The Best 4 Video Cameras for Your Church In 2016

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.

I present to you the best 4 video cameras for your church in 2016!

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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: storytelling, video announcements, baptism videos, testimonies, sermon trailers, skits, narrative, welcome videos etc. If you are hoping to record your services or live stream your services, check out this resource instead.

1. Canon T5i/T6i

Canon T5iLet’s begin this list with the most affordable camera, the Canon T5i/T6i.

The reason I suggest two different models is because Canon didn’t care to upgrade any of the video features in the new T6i.

That’s right! The T5i costs $300 more than its predecessor and doesn’t offer any new worthwhile video functions.

Strengths:

  1. Colors: Canon’s color science is legendary. Skintones appear lifelike. Colors pop!
  2. Affordable: The cheapest camera on this list.  You can get a T5i for about $599 (Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to shop used – you can always get a better deal this way).
  3. Still Photos: The T5i/T6i is primarily meant for photography, so you can do both with one camera.

Weaknesses:

  1. Soft images: Videos aren’t very sharp. Compared to the other cameras on this list, you won’t get as much detail with the T5i/T6i. It can’t shoot 4K which is quickly becoming standard on other brands of cameras.
  2. Recording Limit: You can record only between 22-30 minutes of consecutive HD footage. This is downside for many churches that want to film longer videos like announcements, interviews, etc.

Price: $599-$999 (Amazon)

2. Panasonic GH4 gh3

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!

Strengths:

  1. 1080p/96fps: These numbers mean that the GH4 can shoot at 96 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 GH4.
  2. Resolution and detail: The amount of detail in GH4 4K videos is about 4 times as great as the T5i/T6i. This means your video will appear sharper and you’ll be able to see more details.
  3. Overall quality: The GH4 is simply a more robust, capable video camera than the T5i/T6i. But, of course,  it is also more expensive.

Weaknesses:

  1. Price: The price of the GH4 isn’t outrageous by any means. But at $1399 this price tag could be a bit steep for churches diving into video for the first time.
  2. Colors: Canon is notorious for producing great colors in their images. Panasonic’s colors, on the other hand, leave something to be desired. They just don’t pop in the same way.

Price: $1399 (B&H)

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3. Sony A7SiiSony A7Sii

Sony is producing some of the most exciting cameras in the world right now.

The A7Sii is capable of shooting 120fps slow motion and internal 4K. It’s has a full frame sensor which means you’ll be able to capture an ultra shallow depth of field with the right lenses. And that’s just the beginning of the spec list.

This is crazy!

The Sony A7Sii also has internal stabilization. This means it will automatically stabilize your footage to minimize shake and jitters.

Strengths:

  1. 1080/120fps: Beautiful slow motion (even slower than the GH4).
  2. Full-frame: The A7Sii sensor is full frame which means there is no crop factor (if you don’t know what crop factor is click here).
  3. Still Photos: The Mark III also shoots tremendous photographs, making it a legitimate dual-threat camera.
  4. 4K: More detail and more sharpness in every shot.

Weaknesses:

  1. Price: The A7Sii comes in at around $2998. A huge investment for many churches.
  2. E-mount: You’ll need an adapter if you want to use lenses besides Sony glass.

Price: $2998 (B&H)

4. Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6KBlackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K

Our list concludes with my favourite video camera – the Blackmagic Ursa Mini.

This is the only camera on this list that is a pure cinema camera. All the others are primarily built for photography.

This camera will outperform every other camera on this list when it comes to image quality. If you care most about the beauty of the image coming out of the camera – this is the camera for you.

Strengths:

  1. Image Quality: 4.6K global shutter sensor with 15 stop of dynamic range (unheard of at this price point).
  2. Colors: Apple ProRes 444 codec for ultimate flexibility in post-production.
  3. Audio: Dual built-in XLR inputs for professional level sound quality directly into the camera.
  4. Compact Handheld Design: Let’s be clear: this camera is not compact compared to the other cameras on this list. But compared to other cameras with similar specs to the Ursa Mini this is a very reasonable form factor.

