Sony A7S

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Lumix GH5

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BMD Pocket

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Joanna: This whole week on The Future Church we're talking about video for church and so we're starting up with "what are the top three cameras that churches should be using for filming right now?"

Joanna: A lot of this stuff is really James your area of expertise so I want to throw it over to you as much as we can. Talking about the cameras we should be using for filming at church. There's some debate on this, but what are your top three?

James: So let's start this off by giving a couple prefaces about what we're gonna talk about today. We're gonna try to shoot for the top three cameras but within a certain price range. So we're kind of aiming for around fifteen hundred dollars to two thousand dollars. And the reason for that is that is a reasonable price that I think everyone should be able to invest in. We're not going for the super cheap cameras. So you know immediately someone will say "well yeah but I have a camera that's 300 dollars and I love it". But we're not shooting for the really cheap ones we're shooting for stuff that has some cameras that have some good options that are going to give you not only just for video but that I can also take some quality stills because I believe that this camera should be versatile. If you're gonna buy a camera for church. It can't just have one specialization so I'm not going to recommend a camera that just has slo mo because that's only good for creative situations. The other thing is we're not gonna go over two grand because immediately when you put together lists like this you have somebody that pipes in and says "yeah but I own you know a RED Helium camera 8K. You know I invested 30 grand; like great, awesome. But most churches won't be spending 10, 20, 30 grand. It's more than a salary for most people who are not going to be investing that that amount of money into a camera. So we're gonna just take those off the table. I'm sure there are some churches that can afford it but that is not the norm. So let's start with my favorite one and my favorite one is the Lumix, Panasonic Lumix GH5. So let me tell you some things about why it's so great. One it has a flip out screen which is great because you when you're videoing you can get down low you can shoot from different angles it's really easy to keep an eye on what the camera is doing it shows it saves you from having to get all the way down the ground. I mean lots of people loved you know Canon cameras but for the most part the older ones didn't have a flip out screen and that's what I started with. So if I wanted a low shot I had to get like all the way on my stomach. You know on the sanctuary floor, down on the sanctuary floor to get a shot and you're like this is a bit embarrassing maybe it's not quite right for as worship is going on for some you know video got to be rolling around on the ground trying to get shots, it's a little bit distracting.

Joanna: Yeah I mean maybe with some kind of churches they're used to people falling down on the ground but that's not what's going on for you.

James: That is not what is happening. I'm Just trying to get the shot. So the GH5 is good because one, it offers some great creative options so if you're gonna be creating some of your own intro videos and things like that it offers 4K, It can go really slow mo It can shoot 120 frames a second, it shoots with 2 SD cards which is great which means you get lots of footage on the small little camera body. That's the next best thing about it is it's so small and it's so lightweight. I have literally put this camera into a tiny little side bags when I've been on missions trips and things like that.

Joanna: That's what I'm gonna say you want to think too about where you can take this thing. Like yeah if your church is going on a trip you want to be able to bring some gear that's lightweight and compact.

James: It can fit in a purse, if you're a gal that's shooting it can fit your purse and no one has to know that you're carrying around a very you know high end camera. It's so small and the lenses that you can buy for them are also really light. So again you're saving a lot of energy rather than hauling around a big giant cinema camera. And right now they retail for basically fifteen hundred dollars U.S. and it's a great option now that doesn't include a lens but you can find fairly good options for lenses for you know an extra couple hundred bucks. So it's it's really affordable. It shoots great stuff. And then what also I've even used that camera for is in my other client work I've used it I've set it up on a tripod and I've let it record for hours on end. So you can set the settings so the quality settings of the video lower and this could be a great camera to shoot sermons with. It's super lightweight. It can go on a small little tripod in the back of your room. It can be up on a tripod. It could be up on a little tiny rig on top of the soundboard and you can record sermons on it in 4K and you have hours of record time. So not only you're using for creative you can use it to film sermons, and you can bring it on missions trips super lightweight and easy to maneuver around. And then it also takes what I would call good stills. So you can also use it as a camera to capture stills of everything going around in your church so this cameras really versatile.

Joanna: This camera sounds like a workhorse. Like If you're trying to to pitch this to your boss this is a camera that you can use on Sunday's, shooting creatively, taking photos and traveling with your church.

James: It does bit of everything a little out of everything, Well! It's not the rockstar like the big expensive cameras but it does everything well and for someone if you're working in a church you're most or just don't have a full time video guy. So if you're the communications person or you've got a volunteer team it's really easy to train people on and you're gonna get. It allows people who aren't maybe super specific in that scaling out to get good stuff and the other thing is I've seen people who are really highly skilled still using this camera and getting amazing work from it. So it really is a versatile camera.

Joanna: Okay next to that one. That was the Panasonic GH5. But what's your second choice?

