What is the Best Slow Motion Camera? [2021]

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If you don’t have time to read this article, then the best slow motion camera is:

Slow mo cameras used to be either very expensive, or offered the ability to shoot only low resolution high speed footage, but today, even a cheap slow mo camera can shoot at 240 frames per second (fps) in full HD, 1080p quality, while the best slow motion cameras can record up to 120 fps in 4K, at 4:2:2 10-bit colors. This is the realm of real professional-level slow motion video, but in a consumer device that even you and I can use.

Of course, the outright specs of a camera are not the most important part, but how the camera fits into your style of filmmaking and your own budgetary constraints. From my own experience of photography and videography both for money and for myself, I understand the importance of finding the right camera for both personal and professional uses, and know what you should pay attention to, and what does not matter.

I have put all my knowledge and experience into creating this article, with the aim of helping you to make the right decision on which is the best slow motion camera for you. I have spent hours both researching each model of camera, compiling all of the relevant pros and cons, and testing cameras to see which can stand up to their manufacturer’s promises.

I know many camera review articles are too generic, and too out of date, but this article will always contain the most current recommendations and experience of what it is like to personally use these cameras to record slo mo video.


The Best Slow Motion Camera in 2021

The best slo mo camera in 2021 for you will depend on your individual requirements, whether you are looking for an action cam or full frame, mirrorless model. I have divided the ultimate best consumer slow motion camera into budget and professional models below, but there are also excellent choices between these two extremes, such as the Fujifilm X-T4. Read the full reviews further down this article for more.

The Best Budget Slow Motion Camera

Fantastic Entry Level Slo Mo Camera

  • Shoots 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 120 fps for 4x slow motion
  • Large APS-C sensor gives excellent low light performance
  • Includes Sony’s highly regarded autofocus system
  • No overheating issues or time limits when recording
  • Wide range of lenses available to cover every photo and video situation
The Sony A6400 manages to hit the sweet spot of performance and price, available significantly cheaper than other APS-C sized mirrorless cameras that offer these kinds of slow motion capabilities. You get up to 120 fps in 1080p, giving you 4x slo mo, combined with a rock-solid autofocus system and the ability to switch lenses to match your creative desires.
There is also another excellent choice in the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 which would suit those looking for 4K 60fps and 1080p 180 fps recording, allowing you up to 7.5x slow motion, albeit with slightly worse quality video than the Sony a6400.
1080p / 120 fps slow motion footage in the Sony a6400

The Best Professional Slow Motion Camera

The Best Full Frame Slow Motion Camera

  • Shoots 4K at 60 fps, and 1080p at 180 fps, for 7.5x slow motion
  • 10-bit recording for high color fidelity
  • Full frame sensor gives lots of dynamic range and excellent low light capabilities
  • Class-leading In Body Image Stabilization
  • Specifically designed for videographers
Panasonic’s Lumix S5 is a full frame camera with excellent low light capabilities, as well as offering slow motion frame rates in both 4K and 1080p.
You get up to 60 fps in 4K (2x slow motion), or 180 fps in 1080p (a massive 7.5x), both with no time limits on recording. Having 10-bit internal recording in 4K at all frame rates is a massive bonus, and pushes the quality of the videos produced into the professional realm. This is the camera for you if you make money from your videos.
Although the S5 is perfect if you are focused on video production only, if you want a camera that is equally capable of stills photography and video, then the Sony A7C / Sony A7III would probably better suit you.
1080p 125 fps footage from the Lumix S5

Read Related Article:
What are the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget?


Compare the Top Slow Motion Cameras

Use the table below to easily compare all of the best slo mo cameras, then take a look at the full reviews further down this article.

Camera

4K Max. Frame Rate

1080p Max. Frame Rate

Sensor Size

Check Price

Action Cameras / Point & Shoot Cameras

GoPro HERO9

[Best Action Cam for Slow Motion]

60 fps

240 fps

1/2.3-inch

60 fps

240 fps

1/1.7-inch

Sony ZV-1

[Best Point and Shoot Camera for Slow Motion]

30 fps

120 fps

Upscaled footage at up to 960 fps

1 inch

Budget / Mid-Range Slow Motion Cameras

Sony a6400

[Best Budget Slow Motion Camera]

30 fps

120 fps

APS-C

Fujifilm X-T4

[Best 1080p 240fps Camera]

60 fps

240 fps

APS-C

30 fps

120 fps

APS-C

Panasonic LUMIX GH5

[Best Mid-Range Slow Motion Camera]

60 fps

180 fps

Four thirds

Professional / Full Frame Slow Motion Cameras

Panasonic LUMIX S5

[Best Professional Slow Motion Camera]

60 fps

180 fps

Full frame

Sony A7C

[Best Combined Photo and Video Camera]

30 fps

120 fps

Full frame

120 fps

60 fps

Full frame

120 fps

120 fps

Upscaled footage at 240 fps

Full frame

60 fps

120 fps

Super 35 (~APS-C)


Why Do You Need a Slow Motion Camera?

It’s very important to be clear on why exactly you need a slomo cam, as the best camera for slow motion for you, is not necessarily going to be the best camera in general. This article is written with the average user in mind, but if you deviate from that in your style of videography or other requirements, then the top recommendations may not be suitable and you should look further down the recommendation list.

So, before we get into the reviews, you can use the below pointers to help you decide on which characteristics matter most to you in a slow-motion camera.