Weaknesses:

  1. Cost: When you look at the price of this cameras, you’ll know this is meant for serious cinematographers. Especially considering that when you buy needed accessories you’ll likely push your budget close to $10K.
  2. Batteries: The Ursa Mini requires power from V-mount batteries. These are expensive and heavy.
  3. CFast Cards: Unlike the other cameras on this list that record footage to SD cards, the Ursa Mini stores footage on CFast cards. These cards are expensive.
  4. File Size: When you’re recording footage of this quality, the file sizes are gigantic. If you want to work with video of this magnitude, you’ll need a powerful computer and plenty of free space.

Price: $4995 (B&H)

Conclusion

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 looking for the most affordable option, you’ll want to pick up a Canon T5i/T6i. If you’re wanting the best image quality possible, saving up for the Blackmagic Ursa Mini is your best bet. And if you’re looking for something in between, either the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7Sii will do the trick.

If you’re interested in what I use, I shot for two years on a Canon T3i (an earlier iteration of the T6i). I then upgrade to a Panasonic GH4 and shot with that for another two years. At the beginning of 2016 I picked up a Sony A7Sii and a Canon C100 Mark II. Finally, at the time of this writing I’ve pre-ordered the Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K and I’m waiting for it to shop.

Now it’s your turn to make the decision!

What camera do you think would best fit your church? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Someone at Church was telling me about the Blackmagic and from what I saw it does appear to be one that if you want crisp video you should get.

    • bradyshearer

      You’re right Lincoln. It’s a total game changer. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • Jim Hutton

    The price of cameras coming down is great. It makes it affordable for any church budget to have a good camera.

    • bradyshearer

      Exactly Jim! It’s so exciting!

  • David L Good

    I’m not sure this is a great list at all. You’ve listed three DSLRs — which is NOT a good choice for long-form shooting. Period. The only real “video” camera you’ve actually listed is one you haven’t even had your hands on — so it’s really unfair to even include it on a recommendations list. Poor form, sir. One HUGE downside is the fact that the lens mount can require very costly glass… or you have to deal with converters, etc. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve actually used one (beta/show floor), and they are incredible cameras — but I would never recommend one for a church (unless the church was only interested in producing “movies”… in other words, not recording services).

    I think most churches would be interested in things like: build-in lens or removable lens. Optical zoom. Ability to save to internal hard drive and/or SD card. Clean HDMI output. The ability to output component and/or composite video. The ability to input audio (1/4”, XLR, min-jack, etc.). Low light capabilities. “remote” capabilities. Output connectivity for both data (USB) and Video (HDMI, FireWire) etc., etc. Again — unless you’re only talking about churches interested in producing short “films” or short videos series for the web/television.

    I’ve been in the professional television/video industry for well over 20 years (lost track already) and I’ve set up a lot of rigs for a lot of congregations. Recording services (and also live streaming of services) seems to be more of a concern than creating ‘short film’ segments. Your suggestions are perfectly valid for short film segments. This is just simply not a big concern for most churches.

    • bradyshearer

      Hey David! Great comments here. Lots of good stuff.

      I got an email a couple weeks back from a Pro Church Tools reader and he asked me what was the best camera for his church. He was concerned with a DSLRs ability to record services.

      I told him straight up – don’t record your services. Because he, like the majority of our little community here, serves at a small church. And like you mentioned, he would need a ‘rig’ to do what he was imagining. You can’t just point a camcorder at a church stage and expect to yield good results. To record a service in high quality you would indeed need a rig.

      And that’s just not feasible for us. I serve at a church plant of less than 100. Broadcasting our services isn’t exactly a priority. But we love storytelling with film.

      Perhaps I should have mentioned that these cameras are NOT good suggestions for live streaming or recording services. But like you said, the suggestions are perfectly valid for what we’re aiming to do 🙂

      Thanks for the comment David!

      • David L Good

        “Storytelling With Film — A Church Guide To Camera Selection” might have been a better title for this blog entry. I like the sound of it (and it would have eliminated any confusion I had when I first found this page).

