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In the early days of the silver screen and videography the only options available for recording moving pictures were extremely expensive and bulky cameras that were used in the big studios of Hollywood. Fast forward nearly a hundred years and today there is such a wide range of consumer level cameras that can record high definition video that it can be hard to know where to start if you want be filming your own footage!
What to Look for When You’re Choosing a Camera for Videography?
There are a few main things you need to consider when you’re selecting the right camera for your videography projects.
- What do you plan to use the camera for? Are you going to be using the camera for professional jobs, in which case you’ll need a higher quality model, or do you plan to just take video for fun?
- How convenient and easy is it to use in the real world? Does the camera have easy to use controls, a decent LCD screen or a basic optical viewfinder? Does the camera require extensive setting up or can you just point and start recording?
- What’s your budget? How much are you planning to spend on a camera for videography? The price range of the camera will determine the overall quality and functionality of the camera and although you can always find bargains at the end of the day you are going to have to pay for top quality equipment.
- Does the camera record in 4K and have a high Frames Per Second (fps) rate? When you’re looking at the fps rate you want something in the region or 100fps or above. 4K is not an essential feature however for professional work it is pretty much a must have.
- Weight, size and bulk. How big and bulky is the camera and how easy is it to carry around with you? If you’re looking for a travel camera then you want a lightweight option but if you’re setting up a studio then you can look at bulkier options.
- Lens System. Does the camera give you the option of changing the lens? If you are shooting real estate videography for example then you’re going to need a wide angle lens so keep this in mind. For sports or wildlife footage you may need a zoom lens whereas for corporate training videos you probably won’t need interchangeable lenses.
- Storage options. How does your camera store the files and how much space do you have? Is it easy to upload the files to your computer for post production?
What Type of Camera Can You Use for Videography?
There are a few main types of camera that you can use for videography and each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The first thing you need to bear in mind is what you intend to use the camera for and how serious you are going to be taking it. Are you going to be working in a professional capacity or do you want a cheap and cheerful option for some social media cat videos?
The Main Types of Camera for Videography that You Need to Consider Include:
- DSLR or a Mirrorless Camera.
- Handheld Camcorder.
- Digital Cinema Camera.
This is the most popular choice for people in the modern world. Aside from the obvious advantage that you can also take great still photos with a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera they are also available at a wide range of prices to suit every budget. As technology has improved the capabilities of these cameras has been skyrocketing and many now come with 4K video and even slow motion settings as standard.
The quality of footage is of professional level and many freelance videographers rely on their DSLR or Mirrorless camera for all their needs. Both types of cameras have interchangeable lenses which gives you great versatility and they are compact enough to be easy to carry around with you. All of the top camera brands produce DSLR and Mirrorless cameras that can shoot fantastic video, including, among others, Sony, Panasonic, Lumix, Canon and Nikon.
Benefits of Using a DSLR/Mirrorless Camera for Videography.
- High quality professional level video recording.
- A wide range of interchangeable lenses.
- Relatively lightweight and small size makes it convenient for travel.
- Great for shooting in poor lighting conditions.
- Many can shoot video in RAW format which allows you to correct color and do better post production work on the footage.
- Wide range of low cost accessories including bags, straps, stabilization gimbals and lenses.
Downsides of Using a DSLR/Mirrorless Camera for Videography.
- Audio inputs can be low standard meaning the sound is not as good as alternative camera types.
- Autofocus is not always as good in video format as it is for still photography.
- Most cameras have a limited amount of time that they can continuously record video for. Time limits for a maximum single clip ranges widely, from several minutes up to 30 minutes.
For most people who are wanting to start filming videos then a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera is probably the best all round choice. Not only might you already have a camera that has the capabilities to record video but if you don’t you can easily buy one that does. The price range goes from around $400 up to several thousand dollars and you’ll get what you pay for. However, that said, you can pick up a perfectly good camera at the lower end of the price scale and record top quality video with only a few restrictions, such as the length of clips and poor audio.
For many professional freelancers a decent DSLR or Mirrorless camera is all they need and in fields such as real estate videographer it can deliver exactly what you need.
If you were a kid in the 1980s or 1990s then you’ll remember that the handheld camcorder was all the rage! Hardly a family holiday in the USA went by without some shaky camcorder footage to remember it by but did you realize that they are still being made to this day?
Things have moved on though and now the camcorders record in high definition 4K video and have better mics than they used to! They are also digital which makes storing and editing video files easy and fun to do. The main players in the camcorder market are Panasonic, Canon, JVC and Sony.
Benefits of Using a Camcorder for Videography.
- Very easy to use.
- No need to buy extra lenses since it’s all in one.
- The autofocus is great.
- Excellent mics with good audio inputs.
- Designed to record for hours not minutes – better for longer projects.
- Good battery life compared with most other cameras.
The Downsides of Using a Camcorder for Videography.
- Cannot record well in low lighting conditions.
- Without interchangeable lenses it’s hard to achieve a truly ‘cinematic’ style.
- Still image options are extremely weak and poor quality.
A camcorder is a great choice for holidays, recording an event or just for some fun filming your pets at the park! They’re super easy to use and perfect if you’re looking to post your videos on social media. Generally speaking a consumer grade camcorder is not sufficient for most types of professional freelance work.
Digital Cinematic Camera.
If you want to take your videography to the next level then you can opt for a digital cinematic camera. These are extremely expensive, bulky and heavy but produce super high quality professional video. All the options are built in and the cameras are ergonomically designed for long periods of use. The top brands for cinematic digital cameras include Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Blackmagic.
Benefits of Using a Digital Cinematic Camera for Videography.
- The highest quality of video and recording options.
- Excellent dynamic range.
- Great for shooting in low light.
- Easy to use built in tools for audio inputs and control.
- Interchangeable lenses and cinematic quality footage.
- Great ergonomic design for handheld video shooting.
Downsides of Using a Digital Cinematic Camera for Videography.
- Can be very expensive.
- Difficult to learn to use all the functions.
- Not easy to use and certainly not travel friendly.
Cameras for Videography.
Choosing the right camera for videography can be a difficult task as you try to weigh up the various aspects of functionality and design. However, once you know what you should be looking for you can get a great model that doesn’t have to cost you the earth and will operate at a high enough capacity to produce professional level videos for your clients.
If you are just wanting to do some basic holiday video or film your pets being cute then your smartphone will do just fine however if you are intending to work in a professional capacity you should be thinking about making an investment in your future and picking up a good camera for videography.
For most freelance videographers a DSLR or Mirrorless camera will suffice and give you all the functionality that you need however for longer pieces where you need great audio then you may want to opt for a handheld camera or if you want top level equipment a digital cinematic camera is the best choice for you.
Which type of camera do you use for videography?