Which Video Camera is Best for You?

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In the ever-changing, innovative world of video production, making a new camcorder-purchasing decision requires up-to-date knowledge of the latest features available, along with an understanding of tried-and-true technology. Even seasoned professionals will need to take some time to research the myriad choices offered, then carefully determine which camera fits their needs. The specific requirements of wedding videography add another dimension to the process.

Reliability, exceptional video in low-light conditions, and high optical zoom range are some of the more important features you should be looking for when selecting a video camera suitable for wedding coverage. In addition, consider media format, audio inputs and the size and “look” of the camera. A handheld camera might shoot HD video, but will you stand out as a "professional" videographer without a decent-sized camera on your shoulder, or a solid tripod?

As you look over the wide range of cameras, you will, no doubt, be taking your clientele into account. Will you be covering high-end weddings with multiple cameras, are you currently at the entry level or perhaps shooting your very first wedding for a family member? Do you want all the bells and whistles or are you a purist who prefers sticking to the basics and keeping life simple? Ultimately, your list of preferences is unique to your work style and ergonomic requirements. In order to assist you with your decision, we have reviewed a variety of models selected specifically for capturing a couple's wedding-day memories.

Advanced and Intermediate-Level Camcorders

A perennial favorite with many experienced videographers is the Sony PMW-200. It captures Full HD and SD video, and supports continuous recording times of up to four hours in the 50 Mbps MPEG HD422 mode with clip spanning on two 64GB cards. With 4 channels of high quality, 48 kHz, 16-bit LPCM, you will have all the audio capabilities needed to cover every element of a wedding weekend. Shooting in low light is no problem with this camcorder. Three Full HD 1/2” CMOS sensors and a fast maximum aperture setting (f/1.9 - f/16 on a Fujinon 14x optical zoom lens), will thrill you with the exceptional video you can capture under the chandeliers in dimly lit reception halls. Weighing slightly more than 5 pounds, this camera is heavy enough for stability, yet won’t wear you out during hours of shooting. For a semi-shoulder mounted solution, the Sony PMW-300K1 is also worth considering.

Sony’s PMW-160 XDCAM HD422 Camcorder has three 1/3” Exmor CMOS sensors with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio of 54 dB. The 20x power zoom lens offers slightly more reach than the PMW-200, and the Wi-Fi remote capability (the Wi-Fi adapter is sold separately) is invaluable for the “one-person band” shooting with two or more cameras.

JVC produces the GY-HM600 ProHD Camera, another worthy professional-class camera to consider. The HM600 can record up to 1080/59.41i HD video in MOV: H.264, MP4 and AVCHD. The Fujinon zoom lens features an impressive 23x optical zoom ratio. Standard sensitivity is rated for f/11 at 2000 lux for exceptional quality in low light. Two channels of 48 kHz 16-bit audio recording with 2 XLR inputs and a 3.5mm mini jack round out this advanced package.

The GY-HM650 ProHD Mobile News Camera offers the same features as the HM600, but with the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity and FTP server support. This compact camera allows you to record and automatically transmit footage to your home or office, a nifty feature if your editor is standing by for a “day of” presentation at the reception that evening. Like the HM600, the HM650 weighs 5.3 lb, giving you stability on the shoulder without being the heaviest camcorder in this roundup.

Sony’s HXR-NX5U is another solid performer. Its versatility in capturing different formats may fit nicely into your profile as well. Able to record 720/60p video in addition to 60i, 30p and 24p, this camera is versatile and easy to operate. The zoom range gets extremely high marks (20x G-Lens, optimized for advanced image processing) and you can choose to record on Memory Stick or SDHC cards.

If you are looking for a camera that supports both NTSC and PAL standards, Panasonic has built a camera for you to consider: AG-AC160A AVCCAM HD Handheld Camcorder. In today’s marketplace, worldwide compatibility might be an important enough factor to give this camera a closer look. Like many of the other cameras in this category, the AG-AC160A captures video at a variety of frame rates. This capacity allows you to create your own unique “look.” Shooting in 60p and playing back in 24p, for instance, gives you a very smooth slow-motion effect to incorporate into your final product. 