        I agree with what you told them. Too often a congregation has the desire to “do more”… and in their zeal (and ignorance of the difficulties associated with film/video) they are often blinded as to what they’re really getting themselves into. Most people are used to services like YouTube and Vimeo, or even with what they see on television… and it’s easy to take for granted how much time and effort goes into producing even the shortest of clips, in a moderately professional manner. It’s always best to walk before you run.

        For smaller congregations wanting to record full services, I usually suggest that they start with audio… then move to consumer-grade video (maybe to burn DVDs as an archive/library) and then move towards archiving/distribution on a simple web page… and if they have the manpower, skill, time, and desire… they can move into higher quality recording and even live streaming.

        It’s all about taking it one step at a time, taking your time (and doing it right) and analyzing every step to make sure you’re still good with the ultimate goal — because it’s frustrating for a congregation to get used to video recordings or live streaming of services, only to have it taken away when the “sole” tech guy moves to a different city or becomes burnt out on the effort required to maintain it all each and every week.

        Thanks for the clarification on your post. Much appreciated.

        • bradyshearer

          Sounds like you and I are on the same page David.

          I told that same reader that they should focus on audio as well.

          Thanks for the discussion!

        • Revelator

          Hi David, Thanks for the post. I’m part of a small church (25-35). We are doing audio but we want to start video recording to YouTube. I wanted to get your recommendation for a camcorder in the thousand dollar range that allows for such an endeavor. Thank You

          • David L Good

            If you have to stay under the $1,000 mark, I would suggest going with a SONY HDR-PJ540/B. It will run you about $700. It has a 30X Optical Zoom, it can write directly to SD cards, and — VERY IMPORTANT — it has an audio-input jack. A lot of camcorders do not have audio input jacks, which makes the useless (in my opinion) for recording sermons or other sessions. For another $180 you can purchase a BeachTek DXA-2T… which is a small box that can mount under your camera — giving you the ability to add PRO AUDIO inputs to your camera. Basically, you run XLR outputs from your audio board into the BeachTek… and you can adjust gain and other settings on the BeachTek… and the audio is then sent to your camcorder through a 1/8″ audio cable. Excellent audio each and every time. If you have a little more money to spend, I would STRONGLY recommend going with a Canon XVIA HF G30. This camera has EXCELLENT optics and will give you a much cleaner image in situations where you have low light, or lighting that isn’t the greatest. It has a 20X optical lens. If you add the BeachTek unit, mentioned above, to the Canon VIXIA G30 you can get pro audio inputs and you will essentially have something identical to the more expensive Canon XA20 — the EXACT same optics, sensor, signal processing, etc. The only real difference between the XA20 and the HF G30 is that the XA20 has a handlebar that has the XLR audio connectors built-in. But if you add the BeachTek to the G30 you can get the very same results and save a nice chunk of change in the process. Both the SONY and the Canon cameras have HDMI output. Again — the Canon has better optics and will perform better in sub-standard lighting conditions… but the SONY has more optical zoom and, if you have decent lighting, provides a great image.

          • Revelator

            Thank You

  • Paul

    Please can you explain why the blackmagic is a bad idea for recording a service? We record audio through our sound system already – looking to add high quality video and thought this looked good to me? Thanks

    • bradyshearer

      The Blackmagic has the best quality image for the lowest price. That’s its biggest strength. It’s not that it’s a bad idea to use for services, it just has limitations that you need to be aware of.

      Firstly, if you’re going to live stream, the image coming out of the camera is ungraded and very flat – and it’s not pretty because it needs to be graded.

      Secondly, because the files are such high-quality they’re HUGE files and if you’re recording 30-60 minute services each week, the storage you’re going to need is going be pricey as well.

      In the end, they’re just not meant for broadcast or recording services, they’re meant for cinematic filmmaking. So it’s not that they won’t work, but you’ll need some work arounds.

      • Paul

        Thanks, that’s really useful. Do you have a top 2-3 recommendations for recording services in high quality (we don’t need live streaming at the moment but it may be something we look to for the future). Our budget would be around £1500 ($2100).

        • bradyshearer

          Hey Paul. I’m actually not a big fan of recording church services to begin with. I even wrote a post about why I don’t think it’s the right approach for most churches here: http://prochurchtools.com/dont-record-your-church-services/

          If it’s something your church is set on though, there are a couple of options for you.

