Comparing the 10 Best 4K Cameras for Live Streaming in 2022
With the growth of professional broadcasting, the demand for high-quality cameras is greater than ever. High quality cameras allow for the raw image to be captured at the highest possible resolution. This is especially important since video quality affects the users’ experience when watching a live broadcast.
In this post, we will review the top ten best 4K cameras for live streaming. There are a lot of 4K cameras on the market, but not all of them are suitable to stream live video. We’re going to look at several different types of 4K cameras with different use casesso there’s a camera here for everyone.
Let’s get started!
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Table of Contents
- What is a 4K Streaming Camera?
- Features to Look for in a 4K Streaming Camera
- Best 4K Cameras for Streaming
- Encoder Settings for 4K Live Streaming
What is a 4K Streaming Camera?
A 4K streaming camera is one of the most recently perfected capturing technologies in the world of videography and broadcasting. The “4K” is short for 4000, which is the maximum resolution these cameras can capture. 4K cameras can produce television-quality broadcasts, and are the best cameras for live streaming.
Many 4K cameras fall into this category which means there are tons of options for every need. As we mentioned, the growing broadcasting industry and has created the need for reliable, high-quality cameras. Due to this demand, 4K live streaming is becoming more and more important.
In addition to this demand, there are a few reasons we expect to see an explosion of 4K live streaming. The two biggest reasons are AV1 and 5G.
AV1 is a newer video codec that aims to resolve the licensing issues of HEVC. AV1 is progressing towards being production-ready and will provide the best alternative to H.264 and HEVC in the near future.
The second factor that makes 4K live streaming ready to shine is the rise of 5G internet. The coming 5G cellular networks will provide speeds roughly 100 times faster than the best available 4G LTE networks. And they’re already rolling out to consumers, making it easier for viewers to watch 4K livestreams directly on their mobile devices.
Although 4K streaming cameras are currently the most standard options for ultra-high-definition streaming, 5K streaming technology is slowly emerging.
Features to Look for in a 4K Streaming Camera
Since broadcasting looks a little bit different for each broadcaster, there is not one single best streaming camera. However, there are a few common features to look out for.
The first thing to look out for is the quality of the video the camera can produce. Standard cameras offer 720p and 1080p video quality. If you want the higher possible video quality, you want a camera that offers 4K video streaming capabilities.
Next, look for strong battery life. You do not want your camera battery to die midstream, so you need to make sure that there is an AC power adapter that you can use to keep your streaming camera charged and ready to go. A short battery life for a camera is around 4 hours, with a strong battery life for the best 4K streaming cameras come in around 8 hours.
It is also important to consider a camera’s run time. Some cameras have limits on the length of videos that they can capture, so you don’t want to risk your camera stopping before you’re ready to be done streaming. The video run time limits are usually connected to the storage capacity of the camera. 4K video files consume more space than lower-quality video files, so the run time is often not as long when shooting in 4K.
Last but not least, make sure you choose a camera that is reliable for extended use and doesn’t overheat. You do not want your camera to become overworked and fail midstream.
The best 4k camcorders for live streaming will capture video in 4K, have an 8-hour battery, and have the ability to capture longer lengths of videos.
Best 4K Cameras for Streaming
Determining the best 4K camera for live streaming is challenging. Since different types of live streams call for different types of cameras, there is not one single answer to what is the best broadcasting camera.
In this post, we’re going to look at the top 4K video cameras in different categories in order to help you find the camera that will best suit your streaming setup needs. In other words, we’re looking for the best average fit.
We’re going to look at some of the best cameras for live streaming in the following categories:
- Action camera
- Professional camcorders
- PTZ camera
Let’s start out by looking at a couple of options for 4K webcams.
1. Webcam: Logitech Brio Ultra HD
Since social distancing has become important, many presenters have been forced to move live events online in a matter of days or weeks.
Seminars, live streaming conferences, online lectures, graduations, sports drafts, and other live stream events have been broadcast over the past year, and presenters have been forced to tune in from the comfort of their home offices.
While these people may be professionals in their own industries, setting up a professional camera for live streaming may be difficult. Using a webcam is far more manageable and affordable in these scenarios.
The best 4K webcam for live streaming is the Logitech Brio Ultra HD. This camera is $199 and has everything beginner broadcasters need for a professional-grade live 4K stream.
Here are a few of its top features:
- 4K Ultra HD video calling (up to 4096 x 2160 pixels @ 30 fps)
- 5x zoom in Full HD
- Lighting support
- Pan, tilt, and zoom support
- Built-in microphones
- Privacy shutter
- Clip and tripod mounting options
- Supports USB 2.0 Type-A and USB 3.0 Type A and C connections
- Custom carrying case
The Logitech Brio Ultra HD is one of the best webcam 4K live streaming cameras. The camera comes with all the equipment you need to start live streaming, it supports call the current relevant types of USB connections,, and it comes with a custom carry case, so you can protect your camera when you are not using it. It is one of the best 4K HDMI webcams.
