In a world saturated with smartphone cameras & mirrorless cameras, the old school camcorders aren’t as popular as they used to be. The companies making them, however, are trying to bring the latest features like 4K video recording, IBIS, and more.
Considering the fact that you’re reading this right now, I can understand that you need a new camcorder to shoot 4K videos on, and this article is all about helping you find the best 4K camcorder for your needs.
So, you might be confused on if you should really get a 4K camcorder right now, or you should get something else. Well, if you are going to shoot handheld and you need excellent quality video, inbuilt zoom capabilities, and on that video recording flexibility, a camcorder makes perfect sense for you.
Now at a time when camcorders or not in the big leagues anymore, finding the one that’ll be perfect for you can be pretty confusing. If you end up getting the wrong one, it may not be worth it at all, and end up being a complete waste of money. That’s why I have selected the best of the best camcorders available right now, so you don’t make a mistake.
- Best 4K Camcorders in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Sony FDR-AX43
- 2. Best for Filmmaking: Canon VIXIA GX10
- 3. Best for Music Videos: Panasonic X2000
- 4. Best Under Budget for Slow-mo: Sony FDR-AX100/B
- 5. Best for Low Light Conditions: Canon XC15
- 6. Best with 1-inch Sensor: Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700
- 7. Best Lightweight Camcorder: Panasonic WXF991K
- 8. Best for Professionals: Panasonic HC-X1
- 9. Best with Infrared Recording: Canon XA45
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best 4K Camcorders in 2021
To make sure that the devices I’ve selected here only represent the best value for a wide variety of users, I’ve evaluated a large number of camcorders based on multiple factors. After a super-tight evaluation process, I’ve come up with the top 9 that provide the best values in a wide range of price segments.
1. Best Overall: Sony FDR-AX43
Although Sony has shifted towards high-quality Mirrorless Cameras, they are still making some great camcorders under be handy cam branding. The Sony FDR-AX43 it’s one of the best devices that the company makes under the $1000 price point, and it is also feature-packed.
The look of the device does remind me of the old-school Handycams. Nothing too flashy, yet a subtle, premium look. The recording button is on the back with the Power button & the other ones being on the side. The device weighs 1.2 lbs, and the 3-inch LCD is a flip-out touch panel, and it has good outdoor visibility.
Sony uses a 1/2.5-inch Exmor R sensor and can take great 4K (up to 25FPS) videos and 8.29MP photos if you absolutely must. The video has fast autofocus, good dynamic range, and an in-built gimbal to ensure steady footage. To be honest, the quality is surprisingly good for the money.
There are enough inputs, including a dedicated Microphone Jack, HDMI, and USB. For connectivity, it has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and NFC. Of course, you get your Battery & SD slots as well. The internal Microphone is also really good with support for Dolby Digital 5.1.
You’ll get up to 4 hours (235 minutes to be exact) of video recording time, and it takes around 3 hours and 25 minutes to charge it from 0%-100%. As far as battery life goes, that’s actually pretty impressive.
The Sony Handycam FDR-AX43 does a lot for recording video, and the Gimble stabilization is so much better than regular OIS. Hence, although this skips on fancier features like 4K60 or HDR, the FDR-AX-43 is definitely the most practical camcorder you can buy right now.
- Great quality videos
- Excellent value for money
- 4 hours of battery life
- Both Wi-Fi & NFC are supported
- Looks are kinda old school
2. Best for Filmmaking: Canon VIXIA GX10
This canon camcorder that powers a great dual DIGIC DV 6 image processor. Canon VIXIA GX10 has a 15x optical zoom so that you can zoom in on a flying object or the performing artist in a concert. It has a 3.5-inch touch screen, so you can forget fidgeting with buttons.
It has a 1-inch CMOS sensor that ensures that you get a bigger frame while recording. It has a 4K recording feature at 60fps which means that you can also play the same in slow motion. It also has advanced zoom ability up to 30 times for 1080p quality.
The camcorder is compact but heavy. It feels a bit bulky and cumbersome to lift. It has a few buttons for functionality too. You might not like taking handheld videos for a long time if you choose to pick this.
Featurewise, Canon VIXIA GX10 has a DIGIC DV 6 dual-sensor, which will give out the best and ultra-crisp video even in slow motion. It has dual pixel CMOS AF, which means that you can quickly focus on a moving object. You can directly put the video in Premiere Pro and edit it for the movie you are making.