If 1080p isn’t enough resolution for you and you’re ready to enter the world of 4K Ultra HD recording, then you may be interested in the Sony PXW-Z100. In today’s marketplace, the ability to record high-resolution images can do wonders for your business. It also makes for a good investment as the industry makes the transition to 4K. The PXW-Z100 utilizes Sony’s XVAC 4:2:2 10-bit intra frame recording format, which is the same found in their digital cinema PMW-F55 CineAlta camera. It can record true 4K (4096x2160) resolution video at up to 50 and 60fps – perfect for capturing those special moments. Of course, you can also record 1080p video if you’re workflow isn’t ready for 4K file sizes. Rounding out the camcorder is a G lens with 20x optical zoom and three control rings, dual XQD memory card slots, and 4K HDMI and 3G/HD-SDI interfaces.

Intermediate and Entry-Level Camcorders

There are a number of camcorders at the entry (and slightly above entry) level that will produce High Definition video and provide professional-quality audio as well.

Beginning with Panasonic’s well-balanced and impressive AG-AC90 AVCCAM Handheld Camcorder, the variety of options in this class is surprisingly good. The AG-AC90 looks much like the cameras in the advanced category, yet weighs only 3.3 lb. Since it shoots HD 1080p /1080i and boasts two XLR inputs, this camera does provide you with excellent pictures and sound, especially in optimal conditions. It also features Five-Axis optical image stabilization, which makes for smoother handheld videos.

Innovation is the key word to use when describing Sony’s combination camcorder / projector: the 96GB HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector. In addition to the built-in projector, Balanced Optical SteadyShot is the standout feature here. This image-stabilization system isolates the entire optical block from the rest of the camera body for exception results. The built-in projector could be that special standout element you bring to the table. Projecting raw footage on a wall during the reception is just one of the many possibilities you might consider. The HXR-NX30 also has XLR inputs and a 10x optical, 17x extended Carl Zeiss Lens. It has a single 1/2” ExmorR CMOS sensor and an internal 96GB flash memory capacity.

If you are looking for an easy to use, entry-level camcorder with a professional look, Sony’s highly rated HXR-MC2000U Shoulder Mount AVCHD Camcorder is an excellent choice. It weighs a hefty 5.9 lb, sports a nifty flip-up LCD above the color viewfinder, and has an ergonomic handle with Record button and zoom control for those essential low-angle shots. In addition to slots for removable media, a built-in 64GB internal hard drive gives you more than six hours of recording time in AVCHD FX mode. The single 1/4” sensor will provide a very good image with adequate lighting. There is a 3.5mm mini-jack input and a built-in 2-channel stereo shotgun microphone.

The HDR-PJ810V High Definition Handycam Camcorder with Projector is also a versatile and handy little camera/projector. With full HD 1920 x 1080 60p recording capability and a built-in video light, the PJ810V would be an ideal second or third camera to have for covering a wedding, in part because it is so easy to use and complements your package with a very capable projector. It also takes 20 megapixel still pictures (32GB flash storage included). The HDR-PJ710V features a Sony G lens with 12x optical zoom and Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. Sony’s Tracking Focus function and Intelligent Auto give you the ability to multitask while the camera does the work. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Channel Surround Mic will surprise you with its clarity. In addition, there is a mic input for your wireless unit, and the accessory shoe will hold a small receiver.

As with the advanced and intermediate level options, Sony also offers a 4K consumer camcorder with their FDR-AX100. The 1” Emxor R CMOS sensor is large – approximately 8x larger than typical camcorders. This lets you get some cinematic shots with a pleasing shallow depth of field. What makes the camcorder truly versatile is its recording options, letting you capture 4K Ultra HD 3840x2160 video at 24 and 30 fps, as well as Full HD 1920x1080 video in XAVC S, AVCHD, or web-optimized MP4. Like the HDR-PJ810V, it also features a 12x optical zoom lens and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC support even lets you use your smartphone or tablet.

