If you are looking for the best 4K camera under $500, the most important factors to consider are its sensor size, video recording modes, and autofocus performance. Below, I’ve included my favorite products based on these features. Read on to learn why they might matter to you.
When I’m shopping for a video camera, resolution is a big factor to consider. Whenever possible, I look for a device with 4K recording capability for higher-quality videos. However, budget is also a factor and the reality is that most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras do not come cheap.
With that said, my research shows that there are still some products with great photographer reviews that meet my key criteria and don’t break the bank. This article will walk you through the best cameras under $500 that can shoot up to 4K resolution. I will include a detailed review of each best camera as well as its pros and cons.
I will also discuss the factors to consider before buying the best camera for 4K video. And if you are curious about anything regarding budget or cheaper cameras in general, there is a handy FAQ section below.
Without any further ado, let us get on with my top picks!
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5 Best 4K Cameras Under $500
Below are my top choices for the best cameras under $500 with 4K video. Each item in this article can record up to UHD 4K video. Thus, you can expect to receive high-quality footage without costing a fortune.
1. Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 – Editor’s Pick
The first digital camera under $500 on this list is the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80.
This bridge camera features an 18.1-megapixel MOS sensor. It allows you to shoot 4K videos in clear detail. There is also an option to record in Full HD 1080p, HD 720p, and SD 480p.
Additionally, it enables you to capture high-quality images in either JPEG or RAW format. So whether you need to ensure excellent image quality or simply want a multi-function camera, the FZ80 is worth considering.
Moreover, this 4K mirrorless camera has a built-in DC Vario lens. It offers a 60x optical zoom range, equivalent to 20 to 1200mm. Thus, it is suitable for capturing both distant and close-up subjects.
There is even an optical image stabilizer (OIS) to help reduce the appearance of camera shake. So now, you can shoot handheld or at slower shutter speeds without dwelling on shaky footage.
Plus, a Depth-From-Defocus (DFD) technology can eliminate your worries about out-of-focus shots. That is because this feature keeps track of the subject across the frame, regardless if it is moving or not.
On top of all these benefits, this 4K video camera includes a high-resolution LCD touchscreen. There is also an electronic viewfinder. So, it is now easier than ever to preview and change camera settings.
Finally, the FZ80 provides Wi-Fi connectivity and USB charging for further convenience when shooting video.
Most reviews for this product were positive, but there are still a few downsides worth pointing out. First, some users noticed inconsistent image quality when shooting in low-light situations. Second, the camera manufacturers did not include a focus ring, which makes it difficult to focus manually.
But as you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For this reason, I deemed the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 as the best 4K camera under $500. Like most mirrorless cameras, it features a compact body and wide ISO range.
- 4K video recording with multiple movie and photo capture modes
- 60x optical zoom range equivalent to 20 to 1200mm
- Built-in image stabilization and autofocus technology
- Bright electronic viewfinder and LCD display
- Wi-Fi connection and USB charging
- Some users were disappointed with the image quality and low-light performance
- No manual settings for focusing ring
2. Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 – Runner-Up
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 is another excellent camera model to consider when shopping for the best 4K camera under $500.
It boasts a powerful 12.1-megapixel high-sensitivity sensor. Thus, this best video camera can help you shoot in 4K resolution in clear detail. There is also an option to record footage in either Full HD 1080p, HD 720p, or SD 480p.
Besides its impressive video recording capabilities, the FZ300 can also capture still images. This best camera under $500 can deliver clarity and sharpness, even when shooting at the smallest aperture settings.
Plus, a built-in 24x optical zoom lens gives you a versatile focal range equivalent to 25-600mm. Hence, it allows you to capture both close-up and distant subjects with relative ease.
Furthermore, a five-axis hybrid optical image stabilization can reduce the appearance of camera shake. So whether you are shooting handheld or at slower shutter speeds, this 4K camera ensures sharp details.
Finally, this digital camera has a rugged design. It can resist dust and water splashes, suitable for harsh weather conditions.
Despite all these advantages, it is still best to know its downsides before finalizing your purchase decision. First, some users said they could not connect the camera to their PC. Second, a few reviews noticed a loud hissing when recording videos.
But considering its price, I still think the Panasonic LUMIX FZ300 is among the best 4K mirrorless cameras under $500.
- 4K video capability and high-definition photos
- 24x zoom lens gives you versatility when shooting
- Built-in optical image stabilization
- Dustproof and splash proof compact camera
- Some users had difficulties connecting the camera to the PC
- It produces a loud hiss when recording audio
3. GoPro HERO8 Black – Best 4K Camera for Action and Sports
Do you often capture adventure, sports, or travel videos? If so, an action camera like the GoPro HERO8 Black might meet your needs.
