If you have ever participated or watched a competitive sports event, you would see some familiar contraptions attached to the helmet, surfboard or even bodies of the athletes. These are the best 4k video cameras that record the details of the competition from their points of view using high-capacity memory cards and high-quality camera lenses.
Action cameras are not a recent invention though; its development began when the world still has VHS and bulky camcorders. Enterprising sports directors would attach a contraption to participating athlete that would record the sports; this almost always guarantees that the camera person would lose because of the sheer weight of the recorders.
This is part of the reasons why a fully integrated action camera was launched way back 2004 during a sports show. The camera made use of old-school film rolls and took only still pictures, while the first action camera with video was not launched until 2006 when the makers caved into an overwhelming interest to have a camera that can record videos.
The videos that these cameras took only lasted 10 seconds but as digital recording technology evolved so has the capacity to record full-length videos—from gun start to the scenes at the podium.
In 2016, action cameras have been given the capability to shoot videos in Ultra High-Definition mode, or 4K. During the same year, the best 4k action cameras have even surpassed traditional video cameras when it comes to global sales. This trend has continued until today which means that there is a bright future when we talk about the best 4K video camera.
How to Choose the Best 4K Video Camera
Nowadays, action cameras are no longer limited to extreme sports as families and regular individuals are now clamoring to own one and record their own adventures using the best 4k video camera. Just do a quick search online, and you would see a ton of homemade action videos of families enjoying their vacation abroad or individuals conquering a mountain and watching the sun rises above a sea of clouds.
4K cameras now no longer capture sports performance exclusively, they are now with the national population as the audience and have been extensively used to capture memories as well. Seeing the best 4K video camera as an investment, you should take note of the following factors when choosing which one to buy.
- Capacity – some of the best 4k video cameras have large internal memories which mean they can record longer videos than others without the use of additional memory cards. Ideally, an action camera should be able to support additional memory provided by SD cards.
- Lenses – integrated lenses are a one-stop shop as all “capturing” components would have been matched to work well together, which also means that you don’t have to make a lot of adjustments. On the other hand, interchangeable lenses allow you to be more creative in mixing and matching them, but you have to have a greater understanding of how your cameras work before doing so.
- Format – more commonly known as the frames per second, or fps, format lets you choose the frame rates and definition of the video that you are capturing. File formats, on the other hand, is how the videos are saved on the device. You should be able to save them using AVCHD, MPEG-2, DV, HDV and MPEG-4 file extensions.
- Sensor – video cameras with smaller sensors are easier to focus and manipulate. Smaller sensors also give you a greater sense of depth. Other than the depth of field, additional pixels can be an advantage as well as low-light capability.
- Codec – videos undergo a series of compression before being saved into a file. Check what kind of codec the camera has and see if it matches the player that you have. A mismatched codec file is an inconvenience and can often result in you not being able to watch what you recorded.
- Bit rate – with bitrates, a general rule is that the larger the bitrate of a camera is, the larger the resulting video file would be. Ideally, the best bitrate for 4K video cameras lies between 53-68 Mbps at the high frame rate and around 35-45 Mbps using the standard frame rate.
- Usability – the best 4k video camera should be easy to hold and light enough to be carried however possible. The mounting options should also be fit to how you would use them. Most 4K cameras are easy to use, but some come with instructions that are far too different from the others.
- Connectivity – some of the best 4K video cameras have the capability to share images and videos instantly either through Bluetooth technology or via Wi-Fi connectivity. A few models even come with their own mobile application that is compatible with both iOS and Android. A data cable and an HDMI-ready output should also be present.