It has an HDMI 2 terminal which can be connected to a television or computer. It has Wi-Fi connectivity which means easy connectivity and sharing to any other device. It weighs 2.5 pounds and comes with a one-year warranty. It is definitely heavy, and you might want to consider other options if you are a person who is going to use it handheld.
- 15x optical zoom
- Dual DIGIC DV 6 Processors
- Dual Pixel AF for faster focus
- 3.5 touch LED
- 120 FPS FHD Slow-mo recording
- Heavy and bulky
- Low megapixel camera
3. Best for Music Videos: Panasonic X2000
Panasonic makes some prosumer camcorders as well and the Panasonic X2000 has to be one of the finest in the bunch. It has top-of-the-line features like 4K60 video, 5-axis Stabilization, and much more. If you’re looking for a professional camcorder, you can definitely try out the X2000.
In the design segment, Panasonic has taken a more industrial approach and they made sure that the camera looks professional. It has great build quality, a VW-HU1 detachable handle, a built-in ND filter, and a bunch of professional controls to work with. It has a bigger 3.5-inch LCD display and weighs around 3.31 lbs with everything attached.
Similar to some of the other modern-day camcorders, the X2000 is using a 1/2.5-inch sensor and it can take 4K 10-bit videos up to 60 FPS and 8.29MP still photos. The videos have excellent colors, there is a 5-axis Hybrid OIS, the focusing is fast and the manual controls definitely come in handy.
The X2000 does have SDI out, so in case you need that, this one does provide. Other inputs include HDMI, Microphone & Headphone Jack, USB (Micro), two XLR ports, and a port for an external remote. The Internal mic can record up to 24-bit Dolby audio. For wireless connectivity, you get 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and no NFC.
The battery can provide a backup of around 4 hours if you’re going full-on 4K60, with 1080P footage, it’ll last longer. However, shooting 4K 10-bit at 4:2:2 will drain it faster. Overall, the battery holds up really well.
To sum it up, if you’re spending the extra money on the Panasonic X2000, make sure you are going to use the extra features like higher frame rate video, 4K 4:2:2, manual controls, and the Dual SD card slots. If you can make use of these, then I have no problem recommending the X2000.
- Excellent quality videos
- Professional features & controls
- 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 support
- 24-bit Dolby Audio recording
- A bit too heavy with the VW-HU1 handle attached
4. Best Under Budget for Slow-mo: Sony FDR-AX100/B
The camcorder does its job perfectly with the capabilities to record high frames at a rate of 120p. You can get awesome slow-motion shots with this Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera. It has the BIONZ X image processing that will process your images at lightning speed with the best quality. No more buffering and processing wait.
Sony is known for its compact design in the Handycam range, and this one does not fail to impress. It is compact and easy to use one-handed. It has SteadyShot Image Stabilization mode that would help you to capture shake less and static videos.
It has a large 3.5-inch screen. The BIONZ X processor is for high-speed recording at 120fps. It has a high contrast screen that will show you the best colors. It will enable the difference between the colors.
It has NFC and Wi-Fi facilities. It has a one-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor that would ensure better low-light recording and noise reduction. It would shoot great in dim situations. It can also record video in formats like XAVC S2, AVCHD, and MP4.
The camcorder is decently weighed at 1.74 pounds. It comes with a one year warranty. It is a good choice for anyone, be it a beginner or someone who wants portable options for video recording.
- 4K recording at 30p
- 1 inch Exmor R CMOS sensor for low light
- Slow-mo at 120 FPS
- 12x optical zoom
- No touch screen
- The autofocus motor makes a noise at times
5. Best for Low Light Conditions: Canon XC15
This Canon camcorder is a uniquely designed camcorder with all the features one would need for video recording.Canon XC15 is suitable for taking landscape videos as well as portraits. This versatility is unique to it and it can be great for a video recorder without adding additional lenses.
Canon XC15 is great at the performance front with its advanced video capabilities. It has a 10x zoom lens that can cover a range of 24.1-241 mm. This means that you can do both, zoom in and get close-up shots and have wide-angle shots for landscapes. It has UD and Hi-UD lens elements that would help to get clear images with no color spill on any side. This will ensure that you get a uniformly colored and good photo or video.
It is similar to the EOS range of cameras that Canon offers when it comes to the design aspect. It has a DSLR-like style instead of the Handycam-like straight design. This might be a hassle if you are looking at handheld videos. You would need to use both of your hands to control the settings.
