When i hear best budget 4K camera, i immediately think under $1,000. After a thorough research online and from using this camera for a few months, I strongly feel the Panasonic G7 is the best budget 4k camera. Coming in at under seven hundred dollars. Those familiar with cameras may be wondering why I’m not recommending this Sony A6300, it comes in right under a thousand dollars, so its budget and it produces excellent 4k quality content, but even with the most recent firmware update to this camera, this camera is still having overheating issues and it’s not reliable.
Therefore I cannot recommend it and especially if you’re using it for paid jobs. The Panasonic G7 is by no means an end-all be-all camera, but it has a lot of features that will satisfy budget 4k filmmakers and in addition for consumers who want 4k content of their family friends and pets, it will also satisfy them and remember this camera is under seven hundred dollars with the kit lens so it’s extremely affordable. I can give you ten reasons why this is a great camera.
Starting with number one when I was looking for a 4k camera it had to have a microphone input, where I could plug in a wireless Mic, a shotgun mic or a lavalier Mic. Having good audio quality is just as important or even more important than having good video quality if you have a video that has bad audio it will immediately turn people off. This camera has a microphone input and hot shoe adapter, where I can slide in a shotgun mic on the top of the camera, in addition I have the ability to manually control the audio levels in camera.
Another feature I was looking for was a pop-out articulating LCD screen. I’m a one-man band and I need the screen to pop out and flip towards me so I can see myself while I’m recording, in addition the articulating screen allows me to shoot with the camera at different angles either at high or low angles and also if i’m recording video outside i can angle the screen away from the Sun, so there’s no nasty glare on the screen and this makes filmmaking a lot easier going along with being able to see what I’m record.
This camera also has an electronic viewfinder so i can see exactly what I’m recording without any interference from the Sun. Part of filmmaking is being able to use different lenses to achieve different effects such as shallow depth of field and focal lengths. This micro four thirds camera allows you to use interchangeable micro four thirds lenses in addition with an adapter or speed booster you can use your existing canon or nikon glass.
Next let’s talk about the video quality of this camera the Panasonic G7 offers 4k video at 24 and 30 frames per second if you’re familiar with its older brother the Panasonic GH4, surprisingly this camera offers similar video quality at half the price. One area where the Panasonic G7 actually shines over the Panasonic GH4 is at high iso such as iso 3200 and 6400.
This camera has both automatic and manual exposure and focus controls so you can have the camera automatically focus on the closest subject or you can use the tap to focus feature to make focusing really simple. If you want full control like most filmmakers do, you can switch the camera to manual focus mode and focus manual exposure works the same way. You can have auto exposure or you can take full control and set it to manual exposure going along with manual focus this camera also has focus peaking which allows you to visually see what’s in focus on your screen. So now while you’re manually focusing you no longer have the guess if your object is in focus or if it’s not in focus. On the screen it will now highlight which part of your object is in focus.
Another nice feature this camera has is called zebras. This visually shows you on your screen which parts are potentially clipping or are overexposed and this will allow you to make the proper adjustments without looking at your histogram. There are a variety of picture styles you can choose from and you can fine-tune the contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and saturation of each in addition there are flat picture styles like natural cine-like d and cine-like v which are good for color grading.
In post lastly this camera offers long record times, i can record up to 29 minutes before the camera stops and I have to restart it and on a full charge. I can record about an hour and a half of 4k video and I have never had any issues with overheating in addition the file sizes are manageable so for about an hour recording a 4k video it takes about 40 gb. Now I don’t want to paint this camera is all sunshine and roses there are some flaws with this camera, after all you are only paying seven hundred dollars for it, so we can’t have everything but I feel for the features it packs we can get around these flaws.
My first issue is there’s no headphone jack to monitor audio in real-time. Second if you will be using the auto focus feature, the autofocus will be a little bit slow from time to time and also it may do some focus hunting so it may not immediately focused on your subject. My third issue is this camera has a micro four-thirds sensor so that means whatever lens you put on this camera, you’re going to get a 2x crop so for example if i add a 24mm lens to this camera I’m automatically going to be positioned at 48mm now if you saw my canon 5D Mark IV rant video you know I complained about the crop factor now I feel this situation is a little bit different this is just going to be a dedicated video camera and there are ways to get around it.
Panasonic offers wider lenses so for example you can buy the Panasonic 12-35mm lens s at f/2.8 and that will be equivalent to a 24-70 mm lens which is more standard. Now if you add the price of that lens and the camera body it’s still going to equal less than a canon 5D Mark IV and also the more expensive sony 4k camera or you can use a speed booster which will give you a wider field of view it will let in more light it will give you a shallow depth of field and it will also allow you to use your existing Nikon and Canon glass.
Another issue with this camera is it doesn’t shoot cinema 4k, it only shoots ultra-high-definition and lastly the door that opens to the SD card and battery is positioned to close to the tripod mount so that means when I want to access the battery and the SD card and I want to remove it, i often have to remove my camera from the tripod and that’s a little of an inconvenience. So those are the inconveniences i have experienced while using this camera but they really don’t hinder my workflow now if any one of those five issues are an absolute deal breaker just don’t buy this camera but otherwise for the positive features it has and for the price.