In a world (cue velvety smooth voice-over), where your church needs to record the Sunday service, as well as create a short video or scripted supplemental content, what camera should be used? This is a great question that churches of all sizes have asked, and perhaps this article can help shed some light on some great camera options out there that can enhance the quality of your service capture and supplemental video content, hopefully without breaking the offering plate in the process.
However, before diving into the deep end of this discussion, it is important to divide this camera list into two groups: the cameras for capturing the church service, and those used for commissioned supplemental content creation. This distinction needs to be made, because, while there is some crossover, these two groups require different functionality.
Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Cameras
When capturing the church service, the challenge is more about personnel, and in an absence of volunteers to run cameras 1 and 2, any PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera is a great choice. The Vaddio Robotshot 30, for example, allows for remote control of the camera’s functionality from the AV booth, negating the need for multiple operators. Two of these cameras allow for cutting back and forth between angles, which enhances the overall production quality of the recorded service. Other PTZ brands include Sony, Panasonic, and HuddleCamHD.
JVC 4kCam G&-HM200SP
If remote control and top quality are key, consider the JVC 4kCam GY-HM200SP. This camera has 4k capabilities, which is all the rage these days, so be sure to have high capacity hard drives to hold all the footage. A great feature of the JVC is that it boasts built-in streaming capability, with remote access; a pair of these cameras could take your AV live record process to the next level, and drive viewers to your church’s live stream on Facebook, website and YouTube channel.
Another great choice for the service is the Panasonic DVX series, and these cameras have been the workhorses of the industry since before the HD revolution. Like the JVC, the DVX-200 is capable of capturing in 4k, with the assistance of an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun, and while this ups the need for storage space, the image quality is beautiful, even when compressing to 1080. Additionally, this camera, like the JVC, is one that can be taken into the field, to record church footage at church picnics, youth events, concerts, missions trips, or shoot footage for your supplemental service content. All you need is this handy camera, a mic kit, and a set of sticks. Have tripod, will travel.
Moving on to cameras best suited for supplemental shorts and scripted content creation, in addition to the JVC and Panasonic mentioned above, the D-SLR (digital single-lens reflex) revolution has come (and gone), but the Canon 5d, T5i, Nikon D7000, and other counterparts are still around, along with the plethora of interchangeable lenses that make the recorded images beautiful to behold. The budding moviemaker(s) in your congregation, eager to show off their filmmaking chops, can take these tough little cameras out and shoot beautiful footage capturing dramatic moments that will leave audiences in tears. These DSLR cameras offer stunning video and photography stills, capable of bringing the artistic wow factor to the screen on Sunday.
On the heels of the DSLR revolution, the marketplace has been begging for the new “it” camera to replace the Canon 5D, and Sony answered with the Alpha series. This compact full sensor exchangeable lens camera has quickly become the go-to piece for professionals on a budget. The Sony A-7s ii allows for 4k recording internally, as well as professional level user functionality that makes any shooter look like a pro.
Finally, if your church currently has no budget for cameras, but is serious about moving into content creation, look no further than the iPhone or Samsung in your pocket. These phone cameras shoot 4k, or can (in the case of the iPhone) with an app. The quality is crisp, and more than good enough in the hands of someone who knows how to use them; just ask any video blogger or YouTuber.
A quality image can be manipulated in post, and powerful editing software is available on any platform; just add external sound recording to enhance the quality of the production, and let your aspiring video editor go to work! Those volunteer hours have to count for something, right? Maybe service hours for school? At least let them know that their reward is in heaven for helping put together a moving video that the pastor can use with his sermon on Sunday.
All joking aside, it is essential that every church aspire to use the powerful medium of visual storytelling to help edify the church body on Sunday, and leave the congregation with impactful images that will bless them all week, and leave them excited for next Sunday.
These cameras listed above are not comprehensive, but are good examples of the options that are out there if your church is looking to have a go at being represented in the digital age. In the right hands, any piece of equipment can be used to enhance the reach of your church’s media content, and allow for the gospel message to be further proclaimed through the powerful platform of digital media.
Walker Haynes is an award winning director, producer and actor, and his work in the entertainment industry spans over a decade. His company, A STREAM IN THE DESERT PRODUCTIONS, LLC, has taken multiple movie projects from the writing process through production, post-production and distribution. Walker is currently in development with his next feature, “The Curse Of Pirate’s Cove,” a family-friendly film based on his award winning script.
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