Picking the best professional video camera requires looking at the whole system and not just the camera itself. Because it is not just the camera device that makes the video shooting perfect, there are the lens systems you need to consider, and now the mirrorless cameras in the market are competing with the DSLRs.
Videographers or filmmakers have very unique requirements compared to regular photographers and vloggers. They likely don’t need the ability to shoot stills along with video but require whole video-centric features and controls – a camera that is equipped with or compatible with a wide ecosystem of cinema lenses, sound equipment, rigs, and other movie accessories.
Things to consider before choosing for the Best Video Camera
Buying the right video camera, you’ll need to make sure that you pick the one which meets all your requirements and purposes.
If you are migrating from an existing camera system you might want to pick equipment that is compatible with lenses, camera bodies, and other accessories you already have. This can be an easy transition and much cheaper than starting over again.
4K UHD vs Cinema 4K Video Quality
What people refer to as 4K is, in fact, UHD, or 3840×2160 pixels, which is not exactly 4,000 pixels wide and has a 16:9 aspect ratio as Full HD. While the Cinema 4K called DCI 4K has a resolution of 4096×2160 pixels and a lightly wider 17:9 aspect ratio.
Fixed or Interchangeable lens
This feature can serve a long way for a professional video shoot. An interchangeable camera offers the flexibility of employing a diverse set of lenses for superior quality and better aspect ratio. While on the other hand, a fixed lens might be a good option for a specific use – with a single lens attached which can be an inexpensive option.
Camera bodies are changing every day, but the lenses have a longer life and are very significant for specialized professional video production.
Normal lenses are fine for video, but they lag behind the cine lenses which have special adaptations that can boost video making. They utilize T-stops rather than F-stops, with ‘de-clicked’ iris/aperture rings for silent and smooth exposure adjustment. Others feature toothed rings capable of professional pull-focus mechanisms.
DSLR, Mirrorless or Camcorder
In 2020 the most important choice videographers will have to make is either to go with the time tested DSLR camera options or the mirrorless. Though still, the top-notch DSLR cameras have their advantages but the fact that the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) design was invented long before digital sensors. The mirrorless utilizes the ‘live view’ captured by the camera sensor to produce an electronic viewfinder image. The dispensation for the need for a mirror and the optical viewfinder, however, in my opinion, may sound very compelling still hasn’t reached the pinnacle stage to replace the older DSLR camera system. Who knows how soon we’ll get an advanced and improved version of the mirrorless camera, beginning the end of the DSLR era.
The camcorder can produce exceptional video quality with ultra-high-definition, equipped with specially calibrated zoom lenses and focus capabilities, have strong built-in microphones and strong audio inputs not seen in traditional cameras. Though low-light video recording is where they lack as most of them have smaller sensors.
Control over the settings and quality of the video can be a key feature in professional work environments. The latest cameras of 2020, that can shoot 8K and up have many features and options available at hand for the videographer to control the frame rate, customize tone curves, and many other options. All this refining can make any video look professional.
A good zoom ratio can allow your video zooming in and out with the least bit of image distortion. A camera with excellent zooming quality can refine the video shoot with an appropriate level of zoom to get the job at hand done.
Nowadays you will find a fast hybrid phase and contrast-detection autofocus systems. Though some manufacturers still use the contrast-detect autofocus in live view and while video recording. Depth from Defocus (DFD) contrast-detect autofocus, from Panasonic is fast, still, most of the videographers favor manual focus.
Most cameras out there capture an 8-bit video, which has its limitations and can break up and show posterization effects with heavy editing. Some high-end cameras can capture 10-bit video with high scope for editing later.
It’s the level of compression applied to the video footage. As a rule of thumb, higher compression produces smaller files but with lower quality, while lower compression creates larger file size but better quality.
When selecting the finest video camera, you need to make sure you get the gist of camera sensors and how they affect the video quality and the camera size. Generally, the larger the sensor is the better it will be its performance, capturing more details even in low light conditions – this gives more quality and consistency to the video. 4K crossover cameras come with a variety of sensor sizes, like full-frame, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C. Super 35mm sensor size is used in cinematography and some professional video cameras.
There are two standards in terms of image sensors for video cameras – CMOS and CCD. CMOS tends to be the most used as they are much cheaper and consume drastically less power than the CCD variant. While CCD sensors are more sensitive to light and produce clearer, crisper footage even in low light conditions.
Video is recorded as a luminance channel and two chroma channels. Compressing the color data is rather less harmful to the image quality quoted as a ratio. Ideally, the cameras would record 4:4:4 video but generally the chroma (color) channels are compressed, for instance to 4:2:0 or 4:2:2.
Most camera have an internal microphone, but the stereo will not have a good quality sound or directional sensitivity for video. This makes an external mic an essential accessory like directional ‘shotgun’ mics or wireless lapel mics.
Generally, flash is no good for video, so you’ll need to employ artificial continuous lighting. LED panels are the topmost choice for video as they run for a longer period while offering high levels of lighting and low heat. Some lighting offers a variable color temperature for matching the different light sources.
Mirrorless cameras are better as they offer a full-time live view both on the rear screen as well as in the viewfinder. DSLRs on the other hand only offer rear screen viewing.
For video, you’ll need a memory card with minimum sustained speed and not the maximum transfer speed which is useful for gauging the performance. The bare minimum for a 4K video is 10MB/s, 30MB/s is better (UHS Class3, V30), and 60MB/s is perfect (V60). Though with camcorders the video is recorded directly onto the internal storage of the camera which serves better for a longer duration of recording.