In this guide, we will examine three 4K cameras that we think would best suit a beginner to start their journey shooting stock footage, as well as suggest additional accessories we think would pair well with the cameras.
We will investigate a delightful budget version for beginner content creators, a mid-range model for individuals looking for more range and features, as well as a high-end camera for seasoned filmmakers interested in building their own gear.
❖ What footage sells best;
❖ How to get started with uploading;
❖ What your portfolio should look like;
❖ How to excel at writing Metadata;
❖ and much more.
Fact: You can successfully sell videos made by each of these cameras overviewed below.
1. Low price range – DJI Osmo Pocket 2 (from $349)
DJI Osmo Pocket 2 is an excellent option for vloggers, content, and stock footage creators, combining both stable video and pocketable size.
It has a built-in three-axis gimbal that offers exceptional image and video stabilization and comes with many frame rate options. In addition, it can record and playback video at up to 60 fps in 4k and FHD, and it has an added high-speed recording setting in FHD that can record 120 fps and 240 fps video for slow-motion playback.
Unfortunately, noise handling, as well as highlight adjustment, are probably the camera’s weakest areas. However, in most well-lit environments, the comfort, versatility, and stabilization it offers are first-class.
See the DJI Osmo Pocket 2 in action: DJI Pocket 2 4K Cinematic
You can purchase the DJI Pocket 2 for $349 or the DJI Pocket 2 Creator Combo for $279 on Amazon.
- Lens: 20mm equivalent FOV 93° f/1.8
- Sensor: 1/1.7” CMOS, effective pixels: 64 MP (also 16MP photo mode)
- Video resolution: 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps); 2.7K (2720×1530 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps); FHD (1920×1080 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps)
- Stabilization: 3-axis
- Video modes: video, HDR video, timelapse, motion lapse, hyper-lapse
- Zeeom: 8x (64MP mode), 4x lossless zoom in 1080p or 16MP mode
- Panorama modes: 3×3 and 180°
- Supported SD Cards: Micro SD slot up to 256 GB
- Battery life: 140 min (1080/24p)
- Weight: 117 g
- Dimensions: 124.7×38.1×30 mm
- HDR Video: 2.7K/30p (arriving in a future firmware update)
- Four microphones with directional audio and soundtracking
What makes DJI Osmo Pocket unique?
Even though the DJI Pocket 2 only sports a smartphone-grade sensor, combined with the camera’s mastery of stabilization and object tracking, you can get some excellent quality footage out of it. So, while it might never win over hardcore videographers, it can be the steady-cam option for vloggers and casual filmmakers.
Squeeze more in the frame with a 180° panorama or everyone into a group selfie with a 3×3 panorama.
Active track 3.0
The camera also offers an active object tracking function, whereby it will focus on a moving subject (a person) and turn its head to keep it in shot. It features a hybrid AF, which uses both phase-detect autofocus and contrast-detect autofocus.
The Pocket 2 offers time-lapse function as well as motion-lapse to add smooth camera movement and hyper-lapse to let you travel through time.
The Pocket 2 sports a 3-axis motorized gimbal, making shake-free imaging one of its most remarkable features. And because of its compact nature, it’s much easier to use than larger gimbals but as reliable. There are three primary modes: Follow (camera remains horizontal), Tilt locked (up/down rotation disabled), and FPV mode (full range of movement).
The DJI Pocket 2 packs a 1/1.7-inch sensor and a 93-degree field of view (FOV), translating into a 26mm (f/2.0) to 20mm (f/1.8) lens. In addition, it can record 4K 60fps video at 100Mbps and HDR video.
The DJI Pocket 2 can capture the impressive depth of field when shooting relatively close-up, and its autofocus is solid, a marked improvement over its predecessor, the Osmo Pocket.
Where it somewhat fails is its noise reduction and managing high-contrast environments. For example, in the dark, or even when capturing dark objects, you’ll see some grain, and focus can struggle when there are heavy highlights. If you need top-grade video quality in all environments, this isn’t the camera for you, which is to be expected in this size and price bracket.