The camcorder has an excellent 12MP CMOS sensor with DIGIC DV 5 processing technology. No more problems for low light or dim light situations. It has a rotating 3-inch touch screen. It comes with a bundled microphone adaptor that would make mounting mics an effortless task — no compromises with audio even when you are recording causal music videos.
It has improved image stabilization that would ensure that you get proper static videos without any blurs or any distractions. It also has a 4K frame grab feature that would enable you to take a picture from any 4K video that you have taken. Overall it makes it a perfect camera for Instagram and YouTube thumbnails.
The Canon XC15 is quite heavy at almost 4 pounds of weight. It has a one year warranty. It is aimed for professionals and it is quite different in terms of design and handling. This one might need a lot of thinking before going for it.
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 3-inch touch screen
- Rotating screen
- Wide-angle lens
- Very Heavy
- No slow-motion recording
6. Best with 1-inch Sensor: Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700
This Sony camcorder comes with the incredible Carl Zeiss sensor. It does 4K recording at 24p/ 30p. Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 has a 1-inch sensor that captures the best results. It is handy and lightweight.
The Handycam comes with an incredibly fast hybrid autofocus feature. It has 273 points covering 84 % of the screen so that you can have pretty much anything in focus. Additionally, you can be worry-free with its face detection technology and be assured that it would focus on any moving thing at the earliest.
Sony is known for its ergonomic and lightweight design. It has a unique lightweight design with a compact body. The UI is easy to use, and one can grasp it easily in no time. It has 4K recording at 24p/30p. Its 3.5-inch screen with 1550k resolution is the best in class. It has a 12x optical zoom ZEISS lens that would give the best clarity.
It also has dual media slots with relay and simultaneous recording. This means that you can record in both memory cards at the same time. It would automatically switch when one of the cards is full. It has a high dynamic range 2 (HDR2), which is known for the visual depth and impact of colors. It is for the best reproduction and saturation of the colors. It is a great feature to have.
The camcorder is fairly average when it comes to weight. It comes with a one year warranty. It’s a good choice for anyone who is into handheld recording and would like to start with making videos. It has the best lens and comes with a myriad of features that helps you to get the best photos.
- 4K recording at 24/30p
- 273 focus points
- 3.5 inch LCD screen
- Supports HDR Video Recording
- 12x zoom
- No touch screen
7. Best Lightweight Camcorder: Panasonic WXF991K
Panasonic also makes the Panasonic WXF991K under the $1000 price point, and it’s a really good value for the money. Alongside being an excellent camcorder for shooting 4K videos, it is also great for your day-to-day needs where you just want to capture those precious moments in high-quality and vivid colors.
As you may expect, Panasonic makes their camcorders with a modern and professional look. Of course, the WXF991K it’s no exception. The build quality is really nice for a sub $1000 device. The buttons, manual controls, a weight of just 0.88 lbs, and the 3-inch LCD display, kinda make it the full package in its segment.
Now, the WXF991K actually has two cameras. The 1/2.3-inch 18.91MP sensor in the main camera can shoot great quality 4K30FPS videos, with great colors and dynamic range and it can take 8.29MP still images as well. The secondary camera is actually located on the edge of the display and it enables the Multi-shot feature.
As far as the inputs go, you get Micro HDMI, USB 2.0, 3.5-inch Headphone & Microphone jacks, and a cold Accessory shoe. Wireless connectivity only includes 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, but that’s the case with most of the camcorders in this price segment, with a few exceptions.
The battery can capture up to 50 minutes of 4K video and that’s not really a lot if you compare it to some of the competition. So, if you’re getting this one, be sure to get some extra batteries too. Also, using the second camera for Multi-Shot will drain the battery a lot faster.
Panasonic’s WXF991K is a great sub $1000 camcorder and if you do get one, your videos are going to look great. However, if you’re going to shoot for longer periods of time, maybe getting some extra batteries or going for a different option is going to be a better idea.
- Great quality 4K videos
- Bigger 1/2.3-inch sensor
- Extremely lightweight
- Hi-res sensor
- Below-average battery life
8. Best for Professionals: Panasonic HC-X1
Panasonic Camcorder is a professional power performer as it has a 4K 1-inch sensor with MOS. Panasonic HC-X1 can record slow-motion videos. It has various autofocus modes like speed, sensitivity, and area. Each can be adjusted to suit your needs. Speed is for fast-moving objects, sensitivity for emotions, and area for a wide-angle shot.
