You’ve probably seen the jump from standard definition video resolution to HD and Full HD in recent years. Compared to earlier resolutions, HD footage is more detailed, making it look good even when displayed on a large TV. But a 4K camera is on another level. It has four times as many pixels as an HD camera, so it produces more significantly detailed images and videos.
In this post, we’ll give you a rundown on our top five best 4K video cameras and what makes them a good choice. At the end of this guide, you should be able to find one that best suits your needs and budget.
What is a 4K Streaming Camera?
If you’ve been shopping around for a camera, you’ve probably come across the term 4K. It’s the new buzzword in video, but what exactly does it mean?
A 4K live streaming camera is the latest innovation in the world of broadcasting and videography. 4K refers to the digital horizontal resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels, the highest resolution these cameras can capture.
4K cameras are increasingly becoming more popular in the live streaming industry because they produce higher-definition images, better depth perception, and more vibrant colors. Tons of cameras fall into this category, so you get more options when shopping for one.
The live broadcasting industry is on the rise and is in need of high-quality and reliable cameras, so we’re going to see a boom in 4K live streaming in the coming months and years. Aside from this demand, the rise of 5G Internet and AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) will push the demand for 4K videos even more.
Best 4K Cameras for Streaming
There are many 4K cameras in the market but looking for the best 4k streaming camera that fits your needs is the challenge. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve listed our top 4K cameras based on quality, ease of use, and price.
We’re also going to break them down into different categories: webcam, beginner-level camera, action camera, DSLR, professional camera, and PTZ camera,
Logitech Brio Ultra HD - Best 4K Webcam
Logitech Brio Ultra HD has everything a beginner and professional broadcaster needs to create a professional-quality stream. At only $180, it’s the best budget 4K camera on our list.
- 4K video calling resolution up to 4096 x 2160 pixels at 30 fps
- Full HD 5x zoom
- Lighting support
- Built-in microphone
- Privacy shutter
- USB connection support (USB 2.0 Type-A and USB 3.0 Type A and C)
- Tripod and clip mounting options
- Pan and tilt while maintaining full HD resolution
- Automatic lighting exposure and contrast adjustment
- Fast and secure facial recognition for Windows
- Supports multiple USB connection types
- Great audio
- 90-degree viewing angle
- Works with Windows Hello
- Clip doesn’t hold tightly to laptops and monitors
- Privacy cover leaves residue behind
- No optical zoom
Panasonic HC-VX981K - Best for Beginner Level
Panasonic HC-VX981K doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor in terms of features, but it’s still an interesting piece of technology. It may not be the type of camera professional videographers would use, but it’s more than enough for beginners. It’s currently priced at $797.99, which is a bit pricey for its features.
- 1⁄2.3-Inch BSI Sensor
- Backside illumination sensor
- In-camera editing for 1080p displays
- LEICA Dicomar Lens with 20x Zoom support
- WiFi support
- 49mm filter support
- Micro-HDMI video out
- Wireless twin camera for connecting smartphones as a sub-camera
- Records to SD cards
- Built-in 5-axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS)
- External mic support via 3.5mm jack
- Great features packed in a compact device that weighs less than a pound
- Picture-in-picture support for multiple mobile devices
- No improvements on the sensor
- A single battery charge can only withstand up to less than one hour of 4K footage
- A bit expensive for its current features
GoPro HERO8 Black - Top Action 4K Cam
GoPro HERO8 Black is the best 4K camera in the action camera category. At only $369.99, it’s one of the top choices if you’re looking for a 4K 60fps camera.
- 4K video recording up to 60 fps
- 1080p Live Streaming
- Built-in digital image stabilization
- Waterproof up to 33ft.
- 15.1 millimeters minimum focal length
- 24.4 millimeters maximum focal length
- Portrait, night, time-lapse, and slow-motion shooting modes
- Voice and touchscreen controls
- Type D Micro-HDMI output
- USB-C charging support
- Customizable ISO and other manual settings
- Good image stabilization
- Crisp touch LCD
- Comes with a companion app for automated editing
- Intuitive user interface that’s practical and easy to use
- Automatic horizon leveling
- Side access to card and battery
- Can be mounted on drones for better aerial shots
- Unreliable voice commands
- Wi-Fi video transfers can take some time to finish
- Memory card slot is a bit cramped
- Battery life could be better
- Small LCD screen
Sony Alpha a7 III - Top-Rated DSLR Camera
Sony Alpha a7 III isn’t actually a DSLR. It’s a mirrorless camera, but it produces DSLR-quality streams for half the price. It’s priced at around $1,998, which is pretty reasonable considering pro DSLRs can cost as much as $4,000.
- ISO up to 204800
- HDMI-out support
- 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
- Built-in 5-axis image stabilization
- 10fps continuous shooting
- ‘Z-type’ battery
- 4K video recording up to 30 fps
- Dual SD card slots
- Silent autofocus
- Uncropped 4K video
- Double the battery life of its predecessor
- Comes with focus joystick
- Fast data transfer and output
- Steadier shots with high-precision stabilization
- Only one of the two card slots is UHS-II
- PC sync socket not included
- No in-body flash
- Limited touchscreen control
Panasonic AG-CX350 - Best Pro Cam
The Panasonic AG-CX350 is a rock-solid option when it comes to professional 4K live streaming. With a price of $3,519.95, you can expect excellent image quality from this camcorder.
- 4K video recording up to 60fps
- 1-inch MOS optical sensor
- HEVC recording support
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Intelligent autofocus and focus assist
- Two XLR mic connections
- HDMI, Ethernet/NDI, and 3G-SDI outputs
- Built-in live stream support
- Manual three rings for focus, iris, and zoom control
- Wide angle lens
- No need for third-party streaming software when broadcasting on a single camera
- Excellent 4K image quality with 10-bit Codec
- SDR and HLG monitoring
- HD live streaming
Panasonic AW-UE150K - Best PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) Camera
Panasonic AW-UE150K is the best 4K camera in the PTZ category, but it comes with an exorbitant price of $9,995. There are cheaper options. But if you want the best quality, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- 1-Chip 1-inch MOS Sensor
- Up to Ultra-HD 4K 60p output
- 12G-SDI, HDMI, Fiber, and IP Transmission
- Built-in ND filters
- Built-in optical image stabilization
- 20x Optical, 24x UHD, and 32x HD iZoom
- Up to 180 degrees per second pan/tilt speed
- Adjustable tally OIS/light/night mode
- Wide-angle and fast pan/tilt speed
- Broadcast to streaming platforms via RTMP
- Up to Ultra-HD 4K 60p output over a wide range of 4K connections, such as HDMI, optical fiber, 12G-SDI, and IP streaming
- Crazy expensive
Video technology is moving at a rapid pace. Who would have thought 4K would be possible a few years ago? Now, we can’t imagine video streaming without it. 4K cameras are becoming more and more accessible and affordable. Even a simple 4K budget-friendly webcam can produce high-quality video streams. We suggest you take advantage of that, especially if you’re a beginner.