The Sony a6400, one of the best slow motion cameras

Your Style of Filming

The model of slow motion camera that is most suitable to you will depend on the kinds of slow motion videography that you intend to take part in, whether basic slow mo shots of people, up to more complex high speed shoots that require a 1000 fps camera, like filming a bursting balloon.

But it’s not just the frame rate that you should consider in this case, but also more basic features such as the camera’s size and weight. If you want to be filming on the street with a handheld camera, you need something smaller and lighter, with solid autofocus, while for more technical, studio-based filming, weight, size and battery life won’t matter as much as outright video quality.

How Are You Sharing Your Videos?

If you’re going to the trouble of shooting slow motion videos, then it’s likely that you will want to share them with others, but different platforms often have different requirements and limitations that may help direct you to one model of camera over another.

For example, Instagram does not properly process 4K video (although they can technically be uploaded if not too large), so it makes more sense to film videos for this in 1080p, meaning that you can save money by getting a slow motion HD video camera. Facebook also recommends 1080p video recording.

For YouTube, 70% of views are from mobile devices or tablets, which obviously have relatively small, low resolution screens. Although YouTube accepts 4K video (and above), the small screens that most viewers see mean that 4K video is often wasted, so again, 1080p is ideal, particularly if you are on a budget, although bear in mind that 4K offers much greater future-proofing if you intend to still be shooting slo-mo video for the next 5 or 10 years.

The GoPro Hero 9, with strong 120 fps in 2.7K for slow motion videos.

Consider Your Budget

If you have an unlimited budget and want a dedicated slow mo cam, then something like a Phantom slow motion camera (which start at around $150k) are pretty much unbeatable. There are cheaper, dedicated cameras like the Chronos slow motion cameras, but even these are not in the price range for most people.

Fortunately, even inexpensive slow motion cameras offer slow mo capabilities that are suitable to all hobbyist uses, with several cameras giving pro-level slow motion footage, and it is these cameras that this article focuses on.

In order to decide whether you should go for one of the higher priced, higher spec’ed models, or simply a cheap slow motion camera, you need to examine the kind of video you intend to make, and how frequently you will be doing this. If you make money from your footage, then it is probably worth going for a top end model that will save you time and deliver better results, but if you are looking for a camera to supplement your home video making, then a budget model could suffice.

Remember that even the cheap models are largely capable of the same things as the more expensive cameras, only it might take more time, effort and skill to get those same results.


What are the Key Requirements for a Slow Motion Camera?

A good slow motion camera needs to hit several key points in order to be included in this article, which are all listed below. I have reviewed each model against these strict criteria, with the camera getting the highest score given the title of best high speed camera.

Key Criteria:

  • Strong Video Performance:
    • High resolution, ideally 4K
    • High frame rates, at least 60 fps, but preferably higher
    • Records at a good bit rate and bit depth, preferably 10-bit
    • Accurate colors with strong color subsampling, at least 4:2:0 for internal recording, but preferably 4:2:2 or above
  • Large Sensor Size for high quality video
    • Clean low light performance at high ISOs
  • Flat Picture Profiles should be available for maximum editing capabilities

The above are important for all slow motion cameras, but there are also a number of additional features that may be relevant to you depending on your specific use case. These are looked at in the next section. First, let’s dive into the key criteria.

Consider the key criteria for the best slow motion camera

Video Performance

Video performance cannot be easily broken down into one score, so for every slow motion video camera, I would consider each of the below areas to determine the overall recording ability.

Resolution & Frame Rate

Resolution is one of the most obvious aspects of a high speed slow motion camera, and is widely documented by manufacturers. All of the cameras in this article record from at least 1080p (full HD, and 1920 x 1080 pixels), through 4K (3840 x 2160 ), with some topping out at 6K (6144 x 3456) or even 8K (7680 x 4320).

In basic terms, the higher the resolution, the better the quality of the video, although this should be balanced against the extra memory required to hold these larger videos, and the strain that will be placed on your video editing computer. Also, as most video views tend to be on mobile devices these days, and with the limitations of some social media providers, higher resolutions are not generally recommended for everyday uses.

Closely related to resolution is frame rate. For most cameras, as the frame rate increases, resolution decreases. This is because higher frame rates, like higher resolutions, creates larger files, and the camera has only limited bandwidth to save these to the memory card. Therefore, a 4K / 30 fps camera may only be a 120 fps camera (which is approx. 4x slow motion) at 1080p, or 720p as a 240 fps camera (approx. 8x slow mo).

Essentially, the best slow motion cameras will show a higher frame rate without too large a reduction in resolution. You can assume that 30 fps is about the level of real-life motion, so any higher frame rates than this can be worked out to be a slow motion multiplier of this:

  • 60 fps = 2x slow motion
  • 120 fps = 4x slow motion
  • 240 fps = 8x slow motion
  • 480 fps = 16x slow motion
  • and so on …

Understanding Bit Rate & Bit Depth

Bit rate shows how much memory must be transferred to the memory card for every second of recording, and therefore shows you how compressed the video is and the overall quality of the footage. Heavily compressed footage will lose the benefits of a higher resolution, as a large amount of the pixel information will be lost during the compression, so this is crucial to understand video quality. Unfortunately, most manufacturers tend not to publicize these figures.

As an example, a good camera for slow motion will offer a 4K bit rate of 35 – 70 Mbps (megabits per second). Remember that bit rate can also be throttled by your choice of memory card, so you should make sure that you always use a fast card.