As you can see from this diverse sampling of excellent camcorders, the variety of file formats, lenses and audio packages can be quite a bit to digest. You will likely see one or two cameras that pique your interest and will serve your clients’ needs as well as your own. When you reach that point, come into our NYC SuperStore, visit us on the Internet for a live chat, or contact us by phone at 1-800-606-6969.

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Sony hxr nx5u is the best choice for weeding videographers and cameraman because of price and perfect specifications.

How well do Sony Pro cams work with Final Cut Pro, AVID, or Adobe without having to use conversion software to edit?

I want to Capture Pics/video underwater, also some sort of wedding Parties and Night videos, I'm interested in "Sony HXR-NX70U". but I don't find any Complete review & Test and I'm new to your site......
Will you Please Suggest me the Video Camera which Capture Still Shots while Recording video.... As I mention I'm interested in Sony HXR-NX70U so Kindly clear my Doubts about :

1.Is it Good to video underwater or just save from Rain?
2.How is the Focus of this Video Camera?
3.How much Megapixels I gain in Still Shots & Can I able to Capture 16:9 Still Pictures with Sony HXR-NX70U while Video Recordings?
4.What's the Length of continually video Recordings(I know depends on Media Content I used but I mean how long when I have Good Card) and The Card maximum Card size this Sony HXR-NX70U Support???

I shall be Thankful for any Help Regard this....

I'm a complete novice, never had any classes for what all these letters and numbers stand for. I'm looking for a professional quality video with a relatively easy to use and understand interface. I'm a quick learner, though, so I don't want plain jane either. Something that won't intimidate me, but give me really great quality (for weddings and educational youtube videos) video and make me look smarter than I am.

I have been focusing on Sony's mostly in my research because I just believe in their quality and ease of use for just about everything they make.

I am glad to have found this page! Something I will have to sit for a few evenings and really think about and go over, but if someone could... what is the difference in HVRHD1000U and the HVRHD1000E? What is the "U" and the "E" for? I can google just about everything else. lol THANKS!

I am looking for a video camera 1080P. for weddings on the beach, where we have a lot of wind and able to add wireless microphones, what camera do you recommend and what wireless microphone should I buy to work with this camera for beach weddings.

Hi,

Our car dealership is looking for the best camera out there to shoot professional car presentations. Our previous/current low end cameras always end up being out of focus when moving and it's really hard to get a smooth shot while moving and zooming. We don't care about the audio quality of the camera, because we do a voice over after shooting the videos. It needs to be a hand held camera since we need to go in and out of the vehicles to show features etc.

What would be our best bet?

Any difference options in different price ranges?

Thank you,

Sander Dokter

Kelowna Infiniti Nissan

Hi Sander -

Innovative and portable, the cutting-edge Sony HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector is a handheld, excellently built HD camcorder that's capable of capturing AVCHD video in Full HD 1080p at 60 fps, as well as high-quality digital still images. It's equipped with 96GB of internal flash memory, an LED video light and NightShot capabilities. It also supports all AVCHD recording formats at 28 Mbps.

The true innovation behind Sony's HXR-NX30 is its 1/2.88 ExmorR image sensor and ultra-wide angle Carl Zeiss 10x optical zoom lens. The lens is mounted within a gyroscope, which affords unbelievable image stabilization. Sony's calls their innovative technology Balanced Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode. In fact, you can choose to shoot in fixed mode, without stabilization, or you can easily switch on the SteadyShot whenever needed. This feature is great for walking and shooting or for journalists who may need to hold the camera steady, high-above their head while demanding the truth in front of city hall.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

What would be the best choice for wildlife videograpy, especially small birds?

