How to choose the right size HD video camera for your business

As web speeds gets faster and faster, video is racing to the top of the pile as a must have feature on websites. As we’ve said before, video is king and if a picture tells a thousand words then an HD video is a novel!

Video shows your best side

A video with a quirky sense of humour or high production values is a great way to show off your business, its products or people, and to win over customers.

Check out this slick video about a charity project completed by Southerly, a creative content agent based in London:

What a great idea. Southerly did a good service for the community and made a cool video showing it off to their clients. Simply watching it generates a huge amount of goodwill and subtly proves the company’s skills and culture.

How to create your video

You can pay a professional company to produce videos like this for your business or you can take the plunge (along with our advice!) and do it yourself. The first step is to buy a camera. These days the choices are huge. Cheap and expensive, one with all the bells and whistles or a basic model that gets the job done.

But I reckon there is one fundamental choice you’ll need to make first; what is the right size HD video camera for your business?

Big HD video cameras 

Personally, I went big. In 2012 I purchased a Panasonic AG-A160A which is about the size of a small watermelon.

Red Platypus Dave video camera HD

Me with my HD video camera in the Galapagos

Despite its size, my camera weighs in at around 2.5kgs with the battery in so it is surprisingly light. I also bought a high quality microphone to go with it and carry it around in a very strong padded leather bag. I use it to make videos for our travel blog Double-Barelled Travel and you can watch a few here if you like. In the future we’ll also be using this camera for our Red Platypus video content.

For me, it’s the right size HD video camera for our business.

Advantages of a big HD video camera

A big HD camera like the Panasonic AG-A160A is a professional bit of kit whose equivalents are often used by news organisations such as CNN or the BBC.

It shoots very high quality HD video and has a lens, filters, iris and focus that can be operated manually. There are also numerous outputs for microphones, lights and cables.

Its size can be handy when shooting ‘off a the shoulder’ as the centre of balance is sturdy, helping to keep the shots steady especially when you use the zoom. People also tend to take you seriously when they see a big camera if you’re doing an interview or have turned up for a shoot.

The battery lasts for three hours (even more if you operate the lens manually) and it has two slots in the back for SD cards so you can shoot with abundant memory space.

Disadvantages of a large HD video camera

Size. There are times when I wish it was smaller as it can be quite cumbersome lugging it around. It also means I have to keep a large bag with me at all times to protect it from thieves!

Cost is also a consideration. At the time of purchase in the UK the camera retailed for over £4,000. Luckily for me I got a great deal through friends and bought it at a heavily discounted rate. But you may not be so fortunate and could be staring down the barrel of a big bill if you want to go large.

Small HD cameras

Increasingly there is one way to go when considering a small HD video camera – a DSLR camera with HD video built in. 

Personally, I use a Canon G1X to take still photos and sometimes HD videos. It’s a brilliant bit of kit that can is easy to carry around and shoots video that’s almost on the level with the big Panasonic.

HD video camera small Canon G1x Red Platypus

The small (but quite surprisingly heavy!) Canon G1X HD camera

Advantages of a small HD video camera

Still cameras that shoot video are getting better and even surpassing their larger counterparts in quality. The big advantage they have is a larger sensor which can capture crisper images – a side benefit of its HD feature being part of a still camera.

DSLR cameras are also much cheaper than the big ones. Plus, you can have different lenses for different conditions, meaning instead of playing around with complicated settings you can just change lenses and keep working.

The smaller size means it can be set up faster and concealed in the blink of an eye. As they get more sophisticated, manufacturers are including many of the features seen on the big HD cameras such as microphone jacks, light plugs and very long life batteries.

You can even buy rigs that attach to the small camera and turn it into a shoulder cam!

HD video camera shoulder holder for steady filming Red Platypus

A rig for an SLR camera

Disadvantages of a small HD video camera

Shakiness. Unless you have a tripod or a shoulder rig it can be difficult to keep an HD DSLR steady enough, especially when shooting on the fly. Editing programmes and upload sites such as YouTube can fix the shakes by cropping the frames that move but you lose picture quality.

That said, you can work around it by practicing your movements, laying the camera on a table or a ladder or even a sand bag.

Sound quality is also often not as good as the big rigs. Make sure the DSLR you select has an external jack for a microphone, as the built in one will capture sounds that fails to match the quality of the picture.

…and action!

Ultimately though, whether you choose a big or small HD video camera it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with.

No matter what the hipsters or the old salts tell you, a camera is just a tool and no matter what features it has nothing good will come of it unless you put in the effort.

Whether you go big or small, the important thing is to plan, practice and perfect your camera skills. Size doesn’t matter, what’s important is what makes it to the screen.

Do you have any tips for choosing the right size HD video camera for your business?

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