This guide will analyze a series of great video cameras small enough to fit into your pocket and study what makes them so useful for shooting or recording footage.
I have ample experience using video cameras of all sizes and also have a deep understanding of different camera brands. Using that knowledge, I broke down the following models by looking at their traits and referencing numerous people who used them first hand.
Out of all the top pocket video cameras, I think the DJI Osmo Pocket is the best due to its crisp resolution, lightweight design, and unparalleled stability.
The small camera can do quite a lot for its compact design. The three-axis gimbal actively reduces shake, and there are a ton of different shooting modes and options for maximum versatility. It also stays out of your way and comes with both 4k recording and a large sensor.
As well as the DJI model works, there are plenty of other solid small options on the market. The following sections will cover each one and study how they improve your shooting experience.
Top Pocket Video Cameras Reviewed
Below I list my top picks and give a detailed review on where each one fits into the market.
1. DJI Osmo Pocket
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Extremely stable thanks to the 3-axis gimbal. A range of different shooting modes. Lightweight design. Portable. High-quality picture.
- Weight: 4.1 ounces
- Resolution: 4k/60fps
- Sensor Size: 3 inches
The Osmo Pocket from DJI is a premier lightweight video camera outfitted with a range of different functions. That includes FaceTrack, Timelapse, Nightshot, Story Mode and much, much more. Even so, it manages to be portable and won’t get in your way.
The sleek model comes with a bright 3-inch sensor and the ability to shoot video at 4k/60fps. You also get impressive 12MP photos. Beyond the quality, it also comes with great functionality. You can easily use it to vlog or record videos to various social media sites.
The only downside here when compared to similar models is the high price. Not only does the camera cost quite a bit, the accessory kits can add up quickly. I also would have liked built-in Wi-Fi, but those fall into the background when you consider the device’s stellar versatility.
2. Sony FDR-AX43
- Best for: Versatility
- Key Features: Excellent video stabilization. Sharp image quality and 20x optical zoom. Quick autofocus. Vivid flip-out LCD. Compact frame.
- Weight: 1 pound
- Resolution: 1080p
- Screen Size: 3 inches
The FDR-AX43 is a small video camera that can do it all. While it comes in at a higher price point and weighs a bit more than similar models, you’re getting a lot here. The video resolution is great, the screen is sharp and easy to use, and the gimbal keeps everything smooth.
This model has a tough exterior on top of a 20x optical zoom. Beyond that, the fast intelligent autofocus works seamlessly so you never miss a key shot or moment. Add on the 3-inch flip-out screen and you get a well-rounded device that can be used in a lot of different ways.
Besides the elevated price, some people may be put off by the noisy low-light performance. However, that’s the only drawback to what is a truly well-rounded model. A solid choice for those who like having options across different shooting environments.
3. Best Action Model: Yelin 4k Camera
- Best for: Action users
- Key Features: 2-inch LCD screen. Full Wi-Fi connectivity. Long-lasting battery. Strong, waterproof construction. 4k video recording and remote control functionality.
- Weight: 0.29 pounds
- Resolution: 4k
- Screen Size: 2 inches
Action camera users who want a solid pocket video camera will love this model from Yelin. Tough and sturdy, the device is a true HD model that records 4k video and also takes 12MP photographs in three different modes. The 170-degree lens captures everything as well.
This model also gets high marks for its strong waterproof build and long-lasting battery. This is not a camera that will die while you’re out shooting. The Wi-Fi remote control is another excellent bonus, allowing you to control the device without being near the camera.
The only con to the device is that it’s not the most intuitive to use. Getting everything set up and ready to go, especially with the phone integration, can be a bit fiddly. Once you’re past that, however, you’re getting a solid pocket option you can take out for any extreme journey.
4. Flip Ultra
- Best for: Usability.
- Key Features: Simple interface with a streamlined design. One-touch recording. Flip-out USB arm with bright 2-inch color LCD screen. Strong battery life.
- Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Resolution: 720 x 480
- Screen Size: 2 inches
The Flip Ultra is an incredibly functional, easy-to-use pocket video camera perfect for new and experienced users alike. The small model is not only lightweight, it also has a 2-inch color LCD screen as well as a nice boxy design that’s easy to carry in your pocket.
Adding to the usability, this model has one-touch recording and digital zoom. There are 120 minutes of recording as well as 4 GB of built-in memory. The flip-out USB arm gives you more ways to connect to different devices. The included software works nicely towards that end too.
Not everything is great, however. The video quality, while sharp, uses the VGA format. You won’t get the same resolution sharpness as you will with similar models. Panning or movement can also be a bit tricky, but it all works when you get the hang of it.
5. Kodak Zi6
- Best for: Portability
- Key Features: HD video with 720p shooting capabilities.
- Weight: 3.7 ounces
- Resolution: 720p
- Screen Size: 2.4 inches
Outfitted with 128 MB internal memory, 720p recording, and HD video, the Zi6 from Kodak is an extremely lightweight and portable camera that you can take with you anywhere. Adding to that, you can fully expand the memory and the 2.4 LCD screen looks crisp.
Beyond the impressive specs, there are a lot of accessories including a protective pouch, wrist strap, and battery charger. The device also only takes two AA batteries, adding to the general portability and allowing you to easily bring it anywhere without worrying about the charge.
The only drawback here is that the build isn’t the best. This definitely isn’t the model you want to bring into any precarious areas. The low-light shooting is a bit grainy too. However, if you want a model you can throw into your bag without a second though, this is it.
How to Choose a Pocket Video Camera
Each of these considerations is extremely important to remember when picking out a good small video camera.
Size and Weight
The biggest consideration you need to make when looking for a pocket video camera is the size. It’s easy to assume anything that fits into your pocket is simple to handle, but that’s not always true. Some can be awkward. Others can be surprisingly heavy.
Remember, just because a camera is small doesn’t mean it’s light. Never make a final purchase without checking both the dimensions and weight. A few extra inches may not seem like much, but that can be the difference between comfortably and uncomfortably carrying a device around.
Resolution is important as well. Any video camera of any size is made to record. As such, it does you no good if your device only captures blurry images that you can’t make out or clearly see. You want sharp corners and great contrast.
When picking out a video camera, try to get something that shoots in either 1080p or 4k. You can dip below that for budget considerations, but you never want to deviate from that mark too much. HD models with vibrant coloration are a must as well.
When dealing with a small device, durability matters. There are plenty of pocket cameras that, while useful, can’t handle shaking, bumps, or drops. Make sure whatever you get has a tough construction that will stick around for quite some time.
Pocket video cameras, as their name suggests, are made to sit in your pocket or bag for long periods of time. Don’t get something that will scratch or dent if mixed up with other items. Avoid ones that can’t handle being jumbled around as well.
While all of the above models have their pros, the DJI Osmo Pocket is my top pick. The well-made camera is a sleek device that gives you every type of shooting mode you could ever want. That versatility is then backed by some of the best resolutions around.
Adding to that is the stellar gimbal and lightweight feel. Shake or blur are two aspects you’ll never have to worry about. It’s a true pocket video camera that shoots well, delivers great video in any situation, and will hold up over time.