Hi -

The JVC GY-HM600 ProHD Camera features superb low-light performance and a lightweight and user-friendly design, altogether allowing exceptional fast-paced capture of news, sports and indie productions.

Three 1/3" 12-bit CMOS sensors are each capable of a max resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 23x Fujinon autofocus zoom lens shoots long and wide angles and is operable by manual functions. The camera offers F11 sensitivity and is equipped with a built-in 3-position ND filter. Connections include HD-SDI and HDMI. Comprehensive recording options consist of MPEG-2, AVCHD, and SD and Proxy H.264. Two SDXC/SDHC slots are available for dual-backup, continuous recording.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi, am looking for professional video camera  to shoot a documentary, video, interview and maybe a low budget movie in africa any suggestion? Something semi-professional yet hard core kinda thing, Also US they are using 110/120v power and Africa is 230/240 volt, will this damage the camera and what will be best convertor safely for the camera?

Hi miss T-

The camcorders listed below include an AC charger/power supply that auto switches for worldwide voltage changes from 110 to 240 VAC.  These cameras will come with a USA/North American outlet connector which you can easily adapt for use internationally with a small device like this one:

The TS250AD Travel Smart All-in-One Adapter Plug with Built-in USB Port from Conair enables you to plug dual-voltage appliances into the majority of foreign wall outlets in the most commonly-visited countries of the world. It works in North America, South America, Great Britain, Ireland, other parts of Europe, Africa, Japan, other parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Fiji, and the Middle East. It will accept a single 2-prong or 3-prong device. It is also equipped with a USB port.

Innovative and portable, the cutting-edge Sony HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector is a handheld, excellently built HD camcorder that's capable of capturing AVCHD video in Full HD 1080p at 60 fps, as well as high-quality digital still images. It's equipped with 96GB of internal flash memory, an LED video light and NightShot capabilities. It also supports all AVCHD recording formats at 28 Mbps. The true innovation behind Sony's HXR-NX30 is its 1/2.88 ExmorR image sensor and ultra-wide angle Carl Zeiss 10x optical zoom lens. The lens is mounted within a gyroscope, which affords unbelievable image stabilization. Sony's calls their innovative technology Balanced Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode. In fact, you can choose to shoot in fixed mode, without stabilization, or you can easily switch on the SteadyShot whenever needed. This feature is great for walking and shooting or for journalists who may need to hold the camera steady, high-above their head while demanding the truth in front of city hall. 

The Panasonic AG-AC90 AVCCAM Handheld Camcorder features 1/4.7" 3MOS sensors, with 2.19MP each, to capture Full HD 1920x1080 resolution video. Variable frame rates record HD video at 60p, 60i, 30p, and 24p. The camera's fixed lens has a 12x zoom ratio, up to f/1.5 brightness, a 35mm equivalent of 29.8-357.6mm and manual control rings for focus, zoom and iris. In addition, Nano Surface Coating works to reduce ghosting and flare. The AG-AC90 has two SD card slots for expanded memory or simultaneous recording to both cards for an instant back-up. A five-axis image stabilizer improves stabilization for handheld shooting, and 4x pixel shifting technology helps to create a sharper image. An Intelligent 25x digital zoom function makes automatic adjustments of edge, gradation and detail.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hello,

I have done quite a bit of videography over the last 7 years and would like to get back into it more when I retire. I have a Sony DCR VX2100 and would like to move up to HD with a used pro video camera but I don`t want to break the bank on cost. Since I have worked with Sony, that might be the best to continue with.  The used camcorder will get me by the next few years until retire and buy a new one. Thanks for your advice!

Steve

Hi Steve -

Currently featured in our USED VIDEO Department:

The Panasonic AG-HMC150 is a camcorder designed to record in high definition on standard SecureDigital (SD) and SHDC memory cards. While SD-based camcorders have been gaining ground in the consumer market, the AG-HMC150 has the ability to record AVCHD images at significantly higher bitrates. This enhancement makes the camera more efficient than comparable HD interframe codecs, such as HDV and XDCAM EX. Using H.264 as its compression algorithm, the camera can record incredibly detailed images at a fraction of the file size.

