The Best 5 Video Cameras For Your Church In 2016

If you’re looking to buy a camera it can be intimidating. What if you buy the wrong one? I present to you the best 5 video cameras for your church.

July 20th, 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 5 video cameras for your church in 2016!

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.

NOTE II: This list is not in any order. Each of the five cameras serves different purposes and comes in at a different price point.

1. Canon EOS Rebel SL1

Canon EOS Rebel SL1
Canon EOS Rebel SL1

Let’s begin this list with the most affordable camera, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. This is the perfect entry camera for churches diving into shooting their own videos for the first time.


  1. Colors: Canon’s color science is highly regarded. Skintones appear lifelike. Colors pop.
  2. Affordable: The cheapest camera on this list.  You can get a SL1 for about $399 (Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to shop used – you can always get a better deal this way).
  3. Still Photos: The SL1 is primarily built for photography, so you can do both with one camera.


  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 SL1. It can’t shoot 4K which is quickly becoming standard on other brands of cameras.
  2. Recording Limit: You can record only between 30 minutes of consecutive footage. This is downside for many churches that want to film longer videos like announcements, interviews, etc.

Price: $399 (B&H)

2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 

Panasonic GH4
Panasonic GH4

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.

Baptism shot with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
Baptism shot captured with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4


  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 capture full-resolution slow motion. Most consumer cameras 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 detail.
  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.
Rooftop shot captured with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
Rooftop shot captured with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4


  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)

3. Sony Alpha a7S II

Sony A7Sii
Sony A7Sii

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

The a7S II 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.

The Sony a7S II also has internal stabilization. This means it will automatically stabilize your footage to minimize shake and jitters.

Bass player worshipping captured with the Sony a7S II
Bass player worshipping captured with the Sony a7S II


  1. 1080/120fps: Beautiful slow motion (even slower than the GH4).
  2. Full-frame: The a7S II 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 a7S II also shoots tremendous photographs, making it a legitimate dual-threat camera.
  4. 4K: More detail and more sharpness in every shot.
Walking on beach captured with the Sony a7S II
Walking on beach captured with the Sony a7S II


  1. Price: The a7S II 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 4.6K

Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K
Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K

Our list continues with my favourite current video camera – the Blackmagic Ursa Mini. This camera is a pure cinema camera. While the previous three cameras on this list were built with photography in mind as their primary feature, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini was built for cinema.

Lazy Sunday captured with the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K
Lazy Sunday captured with the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K

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


  1. Image Quality: 4.6K global shutter sensor with 15 stops 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.


  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)

5. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

If you were at all enticed by the Blackmagic Ursa mini (camera #4 on this list), but the price was a deal-breaker, you may want to consider the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Much like the Ursa Mini, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was built for cinematography rather than photography. The BMPCC offers an image quality similar to the Ursa Mini, but in a much smaller (and significantly more affordable) package.

Also of note, this camera’s image quality will outperform every other camera on this list – aside from the Blackmagic Ursa Mini.

Video story shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Video story shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera


  1. Image Quality: Captures 1080p footage with 13 stops of dynamic range
  2. Colors: Apple ProRes 422 codec (or CinemaDNG RAW if you’re feeling especially ambitious) for ultimate flexibility in post-production.
  3. Cost: This camera is one of the most inexpensive on this list while still being a true cinema camera.
  4. Compact Handheld Design: This camera is tiny. Essentially the size of an iPhone before adding a lens or any accessories.
Pro Church Academy course shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Pro Church Academy course shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera


  1. Versatility: While the BMPCC can capture beautiful, cinematic 1080p footage – that’s about all it can do. You can’t shoot slow motion with this camera. No 4K either.
  2. Battery Life: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera batteries are notorious for being abysmal. Each battery will only give you about 30 minutes of shoot time. We solved this by problem by purchasing an external battery solution.
  3. Sensor: The BMPCC camera comes equipped with a Super 16 sensor. This means that your field of view will be zoomed in 2.88x compared to a full frame camera like the Sony a7S II (camera #3 on this list). One way we mitigated this was by purchasing a Metabones Speed Booster adapter. This effectively reduces the crop from 2.88x to 1.75x – much more manageable.

