Video Creation School/Recording/Camera Buying Guide

Camera Buying Guide

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

This week we are going to go over how I research cameras to recommend to entrepreneurs. because each entrepreneur has different needs, I created this Camera Buying Guide to help you research your options a little better.

I get this questions ALL OF THE TIME.

What camera do you recommend?

That is a loaded question for a couple of reasons.

The main one being "What is your budget?"

I ask that because the camera I would tell you to get to do video the best is $3500 and that doesn't even come with a lens. The lens is another $2000.... Most people don't want to, or can't, spend that much on a camera and I know that.

Do you NEED to buy a camera?

Alternatively, If you have no budget to buy a camera, use your phone. Buy a mic for your phone so your audio is good and press record. Do NOT let the fact that you don't have a "real" camera stop you from using the most powerful marketing tool. A lot of the time cell phone video even outperforms professional video! 🤯

However, If you do have some budget and want to get a camera, that's what this camera buying guide is for!

First is budget.

You gotta know what's realistic and what isn't. If you have a budget of $700, cool, at least you know what you can and can't afford.

Second is skill level.

along with budget you have to be realistic about your skill level or the person in your business who is going to be using the camera's skill level. You could have a nice business so your budget is $5500 but you have no desire to learn that expensive of a camera.

I'm not insulting your intelligence, I'm saying do you care if you shoot in 8 bit 120fps or 10 bit 120fps? Probably not and you probably don't care to know what that even means. good.

Now if you are hiring a dedicated videographer then he should know how much better 8 bit is than 10 bit but I digress.

Third is application

What kinds of videos do you want to make?

If you are a lawyer then you *probably just want a camera to record you talking about legal matters. Slow motion and super low light capabilities probably don't matter to much.

However, if you are a night club owner then slow motion and low light might be crucial in your decision.

Let's start the research!

I use B&H photo video to check out camera specs and compare cameras because of how easy they lay out the information.

Once you have found a camera in your budget you want to check out the relevant informaiton.

scroll down a little bit, just under the "Recommended Accessories" and you'll see a list of boxes. select "Specs"

Record Modes

The main thing I'm looking for is Internal Recording Modes. Heads up, it's gonna look like gibberish if you don't know what you are looking at. Don't worry though, that's why I'm here.

The record modes are the quality you are recording

10-bit vs. 8 bit (10 bit can be overkill for non pro videographers)
4k vs. 1080p (If you can record in it)
Frame rate (slow motion capability)

Here is what the Internal Record Modes are for the Sony A74

H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/50/59.94 fps [50 to 200 Mb/s]
H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:0 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/50/59.94 fps [30 to 150 Mb/s]
H.264/XAVC S-I 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [240 to 600 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [89 to 222 Mb/s]
XAVC S 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [100 to 200 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [50 Mb/s]
XAVC S 4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [60 to 150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94/100/119.88 fps [16 to 100 Mb/s]

See... Gibberish

So what does it mean?

I've underlined the first bits of info you need to look at. The first 4 are 10 bit which is super high quality video recording modes. To get the full functionality out of these recording modes you will need a special memory card that can get pretty expensive.

The last underlined bit is going to be what you need to pay attention to. It's the 8 bit section. Not as high quality as the other sections but it's all you will need. It's what I shoot in...

Now under that 8-bit section you have 2 lines, a UHD 4k line and a 1080p line.

If you want to record in 4k then then your frame rates range from 23.98fps(24 frames per second) all the way to 59.94fps (60 frames per second)

Alternatively, if you want to shoot in 1080p if goes from 23.98fps (24 frames per second) up to 119.88fps (120 frames per second)

A quick frame rate explanation

- The higher the frame rate, the slow the shot can be.
- 24 frames per second = no slow motion
- 60 frames per second = 40% speed
- 120 frames per second = 20% speed.

If you are recording someone talking for content, record in 4k 24 frames per second. That will give you great quality and you don't need to slow down a shot of someone talking.

However, If you are recording some B-roll and want the option of using slow motion in post production then use a higher frame rate like 60fps or 120fps!

Recording Limit

For years DSLR style cameras had a video recording limit. My first DSLR couldn't record for more than 12 minutes. It would automatically stop and I would have to press record again.

Eventually they went up to a 30 minute limit and that was the way it was for years.

Recently, DSLR cameras have started removing the limit so you can record for as long as your battery will last and as much data as your memory card can hold.

Low Light

The last thing I would suggest looking into is the cameras low light capability. It's not as straight forward as other features.

Part of the low light ability comes from what lens you choose (a topic for another post)
The other part comes from the ISO Sensitivity but not all ISO is created equally. The Sony A74 will look much better at 12,000 ISO than a canon 70d. The sony's footage will still be usable, the canon's will not be.

The only way to know is to research it and test it out. Look up videos of the camera you are looking at and add "Low Light" to the search.

That is pretty much it.

Obviously, if you are a pro videographer, there is more to it. But for my entrepreneur friends out there, don't overcomplicate it. Alternatively, If this Camera Buying Guide didn't clear things up at all fill out the form below and I'll help you out further!

Find out your budget.

Find out your needs.

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Hi, I Am
Matt Peet

VCS Creator/Host

I travel around the country shooting videos for entrepreneurs and conferences to help them sell more stuff. I am taking that knowledge and passing it on to you so you can sell more!