Bit depth refers to the amount of color information saved to your video file, with a higher bit depth meaning that more subtle gradations of color are recorded. Low bit depth can lead to color banding and hard-edged color transitions particularly in areas of light falloff where the scene changes from light to dark, and is a hallmark of cheaper cameras.

Even going from 8-bit to 10-bit color recording will give your camera 64 times as much color information to work with. 8-bit cameras will record 256 levels each of red, green and blue per pixel, while 10-bit records 1024 levels per color.

Color (Chroma) Subsampling

Color, or chroma subsampling tells you how color gets recorded from the individual pixels in the sensor to the video file, and is shown in 3 numbers.

A demonstration of the differences between methods.

4:2:2 means that color information gets recorded separately on each line, essentially doubling the color information recorded, and meaning that colors are averaged across only two pixels.

4:2:0 is perhaps the most common subsampling method, and means that for every two rows of two pixels, color is recorded from only the first line (the first two pixels) in the group, and is not recorded from the second line (the bottom two pixels). Therefore, color information is averaged across a group of four pixels.

4:4:4 would mean that color is recorded by each individual pixel, but this is not common in cheap high speed cameras.

Bear in mind that many cameras are more limited in their subsampling methods when recording internally, but often offer higher quality methods when sending video to an external device via HDMI.

Sensor Size

Everything else being equal, the best slow mo camera will be the one with the largest sensor. This is because in general terms, the larger the image sensor, the better the quality of video, because a larger sensor means more pixels to capture more light.

Based on the diagram, you will find that most professional DSLR and mirrorless cameras that also shoot video are full frame, which means that the sensors are the same size as a frame of 35mm film. But most cameras built specifically for video, like the Blackmagic Pocket 6K, are crop sensor, such as Super 35 (which is roughly APS-C on the diagram.

The general effect of having a crop sensor is lower image quality with more grain in low light images, but this does depend on the internal software architecture of the camera.

The real advantage of having a crop sensor, and this is particularly well utilized on the Blackmagic cameras, is that you can get much shallower depth of field if you attach full frame lenses to the crop sensor camera body (as well as only using the central, best quality portion of the lens).

It’s often a matter of taste whether this matters to you, but in my opinion, being able to get a shallow depth of field without having to use a wide aperture is a particularly fine feature of more professional video cameras.

Low Light ISO Performance

ISO performance is related to sensor size, and is how much grain and noise a photo will show when the ISO is turned up for images and videos taken in low light. This is determined by both the internal image processing software within the camera, and the pixel pitch, which is how many pixels are physically spaced inside a certain area.

As pixels become smaller (that is, they have a smaller pixel pitch) the amount of light each pixel can collect also becomes less, meaning noise becomes a greater proportion of the data collected by each pixel, and meaning that dynamic range is reduced.

Therefore, a greater pixel pitch, with larger individual pixels, will give better low light camera performance.

It’s important to note that the lowest ISO value does not necessarily represent the least noise in an image. The best ISO to use will depend on the design of the image processor within the camera. For example, the Blackmagic 6K offers the cleanest video at ISO 400 and ISO 3200, with values in-between actually exhibiting more noise.

Flat Picture Profiles

Flat picture profiles, otherwise known as log profiles, are video recording modes that are designed to capture as much color information and dynamic range as possible, to allow greater leeway during later video editing and color grading. They do this by storing the video data according to a logarithmic algorithm, essentially compressing the dynamic range and color information in such a way that it can easily be recovered and restored by video editing software. This means that some of the limitations of a camera’s recording ability can be removed.

Log profiles are common in the top-end cameras reviewed here, but are also increasingly present in the cheaper models. They are named differently depending on manufacturer, as there is no one standard, but all are broadly comparable, from Canon’s C-log, to Sony’s S-log.


How Best to Compare Slow Motion Cameras?

Although all of the features we have already looked at are important, in my opinion there are a few other things that you should bear in mind when you want to compare the best slow motion video cameras. These are maybe not crucial, but they do impact on the end result in a more direct way than any of the features above.

You need high frame rate modes to capture high speed action in slow motion.
Fast action video requires high frame rate modes for slow motion

High Frame Rate Modes

If you want a super slow motion camera, then you will want to pay attention to the high frame rate modes found on some models of high frame rate camera. These allow frame rates in the range from 240 fps, through 480 fps and up to 960 fps in the case of the Sony ZV-1, the slowest slow motion camera.

This allows you to capture really fast action shots, such as vehicles or trains, or just slow down regular footage to super slow motion speeds.

But, you do need to pay attention to the maximum recording duration at these high frame rates, as well as the resolution that they record at, both of which usually decrease as the frame rate goes up.

As an example, the Sony ZV-1, when recording at 960 fps, can only record for a maximum of three seconds at an effective resolution of 912 x 308 pixels, while the GoPro Hero 9 can record 1080p video at 240 fps, with no time limit. High frame rate limitations for each camera are listed in the full reviews below.

4K Slow Motion Frame Rates

Related to high frame rate modes, it’s always useful to know the maximum frame rate that a camera can record in 4K. There are not many cameras that can be classed as a 4K slow motion camera, as most only operate to a maximum of 30 fps in this mode. But there are a few that go up to 60 fps, giving you 2x slow motion, and one, the Canon EOS R5, that is a 4K 120fps camera, albeit with a time limit of 7 mins 29 secs.

In most cases, you’ll be stopping the camera down to 1080p to access better frame rates, but it may be worthwhile looking for a camera with a 4K high frame rate mode if you are serious about slow motion photography and are looking to turn this into your profession.