It features a 12-megapixel sensor that can shoot up to 4K resolution video at 60 frames per second (fps). Thus, it is suitable for capturing high-action or slow-motion sequences. And if you ever need more flexibility when recording videos, this action camera also delivers. There is an option to choose 2.7K or Full HD 1080p resolution up to 240 fps.
Additionally, this 4K video camera under $500 offers multiple video modes to meet your creative needs. These include time wrap, timelapse, and night lapse recording.
There is even a built-in image stabilizer, which GoPro calls HyperSmooth 2.0. This technology offers three levels of stabilization—On, High, and Boost—to eliminate camera shake and vibration.
Besides stunning GoPro videos, the HERO8 Black can also capture high-quality photos. It even offers a LiveBurst mode that can capture 90 photos three seconds before and after you hit the shutter button. This way, you can ensure that you would not miss any moment when taking photos.
Furthermore, this action camera has voice control capabilities. It is now more convenient to take photos and videos with simple commands like, “GoPro, turn on.” or “GoPro, start recording.”
All these benefits come in a compact and pocketable design. As such, it is easy to carry and pack wherever you want to go.
However, before buying this 4K camera, it is still best to know its downsides. First, some users noticed lag when previewing the videos on their PC. Second, it has a relatively short battery life. Fortunately, a new side door makes it easier to change batteries to ensure the camera lasts longer.
With these in mind, I included the GoPro HERO8 Black on this list of the best 4K cameras under $500.
- Multiple video modes and resolutions including 4K/60p and 1080/240p
- SuperPhoto feature enables you to capture bright and clear images
- Advanced image stabilization
- Voice-enabled camera
- Compact and pocketable design
- Lag video playback on the PC
- Short battery life
4. Reolink 4K Outdoor Security Camera – Best 4K Camera for Home Security
If you want to record events happening around your home, consider investing in the Reolink 4K Outdoor Security Camera.
It features an 8-megapixel sensor that captures Ultra HD 4K resolution videos. Thus, this security camera can keep watch of your property, even when you are not at home.
Additionally, the Reolink supports timelapse recording. So whether you need to keep track of your projects, see the whole construction process, or simply go through the security footage of the day, this camera allows you to do so.
Furthermore, this 4K camera has a human and vehicle detection sensor. It can easily identify people and vehicles in terms of their shapes. Therefore, it eliminates unnecessary and fake alarms caused by animals or shadows. This way, you can be aware of what is happening outside your property by just glancing at your phone screen.
Plus, this outdoor camera transmits videos via a single network cable using Ethernet. Hence, it is quick to install and record videos with a reliable connection.
Finally, Reolink provides a 30-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty when you decide to buy their product.
There are still a few cons to this item, though. First, some users said that the motion detection system is inconsistent. Second, a few were also disappointed that it does not support Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF). Thus, it is difficult to sync this camera with other security or smart devices.
But after considering its price and other benefits, I still think the Reolink 4K Outdoor Security Camera deserves a place on this list. I recommend it to homeowners looking for a cheap yet reliable camera.
- Ultra HD 4K video resolution
- Timelapse recording gives you versatility when shooting
- Motion detection sensor can set humans or vehicles apart from animals or shadows
- Ethernet (PoE) technology allows you to install and record videos via one network cable
- Weatherproof camera
- Poor motion detection performance
- The camera lacks ONVIF support
5. Rove R2-4K Dash Cam – Best 4K Dash Camera
Those who want to record road events while driving can consider investing in the Rove R2-4K Dash Cam.
It can record footage up to 4K resolution. Plus, there is an option to shoot at 2160p if you wish to have smaller files for easy management. Besides video resolutions, the R2-4K offers multiple video modes such as time lapse and slow motion.
Additionally, this dash camera uses a Sony IMX335 lens and advanced night vision technology. Thus, it can deliver bright and clear footage, even in low-light conditions.
Moreover, the Rove R2-4K features a 150° wide-angle lens. It gives you a broader perspective, so you can see almost everything on the road.
There is also no need to worry about something bad happening to your car when you are away. That is because this 4K camera also includes a parking mode and motion detection. These technologies can automatically record videos when someone gets near your vehicle.
On top of all these benefits, this 4K camera includes a built-in GPS. It can help you navigate unfamiliar roads with ease using Wi-Fi.