For an extra cost, you can pick up the Creator Combo, which on top of the basic bundle’s accessories, includes a Do-It-All Handle, Micro Tripod, Tripod Mount, Mini Control Stick, Wide-Angle Lens, Windscreen (dead cat/wind guard), and a Wireless Microphone. However, most of those are also available separately.
This little handheld camera with a miniature motorized 3-axis mechanical gimbal creates an ultra-smooth video out of the box. Yet, let’s face it, to get the most out of your clips, you’ll need a few accessories in your camera bag.
Natural density (ND) filters (a must-have!)
Natural density (ND) filters allow you to bring down the overall exposure of your shots without adjusting your camera settings. In addition, the ND filters make the Pocket 2 more versatile in all lighting conditions.
For example, they can effectively cut down the glare on water and enhance hues while also letting you control the shutter speed for your video. Moreover, they deliver clear footage and brighter colors when shooting in bright sunlight.
All in all, ND filters are a recommended investment for anyone aiming to capture smooth, cinematic footage and minimize any post-production efforts.
Freewell ND filters
We recommend the filter combo from Freewell, particularly the 6-pack budget kit, which offers the most versatility and the chance to experiment with different techniques.
The 6 Pack budget kit comprises six camera lens filters essential for capturing high-quality footage and images in all daytime conditions. Firstly, the pack contains ND filters which help slow down the camera’s shutter speed by gradually restricting the amount of light entering the camera lens.
Additionally, a CPL (Circular Polarizer Lens) filter is included, which helps prevent unwanted glare from reflective sources (e.g., windows, water, and snow) from damaging picture quality. Finally, the hybrid filters (ND/PL) incorporate the excellent features of ND and PL filters to give crystal-clear photographs and videos when you film outdoors.
Recommended video: Freewell ND Filters Review
You can find the Freewell 6-pack ND filters on Amazon for $50-$70.
DJI Micro Tripod
Weighing a mere 27g and measuring 118x118x25mm unfolded and 18x15x7mm folded, this travel-friendly tripod is genuinely pocket-sized and fits in the Pocket 2 Case. However, it’s designed to stand only on flat surfaces and requires the purchase of DJI’s Tripod Mount Adapter Stand.
Find it on Amazon for $28-$30.
Pros and cons of DJI Osmo Pocket 2
- Exceptional image stabilization;
- Handy tracking feature;
- Lightweight and portable;
- Up to 4K video at 60fps;
- Extremely affordable;
- Solid build quality;
- Has many scene-capturing pros due to its small size;
- Creator Combo includes valuable additions, e.g., the Do-It-All handle.
- Poor performance in low-light environments;
- Struggles with high-contrast settings if a filmmaker ‘hates’ manual mode;
- Fixed focal length and aperture;
- Not water-resistant.
Final thoughts about Pocket 2
Ultimately, the Pocket 2 is incredibly straightforward to operate and is an excellent option for content creators who need to capture stabilized video and don’t want to be weighed down with tons of gear.
However, its poor performance under low-light or high-contrast conditions makes it unsuitable for filming in all environments. Therefore, we recommend adding ND filters to your camera lens for a more cinematic and pro-quality feel. And yes, you can successfully sell your DJI Pocket 2-made videos as stock footage.
2. Medium price range – OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 Mark III (From $558)
The OM-D M10 Mark III is Olympus’s entry-level SLR-like mirrorless model for beginners, advanced amateurs, enthusiasts, and even pros looking for a lightweight, inexpensive camera.
The M10 III is a 16MP Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera delivering high image quality, excellent color reproduction, and good levels of detail. In addition, noise is well controlled, and shooting at higher ISO speeds produces sharp images.
All in all, an excellent choice for those that want a relatively easy-to-use, attractively retro-styled camera with a competitive set of features, high image quality, and some unique shooting modes, along with a 5-axis in-body stabilization system and 4K video recording.