Camera Overheating & Recording Time Limits

Overheating is a serious concern in many camera models, particularly when shooting in higher resolutions which generate a lot of heat, and can cause picture distortions on the sensor. There is little you can personally do about this.

Manufacturers tend to set arbitrary recording limits on their cameras to ensure they do not overheat, and I have tried to indicate in the reviews what recording time limits are present for each camera, and have avoided those which are prone to overheating and shutting down.

Autofocus During Video Recording

Most autofocus systems tend not to work once the frame rate gets above a certain level. The more high-end (and therefore more expensive) the camera, the higher the frame rate is before the autofocus no longer works. Therefore, pre-focusing, or manual focusing tend to be the order of the day for most high speed videos. Look at the reviews below for more details of how the various autofocus systems work during high frame rates.


Full Reviews of the Best Slow Motion Cameras in 2021

Action Cameras / Point and Shoot Cameras

I. GoPro HERO9 [The Best Action Cam for Slow Motion]

GoPro Hero 9 240 fps test footage

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 5K @ 30 fps, no time limit
  • 4K @ 60 fps, no time limit
  • 2.7K @ 120 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 240 fps, no time limit

As a slow motion action camera, the GoPro Hero 9 gives excellent value for money. Despite the 1080p slow motion frame rates not really being improved since the GoPro 4, the Hero 9 now offers 2x slow motion when shooting in 4K, and an excellent quality 2.7K mode, with 4x slow motion. This would be my go to for slo mo footage, as the top three resolutions all have a max bit rate of 100 Mbps, although the 1080p mode also makes very credible videos.

You also get a camera with front facing screen and rear touch screen which is useful for composition, along with better stabilization and longer battery life over the previous GoPro models.

This updated Hypersmooth 3.0 technology allows for stable horizons, effectively working as electronic in body image stabilization, which is improved with the Max Lens mod.

In fact, mods are a big part of the Hero 9. They are accessories that can increase the functionality of the camera, and include:

  • Media Mod – Includes a directional mic with wind suppression, plus a mic out and HDMI port, among other ports.
  • Light Mod – Which can either be used standalone or attaches to the Media Mod to provide extra lighting.
  • Max Lens Mod – A wider angle lens that gives a greater field of view, while also increasing the usability of Hypersmooth, for rock steady footage.

Ultimately, the Hero 9 is of course limited in terms of focal lengths, but with the small size and weight and the ability to use it in pretty much all environments, the GoPro makes a lot of sense if you are wanting to shoot extreme sport slow mo videos.

  • Pros:
  • 2x slow motion at 4K resolution, and 8x slo mo at 1080p
  • Front facing screen and rear touch screen
  • Records at 5K / 30 fps max resolution
  • Waterproof to 33 ft (10 m), even without a case
  • Lots of mods available to extend the camera’s capabilities
  • Detachable lens
  • In-camera modes like Hypersmooth, Timelapse and Hindsight are genuinely useful
  • Cons:
  • Necessary mods can really up the price
  • Limited to wide angle focal lengths
  • Small sensor so footage will never look as good as the other true cameras featured here
  • Poor low light performance

Note: a cheaper alternative is the DJI Osmo Action, which does not offer 5K video, but does give 4K @ 60 fps, with 100 Mbps bit rate, and 1080p @ 240 fps, with largely the same image quality.

Related article:
Take a look at the reviews of the best action cameras under $100


II. DJI Pocket 2

240 fps slow motion footage from the Pocket 2

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 60 fps, no time limit
  • 2.7K @ 60 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 240 fps, no time limit

If you want an affordable slow motion camera that is both very small and suited more towards bloggers, then the DJI Pocket 2 makes a good choice. It’s slightly behind the Go Pro Hero 9 in terms of 2.7K frame rate, and does not have a 5K mode, but is otherwise very similar. The larger 1/1.7-inch sensor of the Pocket 2, in fact means that videos are of a slightly higher quality than comparable action cams like the GoPros.

The screen and built in grip are functionally very useful, and the three-axis gimbal stabilization is excellent for ensuring smooth slow mo videos. The front screen is touch enabled, and all of the buttons fall naturally under your thumb, whether you use the camera right or left handed.

The lens is fixed at a relative focal length of 20mm, so you will be stuck with wide angle shots for all of your videos, but you are able to record in 4K at 60 fps, which is strong for such a small device. As an ultra slow motion camera, the Pocket 2 provides up to 240 fps at 1080p resolution, which combined with the decent autofocus and no time limit on recording (other than the battery life), makes this excellent value for money for those intending to shoot slow mo videos of people.

The DJI Pocket 2 with 240 fps recording  for powerful slow motion videos.
  • Pros:
  • Records 4K & 2.7K at 60 fps (2x slow mo), and 1080p at 240 fps (8x slo mo)
  • 3-axis gimbal stabilization for smooth, clean footage
  • Front facing touch screen and well-designed buttons
  • Very small and light, with excellent ergonomics
  • Compatible with some useful accessories, such as a wireless mic
  • Extremely easy to use and very portable
  • Cons:
  • Battery life a little over 2 hours
  • Fixed focal length at 20mm (35mm equivalent)
  • You must register the camera with the DJI app on your phone, or it will stop working
  • Still a small sensor, so video quality not as good as the full-fledged cameras

III. Sony ZV-1 [The Best Point and Shoot Camera for Slow Motion]

Example slow motion footage from the Sony ZV-1

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 30 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, no time limit
  • Upscaled 1080p @ 240 / 480 / 960 fps, approx. 3 seconds time limit

The Sony ZV-1 is one of the latest models of vlogging camera, that is also very well designed as a high fps camera for slow motion uses. It has many of the high-end elements that make Sony’s more premium A6000 lineup of cameras so effective, but repackages them into a smaller, cheaper body, and adds features like the High Frame Rate (HFR) mode.