          1. Canon XA10: This camera is petite but it comes with a lot of great features at a decent price. It doesn’t have SDI/HDSI out though so if you wanted to live stream in the future you would need a converter.

          2. Any of the DSLRs on this list will work well too. They won’t have some of same features as a camcorder will, but you will have a camera that can both record your services and shoot cinematic videos during the week.

          Recording services and live broadcasting aren’t my areas of expertise though so take it with a grain of salt.

  • John

    Came across this site while doing some beginning research on video cameras. We are a Christian Camp and are wanting to start videoing our speakers sessions at events as opposed to only offering audio of the sessions. The distance from the front of the platform to the camera location would be about 40-45 ft. Trying to find the best camera possible to video from this distance and still have a great HD pic. Also, wanting to mount it on a remote control base so our A/V person can move the camera L-R when and if neccessary. Thougts?

    • bradyshearer

      Hey John. I’m actually not a big fan of recording services/sessions to begin with. I even wrote a post about why I don’t think it’s the right approach for most applications:
      http://prochurchtools.com/dont-record-your-church-services/

      If it’s something you’re set on though, there are a couple of options for you.

      1. Canon XA10: This camera is petite but it comes with a lot of great features at a decent price. It doesn’t have SDI/HDSI out though so if you wanted to live stream in the future you would need a converter.

      2. Any of the DSLRs on this list will work well too. They won’t have some of same features as a camcorder will, but you will have a camera that can both record your services and shoot cinematic videos as well.

      Recording services aren’t my areas of expertise though so take it with a grain of salt.

      Just don’t try to do it with 1 camera. Because you’ll need at least 2.

  • mattbedell

    i believe the information on the T3i vs the T5i needs updating. Canon did upgrade the focusing of the T5i so that it auto focuses while recording. The T3i must be focused before pressing record and once recording the focus cannot be changed. This feature alone is worth the extra money for the T5i. I’ve operated them both and much happier with the T5i for video. Both cameras take great still images. Thanks

    • bradyshearer

      Hey Matt! Thanks for the comment. The autofocus feature is pretty cool. But here’s a the beef that I have with it, and why I don’t think it’s worth the upgrade.

      1. You need an STM lens for the autofocus to work properly. Otherwise it’s gonna be noisy.
      2. I don’t think I’ve ever autofocused while shooting video in my life. I’m all about the manual focus because it gets me more involved in my shooting and looks more natural. The T3i focus absolutely can be changed while recording, you just need to be in manual mode.

      The autofocus feature is cool. But I got my T3i for $429, and Amazon says the T5i right now is about $850. That’s twice as much for an autofocus feature I wouldn’t really use.

      And that’s why I recommend the T3i, but you said that you like the video better on the T5i, so all power to you!

  • kingMEdia

    Any thoughts on the Canon Prosumer Video camera? a friend is selling his xl-1 for 225 with tripod.

    • bradyshearer

      You know I’ve never been a fan of camcorders. I like DSLR cameras because they can achieve a filmic look and that’s something that’s very important to me.

      But with that being said the XL-1 is a pretty big deal. I probably still go for it.

  • Jeff M

    Actually the t4i can record to 30 minutes. it stops at that time but you can restart it again. there is a 4gig file size limit but the camera continues to record seamlessly onto a new file.

    • bradyshearer

      Thanks for the update Jeff! I’ve made that change in the post.

  • Craig B

    Do you use the Black Magic to film full services, or at least the live Sermon? If so, or even if you dont (but you know) are these good for that purpose? How long can the shutter stay open? Can you record it onto the internal card as well as live stream it at the same time?
    Thanks!

    • bradyshearer

      Craig, I have never personally used the Black Magic to film full services. I do know of others who do this though. I probably wouldn’t recommend it though…here’s a thread from the Blackmagic Forum that could be helpful: http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5681

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by how long can the shutter stay open. Are you asking how long can the camera film consecutively? Or are you asking what the max shutter angle is?

