The Best Camera for Video in 2020: Top 10 Choices
by Matthew Mister, on Dec 27, 2019 2:21:27 PM
These days everyone has a camera on all the gadgets from mobile phones to smartwatches but shooting a professional video still needs an excellent camera for creatives in 2020. There’s no straightforward way to find the best video camera in this fiercely competitive market when you have so many options to suit your needs, experience, and one of the most important factors is - the price tag.
Picking the best professional video camera requires looking at the whole system and not just the camera itself. Because it is not just the camera device that makes the video shooting perfect, there are the lens systems you need to consider, and now the mirrorless cameras in the market are competing with the DSLRs.
Videographers or filmmakers have very unique requirements compared to regular photographers and vloggers. They likely don’t need the ability to shoot stills along with video but require whole video-centric features and controls – a camera that is equipped with or compatible with a wide ecosystem of cinema lenses, sound equipment, rigs, and other movie accessories.
Below we'll dive into the different components of video cameras you should consider as well as list some of the top choices available today. Now if you're alarmed at this list because you don't see the top players like Red Cinema, AJA or Arri we left those out because it is a given that these cameras are at the top of everyone's list. For this post we are focusing on some other options that you may not have considered.
Things to consider before choosing for the Best Video Camera
Buying the right video camera, you’ll need to make sure that you pick the one which meets all your requirements and purposes.
If you are migrating from an existing camera system you might want to pick equipment that is compatible with lenses, camera bodies, and other accessories you already have. This can be an easy transition and much cheaper than starting over again.
4K UHD vs Cinema 4K Video Quality
What people refer to as 4K is, in fact, UHD, or 3840x2160 pixels, which is not exactly 4,000 pixels wide and has a 16:9 aspect ratio as Full HD. While the Cinema 4K called DCI 4K has a resolution of 4096x2160 pixels and a lightly wider 17:9 aspect ratio.
Fixed or Interchangeable lens
This feature can serve a long way for a professional video shoot. An interchangeable camera offers the flexibility of employing a diverse set of lenses for superior quality and better aspect ratio. While on the other hand, a fixed lens might be a good option for a specific use – with a single lens attached which can be an inexpensive option.
Camera bodies are changing every day, but the lenses have a longer life and are very significant for specialized professional video production.
Normal lenses are fine for video, but they lag behind the cine lenses which have special adaptations that can boost video making. They utilize T-stops rather than F-stops, with ‘de-clicked’ iris/aperture rings for silent and smooth exposure adjustment. Others feature toothed rings capable of professional pull-focus mechanisms.
DSLR, Mirrorless or Camcorder
In 2020 the most important choice videographers will have to make is either to go with the time tested DSLR camera options or the mirrorless. Though still, the top-notch DSLR cameras have their advantages but the fact that the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) design was invented long before digital sensors. The mirrorless utilizes the ‘live view’ captured by the camera sensor to produce an electronic viewfinder image. The dispensation for the need for a mirror and the optical viewfinder, however, in my opinion, may sound very compelling still hasn’t reached the pinnacle stage to replace the older DSLR camera system. Who knows how soon we’ll get an advanced and improved version of the mirrorless camera, beginning the end of the DSLR era.
The camcorder can produce exceptional video quality with ultra-high-definition, equipped with specially calibrated zoom lenses and focus capabilities, have strong built-in microphones and strong audio inputs not seen in traditional cameras. Though low-light video recording is where they lack as most of them have smaller sensors.
Control over the settings and quality of the video can be a key feature in professional work environments. The latest cameras of 2020, that can shoot 8K and up have many features and options available at hand for the videographer to control the frame rate, customize tone curves, and many other options. All this refining can make any video look professional.
A good zoom ratio can allow your video zooming in and out with the least bit of image distortion. A camera with excellent zooming quality can refine the video shoot with an appropriate level of zoom to get the job at hand done.
Nowadays you will find a fast hybrid phase and contrast-detection autofocus systems. Though some manufacturers still use the contrast-detect autofocus in live view and while video recording. Depth from Defocus (DFD) contrast-detect autofocus, from Panasonic is fast, still, most of the videographers favor manual focus.
Most cameras out there capture an 8-bit video, which has its limitations and can break up and show posterization effects with heavy editing. Some high-end cameras can capture 10-bit video with high scope for editing later.
It’s the level of compression applied to the video footage. As a rule of thumb, higher compression produces smaller files but with lower quality, while lower compression creates larger file size but better quality.
When selecting the finest video camera, you need to make sure you get the gist of camera sensors and how they affect the video quality and the camera size. Generally, the larger the sensor is the better it will be its performance, capturing more details even in low light conditions – this gives more quality and consistency to the video. 4K crossover cameras come with a variety of sensor sizes, like full-frame, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C. Super 35mm sensor size is used in cinematography and some professional video cameras.