HFR turns what is a very good Sony slow motion camera, with the ability to shoot 120 fps in 1080p resolution, into a powerful 1000 fps camera that can compete with dedicated slow motion cams. There are limitations to the HFR mode of course, including a reduced pixel count for videos, which is then upscaled to 1080p, a short shooting duration, and not being able to record sound.

Sony ZV-1 High Frame Rate Modes effective pixels and shooting durations
Effective pixels and shooting durations of the Sony ZV-1 High Frame Rate modes

Although the stats in the table above might suggest the HFR mode is not too strong on paper, actually the performance is admirable for a camera of this size. Bear in mind that 960 fps is about 40x slow motion, meaning that 3 seconds of footage will be extended to 2 minutes of footage once played back. You need sufficient light to film in this frame rate, as the shutter duration is so short, but assuming you in a brightly lit environment, you can really capture some stunning footage.

Filming in bright light is really the key to this camera, as with a 1-inch sensor you start to see quite a bit of noise once the ISO is turned up. The f/1.8 aperture lens helps to get plenty of light to the sensor, but really, if you are thinking of making slow mo videos in dark rooms or at night, you would be much better off getting a camera with a larger APS-C, or even full frame, sensor, like the Sony A6400.

But, if you need something light, portable and easy to use that also doubles as a very capable vlogging camera, and that doesn’t break the bank, then the Sony ZV-1 is probably your best choice.

  • Pros:
  • High frame rate mode shoots up to 960 fps (40x slow motion), turning 3 seconds of footage into 2 minutes of playback
  • Includes 4K recording, and very good 1080p slow motion mode
  • Directional 3-capsule internal mic with windshield, for excellent audio quality
  • Well-designed body designed to be held from the front or the back
  • Autofocus system from Sony’s premium A6000 line, with real-time eye tracking
  • Good optical image stabilization
  • No time limit when not in HFR modes, and no overheating issues
  • 24 – 70 mm zoom range and f/1.8 – 2.8 aperture range
  • Very small and light, at 10.4 ounces (294g)
  • Cons:
  • Electronic image stabilization crops the frame
  • Shorter battery life (and battery must be charged in camera, unless you buy a separate charger)
  • No sound recorded during high frame rate modes
  • 1 inch sensor does not compete with larger sensors for low light performance

Note: The Sony RX100 VII is a very similar camera to the ZV-1, but lacks an EVF and some of the more vlogger friendly features of the ZV-1, but suits those looking for a more well-rounded camera, and has slightly longer HFR time limits (up to 7 seconds record).


Budget / Mid-Range Slow Motion Cameras

I. Sony a6400 [The Best Budget Slow Motion Camera]

1080p / 120 fps slow motion footage in the Sony a6400

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 30fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, no time limit

The Sony A6400 is to my mind probably the best slow motion 1080p camera, although it may not immediately look like it on paper. The a6400 only manages 120 fps at 1080p, which is about 4x slow motion, and has no slow mo abilities in 4K, but it does have an APS-C sized sensor and a fantastic autofocus system, offering video quality that is far superior to point and shoot and action cams. Combined with the very reasonable price and the fact that the lenses are interchangeable, the a6400 becomes an excellent mirrorless camera for slow motion.

The a6400 has nearly the same size, weight and ergonomics as the a6600, with a touchscreen that flips up 180 degrees, one of the fastest, most accurate AF systems currently available, and a large ISO range, from 100 – 32,000 native, but expandable up to 102,400. It’s very similar to the more expensive Sony A6600, but without the in body image stabilization, and with an older model of battery that doesn’t hold charge quite as well.

Ultimately, the Sony A6400 is most suited for studio based photographers where image stabilization, battery life and low light performance are not an issue, as you will most likely be using a tripod, will have power supplies nearby, and have good lighting, but this is also a very strong travel camera and b camera for those shooting professional level slow motion videos.

The Sony a6400, with 4K video recording capabilities.
  • Pros:
  • Records 4K @ 30 fps footage, or 1080p @ 120fps
  • Relatively large APS-C sensor records clean footage in good light
  • Not prone to overheating when recording
  • No video time limits
  • Uses interchangeable lenses for maximum usability
  • In-camera timelapse and slow-mo features, meaning editing on a computer is not required
  • No rolling shutter when recording in 1080p
  • Small and light, at 14.22 ounces (403 g)
  • Cons:
  • No in body image stabilization – but lens stabilization is available
  • Slight crop to the frame when shooting at 1080p / 120fps
  • Less strong low light performance than the A6600
  • Relatively poor battery life

Note: if you want the same camera, but with better battery life and in body image stabilization, then the upgraded Sony A6600 would be the ideal choice for you.


II. Fujifilm X-T4 [The Best 1080p 240fps Camera]

240 fps footage recorded in the X-T4 at 1080p

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 60 fps, 30 minutes limit
  • 1080p @ 240 fps, 30 minute limit

The Fujifilm X-T4 comes in as my choice of the best HD slow motion camera, as a truly stunning-for-the-price 240fps 1080p camera. Video quality is great, with solid detail and colors that edges out the Panasonic GH5 and similar models. With 10-bit recording, you tend to see better slow motion videos than the likes of the cheaper 8-bit cameras like the Sony ZV-1, particularly in low light where the APS-C sensor really shines, but in good light you would be hard pressed to see the difference.