Despite all these advantages, there are still a few cons to keep in mind before finalizing your purchasing decision. First, some users noticed that the recorded video is not in true 4K resolution—it is interpolated. Second, a few customers were also disappointed with the inconsistent behavior of the camera.
Nevertheless, the Rove R2-4K Dash Cam is still among the best 4K cameras under $500.
- Multiple video resolutions and modes for flexibility
- 150° lens can capture a wider scene
- Parking mode, motion detection, and loop recording options
- Built-in GPS to guide you while driving
- Video is not true 4K resolution
- Some users noticed that the camera randomly turns on and off
How to Choose the Best 4K Mirrorless or DSLR Cameras Under $500
If you are still unsure which 4K camera under $500 to buy, fret not!
Below are several features to consider before finalizing your purchasing decision. Hopefully, by the end of this section, you will know which 4K camera suits your needs.
Sensor Size and Resolution
One of the first things to consider when buying the best 4K camera under $500 is the sensor. It dictates how bright or clear the video that you will take.
Look for the sensor size. The larger, the better, as it allows more light into the sensor. However, if you have a limited budget, it can be quite difficult to choose full-frame or APS-C cameras. Instead, you will come across multiple cameras with a 1/2.3-inch sensor.
So the next factor to think about is the resolution of the camera. Check the number of megapixels. In general, the higher the number, the better the quality and the more flexibility you have when shooting.
Video Quality and Recording
After thinking about the sensor size and resolution, the next thing to consider is the video recording options.
Make sure the camera can shoot true 4K resolution. Some cheaper models promise to offer such a resolution but sometimes fail to deliver. So it is best to double-check the specs and check customer reviews.
You might also want to review the movie modes of the camera, especially if you want to capture creative shots. Consider those with slow motion or timelapse settings.
It is essential to keep your subjects in focus, especially if you will be shooting in 4K resolution. That is because the larger the resolution, the more obvious or visible the objects are in the frame.
So I also recommend looking for a 4K camera with an impressive autofocus system. It will help you track the objects across the frame, regardless if they are moving or not.
If you often shoot handheld or at slower shutter speeds, it is best to consider a 4K camera with built-in image stabilization. This technology can effectively minimize the appearance of camera shake and vibration. Thus, you can expect smoother and sharper results.
Before buying a 4K camera for under $500, you might also want to check its screen display. Look for the camera specs and dots-per-inch (DPI) of the screen. These will determine how bright or clear the display is.
I also recommend buying a larger screen. It will help you pinpoint flaws easily, such as soft focus and blurry subjects within the frame.
Size and Weight
If you often travel when shooting videos, it is also best to consider the size and weight of the 4K camera. Look for a lightweight and compact device. It is easier to carry for extended periods and pack inside a bag.
Finally, I recommend investing in a 4K camera with Wi-Fi and NFC connection. These technologies let you transfer photos and videos to your phone or laptop quickly. There is also an option to share files with your family and friends via social media accounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best 4K camera under $500?
The best 4K camera under $500 depends on many factors, such as your needs, personal preferences, and budget. Make sure to consider these things, so you would not regret your purchase.
With that said, my top choice would be the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. It packs several robust features in a compact, lightweight, and affordable package.
Which type of 4K camera is best?
When shopping for 4K cameras, you might encounter different types of cameras. These include camcorders, bridge models, action cameras, and DSLRs, among many others. Each one comes with its pros and cons.
So at the end of the day, choosing between these kinds will come down to your needs and personal preferences.
Do you prefer something light and compact? Go for point-and-shoot models. Those who often shoot adventures or travel videos might benefit from action cameras the most. Finally, if you want professional quality images, you can rarely go wrong with a DSLR.
What is the most recommended camera for beginners?
All the cameras included on this list are beginner-friendly, owing to their straightforward controls and interface. However, if I only have to recommend one, I choose the GoPro HERO8 Black. It might offer more advanced features that may seem daunting to some first-time users. However, it also has intuitive menus and voice control capabilities that make the experience smooth.
There you have it—my top picks for the best 4K cameras under $500! I highly recommend each product as it delivers ultra-high-definition videos without breaking your bank.
My top choice would be the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80, though. It has an 18.1-megapixel MOS sensor that allows you to shoot in 4K resolution. There is also an option to capture photos in either JPEG or RAW format. Meanwhile, the built-in DC Vario lens offers a 60x optical zoom range, ideal for almost all applications. Other notable features include the optical image stabilizer, autofocus technology, and LCD touchscreen. Finally, this bridge camera allows you to connect to the Wi-Fi and use a USB cable for charging.