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Digital Video Cameras (From 2006 Onwards)

Which Video Camera is Best For You and the Task at Hand?

Digital Video Cameras

Digital video cameras come in all shapes and sizes and are everywhere these days:

  • Mobile Phones
  • DSLR’s
  • Handycams
  • Pro Digital Video Cameras
  • Helmet Mounted
  • Portable "Attach Anywhere"
  • Spy Video Cameras
  • Webcams
  • Even in a pen

The sheer choice of video cameras available is becoming greater all the time. How do you know which will do the job effectively for you?

Do you want to film your antics on the ski slopes of southern France? Maybe record your wild days skydiving with mates from 14,000 feet? ​Perhaps you want to create your own "how to" video for YouTube or to sell to the public? Maybe you simply want a high resolution, HD video camera to record forever your wonderful, growing family as time goes by!

Whatever you need a video camera for, buy the right one that works for you

I personally love video. I always have ever since my photography tutor (at the age of thirteen) took our class to the local television studios in South East Kent. We were allowed to use the TV cameras including headphones and then play with the mixing desk. I was in heaven but why did no-one notice my love for photo and video back then in the early 1980's!

Since then, I have always had some way of recording family events. Whether it be a stills camera or cine/video camera. I still have all that footage and all those photos to hopefully look at and reminisce over in years to come. Here I am in 1985 on the day of Live Aid. I was filming my grandparent's golden wedding anniversary from the roof. However, that footage was lost when my father taped over it with a western movie!!!

Digital Video Cameras Roof Shooting

The digital video cameras I currently own include everything from the smallest helmet camera to a professional grade, High Definition Handycam.

My current list of video cameras

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    Contour HD Helmet Camera - HD 720p - (2009)
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    Panasonic Lumix FZ-38 - HD 720p - (soooo old)
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    Panasonic GH4 (4K Video) - (2014 but still great)
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    Sony HDR SR1 Handycam - HD 1080i (2006)
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    Canon EOS 5D Mark II - Up to HD 1080p - (2008)
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    Sony PMW EX1 - Up to 1080p - (Still good but sold)
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    2 x Go Pro HD Hero’s...4 Black and 5 Black (2016)
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    Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (2017)
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    Panasonic GH5 (2017)
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    DJI Inspire 1 with X5R (RAW) Video Camera

All of these camera suit me for different purposes except for the very old ones. Those are now book ends ornaments in my office!

As at 2018, the bottom 3 are the ones I use the most. The 5D Mark IV for stills and some video. My lovely Panasonic GH5 for lovely 400mbps 10-bit 4K video. The Inspire 1 with X5R for stunning 2.4gbps(!) 12-bit, 4K RAW video.

Here are some of my favourite aerial clips using ​the Inspire 1:

Aerial Video Samples

Dedicated Digital Video Cameras

Let's start at the higher end. These are the cameras that are broadcast quality. The types that are used for Netflix and BBC programmes. Sadly, they come in at premium prices too. Take the beautiful Sony FS7 II for example...

Sony FS7 Mark II

Priced at nearly $12,000, it is a lot of money. However, you get a lot of bang for your buck including:

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    DCI4K at 60fps 600mbps recording
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    Electronic VARI ND filter (very nice)
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    180fps at 1080p

Anyway, this isn't a review page so I will leave it there. I'll just say that you should only look at these pro cameras if you work needs it. To be honest, there are way smaller cameras at much lower prices that come close to this quality.

DSLR and Mirrorless

If you could see on a 4K monitor, the footage from the Panasonic GH5, 400mbps, 10-bit, 4K, you would be amazed. I can almost guarantee that most people couldn't tell the difference between that and the FS7 II above. Especially when using Canon's L glass like I do. However, the Lumix GH5 comes in at less than $2000!

Panasonic broke the mold with the GH4/5 as they produce stunning 4K footage for a very reasonable price. I absolutely love my GH5 and use it a lot (still and video).

Canon Can(t)

Canon on the other hand just can't seem to get it right. I own the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV but only for stills and the occasional video. It's 4K video is great quality but a pain to work with. The worst thing for me though is the rolling shutter. It can make clips 100% unusable and the file sizes are huge and heavy going to work with.

Only recently (2018), they released their first 4K mirrorless camera, the M50, and to be honest it is a bit of a let down. It has some nice features including a fully articulating screen but I can't help feeling it is a bit behind the times already.

I don't think it is anywhere near the quality of other 4K video cameras in this bracket. However, it is priced at around $800 so not all bad.

At the higher end, the Sony A9 ($4,400) and very recently released Sony A7 III ($2,000) are stunning. Too much to go into here but I can see myself migrating to Sony in the future. It is so tough out there kids!

Digital Video Cameras and You

So, what video camera is good for you? There are new cameras being released all the time with more and more advanced features. Sony seem to be taking the video world by storm with their amazing sensors but don't be put off. Don't wait for the next best camera. Try not to be dazzled by all this tech. Simply work out what you need and find the right camera to suit those needs. Failing that, just work with what you already have!

I hope the above helps you to firstly make the choice about which "style" of camera you need and then you can set about choosing one of many digital video cameras within your budget that will satisfy your needs. Check out the reviews at Amazon for the various cameras below as a good place to start.

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