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Which are the most affordable 4K cameras?


Dan Wake
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Panasonic FZ1000 or LX100.

Your phone!

But yea, FZ1000 or LX100.

​Pretty much these if you want to keep the prices below $1000. 

Above that line, you start getting into the higher end market. While I really like the Panasonic GH4 and Samsung NX1, you need to spend above $2000 to get started in either system.

Though it's a bigger camera than the LX100, the FZ1000 would be my pick as a good entry-level 4k. Better zoom range, has an external mic jack, and a flip out screen like it's GH4 big brother. It's just overall a little more versatile for the video and photo shooter.

Or, as Leeys pointed out, there are quite a few smartphones that shoot 4k. That is a much cheaper option, but not as much fun.

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I'm going to make the crazy suggestion that perhaps he doesn't need 4K

So instead a few to consider are: Panasonic G6/GX7, Sony A5100/A6000, or Nikon D5200/D5300/D7100.

​Not a bad suggestion if he's just starting out. 1080p is much easier to work with for most home editing systems, and I was damn impressed by the quality from my little Sony A6000 when hooked up to a good lens. Shame it didn't have an external mic jack, but for the price the image it was fantastic. 

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People are easily tricked by numbers when looking for something new. That is why you see cameras with 60x zoom, 24MP and tv's with 800Hz, this and that, etc.

If his wish is 4K without even considering 'why', just because it's the latest and hottest issue... I'm not sure that's the right choice. Of course 4K has tons of benefits and I would be the last to say you shouldn't, but given you need to work with somekind of budget, putting everything in a camera body because of 4K... meh. Might want to reconsider that there. How about glass, fast cards, a tripod with fluid head, audio gear, tons of other accessories.

But maybe he has been borrowing or renting gear and this is his first camera to actually own... and purposely has a use for 4K, then I agree with the above, the FZ1000 is one fine camera. It's like a lite GH4 14-140mm kit. The LX100 has great image quality and up to ISO1250 noise is really well controlled, but yeah, is a little less flexible to use. The 4K GH4 and NX1 can be bought as well, but remember you're gonna need glass, cards, et cetera. Not to mention processing power and storage solutions (although with the GH4 not as bad as with some other 4K cameras). You can get a focal reducer from eBay and some cheap vintage/legacy glass to not stretch the budget too much. But if there's no real purpose to having 4K... there are some great 1080p choices out there.

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my personal suggestion is 550D used. but I want to consider also 4K because in 2 or 3 years if he will work with it maybe it could be useful (if 4K demanding will increase).

 

what do you think about it? too early for 4k? he is 100% novice. but he will also try to shot short films. thx

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If he is a 100% novice, I would stick to a 1080p solution. A used 550D or 600D is a great inexpensive starting point, and you can get a wide range of glass and accessories. Factor in some ML hacking goodness and it can extend the usefulness of those little workhorse cameras. By the time 4K becomes prevalent enough to really justify, he will probably be yearning for a newer camera, and prices on the current generation of 4k will have dropped significantly.
The TV/Monitor sales among consumers aren't there yet for 4k. And unless he intends to go big quick, anything above 1080p is a bit overkill for online distribution at the moment.

Another factor to consider: can his current computer/editing setup handle a 4k workflow? or will he need to upgrade that as well? 4K editing can be a hog.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

To answer the question: GH4 and NX1 are the good lowbudget 4K solutions. Factor in the additional cost of lenses. I prefer the look of the image of the nx1 and the features.

If both beyond budget, LX100, FZ1000 are good options (I don't like their images, but they're 4k)
 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

 I saw FZ1000 is a bridge. is a bridge right for cinema? I knew bridge were really bad. is it changed? does it have full manual control for video? big sensor? good iso etc. etc...? thx

Yes it does have a large-ish sensor, s16 size full manual control, good lowlight ad fixed zoom lens, grea for bridge.

But ​It's better to have interchangeable lenses for someone learning cinema over 4K. If I had to pick a camera for a video beginner I'd get him a Nikon D5300, because it has standard s35 cinema sensor size and Nikon lenses, great camera. Not 4K, but for someone who doesn't strictly NEED 4K, it's better than the LX100 + FZ1000.The better cameras than the gh4 that have 4k starts at 2000$ 

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You said it's your friends first camera and he is a 100% novice but at the same time you ask if a certain camera is right for cinema, I think he first needs to learn the basics of shooting video and the cheapest camera he can find will be more then fine for that purpose, you can shoot "cinema" with a second hand 550d and one 35mm lens if you want, he first needs to learn how to tell a story. 

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  • 1 month later...

Was thinking all winter abut 4k but with all the problems black magic 4k is hawing i got my self used and complete red one mx for $3100 Canadian dollar new chip installed 98 h on it serviced by red and approved 4.5k raw 120fps at 2k 13 stop+ dynamic range and so on. Reason i got this camera is because i want to take my skills of film making to next step I know some people will say it big heavy and all that crap image is not as good as blahh blah but if you go basic setup its really manageable but for the image and quality that i will get i am reedy to work hard this camera is a work horse. i ownt be shooting doc but i will be in controlled environment be in in or outside.  If this camera was good enough for fincher to shoot Girl with dragon tattoo and Steven Soderbergh to shoot Che its good enough for me. As you can see below that what i got for 3100 i mean can you beat that price and another image is simple setup for red mx. I would spend more money by buying black magic 4k and all the other staff same with 5d mark 3 which is 3000 just for body here in Canada. I mean this is for me it might not work for other but it works for me. Some ungraded images straight from camera  2k and at 7500 color temp to me they look so film i don't think consumer camera can give you what red can give you straight out of camera that film look that we all try to achieve with plugins grading. But what do i know i am just getting in to this mambo jumbo

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