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How to Choose a Good Professional Video Camera

April 10, 2023 4 min read1189

If you want to make high-quality video content, the first (and most important!) thing you’ll need is a high-quality camera. As you might imagine, your camera choice has a serious impact on your final video, so it’s important to find the right fit for your goals. 

With that in mind, here are five steps to choose a great, professional video camera for your next shoot. 

Determine Your Video Production Needs

The first step in choosing a professional video camera is to determine the type of video you want to create. Why? Different types of videos actually require different features and capabilities, so your camera should be suited to the type(s) of videos you’ll create most often. 

For example, if you’re producing a documentary, you may want a camera that has ultra-high image quality. If you’re shooting a music video, you may prioritize a camera that can shoot in slow motion. If you often shoot outdoors, you probably want a camera that does well in low-light conditions. 

You get the idea—take some time up-front to consider how you plan to use the camera, then use that information to identify your must-haves.

Consider Your Budget

Once you’ve determined your video production needs, the next step is to consider your budget. As you might imagine, professional video cameras can be expensive, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. And while more expensive cameras have better quality and useful features, they may not always be necessary for your video needs.

Having a budget in mind will help you determine which types of cameras are even feasible to consider. If your budget is $1,000, you just won’t be able to get the nicest model on the market. Knowing that, you can try to get the most bang for your buck in the spending tier that fits your budget. 

As you prepare your budget, it’s important to keep in mind that video production involves more than just the camera itself. If you’re building an equipment setup from scratch, you may also need to purchase tripods, lighting and audio gear, and other small gadgets and accessories that can bring up the total cost. Blowing your entire budget on your camera isn’t helpful if you still don’t have what you need to shoot effectively, so consider these additional purchases in your budget estimates. 

Look for Key Features

Remember the key features you identified for your video type? Now is the time to put them into action. 

Here are a few of the features that may be relevant to your camera search: 

  • Resolution: If you want especially high-quality video, look for a camera that has a high resolution (typically 4K or 8K), which can provide higher image quality and detail. Note that if you’re shooting for something like social media, this factor may not matter as much! 
  • Image Stabilization: Image stabilization is crucial, especially if you’re shooting handheld footage. Look for a camera that has built-in image stabilization to reduce camera shake and produce smoother footage. This matters most if you’ll be shooting footage on the go, but it’s useful in more traditional situations, too. 
  • Interchangeable Lenses: Interchangeable lenses allow you to swap your lens according to your shooting needs. If you might film lots of different types of content and you’ll need more flexibility, look for a camera that supports interchangeable lenses. Just keep in mind that you’ll usually have to purchase the additional lenses separately—and they often have hefty price tags of their own.
  • Low-Light Capabilities: If you’ll ever be shooting in low-light conditions, look for a camera that’s known for its low-light capabilities. In general, a camera with a large sensor and a wide aperture lens can help capture more light, leading to better quality footage even in darker settings. 

Consider Ergonomics and Portability

Next, let’s talk about ergonomics and portability. None of the features and considerations we’ve covered so far will do you much good if you can’t handle the camera in the first place. With that in mind, try to find a camera that’s comfortable to hold and has easy-to-use controls. The more you can imagine actually using the camera as you’re checking it out, the better.

Portability also helps if you’ll be shooting anywhere outside a designated studio. Just remember that even if your camera is light and easy to carry, other equipment can add to the weight and bulk of your overall setup. Consider what else you might need to carry alongside your camera before you decide it’s ideal for transport. 

Do Your Research and Read Reviews

Finally, before committing to your purchase, do some research and read reviews from other professionals who have used the cameras you’re considering. Reviews can provide invaluable insights into the camera’s performance and quality, and they may include factors you hadn’t considered. 

Whenever possible, read reviews from a few different sources to give you a well-rounded understanding of capabilities and limitations. You may also want to consider the use cases of the reviewers—if you plan to shoot handheld content in low light, a review from someone who shot with a tripod in a studio may not be the most helpful.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a video camera can feel like the ultimate commitment, but finding the right fit doesn’t have to be challenging. And while there are tons of cameras on the market, some will be more suited to your specific production needs than others.

Use the five tips above to guide you through your selection process, and trust your gut when you get down to the final selection. Chances are, the camera that just feels right is the camera that is right! 

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