Price: $995 (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 five 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 five. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, you’ll want to pick up a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. 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, Sony A7Sii, or Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera will do the trick.

If you’re interested in what I use, when I first began shooting video I shot for two years on a Canon T3i (cousin of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 with nearly identical video specs). I then upgraded to a Panasonic GH4 and shot with that for another two years. At the beginning of 2016 I picked up a Sony A7Sii. Currently, I shoot with a pair of Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras on a weekly basis. And finally, in the summer of 2016 I purchased a Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6K.

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!

  • Thanks for the heads up, Mike!

  • Jason

    Recommendations on f stop?

    • In general or for that specific lens?

      • Jason

        For that 35-100 lens. This one is pretty affordable ($400). Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm / F4.0-5.6 ASPH The f 2.8 is about 3x more expensive.

        • It’s cheaper because it won’t let in nearly as much light. Most churches suffer from very little light and that would be a big problem with that lens. If your auditorium is sufficiently bright, you could work with it.

          • Jason

            Hey Brady.. I appreciate your help! Another question… We bought that GH3 and I am running a feed from my soundboard to my camera. They feed is very clean going into a computer, but when i send it to my camera, i get a loud buzz in the audio even though the mic volume is turned all the way down. Any ideas on how I can fix this? Is it a TRS or TRRS issue with my cable? thanks again!

  • Would Brady change that suggestion for the number 1 recommended camera to the sony a7rii now that it does more than the panasonic?

    • The Sony camera is definitely superior, but it’s also twice as expensive.

  • You should probably take a look at the sony a6300. it’s lovely.

    • Another great Sony camera! Basically the A7Sii (camera #3 on this list) but significantly cheaper.

      • Yes, and cheaper than the gh4 with better specs (120fps).

    • treyvancamp

      I actually just purchased this camera based off reading these comments and doing my own research. Have you ran into the pesky issue of the camera overheating? Really bummed about it.

      • I haven’t used the a6300 firsthand, but I have heard about this. Sony just announced the newest iteration, the a6500 which is supposedly going to solve this. Sorry to hear about that. I’ve had cameras that overheat before too – not fun.

      • Yeah i’ve run into that, but only after shooting 4k for over 30mins. If you drop to 1080p it will reduce the overheating, as well as pulling the screen out from the body of the camera.

        • treyvancamp

          Thanks for the tip! I shall remember that!! I am taking a trip to Israel in a month and wanted to take it with me. I’ll be sure to shoot 1080p

  • Andy Bartlomain

    Great list, Brady! A few years ago, our church actually started with someone donating $20k for video equipment (definitely a Hallelujah! moment, right?). So, we bought 2 used Canon T2i, a BMPCC and a BMCC, and a few different lenses and accessories. This was about half of that budget. Most of the other half was for a Sony PMW200. This really is a great camera that we use just for our sermon capture. I’ve found that the other cameras were better suited for creative use and the Sony was better for broadcast use. The biggest challenges being shallow DOF and slow fps.

    Recently I purchased a GH4 for my own personal business, based on your recommendation, and absolutely LOVE it! You’re right, it really is the best all-around camera for the price. It will take great photos, on a mirrorless system, which is nice. The hdmi out will give you 10bit, 4:2:2, 4K resolution. Not sure if it’ll do internal recording at 4:2:2, but for those considering doing any type of green screen work, maybe for video announcements, you want this! Also, I don’t think people really recognize the power in 4K capturing. It’s not just about extremely sharp images, but when you sit down to do an interview with someone who is sharing their story, shooting in 4K gives you a couple different camera shots when scaled back to 1080. There have been many times where we had use multiple camera to capture an interview, but the 4K will now make it so much easier.

    One of the things I was must excited to try with the GH4 was the slow mo. I recently had a reason to. 🙂 Here’s a golf outing promo I did for my church.

    Again, can’t recommend the GH4 enough.

    • So glad to hear the GH4 is working for you, Andy! One of my favorite cameras over the years.

      P.S. Great video.