The 6.5 stop in body image stabilization is excellent, and among the best currently on the market, allowing you to shoot video in near-dark scenarios without having to worry about pushing the ISO too high.

The AF works down to EV -6, as in the Sony cameras, but is not quite as fast or as accurate, and there is a distinct lack of AF tracking mode when in video recording – you instead can only set AF to a specified area, or to cover the frame.

Nonetheless, for my money these small issues are offset by the ability to shoot internal 10-bit 4K at 60 fps, and the incredible detail in the 1080p at 240 fps or 120 fps. If you are a photographer and videographer who shoots both stills and slow motion video to a roughly equal amount, and want a camera to easily handle both, then the X-T4 is the ideal camera for you.

The Fujifilm X-T4, a 240 fps 1080p slow motion camera
  • Pros:
  • 4K recording at 60 fps for 2x slow motion, with 10-bit files
  • The best 1080p slow motion of any camera, recording at up to 240 fps and beating the Panasonic GH5 for color and detail
  • 6.5 stops of in body stabilization to eliminate camera shake
  • Perfect hybrid camera for stills and videos
  • Excellent battery life
  • Has’F-Log Assist’, whereby the video output on the camera’s screen has a gamma correction applied to make it easier to see how the video will look once you get it back on your computer
  • Cons:
  • AF tracking does not work in video mode
  • 1080p at 240 fps has a 1.29x crop factor

III. Canon M6 Mark II

1080p 120fps slow motion footage from the M6 II

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 30 fps, 29 min 59 sec time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, 29 min 59 sec time limit

It’s probably most useful to think of the Canon M6 Mark II as an updated, more modern version of the Sony A6400. Although these are from different manufacturers, they are designed for the same segment of the market, ie. those looking for a small, portable travel camera that also can capture really solid videos.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF gives you eye-tracking autofocus, even in 4K mode, but this does not work when shooting at 120 fps in 1080p, although you can see from the video above that this shouldn’t cause you any issues in practice – the M6 II is still a very good slo mo video camera.

In body image stabilization is welcome, although it does crop the frame when in use as it is performed digitally, rather than through physically moving the sensor, although with a very high-spec’ed 32.5 megapixel APS-C sensor, this is less of a problem for video quality.

With plenty of lenses now available for the EF-M mount, it is now possible to create a fully featured photography and video kit full of quality prime lenses, and with excellent image quality, responsive AF and minimal rolling shutter issues, the Canon M6 Mark II is well placed to those looking to create action slow motion videos.

  • Pros:
  • Records 4x slow motion in 1080p
  • Has a 32.5 Megapixel APS-C sensor, making beautiful still photographs
  • Easy to use and very small and light
  • Up to date image sensor and processor that produces stunning videos
  • Face-tracking and eye-tracking autofocus, even in 4K mode that works down to EV -5
  • Very well-suited to beginners and well-liked by YouTubers
  • Cons:
  • No 4K slow motion recording
  • Image stabilization crops the frame

Note: the previous model of this camera, the Canon M6 Mark I is significantly cheaper, but does not offer 4K recording, and only allows 1080p up to 60 fps. If you are on a budget, this is still a very good choice.


IV. Panasonic LUMIX GH5 [The Best Mid-Range Slow Motion Camera]

Footage at 1080p 180fps from the Lumix GH5

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 60 fps, approx. 50 mins limit
  • 1080p @ 180 fps, approx 75 mins limit

If you are looking for a 4K slow motion camera that can shoot high bit rate internal video, then the Panasonic Lumix GH5 fits the bill nicely. It’s packed full of near pro-level features including internal 10-bit 4:2:2 recording at 1080p 60fps max., with internal 8-bit recording at 1080p 180fps.

The fully articulating touch screen makes recording videos a much simpler process than the more professional cameras, with the addition of a waveform display and vectorscope overlays very useful for checking on the overall luminance and color accuracy respectively.

There is unfortunately no autofocus at 120 fps or above, unlike on the S5, and the smaller, 4/3 sensor also means that low light performance is less good. Nonetheless, for those who can’t afford the high price of the S5, but want 180fps recording, the Lumix GH5 is one of the better choices.

The Panaonic Lumix GH5, an excellent slow motion camera
  • Pros:
  • Internal recording at 400 Mbps bit rate from 10-bit 4:2:2 files when shooting 4K 30 fps, or 1080p 60 fps, with lovely video quality
  • Up to 7.5x slow motion with 180 fps possible in 1080p
  • 5-axis in body internal stabilization
  • Includes a waveform display and vectorscope to help judge accurate luminance and color capture when recording – both pro-level features
  • Focus transition lets you pre-set three focal depths that the camera automatically and smoothly switches between
  • Very high, almost professional specs, make this excellent value for money
  • Cons:
  • No autofocus above 60 fps
  • Separate purchase required to unlock log recording
  • Smaller 4/3 sensor, so worse low light performance than some competitors
  • The contrast-detect AF can struggle to achieve focus immediately

Note: if you want the ability to shoot up to 240 fps in 1080p, then the upgraded Panasonic GH5S is a good choice, and also offers better low light performance than the GH5, but is only marginally cheaper than the otherwise more full-featured S5.


