The Most Affordable Live Streaming Cameras For Churches In 2018 | Ep. #115

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

May 22nd, 2018

We often get asked for recommendations of live streaming gear. Brady breaks down a selection of affordable cameras for live streaming recommended by Joel W. Smith.

What’s In This Session?

  • Disclaimer (0:24)
  • Joel W. Smith (1:01)
  • Canon Vixia G20 (1:35)
  • Canon Vixia G40 (2:50)
  • Canon XA10 (3:31)
  • Canon XA30 (4:06)
  • Sony PXW-X70 (5:59)
  • Other Considerations (7:04)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined, as always, by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re talking about the most affordable live streaming cameras for churches in 2018.

Brady Shearer: This is episode 115 of Pro Church Daily. In episode 114, we talked about why live streaming for churches is overrated, especially if you are a church of 350 people or less.

Alex Mills: Which most of you are.

Brady Shearer: 90% plus are. There are so many more affordable, viable, options. If you have not watched that, I’d love for you to take a look at that before you just dive into doing live streaming. I think that we can be great stewards of our resources, so that’s an episode to consider. If you are bent on live streaming, let’s talk about some great gear to do it affordably and do it at quality. I should make a disclaimer. I do not work in live production, and so I am not the expert to talk to on this. We are using resources from an actual bonafide expert.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Joel W. Smith, a friend of mine, all of the information we’re about to share comes directly from his articles at joelwsmith.com. They’re both going to be linked in the show notes. 

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: If you’re going to make a purchase, I highly recommend. Go to his page and click through his Amazon affiliate links, show him some love. Give him some kickback when you’re buying this expensive camera. He’s the one that did the work and the recommendations. He deserves all the credits.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Five cameras we want to talk about. Each is cheaper than $2000. If you’re looking for one even higher quality, Joel has some more high end options. But we’re going to talk about $2000 or less. The first camera, the Canon Vixia comes in at around $800. To quote Joel, this is the only live capable camera that he recommends under $1000. It’s got a clean HDMI output. It’s pretty decent in low light performance and it has a 10X optical zoom. The important thing to remember with that is, that means that it will work if the distance between your camera and the person that you’re  filming on stage is 50 feet or less. So if you have to put it farther away, this is not the camera for you. This is the camera for you if you can position your camera and tripod 50 feet or fewer away from your pastor, your band, on stage.

Alex Mills: Yeah. The thing to consider with the zoom is, you said this one has a 10X optical zoom. But if you’re looking at cameras, you maybe see, oh, this has 100X digital zoom, and that could be true. But that digital zoom is not hardware. It’s software in that camera that’s enabling you to zoom in, and so you’re going to lose a lot of quality on that. So when you’re looking at zoom capabilities, keep an eye on the optical zoom, not the digital zoom.

Brady Shearer: That’s a great point because, you know what has more than 100X zoom, I actually know of a software that has a billion X zoom, it’s called any software. You can zoom in as much as you want. It won’t look good, but …

Alex Mills: Yeah. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: All right. Camera number two, also from Canon. This is the Canon Vixia G40. It’s $1100. Remember, the previous camera was the G20. This is the G40. This is essentially the same camera, except that it has a 20X optical zoom instead of 10X. So this is for you if you have to keep your camera 100 feet or fewer away from the actual stage. 100 feet or fewer, that’s what you would go for this. It’s the same camera, but it has more of an optical zoom, so if you have a much bigger sanctuary, auditorium, or if you have to put your camera, position it farther back, this would be the camera for you.

Brady Shearer: Stepping up to camera number three, the Canon XA10, about $1300 USD. This is going to have a better processor and better audio inputs than the G40 and G20 from Canon. For instance, this has two XLR inputs, where as the G40, G20, they’re only going to have eighth inch audio inputs. So better audio, more professional with those XLRs, slightly better video quality than the G20, G40. This one, again, has a 10X optical zoom, so we’re going backwards now. We’re back to that 10X optical zoom, 50 feet or less from the stage for this camera.

