What are the best new 4K cameras? To find out, we packed up the car and headed upstate to test everything from full-frame mirrorless cams to drones that you can use to capture video and photos on land, water, and in the air.
Over the course of the day, we hiked up Bear Mountain, just outside of Poughkeepsie, NY, and kayaked around the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse with Hudson River Recreation to see how our cameras would hold up under real-world adventure conditions.
Here’s how they all performed.
DJI OSMO ACTION
First up: the DJI Osmo Action. It’s waterproof up to a depth of 11 meters, making it great for boating, fishing, or diving. We liked the screen on the front of the camera for framing up selfie shots and were impressed by the RockSteady electronic image stabilization, the clear, intuitive touchscreen menu design and audio that was surprisingly clear for a camera this size.
Next: the Sony A6400, an entry-level model of Sony’s popular mirrorless Alpha camera line, that you can get for under $1,000. The compact, lightweight body is great for hiking or backpacking and delivers 24 megapixel stills and 4K video with a fast, accurate, real-time autofocus tracking system. On the downside, Sony’s menu system can be a little complex for those who aren’t familiar with the brand’s cameras. With this camera, in particular, we found that the lack of image stabilization can cause a rolling shutter issue when capturing video with a lot of camera movement, making your video look wavy.
CANON EOS R
We also brought along professional photographer and videographer Johannes Kroemer to test Canon’s new EOS R, Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera. Free Solo filmmaker Jimmy Chin is an advocate of this camera for adventure photography and we can see why: The lightweight body, fast autofocus, and articulating touch-screen make it a great option for capturing video and photos in difficult conditions. One thing to note is that if you are using the EOS R to shoot video on a stabilizer gimbal, like we did, the digital viewfinder might think you are looking into it and will disable the LCD screen. Fortunately, you can bypass this issue with a simple Display Mode fix in the camera’s menu.
BLACKMAGIC POCKET CINEMA CAMERA 4K
We also had pro cinematographer Clint Byrne test the powerful Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. For someone who wants to create high-end looking video content to post online or submit to film festivals, this camera is a great option for a 4K camera body that is under $1,500. Bonus: It can be easily upgraded into a professional-grade rig that shoots in high-resolution Blackmagic RAW and ProRes codecs.
DJI MAVIC 2 ZOOM DRONE
Finally, we took to the skies with the DJI’s compact, foldable, Mavic 2 Zoom drone. This model may have been slightly overshadowed at the time of its release by the Mavic 2 Pro, but we appreciated the flexibility of the 2X optical and 4x digital zoom, in addition to its many other high-end features.
To see all the cameras in action, watch our editors and the pros in the video above.
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