What Camera Is the Right Camera for Your Church? – Part 1

Church video production covers a wide spectrum of video gear because there are a lot of different video applications in the church. You have everything from webcasting to full-on studio packages to produce for the church. This makes it very hard to choose a camera that you are confident will meet your needs. In this four-part series, I am going to try to highlight some of my favorite cameras and in what situations they would be best.

We will start with my favorite category: HD DSLRs.

I love these new cameras that have become so popular in the video world. I am talking of course about the crop of Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras that shoot High Definition video. Some examples are the Canon T2i, Canon 60D, Canon 7D, and the Canon 5D Mark II.

I shot this with a couple 7Ds in belize earlier this year:

Clinic Day 1 from michael beck on Vimeo.

While I prefer the Canon 60D, they are all very similar, and they can all produce very filmic HD video. This makes these cameras great for shooting things like promos, interviews, and sketches. They are also very good still cameras and can serve dual duty. They do not, however, do well in live broadcast settings. Here are a few limitations that these cameras have:

  • Clip Size:  Each clip can only be around 12 minutes, and then you have to hit record again. (The reason is the file size limit in the FAT32 file system.)
  • Outputs: None of these cameras have FireWire output. Also, the HDMI outputs are not full resolution and the menu always shows on the output.
  • Controls: The lack of zoom and focus controls make it hard to use the camera on a tripod in a live setting.

So, which camera should you choose? I will break down some of the differences in the cameras so that you can decide what is right for you. We will start with the lowest cost and move to the highest cost. This is not an evaluation of what camera is better than another for stills, just video.

Canon T2i:


Price: This is the cheapest Canon DSLR that does video at a pro level. Coming in at around $730 (body only), it is a great deal.


Plastic Body. While this makes the camera lighter, it also makes it more prone to damage. On the other hand, I am sure that it would hold up under normal use for a very long time.

Canon 60D:


Flip-out screen/Price. The flip-out screen is very nice for shooting up high or down low. The other cameras have a fixed rear screen, making it hard to see at difficult angles. Also, the price is not too bad. Coming in at $1,000, (body only) it is not a ton more than the T2i.


This is really the middle of the pack. To me it’s the sweet spot in the lineup. That being said, it has a crop sensor (like the T2i and 7D) and while the build quality is better than the T2i, its no 7D/5D either.

Canon 7D:


Build quality. This camera feels like a tank! I have dropped this camera before, and it only scratched the top LCD. This is a real pro feeling camera.


AGC (Auto Gain Control). While none of the cameras do a fantastic job at audio, the 7D is the worst. There is no way to manually set the audio gain. The gain cranks up when it is quiet, and drops when it gets loud.

Canon 5D Mark II:


Sensor size. The 5DmkII is the holy grail of shallow depth of field. Its full-frame sensor gives you the ability to have razor-thin DOF and super wide-angle shots.


Price. The 5DmkII comes in at around a whopping $2,500! (body Only) You can buy three T2i’s for that price!

So, unless another camera in this lineup has that one thing you need, I really recommend the 60D. It is a fantastic price and has good build quality, and the flip-out screen is a really useful bonus!

Have any questions about this list? Have one of these cameras and have tips to share? Leave us a comment, and I will do my best to help you out!

(Series:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 )

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