There are two standards in terms of image sensors for video cameras – CMOS and CCD. CMOS tends to be the most used as they are much cheaper and consume drastically less power than the CCD variant. While CCD sensors are more sensitive to light and produce clearer, crisper footage even in low light conditions.
Video is recorded as a luminance channel and two chroma channels. Compressing the color data is rather less harmful to the image quality quoted as a ratio. Ideally, the cameras would record 4:4:4 video but generally the chroma (color) channels are compressed, for instance to 4:2:0 or 4:2:2.
Most camera have an internal microphone, but the stereo will not have a good quality sound or directional sensitivity for video. This makes an external mic an essential accessory like directional ‘shotgun’ mics or wireless lapel mics.
Generally, flash is no good for video, so you’ll need to employ artificial continuous lighting. LED panels are the topmost choice for video as they run for a longer period while offering high levels of lighting and low heat. Some lighting offers a variable color temperature for matching the different light sources.
Mirrorless cameras are better as they offer a full-time live view both on the rear screen as well as in the viewfinder. DSLRs on the other hand only offer rear screen viewing.
For video, you’ll need a memory card with minimum sustained speed and not the maximum transfer speed which is useful for gauging the performance. The bare minimum for a 4K video is 10MB/s, 30MB/s is better (UHS Class3, V30), and 60MB/s is perfect (V60). Though with camcorders the video is recorded directly onto the internal storage of the camera which serves better for a longer duration of recording.
These are the Top Cameras for Video in 2020
1. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K is an outstanding and specialized video camera with astonishing specifications, design, and value for money. Designed like a firm rangefinder camera, but it’s designed solely for video. This model is an upgrade to the older Pocket Cinema Camera 4K which used a Micro Four Thirds sensor and lens mount – featuring a larger Super 35mm sensor format and Canon EF lens mount. The camera is a powerhouse and can capture 6K raw footage at up to 60/50p. Though the camera has some small limitations, including no continuous autofocus and a fixed non-tilting screen, technically it is an extraordinary device.
- Excellent video quality
- Prevalent Canon EF mount
- Awesome value
- No continuous autofocus
- No ND articulating screen
2. Panasonic Lumix GH5S
Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S an amazingly designed mirrorless camera designed for video first is exceptionally powerful and a good value. It has high frame rates at 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and high bitrates. The breadth of video features this camera offers is incredibly impressive. It is way ahead of its time and sets a standard for mirrorless video. It features a multi-aspect sensor which enables high-quality, 10-bit cinema 4K video with a wider view, a MOS sensor, and improved low-light shooting. As entirely build in-focus for video it’s not ideal for vloggers as it lacks in-body stabilization and for photographers with just 10.2 megapixels of resolution. The ability to shoot DCI 4K at up to 60p with no crop is an outstanding distinction this camera holds. It’s a sturdy device with a splash and freeze-proof design for extreme conditions, and the Dual Native ISO delivers ultra-sensitive video results with muted noise. Its interchangeable lens system adds to its impressive versatility and as likely a lightweight portable video camera.
- Amazing 4K video of any mirrorless camera
- Outstanding low-light capability
- No optical stabilization
- Lack phase-detect autofocus
3. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Mark II has been around for some time now and still the top choice of many professional videographers, but Mark III is coming very soon and is more likely to augment the series with pretty advanced features. The Mark II is a DSLR with full-frame 20.2 megapixels and holds many advantages on the newer mirrorless competitors, notably their grippable bodies, optical viewfinders, autofocus, performance, and battery life. The EOS 1D X is an expensive option but a powerhouse professional press/sports camera, it can shoot high-quality Empty List 4K video up to 50/60p with a max burst speed of 14fps, and a fixed LCD screen of 3.2in at 1,62 million dots.
In 2020 it’s difficult to recommend Mark II as Canon has officially announced the Canon Mark III as the successor to the EOS 1DX Mark II and is likely to obliterate the performance of its predecessor in all areas. The design of the Mark III is extremely chunky yet comfort and aesthetic strongly resemble its immediate predecessor. The Mark III is rumored to have in-body image stabilization (IBIS) while utilizing a deep learning algorithm to improve upon its AF speed and accuracy. Canon has confirmed that the camera will be capable of 4K at 60fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 Canon Log (Clog) internal recording.
- 4K video up to 50/60p
- Exceedingly fast autofocus system
- 14fps shooting
- Inefficient MJPEG video format
4. Fujifilm X-T3
The Fujifilm X-T3 is an amazing 4K video camera with high-end capabilities and one of the most powerful APS-C mirrorless cameras out there. This spectacularly effective camera rivals prevalent cameras in the market that are only capable of capturing 4K video up to a frame rate of 30p while X-T3 can go up to 60p for a smooth 2x slow-motion effect. It can capture wider Cinema 4K format at the same high speeds with an excellent autofocus system. It has a super-sharp 26.1 back-illuminated APS-C X-Trans sensor wrapped up in a compact and sleek designed body. Most cameras can capture an 8-bit video internally, but the X-T3 can capture higher-quality 10-bit video internally as well as to an external recorder at a higher 4:2:2 color sampling quality. To top it all the X-T3 comes with an HLG (hybrid log gamma) mode and high dynamic range F-Log mode as standard. The only lacking feature is in-body stabilization, but as many videographers use a motion-smoothing gimbal or a tripod anyhow.
