My church has asked me to do some research re buying x3 cameras they intend to use for recording and occasionally live streaming (e.g. Christmas) church services to other rooms in the church and across the Net. Last year they purchased some PC based hardware for streaming…. and it turned out to be a challenge. It was mostly audio sync/delay issues and camera compatibility/black frames when cutting between cameras via the PC based software.
I wasn’t involved in the decision/purchase process otherwise I would have researched it more thoroughly. I doubt they could have afforded a proper genlocked system, but perhaps something a little more user friendly/stable might have transpired. Nonetheless they now have budget to purchase some new cameras and this time I am being involved.
Anyway, with a budget of £500-£1000 per camera I assume this will put them in the domestic camcorder market. Since I hardly ever use cameras in this sector (other than DSLR's) I'm afraid I wouldn't know where to start looking. I imagine there are a lot of domestic camcorder choices out there…. unless the tide has turned due to smartphone and tablets. Thus I'm hoping a few of you might be able to point me in the direction of 2-3 cameras that are worth a look. Once I’ve narrowed things down I’ll go back to the manufacturers of the aforementioned streaming hardware and double-check compatibility.
Here's the main criteria for these cameras.
1) They need to be 1080, although switchable 720 is a nice (but not must have) option
2) Preferably they would be brand new but not necessarily latest technology/version i.e., discounted discontinued is fine
3) Good clean low light capability is a high priority given the low light levels in the church
4) Most of the time the cameras will be in the following configuration; Cam 1) a wide shot of the church and congregation, Cam 2) a shot of the stage/podium at the front of the church, Cam 3) a MCU of the minister/speaker. Cam 3) is the only one likely to be manned (on a tripod) and thus it would be good to have a lanc input to couple it with a zoom bar/controller
5) The distance from Cam 3 to the podium is approx. 10-12m, so the camcorder will need a decent optical reach/zoom whilst still maintaining an adequate wide capability for the Cam 1 perspective
6) For reasons already covered it would be preferable if all the camcorders are the same brand/model to avoid further streaming complications.
7) I’m aware some DSLR’s now come with remote Wi-Fi control capabilities (e.g. Nikon D5300). Given Cam 1 & 2 are likely to be mounted above head height on pillars, any remote control feature would be rather handy…. but not essential.
8) Audio is of lesser importance (other than manually refining sync) since it will be added via the church sound desk.
Thank you if you’ve taken the time to read all this… and particularly offered advice :-)
To be blunt.. no idea either.
But what are you trying to do? Record (multi cam) iso, or do a live mix?
What is the vision mixer/switcher?
I tend to think the budget is too low given that the best bet is to use HS-SDI to run the multi camera to vision mix.
Most of the time it will be a live mix, but for baptisms and the odd visiting speaker it will be recorded as well.
Re the mixer, it's software based, supplied by the card manufacturer. The only reason I haven't mentioned the make/model of the card is it's currently inside a machine I can't access (I'm somewhere else) and right now the guy who purchased it is on holiday. But given I have some time on my hands I thought I'd try and get the ball rolling on camera options.
I'm confident most modern domestic camcorders will work reasonably well with it, since the hardware cost just short of £1K and the supplier (specialising in this sort of thing) claimed it was the best in that category.... but then he would.
I think the main issue they ran into at the Christmas service (the one and only time it was used) had something to do with them trying to run a Canon XF300, Sony HVR-V1 and JVC GY HM-100 into it all at the same time. I wasn't around when this happened, so I only have hearsay feedback regarding the issues. But apparently things instantly got better when they swapped one of the cameras out of the equation.
Incidentally (or maybe not) they were connecting the cameras via HDMI.
I don't have a great deal of experience with software based mixers but can see the issues that might be involved. I suppose that someone investigated the cameras to see if a common "brand" of HDMI could be achieved in the cameras' settings?
HDMI can cause issues over long runs. but I guess could be converted to a different format for longer runs? £1k isn't a lot if you allow for a dealer's mark-up ? A blackmagic card that I had in a MacPro (capture only) was about £400 and to be honest we never got it to run 100% without the risk of crashing.
we've bought a couple of Hyperdecks in place of it.
only thing that I can think of is that a cheap HDMI camera could be used for the fixed shots to allow a higher budget for the one moveable.
It strikes me that your budget is going to mean less than ideal kit. HDMI can be converted and run down CAT5 so your distances can be covered, but it's a bit of a fudge because you'll also have to rig up mains power for them. Most domestic cameras only power up in auto mode, and this is pretty undesirable - as they tend to hunt for focus and can get confused. Some also turn on in wide angle, others turn on where they were left. Engaging manual features requires fingers! Perhaps security style cameras would be a better bet - they at least come on as they go off.