AVCHD at Your Fingertips
AVCHD is a variation on interfame codecs such as HDV and XDCAM. The advantage is that it uses a standard H.264 compression algorithm, making it highly efficient without sacrificing large portions of memory. Less bandwidth allows the camera to record directly to SD and SDHC media.
Good Things Come In Small Packages
The AG-HMC150 will feel much like the acclaimed AG-DVX100, as opposed to its more similar and larger cousin, the AG-HVX200. Reducing weight makes the camera easy to hold; at 4.2 lbs the camera is very comfortable on long shoots.
SD and SDHC Flash Memory Recording Storage
The AG-HMC150 provides AVC HD video in a class of its own. The ability to record up to 24Mb/s onto a single SDHC makes the camera not only incredibly versatile, but allows users to record onto inexpensive media.
 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi

any input following my requirements would be great

Already using PMW 300 cameras and sony z7, nikon d800

Issue with the cameras being used-

01. Low light recording in the pmw 300 and sony z7 is not great. The contrast ratio really takes a beating once we increase the gain.

02. The nikon d800, well it's excellent, but with no auto focus or it's auto focus being pathetic, only shooting short scenes makes sense.

Requirements-

01. A camera which gives excellent, color reproduction, beautiful contrast ratio. And shows a marked improvement in visuals compared to what i am using.

02. Is auto focus, by this i mean it can track subect/subjects like a camcorder and unlike an slr.

03. Can shoot continuously

04. Would like interchangable lenses for greater flexibility.

05. Price range - $5000 to $ 7000

06. Even if it means building a new system, i am not adverse to it, as long as the system stays in place for about 2 odd years.

The confusion is what system to adopt, canon, sony nex or stick with the camcorders? There are just too many options and nobody addresses

Any help would be appreciated

DSLR and /or Cine style cameras unfortunately will not have fast AF like a video camera does. They do have the advantage of superior quality in most cases though so you need to take the good with the not as good. As for an inbetween I would really recommend the new Canon C100 with the dual pixel AF. As for camera that have come out in this price range it has a very good AF speed and great video quality.

Hy there!

First of all, thanks for this article, as well as the others.

I just wish to know: what about shooting an event (like a wedding) with Canon 5D / 7D or similars? What are the problems, difficulties, and challenges I'll face?

I'm from Brazil, and actually I bought my Canon cameras with you guys.

Thanks a lot!

Will

For event shooting with a DSLR, the main pain points will be:

-Short record time. Both the 5D and 7D can only record for 12 minute stretches. So the ceremony and any long speeches will have gaps when you need to re-start the recording.

-No servo zoom or auto focus in video. So any fast moving action like dancing will be difficult to capture.

-Limited audio capability. You would need to record audio separately in most cases and then sync in post.

Hi, and thanks for the informative article.  I'm researching cameras for videoing church services. I'm not all that camera savy.  Any advice would be helpful.  I'm looking for:

1) a good amount of optical zoom as the camera will be set up at the back of the church

2) The camera will likely need to be on a tripod

3) I would like the ability to run our sound board into the camera

4) I've been given a price range of <$1000 (US)

5) we want to be able to put the videos on our website for people to download (possibly live stream in the future, possibly not)

6) we would need to be able to video 1.5 hours at a time

If you have any suggestions on other features you think I would need or a camera you think would fit our needs it would be appreciated.

Hi -

In your stated price range, this is one of the best camera options available:

The Canon 32GB VIXIA HF G20 Full HD Camcorder shoots 1920 x 1080 Full HD video at 60i, in native 24p and 30p. With the 24p frame rate option you can give your footage a cinematic look. Using Cinema-Looks Filters you can boost that film look with multiple built-in adjustable filters. The HF G20 features a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens with an 8-Blade iris for more professional-looking video and stills. It has a 30.4 - 304mm (35mm equivalent) focal length. The camcorder is also equipped with a Canon HD CMOS Pro image sensor that supports improved low-light performance and a wide dynamic range.

