Are you looking to capture your extreme sports adventures, travels, or everyday life in stunning 4K video quality? Action cameras with 4K recording have become incredibly popular in recent years. Shooting in 4K allows you to capture footage with incredible detail, four times the resolution of standard 1080p high definition video. This higher video resolution opens up new creative possibilities for producing engaging videos.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the top 5 action cameras with 4K recording on the market right now. We’ll look at key specs and features of each model, along with sample footage so you can see the video quality for yourself. We’ll also discuss what to consider when choosing a 4K action cam, and answer some frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in!
Action cameras are compact, durable cameras specifically designed for shooting video during fast-paced action and adventures. Thanks to their rugged, waterproof builds, you can mount an action cam to your bike, surfboard, helmet and more to capture unique first-person perspectives. The ability to record 4K ultra high definition video has become an increasingly common and desired feature in newer action cams.
4K refers to a video resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, offering four times as many pixels as 1080p full HD video. This produces ultra sharp, highly detailed footage, especially when viewed on a 4K TV or monitor. With more pixels to work with, 4K allows you greater flexibility in post-production editing to zoom and crop footage while retaining clarity and resolution. This higher video quality future-proofs your important memories and adventures.
In this guide, we focus on the top five 4K action cams ideal for everything from family vacations to extreme sports. We’ll compare key features like video quality, image stabilization, waterproof capability, battery performance and more. Let’s take a look at the best 4K action cams and how they stack up.
Top 5 Action Cameras with 4K Recording
1. GoPro HERO10 Black
The GoPro HERO10 Black is arguably the most popular and advanced 4K action camera available today. As GoPro’s newest flagship model, the HERO10 Black boasts cutting-edge features for capturing super smooth, stabilized 4K footage up to an impressive 60 frames per second (fps).
This camera excels at shooting ultra high resolution 5.3K video at up to 60fps. This allows greater flexibility for extracting 14.7MP still images from your videos. The HERO10 offers multiple digital lenses including an ultra wide Max SuperView plus linear and narrow FOVs. For capturing slow motion effects, you can shoot in 2.7K and 1080p video up to an incredible 240fps. The HERO10 is rugged and waterproof down to 33 feet (10 meters) without needing an external case.
Some other handy features include live streaming, webcam mode for vlogging, HyperSmooth 4.0 image stabilization and improved battery performance. This camera has received rave reviews for its ability to produce stunningly detailed, professional-level 4K footage even in challenging shooting environments. It’s durable build can handle any outdoor adventure. While the HERO10 commands a premium price, its superb video quality and versatility make it the top choice for serious 4K action camera users.
2. DJI Osmo Action
The DJI Osmo Action stands out as a top contender in 4K action cameras not only for its video performance but also competitive pricing. This versatile camera captures 4K video at up to 60 fps for incredibly smooth, stable footage thanks to built-in RockSteady stabilization.
With a wide angle lens and HDR video support, the Osmo Action produces vivid, highly detailed 4K footage in various conditions. The camera is ruggedized for use in up to 36 feet (11 meters) of water and comes with useful exposure tools like de-fog mode for underwater shooting. Dual displays on the front and back allow you to easily frame selfie shots.
The Osmo Action offers useful modes like 8x slow motion at 1080p 120fps, time-lapse capture and digital zoom. While battery life could be improved, this camera checks nearly every box for an affordable 4K action camera packed with premium features. If you want solid 4K video performance without the premium GoPro price tag, the Osmo Action is a compelling alternative.
3. Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition
For versatile shooting, the unique modular design of the Insta360 ONE R Twin makes it one of the most adaptable 4K action cams available. The core camera unit simply pops into various “mods” including dual lenses for shooting 360 video.
The 4K Boost Lens Mod offers phenomenal 5.3K video at 30 fps along with 18MP still photos. You can also capture crisp slow motion with 1080p recording at up to 200fps. With FlowState stabilization, shots remain smooth and steady even in rugged situations. This camera offers 11 different shooting modes to capture the perfect footage and stills for any situation including low light, motion timelapses and more.
The Insta360 ONE R Twin bundle comes with the essential dual-lens 360 Mod for immersive 360 video and the 4K Boost lens. Waterproof, rugged housing lets you take the camera as deep as 16 feet underwater. If you want an action camera that can do it all from 4K video to 360 captures, the adaptable modular system of the ONE R Twin edition is hard to beat.
4. GoPro HERO9 Black
GoPro’s previous generation HERO9 Black still holds up as a powerful 4K action cam option. It can record polished 4K video at up to 30fps plus 20MP photos. The HERO9 introduced a front facing screen perfect for vlogging and selfie style shots.
The big 5K video capability is useful for capturing high resolution footage to crop and produce stunning 4K videos. HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization provides gimbal-like steady shots without needing a gimbal. The camera body is waterproof down to 33 feet without a case. Other handy features include live streaming, 1080p live at 60fps, built-in horizon leveling and TimeWarp 3.0 for fluid time lapse clips.
While the newer HERO10 has eclipsed it, the HERO9 still produces impressive, professional quality 4K/5K footage. For those who don’t require the highest frame rates in 4K, the HERO9 delivers great performance and value as an option one generation behind the current top model.
5. Olympus TG-Tracker
If you’re looking for something entirely different in a 4K action cam, consider the innovative Olympus TG-Tracker. This mini camcorder style camera mounts to goggles, helmets and more to capture thrilling first-person perspective footage.
