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7 Types of Video Cameras (With Pictures)

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man using camera

Video cameras have never had the same build, design, or defining features and specifications. They are often different because they were all designed to meet various expectations. “Which type of video camera perfectly suits my needs?” is a question that has plagued one too many videographers over the years.

In this article, we’ll look at the seven different types of video cameras and what they offer to help you make the right choice for your needs.

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The 7 Types of Video Cameras

1. Professional-Grade Cameras

video camera on wooden table

Image Credit: Piqsels

Video Quality: 4K
Reliability: High

One of the first things that you learn once you get into this industry, is how important skills are in video production. Your level of skill will significantly influence the quality of videos you end up producing. But while that’s true, we cannot discount the fact that professional-grade cameras also contribute something to that pool.

Simply put, a professional-grade video camera is any top-drawer device that can be relied on, is durable, and produces top-tier videos. They all have solid builds made of metal to withstand harsh elements and shocks caused by minor falls. Their modes of operation can be a tad bit confusing to an unskilled user, though.

Professional-grade cameras are made to be used by videographers who make out a living through content creation. That’s why they are mainly used to film things like documentaries in environments that are defined by extreme elements.

They certainly don’t come cheap, though.

Pros
  • Produce high-quality video
  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • Fast autofocus
  • Easy-to-adjust controls
  • Huge memory capacity
Cons
  • Expensive

2. Sports & Action Cameras

gopro cam_Piqsels

Image Credit: Piqsels

Video Quality: 1080p
Reliability: High

The sports or action video camera’s chief purpose is to capture objects in action. Such a camera needs to have a compact design to facilitate portability and ease of use. To top that off, the build has to be shockproof, rust-resistant, heat-resistant, and more importantly, waterproof.

The outstanding feature of this type of camera is its ability to shoot various videos in varying modes. You’ll even have the option of exploring the burst and time-lapse modes. You can tell just by the name that this camera utilizations quite a number of action modes to shoot videos that are fast-moving. The slow-motion recording feature is also one of them.

To get the perfect shot, users mount the device from their point of view. For example, if you’re on a bike ride you can mount it on your helmet or the handlebars.

The disadvantages are several. Firstly, you’ll need to invest in more accessories to achieve a variety of shots. Secondly, videos captured using the sports & action camera usually strain computers with low processing power. Therefore, for the sake of editing, you’ll be required to invest in a better laptop, too. Third, in contrast to a professional-grade camera, these cameras generate lower-quality videos. And lastly, their battery life is not very efficient.

Pros
  • Captures fast objects in action
  • Compact design
  • Rust- and heat-resistant
  • Shock- and waterproof
Cons
  • Needs extra accessories
  • Comparatively low-quality videos
  • Inefficient battery life

3. Smartphone Cameras

Smartphone Camera

Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Video Quality: 4K/1080p
Reliability: Moderate

We all know smartphones have the ability to shoot videos in 4K. Well, not all smartphones, but some of them. And many videographers have used them in the past, particularly while shooting in settings that require compact, portable cameras.

We know there’s no way a smartphone will match up to a professional-grade camera when it comes to recording or capturing images, but with the right skills, they can produce quality content. They are also ideal for beginners, user-friendly, and a lot more affordable than most of the cameras currently on the market.

Being able to organize spontaneous video shoots is the other reason why smartphone cameras are loved by many. What most people don’t like is how terrible they are at focusing on moving targets, and the slow autofocus speeds. Changing lenses is never an option with smartphone cameras since they are fixed, and the sensors are too small to deliver in low-light situations.

Pros
  • Shoots in 4K
  • Compact
  • Portable
  • User-friendly
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Great for spontaneous shooting
Cons
  • Not great at focusing on moving objects
  • Slow autofocus speeds
  • Fixed lens
  • Small sensors

4. Point-and-Shoot Video Cameras

woman wih camcorder_StockKK_Shutterstock

Image Credit: StockKK, Shutterstock

Video Quality: 720p
Reliability: Moderate

Another ideal video camera for novice videographers is the point-and-shoot. All you need to do is point the device towards the direction of the object/target, and then shoot. There are no complicated control settings installed that can be confusing or features that require experienced users to operate.

Its lens system is just as fixed as the one found in the smartphone camera, and its compact nature makes them the best travel companion. The only problem is that this is not the type of camera that can be utilized commercially.

Pros
  • Ideal for inexperienced users
  • Easy-to-adjust controls
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not designed for commercial use
  • The lens is fixed

5. Digital Camcorders

camcorder zoom_Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

Video Quality: 4K
Reliability: High

These cameras are known to have an ergonomic design that’s easy to grip and mount on shoulders. Their bodies are made of lightweight material, and they feature audio inputs to give videographers the option of connecting microphones. You’ll definitely love their high-pixel resolutions, high-speed autofocus, and high-powered zooming abilities. Depending on what you’re going for, you’ll be able to shoot High-Definition or Ultra-High-Definition 4K.

This type of camera will leave a huge dent in your savings if you decide to make the purchase. They are worth every cent, though.

