On September 12th, the world waited with bated breath for the biggest reveal since the original iPhone, the iPhone X. The information surged through Apple branded devices, Microsoft Edge and through the fingers of live bloggers across the web.
The iPhone X features new 12MP sensors and an Apple-designed Image Signal Processor which claims faster AF in low light with improved noise reduction, and 4K 60p video capture rounding it out. When you take into consideration the also included massive OLED Super Retina display, wireless charging, IR-facial recognition and Live VR capabilities; the $999 asking price might seem justifiable.
If you were like me you could imagine ordering the new hotness from Apple, that is until the sticker shock slaps you back into reality. The almost $1000 is within neighborhood of high-end enthusiast cameras, and when I say in the neighborhood I mean sitting in your pool drinking mai-tais and asking to borrow gardening tools.
As the gap between mobile photography and “real” photography closes the price of pocketable devices will continue to rise while it meets the capabilities of similarly specced cameras. For those wondering how many cameras could you get for the price of a new iPhone X, below is a list of 4K capable cameras that might be a better investment.
4K Cameras Less Than the iPhone X
The Fujifilm X-T20 features a 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor, 14 fps (electronic shutter), extended ISO 51200, UHD 4K, a tilting 3.0″ 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD, 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder, and retro-inspired physical dials are available for quickly and intuitively adjusting exposure and shooting settings.
The pocket-sized behemoth that is the RX100 V features a Fast Hybrid AF system with 315 focal-plane phase-detection points, 20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor, 3.0″ 1.23m-dot LCD, pop-up 0.39″ 2.36m-dot OLED Tru-Finder EVF 24 fps with a buffer up to 148 JPEG frames, and UHD 4K video. The AF system allows for focus lock in as little as 0.05 seconds.
The built-in Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens has an equivalent to 24-70mm and with a fast f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture, providing outstanding performance. The RX100 V retains the many of the added features its predecessors, including a lens control ring, built-in ND filter, and a variety of customizable buttons.
Panasonic’s G85 is a multifaceted Micro Four Thirds camera that is characterized by its flexible photo capabilities and excellent UHD 4K video recording. The G85 features a 16MP MOS sensor, 40 fps (electronic shutter), IBIS 5-axis sensor-shift, 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder as well as a 3.0″ 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD. Additionally, the body is weather-sealed for work in inclement weather.
Deploying Panasonic’s Depth-From-Defocus Technology, AF quickly calculates the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in order to suit working with continuous shooting rates up to 6 fps with continuous AF. The sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter to achieve better sharpness and resolution. This Micro Four Thirds camera is capable of recording UHD 4K/ 30p at 100 Mbps.
One of the newest additions to the mirrorless world comes from Olympus. The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a compact, lightweight, SLR-styled Micro Four Thirds camera featuring a 16.1MP Four Thirds Live MOS sensor and the Dual Quad-Core TruePic VIII Image Processor.
The camera is adorned with a 3.0″ tilting touchscreen LCD, a 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder, a UHS-IIm slot, and an excellent in-body 5-axis image stabilization system that can compensate for about 4 stops. The TruePic VIII pushed the E-M10 Mark III into the 4K realm with resolutions of UHD 4K/30p (102 Mbps ), 1080/60p and high-speed 720/120p.
The reputable Alpha a6300 from Sony is considered the baby brother of the A6500, but the camera in itself is not a baby in any way. The camera features a 24.2MP Exmor CMOS APS-C sized sensor, XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, a rear 3.0″ 921.6k-dot LCD monitor, and BIONZ X image processor.
One of the main features of the a6300 is the 4D FOCUS system which incorporates 425 on-chip phase-detection points along with 169 contrast-detection. Covering nearly the entire sensor area, the focusing system can lock focus in as little as 0.05 seconds.
Internal 4K/30p and Full HD 1080/120p with S-Log3 Gamma. Uncompressed HDMI output outputs 4K in 4:2:2 sampling. Cine profile can be used to mimic the qualities of scanned negative film with a wide gamut comparable to the DCI-P3 color space. Additionally, the popular S-Log2 setting is also available.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is a legend and champion among filmmakers. This mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera features a 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and a 4-CPU Venus Engine, but where it excels is in its video capabilities.
The GH4 delivers video quality surpassing many professional video cameras. Video can be recorded in a variety of formats, from efficient AVCHD and AVCHD Progressive, to 200 Mbps All-Intra and 100 Mbps IPB MOV and MP4 formats. Resolutions as UHD 4K 3840×2160 30p/24p and cinematic DCI 4K 4096×2160 video at 24p can be achieved.
- 4096 x 2160p at 24 fps (100 Mbps MOV)
- 3840 x 2160p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 fps (100 Mbps MOV)
- 1920 x 1080p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 50, 59.94 fps (200 Mbps MOV)
Like its predecessor, the GH4 features a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, while offering an increased resolution on both the OLED monitor and electronic viewfinder. It also features built-in Wi-Fi with NFC technology, in-camera creative controls, and a high-speed 49-point autofocus in both photo and video mode.
With the V-Log L Function Activation Code Kit, the GH4 unlock the V-Log L gamma right away, giving a flat profile that provides a wide dynamic range of up to 12 stops for maximum latitude in post-production.
Building on the ever popular X-E2, the Fujifilm X-E3 features a rear 3.0″ 1.04m-dot LCD touchscreen, 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder with 54.54 fps, dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. And built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The X-E3 supports UHD 4K/30p with Fuji‘s fantastic film simulations.
Utilizing both contrast and phase-detection hybrid autofocus system, the X-E3 employs 91 AF points with phase-detection points covering 50% side-to-side and 75% top-to-bottom of the frame.
Mobile manufacturers continue to push the capabilities of what a phone is capable of, as not too long ago cell phone technology surpassed the computing power of the vessel that took men to the Moon. If you would have said 5 years ago that cell phones would be taking the covers of magazines people would look at you like you had a screw loose, but those are the times we live in now.
The mobile segment evolves so rapidly that other electronic markets seem stagnant in comparison. But a slower pace of evolution doesn’t mean they aren’t still miles better for your money in some respects. Dedicated cameras will have better dynamic range and low light performance due to the larger sensors and dedicated hardware inside of them, and if you’re looking for a very mobile solution for around the same price as the iPhone X. Maybe the X isn’t the best choice, so spend the money on one of these instead.