Best Church Video Camera

One of the most common questions I get asked is 'What is the best camera to use for recording our church services onto video'?

There is no simple answer to this question as you can spend between $1000 to $100,000 on a church video camera and even then having this hardware alone is not going to give you the best video production as there are other factors that you need to consider as well.


Most of the people who ask the question about the best video camera to buy are usually starting a church video department, have a limited budget and don't have any previous working experience of church video production.

My advice to these individuals or ministers is the same and usually depends on what they need the church video camera for.

1. If it is mainly for in house recording of DVDs to give to home bound church members and the budget only allows for a single camera then I would say buy the best consumer or prosumer camera you can afford, but make sure you also get a tripod as well. You should also think about a camera that would easily connect to your PA system to deliver better sound quality as opposed to using the on board microphone.



2. If you are considering any kind of public consumption of your recordings, then I usually advice a minimum of 2 cameras, which means you will also need a video mixer, connecting cables, some kind of intercomm system, not forgetting tripods, a video recorder and a couple of TV monitors.

If you are happy to go with this recommendation, then just buy the best prosumer cameras your budget allows having taken into consideration the above and how good the quality of the final product needs to be (a video podcast will not have the same strict requirements of a TV broadcast).

As far as camera recommendations go a good starting point is the Sony HXR-MC50U which is a compact full HD camcorder with some professional features. It also boasts a 64GB internal memory storage, so tapes are a thing of the past, and recorded footage can now be transfered to your editing hardware in much shorter time scales.

A step up the ladder would be the Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM Professional Camcorder. This video camera has a lot of features that any professional would be happy with (read the specs on the website as there are too many to list here), uses Sony Dual Pro memomry cards, so no tapes to capture and is full HD.

If you have a larger budget and are looking for a flexible HD system that is upgradable you could consider the Sony PMW EX3, this would allow you start small, and as your needs grow expand to full CCU control for studio use, remote control of cameras etc.

For those wondering what a $80,000 camera looks like, there is the Sony HDW-F900R, and by the way that price does not include a camera lens which you have to buy seperately.

So in a nutshell there isn't one best church video camera, think about your budget, what you need to record, your church facilities (you might find out improving the auditorium stage lighting would be better than upgrading camera equipment). What is best for you might not even be adequate for another church video department's specifications, and if you are starting a new ministry, start small build up the techical resources, and upgrade as the time goes on. Don't forget to think about video footage archiving and storage, editing requirements as well as podcasting and broadcasting workflows.

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