Pros
  • Ergonomic design
  • Feature audio inputs
  • High resolution
  • High-powered zoom capabilities
  • High-speed autofocus
  • Shoots in Ultra HD and HD
Cons
  • Very expensive

6. Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless Cameras

Image Credit: Satermedia, Pixabay

Video Quality: 4K
Reliability: High

These models have interchangeable lens systems. Whatever’s being captured—be it video or images—will be captured electronically through the sensor, and be displayed on-screen at the back. The videos produced are always high-quality, as the camera has all the necessary features and specifications required for such a task.

Speaking of sensors, they act like digital converters. While you work in a low-light setting, they’ll be busy capturing whatever little light that they can find, turning it into signals and then images.

A mirrorless camera will be lightweight, have 4K recording features, continuous autofocus, and even a digital viewfinder. What you won’t like is the short battery life, the lag experienced while shooting videos, and its price tag.

Pros
  • Interchangeable lens system
  • Manual controls
  • Produces high-quality video
  • Lightweight
  • Continuous autofocus
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • Expansive
  • Can lag while shooting

7. DSLR Cameras

Camera

Image Credit: JESHOOTS-com, Pixabay

Video Quality: 4K
Reliability: High

DSLR cameras are hugely popular and you’ve probably already seen one, but you just didn’t know it yet. Experienced videographers like to have them as backups in case their professional-grade cameras fail. They have every feature imaginable, including time-lapse, autofocus, image stabilization, and slow-motion controls.

They can shoot 4k videos, and since their sensors come in different sizes, you’ll have various image options at your disposal. Before you buy one, just remember, they are high-maintenance, always need extra accessories, are bulky, and not ideal for beginners.

Pros
  • Designed for experienced users
  • Image stabilization
  • Various shooting modes
  • Shoots in 4K
  • Various sensor sizes are available
Cons
  • High maintenance
  • Not the best option for beginners
  • Require additional accessories

shutter camera divider 2Factors Worth Considering

There’s a method to doing everything, including purchasing a video camera. Impulse buying is the reason why so many users find themselves dealing with buyer’s remorse. You have to budget, assess the pros and cons, and then learn about the features before finally investing.  

Power Supply

If we’re talking about batteries, the best video cameras in the market have been designed to operate using the NP-F style battery. These types of batteries are so efficient that they can record anything for close to 3 hours or even more. You also need to look for a device that has a DC-in socket. Investing in something that can’t connect to the main power for indeterminate use is risky.

Video cameras that support USB-C charging are top tier, in our opinion. Who wouldn’t want to work with a piece of equipment that can be charged on the go?

Autofocus

Even though manual focus guarantees filmmakers that ultimate user experience, reliable autofocus often gets the job done faster. And if you’re someone who lacks the prerequisite skill required to produce a quality film, the detection algorithm incorporated into the system will be instrumental in helping you achieve that. Unfortunately, not all video cameras are designed with a reliable autofocus system.

Built-In Connectivity

They say the world is a global village now thanks to the internet. Imagine how you’ll feel when you realize that the video camera you just bought can’t connect to anything without a cable! Connectivity sounds like an obvious factor to consider, but you’ll be surprised to learn so many people forget about it while shopping for these devices. Go for something that not only has a built-in Wi-Fi feature, but also NFC and Bluetooth connectivity. These features will give you the option of connecting your camera remotely to any wireless device or the internet.

Camera

Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization (IS) is a common feature in the current market that has tremendously improved with advancements in technology. But not all video camera models will give you the accompanying digital or electronic stabilizer required to facilitate better results.

If you’re more into handheld filming, you’ll need a model that has both digital and optical image stabilization. These two features often work in tandem to ensure users achieve better stabilization. And in a way, they save on costs, since you won’t feel the need to invest in a physical stabilizer.

Lens Focal Length

The focal length will tell you the camera’s magnification abilities and the angle of view. Assuming you invest in one that has a longer focal length, you’ll get higher magnification, but a narrower angle of view. So, you have to know what you want as it will determine your lens choice.

Inputs & Outputs

It’s not a good idea to buy a video camera without knowing whether you’ll be required to use an SDI or HDMI connector. SDI stands for Serial Digital Interface, and it’s a cable meant for broadcast quality. Any camera that has an SDI is supposed to act as a video source that offers inputs to production systems and video switchers. That’s why they are usually prevalent in live streams and television production.

HDMI, on the other hand, is an abbreviation for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It’s the type of connector tasked with transmitting audio and digital video from a cable box to a projector, TV, or computer monitor.

In a nutshell, the SDI and HDMI are both cables that transfer data. But the difference is the distance covered while transferring the said data. If you decide to take the SDI route, you’ll be able to carry your data over longer distances. Also, unlike the HDMI, the connector locks into place.

shutter camera divider 2Final Thoughts

If you’re a newbie in this hobby, the best camera is one that doesn’t have too many fancy features. It will help you learn fast and be comfortable in different settings. There are several to choose from, and even just using your phone camera is a great way to get started.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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