See the M10 III in action: 4K cinematic video test
You can purchase the OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 Mark III for $558 (black body) or $598 (silver body) on Amazon.
- Sensor size/type: 16.1 Micro Four Thirds
- AF points: 121 (contrast AF)
- Processor: TruePic™ VIII
- ISO range: 100-25,600
- Video: 4K UHD at 30, 25, 24fps
- Focusing System: Contrast detection with 121 focus points
- Stabilization: In-body 5-Axis image stabilization
- Viewfinder: 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- Rear Monitor: 3.0″ tilting touch LCD
- Creative Features: Nighttime Live Composite, 15 Art Filters with new Bleach Bypass Filter
- Special Features: New intuitive touch interface, advanced photo mode, shortcut button, and built-in Wi-Fi
- Sequential Shooting Speed: 8.6fps [H mode] 4.8fps [L mode] mechanical shutter
- Flash: Built-in pop-up flash
- Weight: 410g
Unique features and video quality
Lightweight, compact, and with a user-friendly interface, this mirrorless model is a superbly versatile choice for beginners and pros alike. Let’s dive into some of the unique features it packs.
The E-M10 Mark III has in-body 5-axis image stabilization, which automatically compensates for your movement. This technology makes capturing razor-sharp video at slower shutter speeds, handheld, and in dimly-lit settings possible. Especially useful for on-the-move shooters that want to be able to record quality video without carrying a tripod with them.
Choice of lens
The Olympus E-M10 Mark III is compatible with all Olympus M.Zuiko lenses, offering you the flexibility to shoot from any distance as well as a variety of perspectives.
Hand-held 4K video
Creators can shoot smooth and stunning ultra-high resolution videos in 4K with a simple twist of the Mode Dial. Employ the High-Speed Video Mode to capture fast action with slow-motion playback. And use Clips Mode to create fun, shareable videos to automatically record short video clips of 1, 2, 4, or 8 seconds. Additionally, you can quickly stitch your clips together all in-camera, with no post editing or computer software required.
ISO ranges from 200-to 6,400, with an expandable low of 100 and a high of 25,600. Low light/high ISO images were usable up to around 3200, but cleaner results can be achieved at no more than ISO 800-1600.
Despite the E-M10 Mark III not carrying the Olympus’s 20MP sensor, the image quality looks excellent, and its 16MP shots are still sharp and detailed.
Video is pretty good for this class of camera. Users have multiple choices: 4K (3840 x 2160 at 30p, 25p and 24p); FHD (1920 x 1280 at 60p, 50p,30p, 25p, 24p) and HD (1280 x 720 at 30p, 25p and 24p). For the best performance, you’ll need a Class 10 or higher SD card with UHS-II or UHS-1 U3 card for 4K shooting.
In addition to Program AE, movies can be shot using Aperture-priority Shutter-priority and Manual Exposure modes. If you want to get creative, try using the Art Filters. Time-lapse shooting is also available. And image stabilization works well during video capture.
The E-M10 III’s autofocus is solely based on contrast detection. While an excellent way of ensuring perfect focus when shooting static subjects, it can deliver disappointing results when used on moving subjects.
Pros and cons of Olympus E-M10 Mark III
- Effective 5-axis in-body image stabilization;
- Affordable but packed with features;
- 4K up to 30 fps video recording;
- Built-in Wi-Fi;
- In-camera art filters;
- Outstanding color reproduction;
- Good noise reduction;
- Unique retro design;
- Tilting 3-inch touchscreen and an EVF;
- Responsive touchscreen;
- Extensive range of compatible lenses to choose from.
- Only a 16-megapixel sensor;
- Tracking focus slows speed to 4fps;
- No Bluetooth or NFC;
- Continuous AF could be better;
- Feels like a downgrade from its predecessor in some areas, i.e., plastic camera body compared to the metal on Mark II and no wireless flash control.