  • Ivan

    Thanks Brady, awesome work your doing here!
    I feel sometimes media can be underrated in Churches and i believe what Hillsong did for music we can all do for media in the ministry.
    Any ways, to the point!
    About filming services with the Blackmagic, i think it is a great option if your a larger or fast growing Church. The camera is great and has a ridiculously low price, but it needs accessories to go with it that actually stack up the price a fair bit. But this also means you get a lot of flexibility when it comes to upgrade time, saving you money in the end. A production setup will cost you about 6 to 7 thousand Dollars, but that will mean CAMERA+Rigs n all, RECORDER+SD’s and Some extras. Load it up instantly and start burning before offering is finished. Ideally with a bit of Pre-prep members could be walking out with DVD’s or even BluRays before they even finish their coffee. This is considering you already have burners and some OK editing hardware. And you could Live stream easily with a Blackmagic DeckLink card and thats about 150 bucks!
    I recon its worth the investment.
    GOD only deserves excellence and nothing less because he gives us his everything!

    • Thanks for the comment Ivan! You make a good point about the accessories necessary for the Blackmagic cameras.

      When I bought mine it was only $2000, but then it required almost a full additional $2000 to ensure it was fully functional. Thanks for your insight here. Very helpful to us all!

  • Yves Djuma

    Good day Brady. I am currently using a SONY HDR-CX220 video camera to record at my church. It’s not bad when it comes to recording HD but when I zoom the resolution becomes terrible. So literally I don’t zoom much since the quality isn’t to good. The Church would like to purchase a new video camera, we dont have a big budget too. Which one would you recommend which would record HD Quality recordings. We only use the camera to record the sermons.

    • Hey Yves! My favourite camcorder to use is the Canon XA10. Here’s a link directly to it: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/749467-REG/Canon_4922B002_XA10_HD_Professional_Camcorder.html

      • Stephen Martin

        Brady, would this Canon XA10 be great for video announcements as well and what would I need to do to get the best sound quality when doing the video announcements? Thanks!!

        • Stephen, I simply use a Canon T3i for video announcements (it’s perfect). And I use a shotgun mic with an external audio recorder to get great sound. Here’s a post where I list all of the equipment: http://prochurchtools.com/church-media-starter-kit/

          • Stephen Martin

            Thanks so much! Last question…would it work ok for live streaming? Decent maybe?

          • A T3i wouldn’t be a good camera for live streaming, no. A T3i is more of a cinematic camera. You’re likely going to need two different types of cameras to do both live streaming and the type of videos mentioned in this post.

  • Heather

    What about sound? What do you reccomend in that regard?

  • iriel

    Hey brady,

    Im looking for a DSLR camera to record the sermons at my church.
    My church budget is 120 pounds (im from London) my church is a small church and I want to get a decent camera that can record good sound quality to put on dvd.

    Is there any Cheap dslr cameras you can suggest.
    Also is there a usb microphone you can fit into a DSLR camera as its hard to find a decent price dslr camera with a mic input.

  • Mandee

    Hi Brady,

    What cameras DO you suggest for recording church sermons?

    • Simple: I suggest 95% of churches don’t even consider video recording their services. http://prochurchtools.com/022/

      • Nate

        Can you go into more depth as to why not?

        • Follow the link I posted above, Nate. There is a lengthy podcast explaining my reasoning.

          Also, if you simply must record your church services, I recommend the Canon G20.

          • clanderson

            You mean the same Canon G20 that you didn’t mention in this entire article titled “The Best 4 Video Cameras for Your Church”?

            That’s a little confusing to say the least.

          • I don’t think it’s very confusing. I make a very clear disclaimer at the beginning of the post that these recommendations are not meant for those that want to record/live stream their services.

            Including the Canon G20 wouldn’t make sense for this article.

  • Colton K

    Hi Brady, our church is venturing into video announcements. We are about ready to purchase a camera/mic/etc…I noticed that this video was from last year…Would you still recommend these four cameras? We are considering the Canon T3i but we did not want to purchase if this video is now considered “old”. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Colton,

      I still use a Canon T3i for recording our video announcements every week. And we work with dozens of churches across the world over at http://provideoannouncements.com.

