Video Cameras for Church Services

With so many cameras on the market, selecting a camera for your church can be a difficult decision. While a few churches have a big budget and can purchase a variety of pedestal cameras for live services and different cameras for pre-records, more are looking for a sub-$2000 camera that can be used for both live services and some mid-week recordings.

When looking for a camera for your church, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Form factor
  • Lens options
  • Zoom (if fixed lens)
  • Picture quality
  • Low-light performance
  • Live output connectors (HD-SDI, HDMI, etc.)
  • Maximum recording duration
  • Recording file formats
  • Audio input connectors
  • Supported resolutions and frame-rates

The requirements vary from live-to-tape/disk, live-to-screen, and pre-recorded. If you were only doing some pre-records, then a DSLR would probably be more appropriate. However, for live services a camera in a camcorder form factor would probably be more appropriate.

Here are some options you can investigate if you are in the market for a budget-conscious camera which will support all three of these church applications:

Canon XA25 / XA20

Canon XA25 Church Camera

The Canon XA25 is good for live-to-screen because it is full 1080 HD, 20x optical zoom, and HD-SDI and HDMI live output. It’s good for pre-records because it is in a convenient form factor. It’s good for live-to-disk/tape because it has dual SD-card slots.

If you can’t quite afford the XA25, then consider the XA20. It’s the same as the XA25, except without a SDI output.

Performance should be reasonable in low-light conditions, and it has decent manual controls so you should be able to get a good colour balance and focus in live situations.

Sony PXW-X70

Sony PXW-X70 Church Camera

The Sony PXW-X70 is one of Sony’s answers to the Canon XA25. It also had dual SD-card slots and HD-SDI and HDMI live outputs. It also has XLR mic inputs. But, the big advantage over the Canon is that the sensor is a better and it will be upgradable to 4K in the near future via a paid firmware upgrade.

The drawback is that it only has a 12x optical zoom, which could be an issue if you expect to put the camera at the back of the hall and get a tight head-and-shoulders of the preacher or worship leader.

Blackmagic Design Studio Camera

Blackmagic Studio Church Camera

The Blackmagic Design Studio Camera is a little different from the two other cameras mentioned here, in that it was designed more for live applications. One of the big advantages is the built-on CCU (Camera Control Unit). Using an ATEM switcher, you can remotely control the colour and lens settings. This camera bridges the gap between professional broadcast cameras with their professional CCU remote control, and every other camera in the market.

If you are doing primarily live-to-screen video, especially with multiple cameras, then you should consider this camera. If you are recording to disk/tape then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Also, be careful with the price of the lens. Depending on your zoom requirements, Micro Four Thirds lenses can set you back a bit.

Selecting a Camera for Your Church

These are just three cameras to consider when purchasing a camera for your church services. As always, make sure you identify your requirements up-front and select an appropriate camera. You should also try and trial multiple cameras before making a purchasing decision.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a broadcast technician / software developer / technology solutions engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008 (getting my start in Community Radio while still at school), and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I work in the broadcast industry and provide some freelance services through Media Realm.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden