The best cameras for filming 4K video at 120 frames per second.
What cameras can shoot 4K video at 120 frames per second?
We’ve picked together the top consumer cameras for 4K 120p footage to aid you with your filmmaking, from interchangeable lens cameras like the Canon EOS R5 to smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra to 360 VR alternatives from Kandao.
But first, let’s look at why you’d want to shoot 4K at greater frame rates in the first place.
Why do you want to shoot video at such a high frame rate?
Many photographers and filmmakers have been looking for cameras that can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second in recent years. As technology has progressed, some people are now looking for cameras that can shoot 4K at 120 frames per second. Why are people clamouring for higher frame rates?
Let’s start with the advantages of filming 4K at 60 frames per second. Shooting at 60 frames per second allows you to slow down footage to half speed for that scene-stealing slow-motion effect.
You can also output the footage at the regular playback frame rate of 29.7fps. 60fps footage can simply be blended with 29.7fps footage in this manner. But, while it can and does happen frequently, it isn’t ideal, as we’ll discuss later.
Let’s start with the obvious advantages. You can extend 1 second of footage over 2 seconds by shooting it at 60 frames per second and slowing it down to 29.7 frames per second. This is ideal for creating a scene-setting visual effect. Consider the film Reservoir Dogs.
If you slow down footage shot at 30 frames per second to half speed, you’ll have to stretch 29.7 frames over 2 seconds, or 15 frames per second. That’s not enough, especially at 4K, so everything ends up seeming staccato – to borrow a musical term.
Using this logic, you’d assume that shooting at 60 frames per second would be a smart choice, since you can reduce the playback speed and combine it with conventional 29.7 frames per second as needed. However, shooting at 60 frames per second all of the time is not optimal.
Before we get into why, it’s important to remember that you should always shoot at the frame rate that you require. If the footage you’re capturing will be played back at a typical 29.7 frames per second, shoot at that frame rate. If you desire slow motion, raise the frame rate to cover the required number of frames.
Half-speed playback at 29.7fps requires 60fps, quarter-speed playback requires 120fps, and so on. Now we see why you’d shoot 4K at 120 frames per second.
Using the 180-degree shutter rule as a guideline:
Let’s look at why you shouldn’t always shoot at 60 frames per second, even though it seems reasonable at first glance.
This is when the technical side of things comes into play. You should consider the 180-degree shutter rule. As a result, the frame rate should always be half that of the shutter speed. At 29.7fps, finding a balance of gain (ISO) and IRIS (Aperture) to permit that crucial 1/60th shutter speed is relatively simple.
If you increase the frame rate to 60fps, you’ll need a shutter speed of 1/120th, which is a significant increase.
If you shoot a frame at 1/120th of a second, there will be no motion blur, however if you shoot at 1/60th, there will be motion blur in the frame. In video, motion blur is significant because it aids in the all-important persistence of vision. The blur actually aids in playback smoothness.
That 4K film captured at 60 frames per second and 1/120th of a second and played back at 60 frames per second will look great. The action looks silky smooth since there’s enough substance there. If you stretch that footage out over 2 seconds, the optical illusion and absence of blur still work, but if you slow it down to 30 frames per second, you start to breach the 180-degree shutter rule.
Although the effect is minor, it is evident. The action-packed 300 gladiator-style effect is achieved by breaking the 180-degree shutter rule with quicker shutter speeds. When you slow it down, it gets a little more romantic.
Finally, 60fps is a sought-after feature since it allows you to shoot seamless slow motion, and it’s an effect that you can’t live without these days as a filmmaker. However, be careful because using it incorrectly might have a dramatic effect.
Why shoot 4K at 120 frames per second?
Although recording in 4K at 120 frames per second is a specialised feature, it is nevertheless a terrific capability to have in a camera.
When looking at a camera that shoots 4K at 120fps, there are a few things to consider, such as the amount of data produced. Rather than 100mb each frame, this is generally expressed as 100mb/s (megabits per second).
As a result, most cameras, particularly mirrorless and DSLR cameras, will split the bit rate across frames as vbr (variable bit rate). Each frame would be 3.3Mbs if the bit rate was fixed at 30fps 100mb/s.
When you set it to 60 frames per second, the file size lowers to 1.6 megabytes.
Because of vbr, this isn’t the case. The more frames you have, the less variation there is between them, and hence the less data you need to record.
So one frame might max out at 3.3mbs because there’s a lot of movement, but the next might be 1mbs since there’s less movement.
When shooting at 30 frames per second, there is a larger chance that more may change within the frame, resulting in more data being collected.
Even with the flexibility of variable bitrate, the frame rate can still exceed the camera’s maximum of 100mb/s when the frame rate grows.
Take, for example, the GoPro. You’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in 1080p action footage filmed at 30 or 60 frames per second, but push it to 120 frames per second and you’ll notice pixelation. At 240fps, you can definitely notice the difference.
If you use the same settings for a static scenario, the high-frame-rate footage will still look nice. Because the frame has altered less, less data needs to be recorded.
Similarly, cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can capture 1080p at 60 frames per second, but you must reduce the resolution to 720p to shoot at 120 frames per second.
Canon is most likely limiting it because the 4K mb/s is 500mb/s, which sounds absurdly excessive.
4K at 120fps is incredible, but can the camera handle it? At 4K, what is the mb/s? Is there enough room to get good footage?
The Sony RXO, for example, can shoot at 1000 frames per second in 1080p, which is great until you see the quality of the film in regular lighting.
Then there’s the matter of the heat. All of this processing could come at a cost.
Finally, there’s shutter speed to consider. When shooting 4K at 120 frames per second, the shutter speed must be adjusted to 1/250th of a second (there is no 1/240th, so round up).
That’s all well and good, but then there’s the question of lighting.
You should also think about file size and processing power. Slow-motion footage necessitates rendering and processing, which adds to the storage requirements of 4K. This is the point at which you should start looking into Nvme M.2 hard discs.
1. Canon EOS R5:
Here is the specifications link : https://www.canon-europe.com/cameras/eos-r5/specifications/
Although the Canon EOS R3, which is in development, will take its place, the Canon EOS R5 is Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera and the most anticipated camera unveiled in 2020.
When it was first announced, the Canon R5’s 8K video capability grabbed the majority of the attention, however the Canon R5 is really a 45MP stills camera with an outstanding autofocus mechanism. In both video and stills mode, this Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system provides 5,940 customizable AF points and excellent eye detection AF for humans, animals, and birds.
The Canon EOS R5 boasts 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, just like the Canon EOS R6 that was launched at the same time. Shutter speed correction of up to 8EV is possible in the R5.
The R5 is priced similarly to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, indicating that it is intended for usage by experienced amateur and professional photographers. On the 3.15-inch 2.1-million dot vari-angle screen, it mixes a solid array of button and dial controls with a superb touch-control interface.
While 8K footage isn’t for everyone, the R5 can deliver excellent results, with the 4K HQ (High Quality) setting in particular stunning. All the way up to ISO 25,600, the still image quality is great.
2. Sony A7S III:
Here is the specifications link : https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1577838-REG/sony_ilce7sm3_b_alpha_a7s_iii_mirrorless.html
The Sony a7S III’s main video feature is that it can capture 4K video at up to 120p and full HD video at up to 240p, with full-sensor readout and no pixel-binning, and with the hybrid autofocus technology in use.
In addition, all recording formats support 10-bit colour depth and 4:2:2 colour sampling.
Sony has upgraded the XAVC S 4K (Long GOP) format and developed new XAVC S-I 4K (All-Intra) and XAVC HS 4K (Long GOP) video codecs for the A7S III.
Intra-frame recording is a compression technique that captures more data but necessitates higher bit rates and, as a result, consumes more storage space than Long GOP. It comes in handy when you require the highest quality 4K video internally captured.
XAVC S-I 4K (All-I) can record at 50/25fps and 10bit 4:2:2 500Mbps in normal mode, and at 110/50/25/12/6/3/2/1fps at 25p (4x slow-mo)/50p and 10bit 4:2:2 250Mbps in S&Q (Slow and Quick) mode. The S&Q choices are what make a CFexpress card necessary.
In S&Q mode, the bit rate is 250Mbps, which implies the recorded bitrate/framerate is 10, which is significantly higher than prior cameras. As a result, the in-camera slow and fast motion performances should be significantly improved over previous versions.
It’s worth noting that, while audio isn’t captured in S&Q mode (as is customary), the AF system is functional, so tracking a fast-moving subject and generating a slow-motion film should be straightforward.
The A7S III can send 16-bit raw 4K 60p video to an Atomos Ninja V through its HDMI 2.1 connector, in addition to recording to a UHS-II SD card or a CFexpress Type A card in the memory slot. It’s worth noting that HDMI 2.1 only supports a maximum framerate of 60p.
- Video: 8K at 30p, 4K at 120p
- Sensor: 1/1.7-inch
- Screen: 2.4-inch OLED touchscreen
- Storage: 64GB internal, microSD card slot
The spec sheet for the Kandao QooCam 8K is quite remarkable. A 1/1.7-inch sensor is housed inside the camera, allowing for 8K video recording and 12-bit Raw capture.
The new QooCam can record 360 movies in 4K at 120fps for slow motion playback, in addition to 8K. It also supports the video coding formats H.264 and H.265.
Stitching is done in-camera when it comes to editing 360 footage. Then, using the QooCam App, fine-tune your films with the 8K Express Edit feature.
The QooCam 8K also has a built-in automated picture stacking tool for raw data called Kandao Raw+, which can capture spherical stills at 30-megapixel quality. This broadens the dynamic range while lowering noise.
Kandao has also added their Super Steady electrical stabilisation technology, which employs a 6-axis gyro and an IMU.
A 2.4-inch OLED touchscreen for accessing major camera operations, live-streaming capability, a QooCam S vlog mode, 64GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot are among the other features.
Vloggers will love the QooCam 8K’s 3.5mm microphone port, which is one of the few on 360 cameras.
Many of the 360 effects, known as SmartClips, that are currently ubiquitous in 360 cameras may be found here, including tiny planet, Inception mode, Hyperlapse, Rabbit Hole, and more.
3. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra:
- Video Resolution: 8K at 30fps, 4K at 120fps
- Zoom: 100x Space Zoom
- Audio: Zoom-in mic
Starting with the camera, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has a lot to offer. The S20 Ultra’s quad camera array includes a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 108-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 48-megapixel telephoto camera, and a depth vision camera on the back.
Furthermore, thanks to nona-binning technology, the S20 Ultra’s pixels collect more light. As a result, nine pixels are effectively combined into one, resulting in larger photosites that collect more light.
The Ultra has a 40-megapixel selfie camera on the front. Single Take is a new feature in Photo mode. When you press the shutter in this mode, the S20 Ultra records a brief video clip and then AI selects the best frames.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra uses all of its cameras at the same time in Quick Take. After that, it shows you a selection of your best photographs at various focus lengths.
The 108MP camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra can also shoot 8K video at 30 frames per second, as well as 4K at 120 frames per second, Full HD, and HD. You can watch 8K videos on Samsung’s 8K-ready TVs or post content directly to YouTube.
Users of the Galaxy S20 Ultra can now shoot in Pro Mode. This means you have the same level of control as if you were filming with a DSLR.
The zoom-in mic was another intriguing feature that proved very useful in my initial experiments. The microphone on the Galaxy S20 Ultra will essentially zoom in 6 times to seek sounds and then follow that sound. For example, if you were filming a live band or a wedding speech and wanted to reduce the background noise, this would be great.
Another significant feature of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 range is Space Zoom. This is a novel hybrid optical zoom and AI-powered digital zoom combination. The S20 Ultra has a 100x Space Zoom (the S20+ and S20 each have a 30x extension).
4. Z Cam E2:
- Video Resolution: 4K at 120fps
- Sensor: 10.2MP Four Thirds CMOS (same as in the Panasonic GH5S)
The Micro Four Thirds cinema camera from Z Cam can capture 10-bit colour and shoot 4K video at 120 frames per second.
The Z Cam E2 can record 4K at 60fps HDMI 2.0 4K 60fps (10-bit) and 4K at 60fps SDI 12G in addition to 4K at 120fps, 10-bit colour, H.264 & H.265 (10 bit) (optional accessory required). You can also record Full HD video at up to 240 frames per second.
A Sony 4/3 CMOS sensor with a pixel size of 4.63m is found inside the Z Cam E2. It also has a ‘Deep Learning Engine built in with SDK,’ according to Z Cam.
The E2’s body is composed of aluminium alloy and uses CFast 2.0 memory cards. It measures 91mm x 98mm x 80mm without the lens. Mic-in and audio-out connections, USB Type C 3.0 and HDMI ports, and a 10-pin LEMO port for synchronisation are all included in the body design.
5. Kandao Obsidian S:
- Video Resolution: 6K at 50fps, 4K at 120fps
- Livestreaming: 4K 3D Livestreaming
The Obsidian S by Kandao is a professional 3D 360 VR camera that can record immersive video in 6K at 50 frames per second or 3D 4K at 120 frames per second. For 4K livestreaming, you can also purchase a separate Kandao Live licence.
Each of the six 190-degree lenses on the Obsidian S records content to its own microSD card. PCM-format audio is also recorded by six microphones.
An audio input jack, an ethernet port, and GigE connectivity for transferring files and providing power are all included.
Log mode, time-lapse, and DNG-format still capture are among the recording choices. A 12-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 10 stops of dynamic range in video and 12 stops in stills is housed inside.
6. Insta360 Pro 2:
- Video Resolution: 4K at 120fps, 8K at 30fps (3D), 8K at 60fps (2D)
- Log Mode: i-log mode for colour grading
- Livestreaming: 4K livestream capability
The Insta360 Pro 2 can capture 8K 3D at 30 frames per second, iK monoscopic film at 60 frames per second, 6K 3D at 60 frames per second, and 4K 3D at 120 frames per second.
In-camera HDR, which promises a larger, more natural-looking dynamic range, is also available.
In addition, a new i-Log option allows users to grade colour in post-production.
FlowState stabilisation technology was revealed by Insta360 earlier this year as a firmware update, but it’s already built into the Pro 2. A gyroscope is used by FlowState to track motion in nine axes. When used in conjunction with Insta360’s software, users can automatically stabilise their film.
4K live-streaming in both 3D and monoscopic formats is one of the other features. You can also save 8K versions of your live-stream material at the same time as your broadcast, allowing you to edit it afterwards.
You may also use the built-in GPS module to add GPS data to your photos and contribute to Google Maps Street View.
Farsight is a 360-degree live monitoring system on the Insta360 Pro 2 that promises a high-definition, low-latency video stream for long-distance preview.
This helps to solve the problem that some 360 videographers have with their camera and device’s WiFi connections becoming disconnected.
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