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What camera should I buy?

What camera should I buy for DIY corporate video shoots?

Imagine you are looking at this page and you can see a picture of a can. That can is filled with worms. I have just opened that can. Aaah, what camera should I buy?

Chase Jarvis, an award-winning American photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur,  is quoted as saying “The best camera, is the one that you have with you!” That’s true, but only up to a point, because the odds are that the camera you have with you is also likely to make phone calls, and maybe the two activities —shooting video and making, or taking a call — may not be too compatible!

So, if you’re going to spend good money and take months to plan a video for your business, why not get a camera that will allow you to do more than an iPhone?

Where to begin when asking yourself – ‘What Camera’?

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)

In 2008, Canon released its 5D Mark II, a stills DSLR camera that also shot HD video well. In fact it was the first full frame dslr to shoot HD video at all. Thus began the DSLR video revolution, and this is as good a place as any to start.

DSLRs are great, for many reasons. To start with, they will generally give you the option to shoot in automatic mode and — as you gain confidence — full manual mode. They also allow you to add different lenses, from wide angle to telephoto, giving you more scope for your developing creativity. Some DSLRs nowadays also shoot in 4k, ensuring that your material can be archived and future proofed for when your office decides to get 4k televisions.

Your DSLR will also allow you to take photographs, so it can be a worthwhile investment with its multiple uses.

With good lenses, DSLRs will allow you to work in very low light, so the need to spend big on lights can be reduced.

That all sounds great, but where’s the downside?

OK — where DSLRs, in general, fall over for the inexperienced user is on the audio side of the equation. You may (or you may not) get a simple microphone input on your DSLR, and even then you may or may not get a headphone jack to be able to monitor what you are recording. This then leads to the necessity of buying an external audio recorder, recording the audio separately to a different device and then having to match up the pictures and sound when you get to the edit. As you get more experienced this may not be a problem, but in the beginning it will drive you nuts.

“OK … what DSLR should I buy?” I hear you scream.

Here are a few I would look at:

Canon’s 5D Mark IV: the big brother of where it all began
The Panasonic GH5 – this also shoots great 4k
Sony’s a7Sii – a little powerhouse in this space

Cheaper options could include anything in the Canon range that shoots video; there are many you could choose from.

When it comes to lenses for these, I suggest two. One general purpose zoom and one prime lens like a 50mm f/1.8 for interviews.

Video Cameras

Dedicated video cameras tend to be the easier option when it comes to DIY video production. Being specifically designed for one task, they tend to have everything you need to get the job done. They often have a lens that you can’t change that moves from wide angle to telephoto, they will have a decent viewfinder and for the most part they will have decent audio inputs and options. Pair this camera with a half decent video tripod and you are pretty much set up and ready to go straight out of the box.

There are a million video cameras from which to choose and you could spend as little as $300 right up to $100,000.

If you were being asked to provide a budget to your boss for a new video camera for your business I would be looking at spending around $2500 to begin with. This will allow you to get a decent tripod, camera bag and a few cards on which to shoot. As you get more experienced you can look at cameras with greater options, greater creative flexibility but of course these will come with a greater price tag.

If you stick to the big brands such as Canon, Sony and Panasonic you would have to work hard to get it wrong.

Closing Thoughts

Of course, of course, the camera doesn’t make you a better camera operator and it won’t solve all of your woes, but if you have a camera you are comfortable with and that gives you decent pictures and sound, that is a great place to start on your camera operating and producing journey.

If you ever have any questions about what camera to buy, don’t hesitate to get in touch. As my wife will attest, I love talking cameras and would be happy to help you in your decision.

Also, if you want more information in relation to the production of videos for your business, I have an e-book that you will love. It’s short and straight to the point and will help you through the landmine field that is production. Let me know if you would like one here.



Matt Jasper

Matt Jasper is the owner of The Jasper Picture Company. He is based in Melbourne but works around Australia and the world.