The Panasonic HC-X1 is for cameramen who are used to handling big cameras. It isn’t very easy, and it has a variety of buttons for dedicated functions. It has Optical Image Stabilization.
It has a great LEICA DICOMAR 24mm lens that is perfect for professional recording. It has a 20x zoom. It also has a grouping system of lenses that is the cherry on the cake. It can record simultaneously in 4K and Full HD at 1080p.
It also has a remote control which means that you can control it with your iPad. The dual memory slots are really helpful to get rid of memory problems. The 5 axis hybrid stabilization takes care of the stabilization from 5 sides, so you do not have to worry about the video coming out static.
The camcorder comes at a weight of 4.41 pounds which is very heavy. It comes with a one year warranty. This one is strictly for experts and not suited for beginners who are just started with video recording. If you are professional and looking for an advanced option, this can be it.
- 20x optical zoom
- 4 drive lens system
- Hybrid 5-axis O.I.S
- Remote control for iPad
- LEICA DICOMAR lens
- Really heavy
- Designed for professionals (beginners may not be able to fully utilize it)
9. Best with Infrared Recording: Canon XA45
This Canon 4K Camera comes with great capabilities like Dual SD cards, and simultaneous recording. It also has the option to choose the zoom mode from slow, fast, or normal. Canon XA45 has great low light performance with the Canon lens.
It has great performance options with the 20x zoom lens from Canon. You can choose the zoom speed from slow, normal or fast. You can take time-lapses or go slow-mo for the travel video. It has simultaneous dual recording which means that you can record in 4K and full HD at the same time.
Design is compact and sturdy but it is not very easy. It can take a while to get adjusted to its functions. It is heavy and the user interface of Canon is easy. It has a lot of buttons so you might get confused unless you learn them properly.
Primarily, the 20x canon lens with incredible low light performance is the highlight of the camera. It can record 4K and 1080p at the same time. It has intelligent optical stabilization that would make your video static.
It has a detachable handle, so you can make it lighter and more portable. It also has infrared for low-light shooting, which is definitely a plus point. You can also record in slow motion or fast motion to not have to worry about changing the speed in editing.
It is average in terms of weight at 3.1 pounds. It has a one-year warranty. It can be a good choice if you are looking for something a bit more advanced than a normal video camera. It is an intermediate option and can be a good jump from the basic video cameras.
- 20x Zoom Canon lens
- Infrared Recording for low-light situations
- Slow-motion & Timelapse
- Dual recording
- Not suitable for beginners
- Heavy for handheld shooting
Frequently Asked Questions
Although Mirrorless Cameras & Smartphones are all over right now, Camcorders can still come in handy in a lot of situations. Especially for high-quality handheld shooting, Camcorders are still one of the best options.
Recording a 4K video on a camcorder is as easy as recording a video in any other format. You just need to go to the device and select the resolution from the setting. It is then just a matter of pushing the record button and getting your own 4K video with the supported device.
As you’re mostly going to shoot handheld with a Camcorder, good stabilization is extremely important. Otherwise, you’ll end up with shaky & unusable footage.
Camcorders don’t really need high-res sensors as their main purpose is to shoot videos. For example, for shooting a 4K video, the device only needs about 8.29 megapixels, so any sensor at or higher of that resolution will do the job. That’s why most camcorders are using low-res sensors.
Camcorders can be used to film Vlogs, day-to-day activities of kids, Weddings, and anything that benefits from handheld shooting. However, if your video requires manual focus, maybe get a Mirrorless camera instead.
As the camera industry is getting some serious upgrades, Camcorders are also getting some huge improvements. Now, as you’ve made it to the end, you probably have already chosen the best camcorder for recording 4K videos. In case you’re still a bit confused, or you just want to double-check, here’s a simplified list:
- If you are looking for the best package that doesn’t compromise much and costs under $1000, get the Sony FDR-AX43.
- For professional features, get the Canon VIXIA GX10 or the Panasonic X2000.
- In case the price isn’t an issue, and you want to get as many pro features as possible, get the Panasonic HC-X1000.
- If you want a high-quality camcorder on a budget, get the Panasonic WXF991K.
If you have other preferences, feel free to pick up any other device mentioned in the article. I hope you found the best 4K camcorder for yourself, and this article was helpful for the same. If you’d like to explore some great cameras, though, there are tons of articles on the website for the same, so maybe check them out next.