|Campark ACT74 WiFi Sports Camera||$||4.3/5|
|DBPOWER N6 4K Touch Screen Action Camera||$$$||4.6/5|
|YI 4K Action and Sports Camera||$$$||4.0/5|
|EKEN H9R Action Camera||$$||4.4/5|
|TomTom Bandit 4k Action Video Camera||$$$||4.2/5|
|YI Lite Action Camera, Sony Sensor 16MP Real 4K Sports Camera||$$$||4.3/5|
|Auto Tech H9R Action Camera 4K Waterproof Wifi Sports Camera||$||4.4/5|
|DBPOWER 4K Action Camera 12MP Ultra HD Waterproof Sports Cam||$$||4.7/5|
|FITFORT Action Camera 4K WiFi Ultra HD Waterproof Sport Camera||$$||4.5/5|
|LeadEdge Action Camera 4K Ultra HD WiFi Sports Video Cam||$||4.9/5|
Campark ACT74 Action Cam 16MP 4K Wi-Fi Waterproof Sports Camera
The Campark ACT74 is a compact 4K action camera that does more for its small size. It has a Sony sensor that can record Ultra HD videos at 30 fps and it also has a wide-angle lens that ensures that everything in the background is captured. The high-definition screen measures two inches and plays back videos and images with no issue.
In addition, the Campark ACT74 can connect to Wi-Fi servers within 10 meters and can email photos and videos without having to connect to a computer. There is also a waterproof case included in the package, as well as a helmet mount, straps and a data cable that allows you to hook it up to a TV or computer and then transfer your files over.
- Connecting to your Wi-Fi server using the Campark video camera is seamless, ensuring faultless playback.
- The Campark ACT74 is versatile as it has several modes other than photo and video. It can take pictures in burst mode and has night mode which, of course, takes great pictures at night.
- The image quality can be splotchy at times, especially if zoomed in where they are noticeable.
- The built-in microphone is a little too sensitive to loud sound and garbles them, especially while recording inside enclosed spaces.
- The video files are saved differently than most 4K cameras, but downloadable software can fix this.
DBPOWER N6 4K Touch screen Action Camera
The DBPOWER N6 4K video camera has a Sony image sensor and a seven-layer glass lens that can record videos with up to 24 fps in 4K mode. It also comes with a wide-angle lens and a large LCD touch screen for quick playback.
This video camera also has an anti-shake feature that helps provide pictures and videos with optimal clarity. It can support additional memory cards of up to 64GB and is capable of connecting to a Wi-Fi server. The DBPOWER N6 4K is waterproof and can be taken to a maximum of 30 meters below sea level.
- The DBPOWER N6 4K provides sharp and clear images, even at the highest setting possible.
- This video camera can be used for sports videos, family vacations, and home security, especially with its built-in motion sensors.
- It is small and easy to carry, making it perfect for all sorts of activities, like hiking, biking and even running.
- The operating manual that comes with the DBPOWER N6 4K can be confusing and lacks detailed instructions.
- The paired android app needs several improvements as it often crashes and does not always sync.
YI 4K Action and Sports Camera
The YI 4K Action and Sports Camera has a Sony IMX377 sensor that allows it to record 4k videos at 40 fps and images at 14MP. This camera comes equipped with advanced video stabilization that can record clear and smooth videos even while traversing rough terrains.
The Y1 boasts of a long battery life coming from its rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which are kept safe from overheating by the built-in cooling system. This device also has an intuitive touchscreen that measures 2.2 inches with a resolution of 640 x 360, as well as a full set of adjustment features that let you take that perfect shot.
This action camera comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for instant sharing and streaming capability. The Y1 is also waterproof, and the glass lens is made to be scratch- and dust-resistant.
- The touchscreen of the Y1 is intuitive and bright with no dead pixel which is a common issue with action cameras.
- The Y1 is compatible with the accessories of other action cameras, and it also comes with its own set of straps.
- The images and videos taken with this video camera are bright and clear. The Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity also make sharing easier.
- The Y1 does not support all kinds of memory card and has its own suggested list. Pictures and videos will turn out corrupted if a non-compatible memory card is used.
- The built-in microphone is weak and can be overpowered by loud sounds, especially when used inside an enclosed environment.
EKEN H9R Action Camera 4K Wi-Fi Waterproof Sports Camera
The EKEN H9R is a high-resolution 4K camera that is capable of recording 4K videos at 25 fps. It also has several shooting modes including video, photo, burst, time lap and even loop recording—features that let you record your activities and not let you feel left out by being the designated photographer.
