I have been shooting for over 10 years. I am a graduate of VBC in the Film Track. I have been on several small film shoots as well as been an intern in the Media Department for Victory Tulsa. I currently head up Victory Orlando's Video Production Department. I have purchased several pro cameras in the past. When time to purchase that pro end camera there are some important things to remember.
Important Thoughts to Remember when Purchasing a Professional Grade Camera or Camcorder
These are the key thoughts and elements needed to remember when you buy a pro camera and why.
Types of Cameras
Many years ago when I started this journey of professional videography, I knew that in order to do so that I would need to purchase a more quality camera. The problem was that I was a young farm boy who knew nothing of the world of production. I bought a nice camcorder from a prominent electronics store. I loved my camera and used it for church, short films, and to help shoot a local music show. But I soon got the itch for something better. I was excited to go to a video production class where I gained valuable experience and my first use of a semi pro camera. You would have thought that I hit the big time. I rented out some cameras and gear and made a small documentary. I then went out and bought my very own semi pro camera. I started a business for myself, shooting sports games, weddings and more. About a year later I bought up and ventured into HD shooting. Wow I thought I was big time then. Not long after that I went to film school and my eyes were truly opened. The truth will indeed set you free. I soon discovered the truth of professional videography and photography. However your not reading this article to hear more about my life you're reading it to learn more about cameras. When it comes to the world of cameras there are three levels of quality.
1. The Consumer Camera. This is the camera you can pick up at any electronics store or department. They usually run only on automatic settings. You can take them right out of the box and point and shoot. These are good for simple documentation not for making documentation into an art. Consumer brand cameras are usually fairly cheap in comparison to professional end cameras. You can buy one for less than $1000.
2.Semi-Pro Cameras. The semi pro is a step above consumer grade quality. They usually have a higher sensor or have more manual controls. Some may even have better audio options. Most cost $1000 and up.
3.The Professional Camera. The pro camera has the highest quality sensor, completely manual options,usually interchangeable lens's and more. Not to mention you better be ready to pay several thousands of dollars for one. I suggest getting a degree in Film to know how to properly use a tool such as this.
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3 Thoughts to Remember
Here are three thoughts to remember and think about when its time to purchases the camera you need for your project. production, or business.
1. Sensor. Not all cameras are created equal. The sensor size and sensitivity to light is one of the first things to remember. The sensor or what amounts to film in a digital cameras; determines how much light is used. The sensor has millions of light sensitive areas. The larger the sensor the more dynamic the range and better the quality your image. A higher sensor will give more details in your image vrs. a lower quality sensor. The real test is how well will it hold up in low light conditions? When you shoot your picture or video does the image look grainy? Does it look like the picture is made of particles of sand? If you shoot in the dark and the image is still nice and clear then you have a good sensor. Any camera can hold up in bright sun light but not every camera will hold up in low light conditions. Another prop of a bigger sensor is the ability to focus on a single object and blur out eh background. Since this a major staple of professionalism, then its important to get a camera that can handle this trait.
2. Manual Control. The next item to consider is how much manual control that the camera you're looking at give you? Consumer and semi pro cameras won't give you that much control. Can you adjust the gain, ISO, iris, shutter? Does the camera have manual focus? Does the camera give you audio control options? Can you choose the file type and size you want to shoot? Does the camera have adaptable lens's? Maybe you want to put a fixed focus, prime lens on it, can you? These are all good things to consider when deciding to buy a camera.
3. Budget. How much can you afford to put down on a camera? The higher the price, normally the more quality the camera. But for your purpose you may not want to buy the most expensive camera on the market? If your just doing short web videos then there is no need to buy a $50,000 cinema camera? Are you shooting weddings then you want something nice but you may not need to put down $3000 on just the camera body. It's been said that the difference maker is what kind of glass your going to put on the camera. Consider heavily the price of the lens or lens's that you need to purchase? Perhaps you will rent for a while before deciding on a lens to buy? A quality lens will cost as much if not more than your camera often times. Depending on the kind of lens you want you may need a special mount if your lens type and camera type are different.
Another thing to remember when you are deciding on a budget for your camera gear are the extras. Don't forget extra batteries or a special battery pack. Extra SD cards are important. Some cameras only take the card manufactured for that specific camera. Don't forget a good sturdy tripod with a fluid head. I can not stress enough the fluid head!!!! What about a lighting kit or a flash for stills? What about mic's and batteries for the mic's? Did I say case yet? There are so many things to think about when shooting, don't forget the vital extras!