The Church Video Series – Lesson 39
The video camera market is out of control.
New cameras with new features are released every month. And if you’re looking to buy a camera it can be intimidating.
It’s a big investment, and what if you buy the wrong one? How do you know your church is making the right decision?
Well I am here to dispel any fears or hesitations you may have.
How it’s going to work
Here’s how this list of comparisons will work: Cameras will be compared based on strengths, weaknesses, and price.
I’ll also add a couple of my own personal notes along the way.
NOTE: These camera recommendations are made with the following applications in mind: video announcements, baptism videos, testimonies, sermon trailers, skits, church ads, welcome videos etc. If you are hoping to record your services or live stream your services, these likely won’t be the best suggestions for you.
1. Canon T4i/T5i
The reason I suggest two different models is because Canon didn’t care to upgrade any of the video features in the new T5i.
That’s right! The T5i costs $300 more than its predecessor and doesn’t offer any new worthwhile video functions.
- Colours: Everything looks natural, and skintones appear lifelike. Colours pop!
- Affordable: The cheapest camera on this list. You can get a T4i for about $599.
- Still Photos: The T4i/T5i is primarily meant for photography, so you can do both with one camera.
- Soft images: Videos aren’t very sharp. Compared to the other cameras on this list, you won’t get as much detail with the T4i/T5i.
- Recording Limit: You can record only between 22-30 minutes of consecutive HD footage. This is downside for many churches that want to film church services, video announcements, interviews, etc.
Price: $599-$999 (Amazon)
The Panasonic GH4 is the absolute BEST all-around camera currently available for churches.
It can shoot beautiful slow-motion, 4K resolution, and photos as well!
- 1080p/96p: These numbers mean that the GH4 can shoot at 60 frames per second in full 1080p high definition. This means you can have full-resolution slow motion! Most consumer cameras still can’t do this, and this is one of most enticing features of the GH3.
- Resolution and detail: The amount of detail in GH4 4K videos is about 4 times as great as the T4i/T5i.
- Overall quality: The GH4 is simply a more robust, capable video camera than the T4i/T5i. But, of course, it is also more expensive.
- Price: The price of the GH4 isn’t outrageous by any means. But at $1499 this price tag could be a bit steep for churches diving into video for the first time.
- Colours: Canon is notorious for producing great colours in their images. Panasonic’s colours, on the other hand, leave something to be desired. They just don’t pop in the same way.
Price: $1499 (B&H)
Until recently, this list of cameras included only three. That was until Magic Lantern released a game-changing firmware hack for the Canon 5D Mark III.
The Mark III is now capable of shooting 14-bit RAW footage in 1080p high-definition. I didn’t believe it myself until a good friend of mine took out his camera and did it.
This is crazy!
If you don’t know what RAW footage is, here is what it means. Almost all video cameras employ some sort of compression on their files. This way the files are manageable for the camera’s storage system. But this hurts the quality of the videos.
RAW video means that the video files are completely uncompressed. So you have infinitely more flexibility in post-production to manipulate the image without harming it or reducing the overall quality.
The Canon 5D Mark III wasn’t meant to do this – but now it can.
- RAW video: Obviously.
- Full-frame: The Mark III sensor is full frame which means there is no crop factor (if you don’t know what crop factor is click here).
- Still Photos: The Mark III also shoots tremendous photographs, making it a legitimate dual-threat camera.
- Price: The Mark III comes in as the priciest camera on this list – by far. The $3499 price tag is a huge investment for many churches.
- Hack Necessary: Keep in mind that the Mark III cannot shoot RAW video out of the box. It requires a firmware hack. It’s not entirely difficult, but it’s not entirely simple either.
Price: $3499 (Amazon)
Our list concludes with my favourite video cameras – the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras.
These are the only cameras on this list that are actually pure video cameras. All the others are primarily built for photography.
There are two different Blackmagic Design cameras that you should consider, the Cinema Camera and the Pocket Cinema Camera.
- RAW video: Just like the Mark III, these cameras shoot RAW video footage that is uncompressed and gorgeous.
- Colours: The Blackmagic camera’s colours are unmatched, even by Canon.
- Size: The Pocket looks like an ordinary point-and-shoot camera. This means that you can take it places you can’t take other cameras. It’s also less intimidating for the people you’re filming.
- Price: The Pocket Cinema Camera costs $995 and the Cinema Camera costs $1995 . They boast the same features of cameras that cost 10x more. The price is just ridiculous.
- Pro: When you look at the price of these cameras, it seems they are meant for consumers. But that is a clever disguise. These are professional cameras. And they require additional accessories to make them functional.
- Battery Life: The battery life on both of these cameras is lacking. Both offer between 30-90 minutes of battery life. That’s just not good enough and means you’ll have to purchase additional batteries or another power solution.
- File Size: When you’re recording in RAW, the file sizes are gigantic. If you want to work with RAW video, you’ll need a powerful computer and plenty of free space.
Price: $995-$1995 (B&H)
The needs of your church are different from mine. So instead of making a definitive statement about the one camera you should buy, I present four options.
Each camera has strengths and weaknesses that your church should carefully consider before purchasing.
But instead of having to choose from hundreds of different cameras, I’ve narrowed it down to four.
If you’re interested in what I use, I own a Panasonic GH4 (I use this most), Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and a Canon T3i. I use the T3i for video announcements and interviews, and I use the GH4 & BMPCC for most everything else.
Now it’s your turn to make the decision!