  • Luke Woodward

    Great post, Brady! In addition to being the “video guy” at my church, I also have my own video production business where I usually shoot weddings and small commercial gigs for local non-profits. This list help give me a few key insights into my next investment. Love this community!

  • Jason Hartman

    Great list Brady I would need to throw in the c100v1 in there. The sensor in that little guy is better then most. At the 2500 price point you get a great filming camera right out of the box. Thanks for all you do!

    • Interesting, Jason. I’m actually boxing up my C100 Mark II right to sell it!

  • dsomdah .

    I’m debating between Canon 70D or the Panasonic GH4. I’m only leaning toward Canon because of the variety of lenses and the lower prices on Amazon. The prices of some of the lenses I’ve seen for the GH4 are kind of expensive unless I can find a great all round lens.

    • Don’t sleep on the Sony A6300 for that price. Check out that camera too. Probably the best out of those three.

      • dsomdah .

        It’s not an option because I need a rotating screen since it’s only me.

      • dsomdah .

        The more I research this camera the more I think I can make it work. Thanks for the recommendation.

        • Great to hear! Yeah, the lack of swivel screen is disappointing. But definitely can be worked around, and no camera is perfect.

  • Jacob Martin

    Love your work Brady. We currently use 70d and 80d. We have enjoyed the easy auto focus. Given the current market would suggest continuing with them or upgrading to two GH4’s or another option for two cameras.

    Our video dept uses them for filming commercials, video anncts, info, etc.

    Mainly used for YouTube, Vimeo, FB. Would we benefit from a full frame or would 4K on a crop sensor be sufficient?

    • Autofocus on the Canon 70D and 80D is tight. I would go for a pair of Sony A6300s. A little less expensive than the GH4 and a little bit better also. Get them with some native Sony lenses and you’ll have autofocus even better than the Canons. Only downside is that there is no swivel screen if you’re wanting to use it solo.

      • Jacob Martin

        Where would rate the 6300 in comparison to your article of top 5 cameras for 2016 for churches to use? And from your reply I am assuming you enjoy the Sony glass?

        • That’s tough. Because every church wants different things. I haven’t used the Sony A6300 yet so I can’t recommend it firsthand, and the GH4 has been around significantly longer and is well-regarded. With that said, if you can get over the lack of articulating screen, the A6300 specs for video outperform the GH4.

          • Jacob Martin

            Thanks Brady. We will be looking into it today.

  • Sam

    Thanks for the tips Brady….what about the sound? Do you use an external mic of some sort? Or record audio separately?

    • Definitely record separately, Sam. We use the Tascam DR60D and like it a lot. If you’re looking for something more high quality, we love the Sound Devices 702 which is our primary recorder for video.

  • Jacob Martin

    Hey Brady. What are your thoughts on the H6 zoom. For

  • Jacob Martin

    Hey Brady, do you have any resources or tips on post workflow with (FCP X or Premiere CC). Basically bringing out the highest quality image videos for youtube, vimeo, fb,etc?

    • I like to use the Vimeo1080HD export preset in Premiere.

      • Jacob Martin


  • Shawn Prokes

    I used three Sony A7Sii cameras in Nevada for an all-church study. I used a couple in Kenya. Amazing camera (slo mo is sweet and 4K image quality is great). My complains:
    1. Battery life is 45 minutes in 4K
    2. Overheats way too easy (even after the firmware update that’s supposed to fix it)
    3. Ergonomics stink (stinks to hand hold). If you shoot with a gimbal, stablizer, tripod, etc. no big deal.
    4. SLog 3 in 8 bit (which is what the camera shoots) is crap. Bit 8 is too hard to grade without posterized gradients. However, if you shoot Sony cine 4 its great.
    5. Bad (and I mean bad) rolling shutter. Don’t whip pan!

    I would buy one again, but if you are in a hot location with a lot of direct sun all the time (AZ, NV, etc.) you could never use the thing outside. However, if that’s not an issue I would get one. I love it. Here’s some footage

  • I’ve had the SL1 since right after it came out. I definitely have enjoyed it. The thing does reasonably well, especially with the 18-135 STM lens. I use a Sigma art series lens for anything in low light and it looks great. Unless you are really good at paying attention you won’t have any complaints.