Professional / Full Frame Slow Motion Cameras

I. Panasonic LUMIX S5 [The Best Professional Slow Motion Camera]

1080p 125 fps footage from the Lumix S5

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 60 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 180 fps, no time limit

Panasonic’s Lumix S5 is the smaller brother of the professional level S1, with the same sensor, but in a smaller, cheaper package. But make no mistake, this is an excellent camera that can produce pro-level slow motion videos.

With the ability to shoot at multiple frame rates in 1080p, using the full frame sensor up to 150 fps, and with a crop applied to get you to 180 fps, you can shoot up to 7.5 x slow motion. As a cherry on the cake, the autofocus system works until you get up to 150 fps, when you must use manual focusing, but being able to shoot 5x slow motion with AF brings the ability to shoot high quality videos into the realm of amateur videographers.

Compare this with the cheaper GH5, which does not offer AF at 120 fps, and only has a smaller, APS-C sized sensor, making the S5 much superior in low light settings.

Not only do you get high frame rates in 1080p, you also are able to record in 10-bit 4K video in 4:2:2 internally at up to 30 fps, with a reduction to 4:2:0 10-bit 4K at 60 fps, unless you record via HDMI. The ability to shoot 2x slo mo in 4K on a full frame camera should not be overlooked. Although this doesn’t seem too impressive on paper, the level of detail resolved by the sensor is incredible, and easily up to the levels required by professionals.

Combined with the excellent in body image stabilization, the Panasonic Lumix S5 is very well suited to action videos, street shooting, and pretty much any kind of slow motion video that you will want to create.

  • Pros:
  • 4K recording possible at up to 60 fps, and 1080p at up to an incredible 180 fps
  • 10-bit recording ensures you get high color fidelity
  • Full frame sensor gives fantastic low light performance and better dynamic range than cropped sensors
  • Autofocus works up to 120 fps (above this you must use manual focus)
  • Highly regarded in body image stabilization
  • Dual SD card slot for backup recording
  • Specifically designed with video users in mind
  • One of the latest models on camera available
  • Cons:
  • Crop factor of 1.22x is applied for 180 fps recording
  • Low bit rate in 1080p recording caused by line skipping, so lower quality of videos in high frame rates
  • Sensor is cropped to APS-C size when shooting 60 fps in 4K

II. Sony A7C [The Best Combined Photo and Video Camera]

Sony A7C – 1080p at 120 fps footage

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 30 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, no time limit

The Sony A7C is the latest iteration of Sony’s lineup of mirrorless cameras that is specifically designed for videographers. It is a natural evolution from the A7III, improving on that camera by taking away the 4K recording time limit, along with some size and weight to make one of the smallest full frame cameras available.

You also get improved color science, for better looking videos without any processing, a longer battery life, and a better autofocus system that improves on the already impressive AF found in the A7III, and gives you totally rock solid eye-focus tracking, that will not fail you.

Frame rates are good for slow motion when shooting in 1080p, with up to 120 fps available with no time limit on recordings, and a 8-bit 4:2:0 file recorded. Although this frame rate is not as high as several other models reviewed here, the quality of the video is the real standout – take a look at the sample footage above to see this.

Assuming that you don’t just want a camera for slow motion video, then the 4K is also stunning, and crucially, the photo taking abilities have not been limited in any way – this is a camera designed for both photographers and videographers who want absolute quality in a small, light package.

  • Pros:
  • Full frame sensor gives very low noise low light photos and videos
  • 1080p recording goes up to 120 fps, using the full frame, and looks beautiful
  • 4K recording produces probably the highest quality video of any consumer camera
  • Autofocus has best-in-class eye-tracking capabilities, even at 120 fps
  • Very long battery life (> 3 hours video recording)
  • No time limit or overheating issues when used in the shade
  • Small and light so extremely portable, especially for a full frame camera
  • Cons:
  • Only 8-bit internal video recording
  • Slight crop (1.2x) at 4K 30 fps (the full sensor is used at 24 fps)
  • Not recommended if you only want to shoot slow mo as it would be a waste – this camera is the perfect all-rounder for photography, videos and slow motion work

Note: if you are happy with a 30 minute recording limit, and don’t mind a larger, heavier body, then the otherwise pretty much identical Sony A7III could be a good choice for you. It’s a good idea to check the price of this and the A7C, as they fluctuate around each other. There is also the brand new Sony Alpha 1, with 4K / 120 fps available, although at a significantly higher price than other Sony models.


III. Canon EOS R5 [8K Video Camera]

Canon R5 120 fps footage recorded at 4K

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 8K @ 30 fps, time limit depends on memory card
  • 4K @ 120 fps, time limit depends on memory card
  • 1080p @ 60 fps, no time limit

As one of the very few models available that is a 4K 120fps camera, the Canon R5 is really your only option if you are looking for a 4K super slow motion camera. It is a very expensive piece of equipment, but it does deliver absolutely stunning videos, with powerful in body image stabilization, Dual Pixel CMOS AF II that even works when shooting in 120 fps, and a massive full frame sensor, meaning this is the best video camera for slow motion if you value 4K filming.

Bear in mind that because of the 10-bit 4:2:2 recording in 4K 120fps in All-I mode, you need a large memory card (at least 128 GB), capable of handling a very high bit rate (up to about 1880 Mb/s), and likely you will need several of these, as that bit rate is in the range of 13.5 GB per minute of footage!

Based on the price and capabilities, this Canon slow motion camera seems to be aimed more at those who make money from their photography and videos, and who want a camera capable of fulfilling the requirements of both. The lack of frame rates higher than 60 fps in 1080p mode shows that this is a camera aimed at being as future-proof as possible, but is not really set up for consumers looking to post a quick video on Facebook. Although it may be expensive, it should keep you well-served for slow motion recording for many years to come, and is really a camera pushing the very limits of what is currently possible.