The HF G20 has 32GB of built-in memory that supports up to 12 hours of HD video. It also features two SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slots that you can use for Relay Recording, which automatically switches video recording to the memory card when the internal drive becomes full. The camera features Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization as well. Other features of the HF G20 include a 3.5" touch panel LCD, a 0.24" color viewfinder, a 58mm filter diameter and Smart AUTO function.

The HF G20 has a number of professional shooting functions as well. These include custom key and dial, composition aids and advanced control like manual exposure, aperture priority and shutter priority. It also supports Audio Scene Select and a highly adjustable internal microphone. For more professional audio, the HF G20 has headphone and microphone jacks. It has HDMI and USB connectivity as well. Plus, the Mini Advanced Accessory Shoe supports attachment of a variety of shooting aids including lights and microphones.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hello,

i read your article about different professional camcorders available, great job by the way, there was one that caught my eye and that is the Sony 96GB HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector.  I love all the features and have seen different reviews online and youtube, the one thing that I don't hear much about is focus.  I currently have a consumer camcorder that has no kind of manual focus and the I also have the Canon T3i dslr camera.  I am looking for a professional camcorder that has the ability for manual focus since I love editing on Final Cut Pro X but the focus is a part that I believe is best leave to cameras.

we need the camcorder for music videos, youtube videos, and promotional videos for local businesses and organizations. Do you think this is the best camera, or do you have any other suggestions?

thank you

Hi Victor -

Innovative and portable, the cutting-edge Sony HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD Camcorder with Projector is a handheld, excellently built HD camcorder that's perfect for the kind ofprojects you have described.  Manual focusing is most likely not as critical as on your DSLR (since the auto-focusing is fast and accurate) but this camcorder does feature a manual focusing knob near the bottom front left of the camera lens.

Moving up a bit, I also like the Sony HXR-NX70U NXCAM Compact Camcorder. This rugged little trouper is the perfect companion for those tough location shoots where weather and climate cause lesser cameras to buckle and fold. Meeting stringent dustproof and rainproof requirements, the NX70U's sealed body keeps out all but the toughest of elements, making it ideal for documentary and news videographers traveling to far-flung, unpredictable locations.

But beneath the NX70U's weatherproofing is a first-class performer that hits all the professional sweet spots. Its back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor combines with an ultra wide 26.3-263mm Sony G lens and Optical SteadyShot to provide outstanding full HD 1080p images even in low light. The Dual Rec function, meanwhile, lets you shoot 12.3MP stills while recording video, all of which can be captured to the unit's spacious 96GB embedded flash memory or your choice of Memory Stick or SD/SDHC media.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

hola , necesitamos dos camaras que nos aconsejen para bodas y eventos , no tenemos un buen presupuesto y no sabemos si este bien comprar tipo SLR o cuales , tambien por la facilidad de lo de los lentes, que nos pueden aconsejar , agradecemos su ayuda.

Para asistencia en sus necesidades. Favor de mandar un email a spanish@bandh.com.

I am in the market for my first pro camcorder in the $2000 range.  My features of importance in order are: 1.  great HD video image plus excellent still photos.  2.  lowlight ability  3. Ease of use and menus  4.  Image stabilization (both up/down and camera roll  5.  sound capture, possible pro sound XLR  6.   large onboard hard drive or dual card slots

The cams I am looking at are Canon XA 20, Sony 96GB HXR-NX30 Palm Size NXCAM HD, , and  Sony NEX VG 30.  What do you think and please give other suggestions.  I make family movies, music videos, concert footage, and edit with FCP.  Thanks

I would recommend the Sony NX30 for your needs. Full HD, good in low light and the best stabilization available in this range. It has a 10x zoom range and dual XLR for the pro audio.