    However, I am now in need of something a little sharper. I’m thinking of trying something that won’t have a rolling shutter issue…

  • superguyent

    Hey Brady we are looking into getting the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 4k EF. I was looking at getting the Canon EF 70- 200mm f/2.8 EF lens or Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 EF lens. I would like the ability to zoom as we have a deep stage and these cameras will not be mobile. The price point is right on these lenses but if you have other suggestions i would love to hear them.

  • Jonathan Travis Brown

    Hi Brady – we currently have a BlackMagic Studio camera setup for our Sunday morning production crew. Interested in the Ursa Mini because of its recent update that allows it to integrate into a production setup easily, but also has more value as a film camera for using on set or on location. Wondering why you went with the 4.6k over the 4k. Any benefits aside from the higher resolution? Would there be a downside to getting the PL mount version (for production setup) and adapting to EF for shooting b-roll and film projects?

    • Hey Jonathan, the difference between the 4K and 4.6K URSA Minis isn’t resolution. It’s actually an entirely different sensor in the 4.6K. So yes, you get a bit extra resolution, but more importantly you get 15 stops of dynamic range and the new color science of Blackmagic’s first sensor that they’ve built from scratch for their lineup of cameras.

  • Dan Davis

    Just curious Brady, you reference prices to B&H which is a USA store. Do you actually purchase your equipment there? Is there a retailer you recommend for Canada?

    • Hey Dan, we purchase the majority of our gear from B&H. I’d say about 90% of it. The conversion hurts, but they have insanely fast shipping through Purolator (usually 1-3 days), they take care of all the customs, and they have an awesome return policy. We’ve ordered from Vistek in the past (Canadian retailer), but if you spend over $1K with them they won’t accept returns, which is insanity. Just yesterday I bought another URSA Mini 4.6K and I bought it from B&H. Should arrive this week.

  • Greyson Wagner

    Hey, Brady!

    Great list! I’ve been looking at possibly getting a BMPCC but the lack of slow motion capabilities leaves much to be desired.

    I’ve been leaning now towards the Sony a6500 when it is released but am having trouble deciding what lenses to go with? In the past having a really good zoom lens for events and service worship shots was great (tried my friends Canon 70-200 IS lens for a conference and it was amazing!) And then a fixed lens at 1.8 or so is awesome as well. Been using a Canon t4i for years and am sick of it. Any recommendations for lens on the a6500?

    • Sony a6500 is a great choice. I’ll probably update this list with that camera once it’s officially released and I get my hands on one to make sure the a6300 problems have been fixed.

      As for lenses, I would get a native Sony lens so you can take advantage of the a6500 autofocus.

  • Nathan Naoumi

    Hey Brady,

    I know in the article it states that these are recommendations for more smaller recordings like baptisms, storytelling, etc… We’re looking for a camera that can record a sermon and possibly even worship but not live stream it. More like upload it to vimeo after it has been recorded. Would any of these cameras from the list above be beneficial for that?


  • Micah

    Hey Brady!

    Thanks for the site! I’ve recently come on board a church as Student Pastor but my age means most digital/media responsibilities are also mine (which I love doing). Our church already owns a Sony HandyCam which I was somewhat disappointed in for the first testimony video I’ve done here.

    My question is, would it be better to use the HandyCam and supplement it with the $1500 Video Recommendations or go the $135 route with the optional lighting suggestions? Thanks so much.

    • Micah, lighting is always a great investment. Cameras come and go. So I would prioritize my purchasing decisions like this…

      1. Audio
      2. Lighting
      3. Stabilization
      4. Camera

      • Micah

        Perfect! Thank you

  • Thaddaeus Lamb

    Hey Brady.

    I have a $2000 budget and need to acquire a camera that is used for not only field projects but also our livestreaming inside the church. Any recommendations? Also not a professional so don’t know what kind of lenses to get and microphones. Probably doing mostly testimonial or talking head videos.