Movie recording modes on the Canon R5 for slow motion video recording
  • Pros:
  • Shoots 4K in 120 fps for 4x slow motion
  • Records 8K video (though not in slow mo)
  • C-log recording, along with stunning in body image stabilization and autofocus even at 120 fps
  • Outstanding image and video quality that is among the best you will see
  • No longer has overheating issues since the last firmware update
  • No real downsides if you are a professional photographer
  • Cons:
  • 4K 120fps recording in 10-bit 4:2:2 uses a huge amount of memory (but is excellent for quality)
  • Only records 1080p at 60 fps max.
  • Very expensive

IV. Sony A7S III [4K 120fps Slow Motion Camera]

Sony A7S III slow motion footage

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 4K @ 120 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, no time limit
  • Upscaled 1080p (1408 x 804) @ 240 fps, no time limit

The Sony Alpha S series of cameras have always been Sony’s main video cameras, with still photographs taking second place to ultimate video quality, and the Sony A7SIII is no different in this regard.

Although this only has a 12 Megapixel which may seem out of date in a current camera, it actually suits 4K video, which does not require a high megapixel count, and means that bit rate is substantially reduced (max. 600 Mb/s) over models like the Canon R5, meaning that you don’t get bandwidth limited in your recording, and can get a good hour of footage before the camera overheats.

Not only do you get outstanding dynamic range of around 15-stops when shooting 120 fps 4K video internally to a 10-bit 4:2:2 file, but you also get access to Sony’s top-of-the-line autofocus system, with real-time eye tracking and S-log capture, all topped off with a full frame sensor for superb low light performance.

As the best Sony camera with slow motion capture, if you are already part of the Sony ecosystem, with plenty of Sony FE mount lenses, then this camera is not going to be beaten as a video device for many years yet. If you are wanting a camera primarily for stills and a little video, then there are better options like the Fuji X-T4, but as a dedicated slow motion video camera, then the A7SIII currently offers the highest quality, highest frame rate 4K capture of any camera currently on the market.

240 fps slow motion test footage
  • Pros:
  • Records 4K 120fps in 10-bit 4:2:2, with the best hi speed 4K quality of probably any camera
  • Full eye-tracking autofocus, even at 120 fps
  • Full frame sensor gives superb low light performance
  • You can get over an hour of 4K 120 fps recording before overheating, then only a short break is required
  • AF speed can be micro-adjusted for video
  • Specifically designed for videographers
  • The best 4K video you will see in a consumer-grade camera – this is broadcast quality 4K
  • Flawless performance
  • Cons:
  • 1.1x crop factor when recording 4K at 120 fps
  • Not suited for stills photographers, due to the 12 Megapixel output
  • 1080p 240 fps tends to show artifacts and banding (but 4K is perfect)

V. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K [Cinema-Quality Level Camera]

2.8K 120 fps footage, upscaled to 4K

Max Video Resolutions / Frame Rates:

  • 6K @ 50 fps, no time limit
  • 4K @ 60 fps, no time limit
  • 2.8K @ 120 fps, no time limit
  • 1080p @ 120 fps, no time limit

Make no mistake, the Blackmagic 6K is very much aimed at professional users, and is just not suitable for most hobbyists due to the skill and additional accessories required to get the best results. But if you are capable of learning how to use this camera, you will get the absolute best slow motion video quality of any camera currently available.

With 50 fps in 6K and 60 fps in 4K, both offering around 2x slow motion and able to record 12-bit 4:4:4 files, and combined with the Super 35 sensor and Canon EF lens mount, you get pro-level slow mo videos, in a professional slow motion camera that is capable of creating cinema-level movies.

The full frame EF mount means that, despite having a smaller than full frame, Super 35 sensor (which is cinema standard and about APS-C sized), you can get incredibly shallow depth of field, and only have to use the highest quality, central portion of the image from the lens, avoiding the edges where there is often chromatic aberration and distortion. The Canon EF mount has one of the largest ranges of lenses of any camera mount, meaning that you will never have a problem finding the perfect lens for your videography.

You would expect such a well regarded to have strong AF, but there is no continuous AF on the Blackmagic. This is less a problem than you would think, as AF would usually not be used when a camera is attached to a rig. There are also a multitude of options to help you hit focus, including three levels of focus peaking, and a false color setting to ensure you always get exposure spot on. If you are experienced enough to use your existing camera in manual mode, you will not find the Blackmagic any harder to use, and in fact will probably find it much easier thanks to the well-designed 5 inch touchscreen.

The Blackmagic 6K, a professional slow motion camera
  • Pros:
  • Records 12-bit 4:4:4 videos at up to 6K for incredible video quality
  • 4x slo mo at up to 2.8K which is suitable for street scene slo mo
  • Cinema-level movie quality if you have the necessary skill
  • Easy to use Canon’s quality full frame lenses
  • Very well-suited to those who make money from their videos
  • Cons:
  • Max frame rate of 120 fps (at 1080p) – the Blackmagic is not primarily a slow mo camera, but more for videographers who also need slow mo capabilities.
  • You need a number of accessories to make the most of the Blackmagic, like a full rig

Note: if you are not bothered about 6K recording, then the previous model, the Blackmagic 4K shoots 4K video at 60 fps and 1080p at 120 fps, although using a smaller 4/3 sized sensor.


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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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