      So, yes, I would still recommend the Canon Rebel series. But you might not want a T3i, maybe you want to get the newer versions like the T5i.

      • Colton K

        Thanks! I looked at the link you posted about the non-branded shotgun mic that you currently use…I have been looking at others on Sweetwater.com but am not a mic expert…do you have any problems capturing a great sound with the mic you use? Are you still currently using the one you suggested? Thanks again for this great resource!
        Colton

        • I still am using that mic, Colton! Maybe my ears just aren’t good enough, but I still can’t tell the different between that and a $1000 mic.

      • Colton K

        Brady,
        Would you recommend a Go-Pro camera for Video Announcements. I know that some of those models record in 1080p but wanted a second opinion. What do you think about Go-Pro for Church Video Announcements?
        Thanks
        Colton Kellam

        • You know, I’ve never personally used a GoPro myself. So I can’t really speak to this with too much accuracy, but I personally wouldn’t go for a GoPro myself.

  • Zachary McKenzie

    Thank you for your video’s. I had been looking at getting a t3i or t4i when I came across the EOS M. From what I can tell it is comparable. Horrible for stills but great for video. I can pick up a new EOS m with either the 22mm kit lens or an 18-55mm kit lens for about $300 compared to $550 for a t3i kit and $700 for t4i. What are your thoughts?

    • Zachary, the EOS M would definitely be an interesting camera to purchase. Here’s a good write up on some of the pros of this camera: http://dslrvideoshooter.com/why-i-bought-an-eos-m-camera-for-video/.

      I thought this camera was discontinued a while ago. But it still seems as though it’s on the market for purchase. That’s kind of odd, and for me that would be a red flag.

      • Zachary McKenzie

        Thank you for your very prompt reply. You really do practice what you teach. What is the red flag? Grey market? The $300 kit is from Amazon market place and is most likely grey market, but BH photo and video has the USA kit for $350.

        • Many reasons, Zachary. Grey market is one of them. Also, community support, ongoing firmware updates, etc. The BH sale is obviously fine, and the Amazon Marketplace one likely is also. And just because I wouldn’t personally go with this camera, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you. You might just be on to something here!

          • Zachary McKenzie

            Brady,

            I just wanted to say I did pick up a new EOS M with the 22mm kit lens for $250.00 this past week. Even though I shot very little video with it so far, I am happy with the purchase, especially because I can use old Canon FD lenses that are in the closets of my extended family with a $12.00 eos m to fd mount. This of course brought down my initial investment substantially. This camera paired with FD lenses, a zoom h1, azden lav mic, and the free lightworks software will be put to use in my church, school, and even work. Thank you for your great videos that gave me the nudge to stop just dreaming of doing video and instead start shooting video.

          • That’s AMAZING Zachary! Glad to see you’re taking action and moving forward. So inspiring.

  • Chris

    Does the GH3 have the same consecutive recording issue the Canon does? Is there a limit to how long you can record with it?

    • Chris, as far as I’ve researched, the GH4 has no time limit.

      • Chris

        Thanks for the quick response and for this post! Love your site and am enjoying learning lots from it!

        • Chris

          You replied for the GH4, but what about the GH3? Do you know?

          • I’m pretty sure the GH3 has a 30 minute limit.

          • Chris

            Bummer…so I guess I need to spend the extra 1k for the 4k haha.
            Thanks Brady!

          • And for the slow mo! The GH3 is very inferior to the GH4 in my opinion. Worth the upgrade!

          • Chris

            I guess my next comment was wrong then, the GH4 does have slow mo?

          • Chris

            Brady,
            I currently have a T3i and a Canon 60D. I wanted to be able to get full consecutive recording, but is it worth it for me to switch to a different camera brand just for that?

          • Chris

            Just gotta figure out how to get that money together plus all new lenses haha thanks again!

          • Yeah, it has 96fps in full 1080p goodness. I think the GH4 upgrade is worth it for you. No doubt in my mind.