Closing thoughts on OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a stunning entry-level model providing beginners with an affordable yet feature-packed camera.
While its autofocus and image resolution somewhat lags the competition, its stand-out feature is an effective in-body stabilizer, especially handy for low-light and handheld video shooting. Overall, the E-M10 IV is a fine videographer companion for various users and is a solid affordable 4k camera for stock footage.
3. Higher price range – Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (from $1295)
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is a compact video camera that can capture movie-quality footage at various resolutions and frame rates aimed at professional filmmakers and passionate hobbyists. This camera is literally ‘the beast‘ for that price range.
Despite its relatively compact size, the camera features a 4/3 image sensor with 4096 x 2160 resolution and an MFT lens mount, letting you capture a wide dynamic range of Hollywood-quality digital film footage. In addition, the camera can use a variety of existing lenses and record footage to SD or CFast card or an external device via its USB-C port.
A certified game-changer, the camera spun the industry around as it brought 4K cinema-level filming capability into the hands of anyone with an idea and an applicable budget. Overall, it’s genuinely an extraordinarily advanced and affordable luxury digital film camera.
See the Blackmagic Pocket 4K in action, combined with a Sigma 18-35 ART lens and Ronin RS2 stabilizer: A cinematic fashion film
You can purchase the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for $1,295 on Amazon.
- Sensor size: 18.96 x 10.00 mm
- Sensor Type: CMOS
- Shutter Type: Rolling Shutter
- Dual native ISO: 400 and 3200
- Advertised Dynamic Range: 13 Stops
- Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
- Lens Communication: Yes
- Built-In ND Filter: None
- Focus: Autofocus is available using compatible lenses
- Built-In microphone: Stereo
- Recording Media:
- 1 x CFast 2.0 Card Slot
- 1 x SDXC UHS-II Card Slot
- Shooting Resolutions
- 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI) up to 60 fps
- 4096 x 1720 (4K 2.4:1) up to 75 fps
- 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD) up to 60 fps
- 2880 x 2160 (2.8K anamorphic) up to 80 fps
- 2688 x 1512 (2.6K 16:9) up to 120 fps
- 1920 x 1080 (HD) up to 120 fps
- Video Output: 4:2:2 10-Bit via HDMI: 1920 x 1080p at 23.98/24/25/29.97/30/50/59.94/60 fps
- Video Connectors: HDMI
- Audio Connectors:
- 1 x 3-Pin Mini XLR Mic/Line Level (+48 V Phantom Power) Input
- 1 x 1/8″ (3.5 mm) Stereo Mic/Line Level (+48 V Phantom Power) Input
- 1 x 1/8″ (3.5 mm) Stereo Headphone Output
- Screen: LCD (5” 1920 x 1080), touchscreen
- Battery Type: Canon LP-E6
- Material: Carbon Fiber
- Dimensions: 177.8 x 96.52 x 86.36 mm
- Weight: 680 g
Unique features and video quality
The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is truly astonishing in its price point and what it offers. Let’s look at some of its most impressive features, bearing in mind that it only demonstrates a fraction of its potential. Notably, the camera’s full capabilities can best be achieved with various complementing accessories.
Compatibility with cinema and photographic lenses
You can pick between EF or MFT lenses, making the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera compatible with the most extensive range and most popular lenses. Using commonly available photographic lenses provides incredible creative choice and excellent lens effects.
Multiple resolutions and frame rates
The 4K model lets you shoot up to 60 fps 4K DCI at 4096 x 2160 and 60 fps in Ultra HD at 3840 x 2160 or even 120 fps in 1080HD.
LCD touchscreen display
The large LCD touchscreen displays crucial information on the heads-up display (HUD) and access to all camera setup menus. The HUD lets you see and modify settings such as the timecode, shutter angle, white balance, ISO, frame rate, iris, audio levels, and more with a single tap.