2. Webcam: Sigma fp
As we mentioned, webcams are more important than ever because they allow professionals without elaborate streaming set up to reach their audiences in UHD.
The fp Series from Sigma is a highly capable 4k streaming camera for broadcasters that are looking for a trusty webcam for high-quality live streams.
A few of the top features of the Sigma fp include:
- 4K streaming
- Continuous shooting for up to 2 hours
- HDMI external output
- Contrast detection and manual adjustments
- Image stabilization system
- Built-in flash
- The battery lasts 70 minutes while streaming
If you want an easy-to-use high quality 4K live streaming web camera, the fp Series from Sigma is a strong choice. It is a 4K HDMI webcam that allows you to shoot 4K livestreams that are a little over an hour long.
3. Entry-Level: Panasonic HC-VX981K
The best-selling entry-level 4K video camera on B&H Photo Video is the Panasonic HC-VX981K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder.
Currently priced at $797.99, this camera averages 4.5 stars from a couple of dozen reviews. It features a Leica Dicomar lens with a 20x optical zoom. In 35mm equivalent, the lens reaches 30.8mm on the wide end and will zoom in to more than 600mm. This is one of the best budget 4K cameras for beginners.
Some features of this camera include:
- 1/2.3″ MOS, backside-illuminated 18.91-megapixel sensor
- Built-in 5-axis image stabilization
- HDR (High Dynamic Range) recording mode
- Records to SD cards
- Supports 49mm filters
- Micro-HDMI video out
- Support for external mic via 3.5mm jack
Check out some sample footage from this camera. If you want something that creates a high-quality live stream, without being too complicated to operate, the Panasonic HC-VX981K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder is one of the best budget 4K cameras on the market.
4. Action Camera: GoPro HERO9 Black
An action camera is small, durable, and ready for sports and hard use. An action camera is designed to capture objects in motion without blurring or compromising the quality of the image. They tend to be easily portable and record surprisingly good quality video.
Action cameras are incredibly useful whether you’re broadcasting from a studio, mounting a camera on a drone, on a mountainside, or capturing live sports action. They allow you to get shots that would simply be impossible with a full-size camera.
The best 4K camera for live streaming in this category is the GoPro HERO9 Black ($349.98). Although this camera is suitable for 4K streaming, it can actually capture videos in up to 5K.
The HERO includes a lot of great features such as the following:
- 4K and 5K video recording
- Built-in image stabilization (digital)
- Waterproof to 33ft.
- Touchscreen and voice controls
- Customizable ISO and other manual settings
- Preview via a smartphone app
- Supports external microphone via 3.5mm jack
- Compatible with dozens of accessories
- 20 mp photo capture
If you need a camera that can capture fast, live-action, the best 4K broadcasting action camera is the GoPro HER09 Black.
5. DSLR: Sony Alpha a7 III
Choosing a DSLR 4K live streaming camera for live streaming makes sense for some users. If you have to use unusual lenses, or already have a great lens collection, a 4K DSLR camera can be a good option.
A DSLR 4K camera is good for users that prioritize still photography, but you want to be able to do 4K live streaming on the side. Either way, a DSLR is a great choice.
The best 4K camera with a DSLR form-factor is actually not a DSLR. It’s the Sony Alpha a7 III, a mirrorless camera.
The Alpha a7 III costs $1,998 for the body, but it includes a wide range of features useful for live streaming. These features include:
- 24.2-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
- Full-frame 35mm equivalent
- ISO up to 204800
- 4K video up to 30 fps
- Silent autofocus
- Built-in 5-axis image stabilization
- Dual SD card slots
The best mirrorless camera for streaming and the best 4K DSLR camera for streaming is the Sony Alpha a7 III. It has the ability to offer 4K 30fps streaming and capture high-quality images.
6. DSLR: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7 Mirrorless
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7 mirrorless is another DSLR that is available for broadcasters for smaller budgets. This camera is $797.99, which is just a fraction of the cost of the other DSLR we’ve reviewed. If you are looking for the best budget 4K cameras, this should be on your list.
Since it is available at a lower price point, this camera is suitable for broadcasters who are just getting started.
Some notable features of this camera include:
- 4K streaming
- LCD display
- 1.4x viewfinder
- Integrated flash
- Audio recording
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7 is one of the best budget 4K cameras and mirrorless cameras for streaming, as it has everything you need at an affordable price point.
7. Professional Camcorder: Panasonic AG-CX350
There is a wide range of professional cameras available with different features. The right professional camera for you will depend on the features you need for your 4K live streaming needs.
By choosing two necessary features—support for SDI and XLR connections—we can provide a rock-solid choice in a mobile format suitable for most professional 4K live streaming.
Our pick is the Panasonic AG-CX350 4K Camcorder. With a price of $3,695, the AG-CX350 provides excellent image quality and expandability, making it one of the best 4K professional cameras.