- 60fps 4k video
- F-Log and HLG modes
- APS-C sensor
- Lacks in-body stabilization
5. Canon EOS C300 MK II
Canon C300 MK II is quite ahead of the DSLR in shooting video. Cramped up with features and modes to capture outstanding footage, and a variety of ports. The camera can shoot in even low light conditions perfectly and can capture ultra-high-definition video at up to 410Mbps at 10-bit. It has an amazing 15 stops dynamic range, continuous autofocus, and can take either of the EF or PL lenses. The lens fitting can also be swapped out letting you choose your lenses and shoot pro video qualities.
- PL or EF lenses
- Outstanding dynamic range
- Slow-motion crop
6. Nikon Z7
The Nikon Z7 comes with a 45.7-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with a backside-illuminated (BSI) design. It has an excellent video as well as image quality, marvelous EVF with highly valued F-mount optics and can be set to capture 14-bit raw files. Nikon Z7 has hybrid autofocus including 493-point phase-detection AF, with in-camera vibration reduction rather than in the lens. Offering 4K UHD (3840x2160) that can be captured at 24, 25 and 30p crisper footage as it captures 5K worth of information with full-pixel readout and the ability to apply DX crop. Full HD recording is supported to a maximum o 120/100p, which can output 4x and 5x slower, and most importantly the option to capture 4K stills while recording outstripping feature. Nikon has presented its N-Log shooting function with many features like focus peaking, zebra patterning, and timecode. The company has employed an electronic version of Vibration Reduction for steady recordings in conjunction with the sensor-based system.
- UHD 4K video
- Sensor-based VR system
- Plays well with third party lenses
- AWB can be neutral in daylight
- No DCI 4K support
7. Sony PXW-FS5 MII
The Sony FS5 MII comes preloaded with a lot of advanced features. Able to shoot 4K at up to 60p with support for BT.2020 color space, enriching the footage to broadcast standards. The sensor resolution is 4096x2160 and also has EVF supported. Variable lighting conditions aren’t any more a problem with its in-built electronic variable ND filter and with 10 assignable buttons, you can easily tune the camera to your shooting taste. The camera boasts 180fps 1080p capture with no crop. It supports Sony’s E mount lens system for capturing sensational, cinematic video.
- Amazing slow motion
- BT.2020 color space
- Average AF
8. Panasonic 4K HC-WXF991K
The Panasonic HC-WXF991 features a 20x optical zoom Leica Dicomar lens with an accessory shoe mount for an external microphone. Producing a crisp 4K resolution 2160p/30p recording at 72MBps capturing minute details and color gamut. It also has a Sub Camera that can capture video at the same time with the main camera in the form of a picture-in-picture preview. The optical image stabilization on the camera supported by the Hybrid OIS functions well and can also capture 16:9 photos at 25.9-megapixels.
- Leica DIMOCAR lenses
- Multi-scene feature
- Viewfinder EVF
- No lens ring
9. Sony Alpha A9
Powered with a 24.2-megapixel full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with a Sony FE lens mount and a high-speed processing circuit with a BIONZ X image processing engine. The Alpha A9 is furnished with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system. This flagship camera offers high capabilities for video with 4K recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. The camera uses pixel readout to collect 6K information, oversampling it to produce a stunningly high-quality 4K footage. The camera can record Full HD at 120fps at up to 100Mbps and the recording is also available in Super 35mm size. The Sony Alpha A9 is a phenomenal camera up to the mark to deliver the best video performance.
- Super-fast AF
- Oversampled 4K footage
- Low battery life
- No XQD card slot
10. Yi 4K+ Action Camera
The Yi 4K Plus is a portable video camera and can record in 4K at 60fps at a maximum bitrate of 120Mbps with details and smoothness that is needed to capture every adventure. It does have the capability to shoot stills at 12-megapixels, which are also sharp and colorful. The camera is capable of shooting in raw though not in native HDR, it has built-in image stabilization and shoots 1080p video at up to 120fps. The camera houses a Sony IMX377 CMOS sensor with Exmor R with a Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor. The camera at 60fps produces an impressively sharp and saturated color video.
- Sharp 4K video at 60fps
- Colorful RAW and JPEG photos
- Swift interface
- No mounts in the box
As you've probably surmised, 2020 is an exciting time for video cameras and the professionals who use them on a regular basis to capture images that help tell the story in the best visually stunning way possible
And of course, with all the emerging technology creating higher and higher def videos comes an increased need for video storage. That's where ProMAX Platform comes in as the best video storage for 2020. With ProMAX Platform, you can shoot and shoot, and never have to worry about storage again with our virtually unlimited storage options.