo motors. Autofocus is great.

  • Ross brings up a good point about 4k and post processing, even reframing, but IMO for like short films, I would try to get the best 1080p camera I could get. I do think that 4k is worth it though, I wonder if they stopped improving 1080 to make 4k more attractive, just like what big companies are doing with the TV's.

  • OK, thanks for the advice.


  • Just as a quick follow-up to CNK's comment. Most of my shooting is done in 1080p. The ballet videos are a special case where 4k gives me more flexibility for that particular set of conditions.

    Incidentally, somebody has discovered a setting in the Panasonic camera to get the FZ1000 and several other cameras to be able to record 4k mp4 videos up to any length allowed by the size of your SD card. My 128 GB card will record just over 3 hours of video in this setting. It's nice, not having to worry about the 29'59" limit most cameras (not camcorders) have.

  • @RossTrowbridge Do you have a link to that FZ1000 information?

  • @Palacono

    This works for several Panasonic cameras

  • edited September 2016

    @Aladdin4d Thanks for sharing that. I've been away for a few days. 

    I turned that 3 hours of footage into a 5 minute time lapse that I put on my YouTube page. Next time, I won't set the tripod on the kitchen table. The table kept getting bumped.

  • Coolio!  Amazing how those low lying clouds reversed direction.  Nice timelapse! (bumps not withstanding)  Still way cool.

  • The Panasonic g7 is a cheep 4k mirrorless camera. If you want to upgrade from that there is the g80/g85.

  • 4K is nice, but to use Red Shark News' parlance, better pixels are better than more pixels. A good HD camera with great dynamic range and color rendition that can record in a quality codec (ProRes, DNxHD/R, Cineform) will give you better results than a crappy 4K camera that has less dynamic range and records in H.264 or some other delivery codec.

    XAVC is pretty good though.

    Black Magic's Pocket cinema camera is a great option... especially if you buy used.

    If you want both quality and resolution, be prepared to pay a premium, the size of which depends on how much you care about both image quality and flexibility in post production.

  • Using whatever camera is subjective, you need a good story first, I use the Blackmagic Cinema camera and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema  camera. But before all that  I used my nokia 1020 which has now broken and recently ordered the nokia 950xl (4k camera in it) I'll still  use my camera's on as needed basis; being cinema for workhorse, pocket  for tight spaces and 4k nokia for specific shots. That being said where does the content go? Mine goes to YouTube for now so I output to 1080p. future I hope to go further than YouTube! Hope my two cents helps, my work can be seen on my website at


  • Most distribution these days is still limited to 1080p anyway, so there's not really that much value even 4K just for making films; it's really only a big deal if you're aiming for higher budget productions and Netflix/Amazon streaming deals... and that's only because the bean counters decreed that 4K is a prerequisite. (It shouldn't be; but they're even rejecting stuff captured with Alexas because it's uprezzed rather than native 4K.)

    Story and craft are a lot more important, for sure. It's too bad so many people think that 4K or Shot on Red (tm) is more important.

    Personally, I think that the folks requiring 4K for streaming deals now are doing their audience quite disservice; it's putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. The technical side is easy to change, all you have to do is throw money at the problem. Skill and experience require skill and experience. :)




  • Im sure you are looking for a 4k action camera. YI Technology has the best budget action camera in the market today.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @WhiteCranePhoto you and I will never convince these young whippersnappers that they don't need 4K and they don't need 60fps. We can rant until blue in the face about the realities of a human with 20/20 vision not really being able to see the addition resolution until the monitor gets to a certain size, about the lack of 4K distribution, about things like Youtube or Netflix using a data rate that's 150% of 1080p video for the 400% more pixel data of 4k equaling crap quality... They want 4k. Don't need it, but, gosh darn it, it's sexy... Heck, this forum had it's first complaint from someone who was mad his six-year old i3 and Nvidia 610m can't do 8k. Nothing on the planet displays 8k yet, but, dammit, this guy wants to do 8k right now!