Here are some of the features of the AG-CX350:
- 4K recording up to 60fps
- 1″ MOS sensor
- 35mm-equivalent 24.5 to 490mm zoom lens, 20x optical zoom
- HEVC recording option
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Manual control rings for iris, focus, and zoom
- Two XLR mic connections
- 3G-SDI, HDMI, and Ethernet/NDI video outputs
- Intelligent autofocus setting
- Built-in live stream support, no need for an external encoder for one-camera streaming
The Panasonic AG-CX350 4K Camcorder is one of the best 4K video cameras with XLR input. It has all the advanced features you need for high-quality 4K 60fps streaming.
8. Professional Camcorder: Panasonic HC-WXF991
The Panasonic HC-WXF991 is a professional camcorder that is capable of 4K streaming. It includes all of the features that broadcasters need to create a high-quality broadcast. This is a much cheaper alternative to the Panasonic AG-CX350, making it a great budget 4K camera for professionals.
Some of the top features of this camera include:
- 4K video streaming
- Tiltable viewfinder
- LEICA Dicomar lens
- Distortion suppression
- EVF and cinema-like effect
- Photo and video capture
- Picture-in-picture recording
This camera is no longer being made by Panasonic, but it is still being sold by a wide variety of vendors, including Adorama and Amazon. These sell for around $1000, making the Panasonic HC-WXF991 one of the best budget 4K cameras for those that need professional features.
9. Digital Film Camera: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is a high-quality handheld camera that is capable of more than 4K streaming. This camera can shoot up to 6K, which is groundbreaking in the world of broadcasting. If you want a 4K camera that will get you ready for the next leap in video resolution capabilities, this is it.
This camera is available for $2,495.
Some of the top features of this camera include:
- 4K, 5K, and 6K streaming
- LCD touch screen
- Built-in microphone
- Supports a wide variety of codecs
- Color correcting tools
- Compatible with macOS and Windows
- 60-minute battery life
If you want to ensure you are capturing the highest-quality 4K stream, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is the best broadcast camera for 4K, as long as the content you are capturing is less than an hour-long.
10. PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom): Panasonic AW-UE150K
PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras are designed to be permanently installed in concert halls, conference centers, churches, and similar venues. They can be remote-controlled, allowing a single engineer to lead a complex multi-camera shoot from a central booth.
The best 4K camera for PTZ use is the Panasonic AW-UE150K UHD 4K. Running at $9,995, this camera is not cheap. Cheaper 4K PTZ cameras are available, but we’re simply reporting the best. For 4K live streaming in professional venues, this is the best 4K streaming camera.
Some of the top features of the AW-UE150K include:
- 4K output at 60 fps
- 1″ MOS sensor
- 20x optical zoom, with support for 24x optical + digital zoom while retaining 4K quality
- 12G-SDI, HDMI, Fiber, and IP outputs
- Built-in optical image stabilization
- Built-in ND filters
- Power-Over-Ethernet compatible
If you are recording inside of a set venue where events are commonly held, and you need a professional video camera, the Panasonic AW-UE150K UHD 4K is the best broadcast camera.
Encoder Settings for 4K Live Streaming
Once you’ve chosen a 4K camera for live streaming, it’s time to start setting up your live stream. Live streaming on your website requires more than just a good camera. One of the most important live streaming tools is a video encoder.
An encoder is a hardware or software tool that converts your 4K video signal from your 4K streaming camera into a streaming-compatible file format. It sends that video stream to your streaming platform, which distributes it to your audience in real-time.
Setting up a software encoder involves choosing a few different settings. These include video resolution, video bitrate, audio codec, and video codec settings.
Here are Dacast’s required encoder settings for 4K (or ultra-high-definition) live streaming via Dacast:
|VIDEO CODEC||H.264 (x264 may work)|
|FRAME RATE||25 or 30|
|KEYFRAME INTERVAL||2 secs (or 2x frame rate)|
|RATE CONTROL||Constant (CBR)|
|AUDIO BITRATE||128 kbps|
|AUDIO CHANNELS||2 (Stereo)|
|AUDIO SAMPLE RATE||48 kHz (48,000 Hz)|
Resolution & Bitrate Settings for 4K Streaming
In addition to the required encoder settings, here are the suggested video configurations for 4K streaming:
- Video Bitrate (kbps): 1900 – 4500
- Resolution Width (px): 1920
- Resolution Height (px): 1080
- H.264 Profile: High
Video tech is moving forward rapidly. Just a few years ago, 4K was a blip on the horizon. Now the future is here, and it’s time to move to 4K workflows if you haven’t done so already. Streaming with a 4K camera is more accessible than ever since as video quality gets higher and higher, prices for cutting-edge technology fall.
We hope this post has provided you with a useful introduction to the ten best 4K cameras available for live streaming today.
Please remember that a good camera isn’t the only thing you need for streaming. You also need a robust video platform with support for 4K streaming. Here at Dacast, we support multi-bitrate streaming, global content delivery, and a range of other professional video hosting features.
Ready to give Dacast’s streaming platform a try? Create a Dacast account to sign up for our 14-day free trial. No credit card is required. We’ll have you up and streaming in a matter of minutes.