The EKEN action camera has a built-in HDMI output for faster video and photo sharing, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity range of 33 feet so you can send those pictures as soon as possible. There is also a 2-inch LCD screen for quick playback, and external memory cards are supported. A full set of easily manipulated settings can be accessed through the LCD screen as well.
This action camera is waterproof up to 100 feet and can handle extreme conditions. It also comes with 11 mounting kits and is helmet-mountable using straps while a wrist remote can be used to switch the modes from photo to video and vice versa.
- The EKEN H9R is easy to use, and the sensors allow for brighter, clearer and more detailed images and videos.
- The Wi-Fi connection also allows you to use your phone as a remote for the camera, as well as an additional viewfinder and photo editor using the suggested mobile apps for this device.
- The quality of the images and videos taken using the EKEN H9R is greatly affected by dim lighting, and the night mode of the camera is not clear as well.
- The sound quality is not great as it would often record the wind instead of voices and it gets worse once the waterproof casing is used.
- This action camera crashes if using the 4K mode continuously but make sure that the firmware is updated as this is the most common cause of this problem.
TomTom Bandit 4k Action Video Camera
The TomTom Bandit 4k is a 4K action camera that comes with a three-hour battery life from cable-free lithium battery sticks. The sensors of this camera are built-in to monitor speed, altitude and G-force that all appear during playback for excellent performance monitoring. Videos captured by the Bandit come at 60 fps in 4K mode.
It comes with its own app that is compatible with both iOS and Android for quick editing and fast sharing of your videos and images. This unit also comes with a built-in motion sensor, as well as GPS sensors that tag your current location and align it with the data it gather like speed and altitude.
- The TomTom Bandit 4k is compatible with the mounting accessories of other action cameras which allow you to switch cameras easily.
- The plug-in stick of the TomTom Bandit, which also houses the batteries, acts like a USB storage and allows you to transfer files easily.
- The videos captured by this device are comparable with a more popular action camera brand with very little difference in quality.
- The Bandit is user-friendly and comes in a sleek and lightweight design which makes it ideal for extreme sports and racing, as well as adventure travels, and good, old family vacations.
- Framing can be difficult while using the TomTom Bandit as it does not have a built-in viewfinder but it pairs well with mobile devices through the app, and your phone can serve as the playback screen of this unit.
- The Bandit lacks in accessories as it relies mostly on those that come from other brands and models since it is adaptable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does 4K in Video Cameras mean?
4K is a simpler term for Ultra High-Definition wherein the videos are captured at an aspect ratio of 16:9, resulting in clearer pictures that offer more details and depth.
What are the recording formats available for 4K videos?
Files from the best 4k video camera come in the following file formats: AVCHD, MPEG-2, DV, HDV, and MPEG-4.
What are the minimum and maximum video length?
There is no standard minimum or maximum video length when it comes to digital video recording. As long as your memory card can still compress the data into viewable files, you can keep on recording them.
How often should I charge my 4K video camera?
Ideally, the batteries of the best 4k video camera should be at full charge before each time that it is used, but extra batteries can also be purchased to serve as back-up.
Can all action cameras be mounted on the body?
It depends on the design and weight of the 4K video camera. Some models would have straps included so you can mount them in on your chest while some would have attachments for head mounting.
Taking in the factors that were listed earlier, the best 4k video camera is the lightweight TomTom Bandit with its compact size that packs in more features than most cameras combined. The videos and images taken using the Bandit are crisp and clear, while its adaptability to the mounting options of other brands makes it a nice replacement or back-up to higher-priced cameras. It can even replace them too.
For the best quality pictures, make sure to follow the instruction manuals properly and learn to care for your device. It may say that it is shockproof or waterproof, but it does not mean that it will last forever. Some tender loving care and attention are all that it needs for you to enjoy the best 4k video camera for a long period of time.