          • Rusty Turnbuckle

            Only in PAL countries. The North American version is unlimited in terms of shooting time (limited by the size of your SDHC card and battery power, but the stock batteries have a shockingly long run time, and you can get an AC adapter for cheap). The GH3 is an excellent deal, bang-for-buck, with better video specs than most competitors under $3000, and not as wonky as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, though the dynamic range and general image quality of the BM cameras is outstanding. We bought a GH3 for our university use in January 2014 for about $900.

            Does the T3i have a headphone jack? Audio meters? I don’t think so. The GH3 has both….

          • Thanks for the clarification. I love the GH4 and it’s my top recommendation for churches. But if you’re just starting out with video, it’s hard to beat a Canon T3/4/5i.

  • Colton K

    Hi, Brady. Would you recommend the Canon t3 for video announcements. What is the primary difference between the Canon t3 and the Canon t3i? We are on the verge of buying one and as we were looking we found the t3i to be relatively more than the t3.

    • Definitely go with the T3i, Colton! The T3 can’t shoot in 1080p or 24fps. Two big deal breakers for me.

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  • Letisha

    Hi Brady, I am from a small church on a small island, American Samoa. We are trying to upgrade our camera and we are trying to record our services or at least praise nd worship and the Word of course. What can we look into getting?

  • Samuel Thomas

    Hey Brady,
    Love all the Resources that you put out.
    The above camera’s are all out of my price range. Could you recommend a Camera that can be connected to a Laptop and be used for Live streaming. And also simultaneously record in Best Quality?

    • Samuel, sadly I don’t know of any cameras that are able to do all of those things in your price range. You may have to adjust your expectations or your budget to get a camera that will suit your needs.

  • jastin
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  • ddoconnor

    Hey Brady! What are your thoughts on the Sony FS100?

  • Nathan

    Do the Black Magic cameras work well in a live setting for things like iMag and filming sermons?

  • Acarder

    Hey Brady,

    Are you receiving any type of incentives from Amazon or other vendors by including the product links?

    • Hey Acarder, there are ways that you can do that, but we don’t do any of that stuff.

      We have never accepted paid advertising and never will. Instead we promote our own products and give away 95% of our content for free.

  • Josh Garcia

    I have a small church. What camera would you recommend just to record the person preaching. It can be from 45 min – 90 min long. I need a camera that can record that long straight into a SD card that i can easily transfer to my computer. also that has audio input so i can transfer sound from my mixer.

    thank you in advanced and thanks for making all this available to us.

    Josh

  • Add one weakness to the blackmagic cam… 1200 ISO max… not near good enough for my church, unfortunately

  • David C. Johnson

    Have you tried using the GH4 for live video streaming?

  • Jeff

    Hi Brady,

    I apologize if this has already been answered. Our church (based on your recommendation) is going to invest in a GH4. We will be using this for interviews, sermon bumpers, testimonials, and baptisms- all the things that you have mentioned it is good for. What lenses will I need and can you recommend brands/model numbers?

    You’ve helped our church out a lot. Thanks!

    • Roxanne Wiedemann

      Hey Jeff the team here have been using the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 and a Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8

      Hope that helps!

      • Jeff

        Thank you! Are you with ProChurchtools.com?

        • Roxanne Wiedemann

          Yes. I work on the administrative side. 🙂

  • Michael Thom

    Brady, I’m back 🙂 We still haven’t purchased – I was close to pulling the trigger. But now somebody has almost convinced me of going with a PowerShot SX60. At first I laughed and scoffed. But now I’ve looked and it seems like not a bad choice; especially considering my church would never buy another lense outside of the included in a DSLR kit. It shoots true HD, has a mic input, a shoe mount, good aperture range …
    Anything that I should be aware of that would make this a huge disappointment, especially for video?

    • You’re talking about two very different types of cameras. A cinema-style camera and a camcorder. So it’s the pros and cons of each. I’ve never shot with a camcorder because I want my videos to look cinematic and not like a family vacation shot my a grandparent.

      With that being said, you do sometimes get more features with a camcorder like you mentioned. Though, the GH4 also has a mic input, shoe mount, shoots 4K (I have no idea what TRUE HD means). As for aperture range, again, not sure what you mean by that, but camcorders can’t shoot quality shallow depth of field – that’s more of a cinema camera strength.