Brady Shearer: What if I need more than 50 feet, Brady? I’m so glad you asked. The Canon XA30, $1800 ish. You’re going to have improved sharpness with this. The low light capability is improved over the XA10, and you’ve got 20X optical zoom instead of the 10X optical zoom. So again, now you can move it all the way back 100 feet or fewer from the stage.

Alex Mills: Yeah. That low light capability is probably something that a lot of churches are going to need to take advantage of. There’s not a whole light, a lot of light in sanctuaries. Often, if there is natural light, a lot of us will actually put like-

Brady Shearer: Blackout.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Put blackout curtains up because we’re using LEDs or whatever. 

Brady Shearer: That’s because we need it to be dark so we can put all the focus on the stage.

Alex Mills: Right. Right.

Brady Shearer: And the fog.

Alex Mills: Yeah. And the haze. 

Brady Shearer: That’s why I call it fog. Okay. It’s not called fog. It’s called haze. That’s so neat.

Alex Mills: Right. So yeah, low light capability is going to be something you’re going to want to look for in a camera so that you’re not getting a lot of artificial noise in the image and that the image quality is great for your viewers.

Brady Shearer: That’s a really great sidebar to dive into because the most important element when it comes to the overall look of your video is lighting. And it doesn’t matter how amazing these cameras are, if you have basically, essentially no lighting, especially when it comes to video, your eyes are better than all of these cameras. So you might think that your lighting is great, but it may not. And so low light capability might not sound as exciting as distance from the stage, or audio inputs, or video codec, or even sensor size. But sensor size directly does contribute to low light capability. And that’s definitely something to prioritize, especially if you know, hey, our auditorium is not that bright. It’s going to be even less bright when you’re looking at it through a camera because camera sensors are not as good as your eye sensors. God is better at video quality than you are.

Alex Mills: Yes, he is. You’ve given me four options. Why don’t you go ahead and give me the best live streaming camera for under $2000.

Brady Shearer: Options one through four were Canon. Sorry Canon. We are departing to the world of Sony, the Sony PXWX70. So this is right around-

Alex Mills: Did you just throw letters in there? How many more letters can we put in this name to make it sound great?

Brady Shearer: And the sixth bonus camera, the Panasonic XYZABCDE1234.

Alex Mills: There it is. Five. 

Brady Shearer: So the fifth camera, the Sony PXWX70. It’s about $2000. And to quote Joel, it’s the little giant of camcorders. So this is going to see a pretty significant boost in image quality simply because of the sensor size inside of this camera. It has a full one inch sensor, which is going to make is especially great in low light situations. So if you can swing it, obviously this is the camera on our specific list of five that’s going to deliver the highest level of video quality. It also has two XLR inputs.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: 3G SDI output, a 12X optical zoom.

Alex Mills: Okay, so kind of in the middle there.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. You’re going like 60 feet or less from the stage at this point. But another thing to consider, and that wraps up our five cameras, is that when you’re constructing a live streaming set up, you can’t just think about the camera, because to do live streaming there are a number of different elements to get from what your camera is recording to streaming it online.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: So you’ve got the camera. Well, before the camera, the lighting. Right? You’ve got the lighting. And then you’ve got the camera. Then you’ve got the switcher. Then you’ve got the tripod. You’ve got the lank controller, which is going to allow you to zoom in, zoom out, tilt, pan, with your tripod. Then you’ve got the cabling and then the encoder, kind of that final piece of taking your raw video signal and pumping it into the online world in an efficient way. And so it’s fun to talk about the cameras, of course, for live streaming, but there’s an entire suite of hardware that you’re going to need to get up and running. And that’s why we want to redirect you, point you to those show notes again, with Joel W. Smith and his resources online. He has that list of cameras, but he also has a great article called The Budget Friendly Live Streaming Package. And so it starts with the camera, but it also includes that encoder, the cabling, the switcher, the lank controller, the tripod, and all those other things.

Alex Mills: Awesome. 

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.