For many, DSLR cameras are the starting point on their journey into the world of professional video production. There's a lot to love about DSLRs – they're affordable, versatile, and easy to work with on the fly or where there's only one person operating the camera. Even with all of these benefits, there eventually comes a time where an upgrade is required, whether that's due to a need to shoot in higher quality 4K or to use equipment better suited to the needs of video.
However, moving up to the next tier of video production equipment can be daunting, and not just because of the price jump. there are all sorts of other issues to consider as well, and in this series we'll take a look at some of the most popular options, starting with professional 4K camcorders.
Camcorders make a great option for video producers keen to have a little bit more to work with.
Why upgrade your equipment?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of why camcorders can be great improvements over a DSLR, it's worth considering the benefits of upgrading in the first place. First and foremost, it's important to remember that DSLRs are, at heart, designed for photography. While they can be customised for videography and produce great results, they often fall short in a lot of key areas, with audio recording a prime example. If you're serious about video, then it's well worth investing in specialised equipment that will make your workflows while shooting as easy and streamlined as possible.
There's also the lurking 4K issue, which is becoming more important all the time. While some modern DSLRs can shoot video in 4K, the cost of upgrading to one of these isn't wildly different to film-specialised alternatives, and could just be a temporary fix before having to purchase another new camera in a few years.
For all of these reasons and more, camcorders make a great option for video producers keen to have a little bit more to work with.
Camcorders: What's all the fuss about?
Camcorders were all the rage in the early years of low-budget video production, but fell out of favour when DSLRs and other high-quality, affordable cameras came along and pushed them out of the spotlight. They're coming back in a big way though, thanks to a recent stream of 4K models hitting the market and providing an all-in-one product with 4K capabilities and all the features a cinematographer needs.
So what are the big differences between camcorders and DSLRs? To start with, camcorders have a fixed lens, which means that unlike a DSLR, it isn't possible to switch things up based on the exact requirements of a particular shot or location. For some, this may be a downside, but the fixed lens comes with a wide range of different benefits. These include much better zoom control, less lens distortion, better back focus, and often higher video quality as the entire camera has been designed around one specific lens.
It's also worth reiterating just how convenient an all-in-one video machine can be, especially on documentary or low-budget projects where time is of the essence.
Even a simple difference to DSLRs such as on-board XLR inputs for audio make it possible to record everything you need with one piece of equipment. Investing in a camcorder is also much cheaper than going up to a top-tier 35mm camera such as a Canon C100, bridging the gap between the entry and highest levels without sacrificing on quality.
The major players: Sony and Panasonic
We're only just scratching the surface of what modern camcorders can do. Check out the below video, which showcases some of the incredible features of Sony's PXW-Z150.
Aside from Sony, the other major player in the camcorder game is Panasonic, and both companies are continuing to push their products forward, building with each new model to create video equipment that ticks all the boxes. Aside from the PXW-Z150, Sony also has the more affordable PXW-X70, which still boasts 12x optical zoom, a built-in ND filter with three switchable levels, and two XLR inputs.
Each camcorder in the 4K market offers something slightly different.
Each camcorder in the 4K market offers something slightly different, but they can all provide a real increase in value over a DSLR. Get in touch with the team at DVT today to find out more and to get your hands on one of them!
Next week on the DVT blog
Of course, camcorders may not be the best option for everybody, in which case it could be time to start looking at a 35mm powerhouse. Join us next time on the DVT blog, where we'll take a closer look at exactly what these cameras can do, and which options are best for a DSLR upgrade.
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