James: So the second one is the Sony A7S a lot of people use it and one of the real selling features for this camera is it can shoot really well in dark situations. It's a low light master and that's what people really love it for as you can crank up the ISO settings. And if you don't know about ISO you should go out and look a little bit about it but basically that's the way to digitally in it brighten up the image. It can brighten things up and what makes that really great for churches is often churches are very difficult situation to film or take photography and anyone who has done it knows. They're almost always very dark right? And even the churches with the fancy light setups are still dark. So this is not like shooting outside. It's not like shooting anything nature based or photography based for weddings you have nice natural light most churches don't have natural light. I mean how many churches do you know that have actually big giant windows to let in light. They have purposely blocked them out. Our church has you know has a bunch of stuff over the windows in the back because it was too bright and it was for projection like washing out the screens and then you know you have the worship leaders they were always looking up into the bright lights was blinding them. So it's a hard situation to film in. So the A7S from Sony is a little bit more expensive. It is just under the 2 grand price range. Their lenses tend to be a little bit more expensive but it has all the same things that the GH5 does. It's just a bit more expensive. And it just is really good in low light. And the reason why I would list it as number two is it is going to be more expensive. So at just under two grand for the camera plus lenses it really is probably something closer to three grand. Kind of just to get a basic kit.

Joanna: So it does what the Panasonic GH5 does but it maybe performs better in those low light conditions.

James: It is it is a slightly better camera for sure. But it also comes with an extra price tag which you know 1000 dollars is no joke for a lot of budgets. So it's always something to consider if you've got the budget to do it. I'd say yeah maybe go at the Sony A7S because it's going to be a better performing camera but it also is a more expensive camera.

Joanna: All right. And the third one on your list. What is it?

James: So this is a bit of a new one and I haven't actually used it myself but I've talked with enough people that I trust who have waited for it to come out and are now using it and really love it. And one of our guys one of our producers at Stokhub has started using it and I've been really impressed with the quality of footage but it's the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

Joanna: So by pocket. Does that mean it's really small?

James: Its fairly small. It's like an awkward wide camera. The other thing I was gonna say is don't be afraid of the black magic title. You know we as Christians can still use a camera with the name Black Magic. So let's let's ignore the black magic part, don't turn off the podcast don't ignore because you want to go anywhere near something called black magic. The advantage of this camera is it can shoot RAW video. So for someone that's a bit more specialized and knows a little bit more about video it has some of the power and some of the capabilities of those really expensive cameras packed into something very small. Now the drawback to this camera is it's not a stills camera. So you're not going to get lots of photography from you're not gonna get any photography from it. There are ways you can pull stills but then they're not going to be the same quality as the previous two cameras. What this camera is really good is is for video if you want to make your video look cinematic for an affordable price. This is the camera for you. Some of the other smaller drawbacks is they tend to have battery problems so you're not going to shoot for hours on end. You guys switch batteries and recharge. But it is a powerful little camera. And the price is 1300 bucks. So its the cheapest of all three.

Joanna: And so if people for example have photographers in your church that bring their own cameras to shoot as volunteers then maybe that's not even something you're you're needing, you need a camera that shoots video.

James: If you're looking for something more cinematic you maybe have a dedicated person or someone spending half their time on video. This might be a great option cause it's gonna it's gonna give that extra little bit of crispness that you can get but you can't really get from the other two the other two are going to produce amazing results. But for someone who knows the power of RAW video and kind of the way you can make things pop visually then this camera it gives you that ability for a really affordable price.

Joanna: Now something that again I'm not the expert on cameras but something I'm noticing is that none of these are Canon and I know Canon in the past had been like an industry standard but it's is it that they're out of the price range or their technology isn't keeping up or why are none of them on your list?

James: So I started with Canon I started with the Canon 5D which a lot of people in video probably started off with in the past, it was the camera.

Joanna: Are they total crap now?

James: No they're not total crap. They're they're very good cameras but they've always just been really good at stills first video second. And the problem with them is they still tend to be fairly high price. They're all in the three grand kind of range. For a long time they refused to do a flip out screen which again as we started this episode I was talking about like you know having to lie on the ground to see the shot. They just they kind of they started to lose the mark of like what video people wanted. Like I always wanted to be able to get slo mo and like shooting at least 60 or 120 frames a second. And the Canons just never could them. They would always top out at 60 and they also they said they limited being able to go 4K. For a really long time so these other cameras like Sony and Panasonic jumped on the 4K and also shooting like different color modes like flatter cinema styles. Again you had to it you had to buy these little hacks to put onto your Canon to make them do those things. So when the cameras are already more expensive and doesn't get the things that you want and there's a cheaper option then people start moving to the cheaper options and that that's kind of what I did like I owned a canon 5D, I have a Canon 7D and then when I was doing some more photography up I have a canon 6D and we use those far less than our Panasonic and our other cameras.

Joanna: Awesome. Well that's a lot of information but we're gonna have all that in the show notes people can check out all the details of what you just said your top three cameras. Tomorrow we're going to talk about audio.