Wireless Bluetooth control
If you want to position the camera on the end of a boom or in another hard-to-reach location, you can get complete control via Bluetooth remorse control up to 30 feet away. You can download the Blackmagic Camera Control app for your iPad or use third-party apps such as Bluetooth+ or tRigger on your iOS and Android devices.
DaVinci Resolve Studio license
The Pocket Cinema Camera comes with the full version of DaVinci Resolve Studio, the same software used in Hollywood for creating high-end feature films, TV shows, commercials, etc. With the DaVinci Resolve, you’ll get professional editing, advanced color correction, audio post, and visual effects tools in one software application.
The video quality was awe-inspiring for the price. The 4K video is beautifully sharp but free from visible over-sharpening.
High dynamic range (HDR) images
The distance between an image’s lightest and darkest parts is called dynamic range and is measured in stops. The Pocket Cinema camera offers an incredible 13 stops of dynamic range, meaning they preserve more detail in an image’s lightest and darkest areas than simple video cameras can. So, for example, shooting an indoor scene like a cafe still retains the elements of bright outdoor light coming through a window.
Dual gain ISO
The Pocket Cinema Camera features dual gain ISO up to 25,600, meaning they’re optimized to lessen grain or noise in images while maintaining the sensor’s full dynamic range. The native ISO of 400 is perfect for scenes with on-set lighting. The secondary high base ISO of 3200 is ideal when shooting in badly or dimly lit environments.
Possible pitfalls and some recommended accessories
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is designed with standard mounting points and features that let you expand them so you can build a fully custom camera rig and reveal the camera’s full potential. You can choose from a comprehensive range of accessories such as different lens adapters, rails, cages, gimbals, 3rd party batteries, external microphones, and more.
Though the lack of some features will compel you to buy additional accessories, your finished setup will be worthwhile and will deliver outstanding quality footage.
If your needs must rely on continuous autofocus, then the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K won’t deliver that. There is, of course, autofocus, and it works with either a single tap of the screen or by hitting the focus button on the back of the camera. Unfortunately, however, it won’t follow your subject and adjust focus automatically. That might be a significant issue for some, but most shooters prefer setting up shots and using manual focus anyway.
The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K offers no in-body stabilization. And while not a problem for tripod or gimbal users, if you plan to shoot any handheld video, ensure you go for stabilization in the lens, and the results should be impressive, but if you want your footage to be stunning, you probably will need to invest in a proper gimbal (for example DJI Ronin SC 2).
Choosing the proper lens for your Blackmagic 4K
★ For a beginner setup, since the camera comes without a lens, we recommend the Panasonic Lumix G Vario Lens, which includes built-in optical image stabilization.
You can find the lens on Amazon for $399;
★★ For a more advanced shooter, we recommend the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1: 1.8 lens, also paired with in-body stabilization.
You can purchase the lens on Amazon for $399;
★★★ For a powerful zoom lens, we would go for the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14‑150mm 1:4.0‑5.6 II, also boasting in-body stabilization technology.
You can purchase the lens on Amazon for $559.99.
Choosing the gimbal for Blackmagic 4K
Alternatively, you can also opt for a gimbal stabilizer. You can find various compatible stabilizers for a wide array of budgets. We suggest the DJI RSC 2 – 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer.
The DJI RSC 2 is a compact three-axis camera gimbal that delivers smooth, cinematic shots with a portable setup. The DJI RSC 2 has almost everything you could ask for, including advanced smartphone connectivity, 14-hour battery life, an OLED info screen, new Titan stabilization algorithms, and a 3kg payload (for cameras with hefty lenses), as well as a unique folding design for enhanced portability.
It’s affordable enough to appeal to beginners but also suitable for professional use. And while its many setting and accessories might seem intimidating at first, once you’ve learned your way around this gimbal, it will be long before you deplete its potential.
You can find it on Amazon for $399.