Maybe you should look for second hand decent HD cameras that have the right features, or increase the budget a bit.
So you actually need HD? If not, plenty of excellent SD kit is available. I'm really glad I kept all my old kit - it goes out quite often now, supplying images to projectors in larger venues and the quality doesn;t seem an issue at all.
Thanks Paul. Yes, you make good points... and maybe domestic camcorders aren't the best option.
Do they need 1080? Hmm, technically no, not now, but at some point they will end up with a 1080 projector in the main sanctuary, so I'm just thinking ahead.
I have considered older/second hand equipment. My two main concerns are that older kit may not work with this new card, at the very least the cameras will need HDMI output. Secondly it will be quite hard to get hold of 3 cameras of similar use/condition. So if one of them turns out to be near the end of it's life, we'll almost be back to square one when it fails. At least new ones should have a few years in them.
I am wondering if 3 DSLR's will do the job? It's not conventional and it will look weird.... but the same is true of the whole DSLR video revolution a while back. At least with DSLRs you can lock things down in manual plus they will produce reasonable low light images. Mains powering them might be more tricky and the MCU/CU camera (Cam 3) will need a decent/fast zoom lens attached. The other two can probably get by with 18-55mm kit lens.
I've used HDEW a few times to purchase cheaper grey imports. So getting a reasonably new mid range APS-C DSLR with a kit lens can be achieved for around £500, the Nikon D5300 being one example.
Do DSLRs come on in the mode they went off? That's useful, I didn't realise that. I do take the point about older ones - from the getting three the same point, and also for HDMI - which really means it's more newer, older ones I guess. For the live manned camera - I'd avoid DSLRs simply because they don't have video zooms, that stay in focus as they zoom. Expensive ones do, but at quite expensive price points. How about Canon XF100's - or at least one? Possibly even consider 2 of those rather than 3?
Yep DSLR's will power up exactly as you leave them, well the Nikons and Canons I use do.
And yes, the zoom lens for my potential DSLR set up on Cam 3 will be the challenge. In our church scenario staying in focus whilst zooming shouldn't be an issue since I suspect it will be constantly at the long end of the zoom to provide the MCU/CU. The real issue is getting a fast lens at a reasonable price point. Both Canon and Nikon charge circa £1500 for their 70-200mm f2.8 zooms. Also 200mm on a cropped sensor still might not be enough to frame a head and shoulder shot at 10-12m. I'll have to check it out with one of mine next time I'm in the church. I could get a slower/longer lens, maybe a 300mm f4, but that will still be around £700.
Yes the XF100 would be a really good option, but they are around £1500 new.... which is more than the church really wants to pay. In my original post I suggested £500-1000. Practically they would want it to be much closer to the £500 mark, but I thought I'd look at options a little more expensive because I might be able to twist their arm if I can prove it will future proof the set up.
I'll keep the DSLR option in mind, but I might now start to look on Amazon for the best selling/rated camcorders around £500 and see if any one ticks most of the boxes. As you point out I'll probably need one in my hands to check how they fire up, but a trip to Currys/PC World may yield that info.
A quick search on Amazon is showing the Panasonic SD700 as a possible contender. Has anyone used one of these?
I have the Panasonic HDC-HS300 and is similar to the one in your previous post. I use it as the 3rd camera, locked of on a tripod. Quality is very good and it has saved the day on a few occasions. To save on weight problems (other cam is a Sony EX3) and have a few £'s left it might be worth while considering a trio of this type provided they do what you need.
I've got the even older SD-9, that gets used for all sorts of things - and although it's manual settings are rather rubbish, on auto, it's a competent little thing, with decent images.
I've used the SD700 and was just about to buy one when its replacement - the famous SD900 - came out. I had one of those but the differences are pretty minimal and I'm sure the 700 will be an excellent camera with a pretty intelligent iA auto setting.
The small cameras on auto are usually ok when zoomed out. Auto when zoomed in is always difficult, especially if light levels are low, and there is the any chance of reflections from lights or the sun through a window. A perfectly sharp picture catches a brief reflection, or somebody walking across the frame, and it triggers a focus hunt. It deliberately goes out of focus then sharpens again, always at just the wrong moment. I used mine with a wide angle screwed on, and this rarely then happened - it's just problematic on anything more zoomed in.