The ultra-wide 204° lens provides an immersive point of view. Video is captured in stunning 4K at up to 30fps, with 120fps full HD slow motion also available. Impressive image stabilization delivers gimbal-like smoothness without a gimbal. The TG-Tracker has unique sensors that record data like GPS, temperature, compass heading, altitude and more for documenting your adventures.
The flip-out rotating screen makes framing shots simple from any angle. While the miniature camcorder design differs from standard action cams, the TG-Tracker is built rugged for challenging environments. For a one-of-a-kind 4K point of view tailored to specific sports and activities, the TG-Tracker deserves a close look.
How to Choose an Action Camera with 4K
With so many 4K action cams now available, it can be tricky selecting the right one for your needs and budget. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a 4K action camera:
- Video Resolution – While all the cameras featured here shoot in 4K, some offer higher frame rates or additional 5K/6K recording for more flexibility in post-production editing and effects. Consider the resolution and frame rates you’ll realistically need for producing great looking 4K video.
- Image Stabilization – To achieve smooth, shake-free video during active sports or adventures, image stabilization is essential. More advanced stabilization systems will result in better quality footage.
- Waterproofing – If recording in or around water, choose a camera with sufficient waterproof rating, usually 30 feet (10 meters) or better. Some require an additional housing for water use.
- Battery Life – Longer battery life means you can record for extended periods without swapping batteries. Check estimated recording time at needed video settings. Removable batteries are also convenient.
- Ease of Use – Look for an intuitive, easy to navigate interface and phone app connectivity for convenience. Front displays make selfie framing a breeze.
- Budget – 4K action cam prices span from around $200 to $500. More expensive models typically offer better video quality, stabilization and overall performance. Consider how much you can invest for the quality you want.
- Use Case – Tailor your camera pick to your primary use – traveling, family videos, surfing, etc. For example, the TG-Tracker excels for specific sports use cases. Identify must-have features based on how you’ll use it.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can zero in on the ideal action camera to meet your 4K video needs, preferences and budget for capturing amazing adventures.
FAQs About 4K Action Cams
Do I need a 4K action camera if I don’t have a 4K TV or monitor?
You can still benefit from a 4K action cam even without a 4K display. The higher 4K resolution will allow you to crop, stabilize and edit your footage better while outputting 1080p video. Future-proofing for when you do upgrade to a 4K display is another benefit.
How much storage space do I need for 4K video footage?
4K video consumes a lot of storage space – roughly 1GB per minute of footage. Invest in the largest, highest rated microSD card your action cam supports – 64GB or 128GB is ideal. Bring spare cards if recording extended 4K footage. Offload footage regularly.
What computer or hardware do I need to edit 4K video?
Editing 4K footage requires a relatively powerful computer – ideally a recent model PC or Mac with a fast processor (i7 or better), 16GB RAM, dedicated GPU and SSD storage. Software like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Rush works well.
Does shooting in 4K drain the battery faster than lower resolutions?
Yes, shooting 4K video typically drains a camera battery faster than lower res like 1080p since it demands more processing power. The degree of difference varies by model. Bring spare batteries when recording 4K for extended periods.
Do all 4K action cams shoot at the same frame rates?
4K frame rates can vary quite a bit by model, from standard 30fps, up to 60fps for smooth action, and beyond. Some offer higher frame rates in lower resolutions like 1080p for slow motion effects. Check the specs for your preferred frame rates.
Do I need additional accessories to shoot handheld 4K video?
Image stabilization is key for shooting smooth handheld 4K footage, and it’s built into premium action cams like the GoPro HERO10. Optical lens add-ons can further improve stabilization. A small tripod or gimbal can also help keep shots steady when not mounted.
Are 4K action cameras more expensive than lower resolution models?
Yes, 4K action cams tend to cost more than 1080p models. You’ll typically pay around $200 to $500 for a feature-packed 4K action cam vs. $100 to $300 for a decent 1080p model. The extra cost is justified by the performance to shoot pro-level 4K footage.
How does image stabilization compare among 4K action cams?
Stabilization varies – top models like the GoPro HERO10 offer extremely effective “HyperSmooth” stabilization that produces gimbal-like smoothness without a gimbal. Mid-range models may rely on basic electronic stabilization that leaves more shake. Check reviews to compare quality of stabilization.
Can I playback 4K footage on a smartphone or tablet?
You’ll need a fairly recent smartphone or tablet with a 4K compatible display to properly view 4K footage shot with your action cam. iPhone X or newer, Galaxy S10 or newer, Pixel 3 or newer and iPad Pro 3rd gen or newer are capable. Editing is limited.
After covering the top five 4K action cameras along with buying considerations and FAQs, hopefully you have a better understanding of the options available and what to look for when choosing your perfect action camera. The cameras featured here represent the best in performance, features and value that 4K video in the action camera realm has to offer.
For impressive resolution combined with professional quality image stabilization, the GoPro HERO10 Black stands tall as the ideal one-stop solution for any adventure. The DJI Osmo Action punches above its weight with great 4K quality at a more affordable price point. For added flexibility, the modular One R Twin Edition from Insta360 allows you to swap lenses and capture both immersive 360 footage alongside standard 4K video.
There are also compelling choices like the prior-gen GoPro HERO9 Black and uniquely designed Olympus TG-Tracker to suit specific needs and use cases. Keep in mind your budget, how you plan to use the camera, and your appetite for top tier video performance vs. compromising on features to save money. This will steer you toward the perfect 4K action camera to start capturing amazing memories!