Recommended video: DJI RSC2 | The ULTIMATE Setup For My Blackmagic Pocket 4K
Camera cage with stabilizing handle (a must-have)
Finding the right cage to mount whatever third-party accessories you may need is critical to reaching a camera’s full potential. On top of protecting the camera’s plastic body, cages provide mounting for external powering solutions or accessories (e.g., external flash) or provide mounting for follow focus (BMPCC 4K doesn’t have continuous AF).
We recommend the SMALLRIG BMPCC Cage that comes with one top handle and features multiple mounting points, a cold shoe (a bracket on top of a mounting plate or block, e.g., for a flash), and 3/8″ locating holes for ARRI standard.
You can purchase the cage on Amazon for $93.99.
ND filters (highly recommended)
Additionally, the BMPCC has no ND filter in the body. This significantly impedes quality video, restricting shutter speed manipulation and limiting performance in high-contrast environments. Fortunately, however, ND filters are inexpensive and make an immense difference, so don’t hesitate to take full advantage of what’s on offer.
We recommend the K&F Concept 62mm Variable Neutral Density Filter ND8-ND2000 (3-11stop), which will enable you to use slow shutter speeds to record smooth movement in fast-moving subjects (like turning waterfalls into silky cotton candy).
You can purchase the 62mm filter on Amazon for $44.99.
Pros and cons of Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- 4K resolution and 120fps in 2.6K;
- Outstanding footage quality;
- Incredible compressed Blackmagic Raw recording;
- Fantastic at noise reduction (dual native ISO);
- It packs a lot into its compact size;
- Lightweight yet sturdy;
- Massive, sharp touchscreen;
- Comprehensive connectivity options;
- Dual card slot;
- Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio, which on its own would set you back $300;
- Incredible value for money.
- No continuous autofocus;
- Slow autofocus;
- No built-in ND filters;
- No in-body stabilization;
- Poor battery life;
- Somewhat useless for still photography;
- It can get pricey once you get all the add-ons.
All in all, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is unmatched with its price and feature list. In this category, it’s hard to think of anything else that can do what it does, with its superb 4K resolution, outstanding low-light execution, and Raw video performance.
On the other hand, its shortcomings in autofocusing, still photography, and battery life can turn some away. However, don’t be tempted to compare the BMPCC with video-centric mirrorless cameras. Instead, count it into a category of its own: a pro-level filmmaker’s camera that is as compact as a mirrorless camera.
For more general users, a mirrorless system camera makes far more sense. But for aspiring filmmakers or seasoned videographers who know how to make the most of its capabilities, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is a hugely impressive and flexible creative tool. Its pros certainly outweigh the cons, and as such, it is unrivaled.
FAQs on 4K cameras for stock footage
How to choose the right 4K camera?
Buying a new 4K camera is a thrilling as well as a daunting undertaking. Let’s look at some of the main factors to consider when choosing a camera for shooting stock footage:
- Portability and size: Consider how big you want your equipment to be. What’s more important to you: pocketability, ease of travel, or outstanding video quality?
- Budget: Determine how much you can / are willing to spend, the quality you expect, and how much use you want out of it;
- Setup: What is your dream setup? Figure out if you prefer a simple portable camera that you can take everywhere or a pro-quality model that you can accessorize according to your needs (in that case, go for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K);
- Video quality & FPS: While all the cameras on our list can deliver quality stock footage content, the premium end is definitely superior in that aspect. Evaluate whether you need up to 30 FPS 4K or 60 FPS 4K (more costly);
- Image stabilization: For low-maintenance shooters, we recommend built-in image stabilization, so you won’t have to drag around a tripod and be sure all your shots will be smooth.
What is the price range for budget 4K cameras?
We have included cameras in our guide for around $350 to $1300. But, of course, adding accessories can push the price a bit and a substantial amount for the high-end cameras.
What add-on can make the most difference to your stock footage?
We recommend adding ND filters to help reduce your shots’ overall exposure without adjusting your camera settings and make your camera more versatile in all lighting conditions. All in all, ND filters are a must for anyone aiming to capture smooth, cinematic footage and minimize post-production efforts.
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