    Anyway, under $1000 things that shoot 4k are out there, but a cheap 4k camera is going to have a cheap sensor, cheap glass (or plastic) lenses, shoot to a cheap format, and it's going to be crap 4k, but it'll look ok when downsized to 1080p.

  • @Triem23 I'm not disagreeing with you or @WhiteCranePhoto on 4K because I agree with both of you. I'm only posting because Panasonic announced the FZ80 at CES. It's a 60x super zoom f/2.8-5.9 fixed lens with a decent sensor for a whopping 400 bucks!$400

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Aladdin4d what's surprising about that FZ80 is actually having a 100mbps codec! Ok, it'll be 4:2:0, but, still... That's actually impressive for $400.

    Besides, where @WhiteCranePhoto will disagree with me is I still like 4k to post-crop for 1080 output. Although when I'm post cropping, that's not a crutch for bad framing on set, that's event video work and getting more use from an unmanned safety/wide.

    Hell, at that price I'd probably grab one of those FZ80s as a "C" cam for an event!

  • edited January 2017

    I have to wonder what constitutes ""cheap" glass?

    My little Lumix G7 can really smoke out some nice 4K shots. Of course I have a lens or 2 that really helped me out there - the Olympus 7-14 1:2.8 and the not as great Lumix 7-14 1:4

    I think the Olympus was over 1k....I know.."cheap" in the world of lenses.

    I'm not in the 4K/60fps boat - but just curious.

  • @GrayMotion That is an important thing to consider. Previous fixed lens Panny's ranged from not bad to pretty darn good all things considered. The FZ80 has the same glass as the FZ70 so looking up reviews and owner comments on the FZ70 should give you a pretty good idea of what the lens is like. Then again at 400 bucks for 100 mbps recording who cares as long as it focuses ;)

  • @Triem23 Actually, for events I think it's useful if the data rate isn't too large... but event capture isn't cinematography. Cropping to make a frame work in cinematography is just sloppy. That's not to say that you should never frame a little bit loosely, there are times when that's a good idea, like when you're shooting on a dolly on ground that's not ideally smooth, or shooting a quick action close up, since framing those precisely is very difficult.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @WhiteCranePhoto, I can think of other examples. One I've used to you before is Corridor Digital's Portal Basketball where they deliberately shot some sequences at 4k for post crop--some slider dolly moves where characters were wildly waving papers around and the zoom pushed to the papers. Definitely a smart time to crop zoom... Otherwise you'd lose much time rehearsing waving a paper to hit that same mark for the zoom. But, yeah, cinematography is planned, and even a crop zoom, you pre-plan for it, and shoot to accommodate. Crop zooming isn't (supposed to be) a lazy crutch. 

  • @Triem23 Exactly -- there are times when it's a good idea, but most of the time, a good cinematographer should be making sure that the frame is strong as shot. Fix it in post isn't a good default; it's what you do when getting a shot right in camera isn't feasible for one reason or another, like when you need a dragon or to blow up a building, for example. 

  • As I mentioned WAY back in this thread, I use my FZ1000 to shoot 4k on a fixed tripod for the ballet school videos I do. But it's a special case. I'm specifically wanting to get a multi-camera look without using multiple cameras. I'm happy with the output and, more importantly, the school and parents are, too. 

    But for most things, I'd rather shoot at 1080p. I like the smaller file size and the image is just fine.

    Incidentally, I also mentioned that I was having problems playing back 4k on my high-spec laptop in Premiere Pro CS6. I found a simple solution to it. Turns out my graphics card wasn't included in a small text file called cuda_supported_cards.txt. Once I added my card, the computer used hardware acceleration and 4k is playing back just fine.


  • edited June 2017
    I'm a proud owner of Panasonic Lumix-GH5 4K digital camera. LUMIX GH5 has 4K Mirrorless ILC Camera magnesium alloy Body with 20.3 Megapixels camera. Lumix GH5 has WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity. 
    LUMIX GH5 can record 4 k videos at at 4K60/50p and & 4K30/25p/24p with Max. 60fps frame rates. Check LUMIX GH5 product 4K images and videos at The 4K Imaging Club.

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