      • Michael Thom

        TrueHD is just the trademarked or marketing term for 1920x1080p I believe. Aperture range? You know what I mean 🙂 this camera’s is f/3.4 – f/8.0 … actually, I guess that isn’t so great for shallow depth of field.

        What is responsible for the more cinematic look; the lenses? I do want to do more story telling, like testimonies, baptisms, etc. so that is a good point. It’s just the money issue keeps getting in the way. I had considered the
        Nikon D5200 too, because of the price. Any input there? Or should I just shut up and take your initial advice already? :p

        I really appreciate that you have taken the time to respond. Thanks! It is very helpful

        • The main considerations for cinema-looking footage has to do generally with the following:

          – Aperture
          – Sensor size
          – Depth of field
          – Frame rate
          – Dynamic range

          I think you know my recommendation here. But truthfully, it’s more important that you make a decision and start storytelling! Camera bodies will come and go – this won’t be your final camera.

          • Michael Thom

            Thanks Brady 🙂

  • Matthew Meekins

    Hey Brady,

    I realize this is an older article, but I’m curious if you’re still using the BM Pocket Cinema Cam. If you are, how are you rigging it?

  • Hey Brady –

    We are about make a purchase on our next video camera. Really excited!

    Currently we are using a Cannon 70D to do any of our filming (announcements, baptisms, testimony videos, etc). I’m now in the market for a new camera so that we can use one for some B roll, and really to do an upgrade

    I listened to all your comments about not recording services, and really like what you have to say. Currently I think we are in the 90% that shouldn’t, but we’re thinking in a year or so we’ll be in the 10%

    That said, my Pastor wants to look at this purchase through the lens of one say streaming (again a 1 year goal). So he wants me to purchase a camera that will be great and cinematic, but that we can also use for streaming in a year. So, this is leading me to think that a camcorder with the appropriate outputs, rather than another DSLR, is the right purchase. So I am thinking about something like the Sony HXR-NX100 Full HD NXCAM. I’m really wondering if I am think about all of this correctly.

    I am a rookie in all of this, and value your opinion so much. We are a new church plant, just over a year old, and we are clearly pro church tools disciples when it comes to all things media. Would really, really appreciate your input!

    • Hey Kyle, the Sony HXR-NX100 may serve you well when it comes to live streaming, but it definitely won’t produce a cinematic image. If you want a camera that does both, you might wanna look into something like the Blackmagic cameras. They can do both. Cinematic images and SDI/HD-SDI out for live streaming.

  • Jarod

    Brady, which lens do you suggest for the t5i in a small studio/ video announcement situation? Is the EF-S capable of producing decent depth of field?

    • I would go with something like that Canon 50mm f1.8 – just $100.

  • Matthew Smith

    Thanks for the great review Brady! Our Church has been looking at the SONY A7SII. We really need something that can capture good pictures for social media/promotions with the capabilities of shooting announcement videos, interviews, indoor/outdoor events, and sermon clips. Are there any accessories that I should look for in addition to the camera? i.e. mics/optional lens etc.

    If so, could you recommend a few options or point me to a blog that you might have already covered concerning this. Thank you again for sharing your expertise in this area.

  • Trevor E. Wentt

    Hey Brady,

    We’ve got a church of about 600 and we are looking to do a video feed into our lobby TVs due to some space issues we’re starting to deal with. Not any recording, nor streaming online, just an audio and single camera video feed into our lobby. Do you have any suggestion for equipment needed to pull something like that off well?

  • It looks like your Amazon link for the T5i actually points to the T4i.

  • Kaas

    My church is extremely dynamic and we ALWAYS record our preachers for archiving and making them available to anyone who wants to watch them from our server. I intend to buy another Canon XA20 (same camcorder as I bought for myself) for our church. I realize Canon no longer makes this model but many are available on EBAY at very good prices, and as a television broadcast engineer I highly recommend the XA series for excellent video quality. We have no intention to go 4K anytime soon, 1080P will be fine for many years. Why 4K is being rammed down our throats is unjustifiable. I’m sure it is highly desirable in medical, architectural and other fields needing extra-fine detailed images, but for general TV productions it isn’t needed.