Best Camera For Live Streaming Church Services

Written by Mark Le. Last updated on October 28, 2020.
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Best Camera For Live Streaming Church Services


Live streaming is the future. People want to connect. It’s an intrinsic need that was there when humans were created and still is thriving! With the Covid pandemic rearing its ‘ugly’ head in late 2019, social distancing has become an essential part of our lives, be it by staying indoors and not going shopping or listening to your weekly sermons at home.

That’s where cameras for broadcasting church services come into play. Live streaming services is no rocket science. It is an excellent way of staying connected with people who cannot attend services, the old and injured, and those that are traveling. It even lets you broadcast the sermon in different languages! These live streams can also be recorded. Missed an event or sermon? Live stream’s got you covered! Watch as much as you want wherever you want.

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If you are a newbie or a honed camera guy, the first thing you need is a good connection with the internet. No matter how much sophisticated equipment you have, it may fall short if your connection is slow. Now you may ask why the connection has to be good. It all depends upon the quality of the video you are making with your camera. We all want to stream a crisp, clear video. Nobody likes gritty quality anymore. Read on to understand more!

What to Look For In the Camera

You might be thinking, what type of camera should I actually get? The basic rule is to get a camera that is able to output at least 720p resolution. With technology progressing at the speed of light, you might want to upgrade as well! Most cameras offer a wide variety of resolutions from 720p to 1080p or more. 

Having the option to stream both High-Definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) is a great feature in a camera because if a viewer does not have high-speed internet, he may not be able to stream the video and will have problems watching HD (high definition) video.

Capture Cards

Now you must be thinking, what are capture cards? Are they necessary or not? No worries, we'll answer all your questions!
Capture cards basically take the HDMI signal as an input and convert it into a signal that your computer can read. Most capture cards are dongles. Even if your laptop has an HDMI port, you can’t just plug in the HDMI from the camera to the computer because the port is ‘out’ only. You need an ‘in’ device that sends data to the monitor. If you are using a webcam no need to use the capture cards, but if your camera is a DSLR, a camcorder, or any other, USB capture cards are important to act as an intermediary.

Video Encoder

A video encoder takes the video signal and compresses it into a stream of data that can be sent over the internet easily. These encoders allow the viewer to view these videos on their own devices as they support or play videos in different formats.

Frame Rates

Frame rate is another major factor that you need to look out for when buying your camera. The typical frame rate that is used is 24 fps (frames per second), 30 fps, or 60 fps. The greater the frame rate, the better 'flow' of image quality you get! But it also means that your video will tend to get pretty 'heavy.' It will require more bandwidth to stream it as well.

A Live Streaming Platform

So you've set up your live streaming gear, hmm? The next step in your quest is to look for platforms that allow you to upload/play your videos.

Some free user, friendly platforms are;

  • Facebook
  • YouTube

Both are great apps if you want a no-fuss experience. The comments allow you to communicate with each other and there is no monthly fee charged!

Subscription Platforms

These include platforms that require the user to pay monthly for their features. A 30-day trial is always an option if you want to check them out.

  • DaCast.
  • Boxcast.
  • StreamingChurch.tv.
  • Streamspot.
  • Vimeo live streaming

Modes of streaming

  • Selfie mode
  • Indie mode
  • Desktop mode
  • Broadcast mode


How to Set Up Your Equipment

Certain steps or care needs to be taken into consideration when broadcasting your worship or sermons online. You need to capture;

The Video

This one is a no brainer. No need to worry about that pretty little head of yours. All you may need is your tripod, a camera, and some HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cables for a basic live stream set-up. Watch out for cameras that don’t allow you to turn off the on-screen display overlay on the HDMI output. Also, keep in mind that older cameras can cause some problems like not playing the audio with the HDMI video or only allowing you to play a recorded video.

The Audio

Great audio for the live stream video is way more important than the actual video. If people can't hear you, what is the point of the video anyway? If you want better audio quality, connecting an external microphone to the camera can be of immense help. A right choice can be the PM10 microphone by Movo. The cord can be small, but extensions for it are available.

Speaking from personal experience, look for microphones that are 'omnidirectional.' These microphones are sensitive to sound from every direction (360◦). You don’t need to wave about the microphone in another person’s direction! There are various microphones available in the market; choose the one that suits your needs best.

Another great tip to check if your set-up is working is by connecting the HDMI output from the camera to a TV. Test it to see if the audio plays along with it. If not, try fixing the problem and check again.

Lighting

Lighting plays a major role in the quality of your video. If you have a 2000 dollar camera without proper lighting, it is probably useless. If you are streaming a single person, try a ring light. They are not overly expensive and a great starting point. You can never go wrong with it.

If that's not an option, why not use the sun? It provides light for free! Never use overhead lights. They make you appear ghostly and dark nobody wants that.

If you want to live stream the whole sermon with hymns, the auditorium used will already have a great lighting system. You are good to go!

Review of Top 5 Cameras

When buying cameras, you want to make sure that you're getting your money's worth. I mean, who wouldn't? With a glut of tech options and more coming each day, choosing the best camera can be a bit daunting. Your camera needs to tick all the boxes for a good live streaming camera. This includes

  • Clean video, audio, and HDMI output.
  • The camera should not overheat.
  • It should not shut off automatically after some time.

From Cellphone cameras, mirrorless cameras to PLT. (What is that? It is just an acronym that stands for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom) which one suits you? Don’t fret because we have got your backs! All the features that you may require in your camera for broadcasting your sermons, baptisms, or testimonies are explained briefly.

Canon FX 105

If you are a pro-level video streamer and need a professional camera, this big boy is your best bet. Packed with feature such as,

  • Multiple bit rates, resolution, and frame rates.
  • Built-in 3D assist features.
  • Infrared recording.

This camera packs a punch. It is compact and robust enough to fit most of your church needs. It’s ergonomic, which allows it to be carried anywhere.

Specs

  • Resolution; HD 1920*1080
  • Aspect ratio; 16:9, 4:3
  • Battery type; lithium-ion.
  • Microphone; stereo electret condenser microphone
  • Estimated battery life; depends on the bit rate (100-165)
  • Recording media; compact flash (2 slots) SD cards
  • Weight; 1070 g / 2.4 pounds
  • File format; MXF
  • Video effective pixels; about 2070,000.
  • Shutter speed; auto/angle/speed/slow shutter mode.
  • Warranty; 1 year

Pros

  • Stunning video quality.
  • Supports a high bit rate.
  • Allows for 10x zoom.
  • Comes with a warranty.
  • Great autofocus and light correction.

Cons

  • It is expensive
  • Its operation is slightly complicated for amateurs.
  • Some controls/ features can be hard to configure.
  • Bulky.

According to several reviews, this camera is jam-packed with professional features and is capable of producing footage that rivals cameras much more expensive. While streaming indoors, keep in mind that the lighting has to be good. Otherwise, the camera is well suited for people who are looking for something that is small but big in features.
 

Sony A6400

If you want a camera for small groups or conferencing that is both inexpensive and produces great quality videos, this is another excellent option.

Specs

  • 24 MP
  • Tilting screen, 180 up and 90 down
  • New Bionz X sensor
  • 4K / 30p video capture
  • Mic input
  • No headphone output
  • Interval shooting option available

Pros

  • It has very impressive autofocus capabilities
  • Image quality is excellent
  • It features a touchscreen
  • The limit on record time has been removed.
  • The updated processor keeps heat issues at bay.

Cons

  • No in-body stabilization
  • No head option is a kill.
  • Pronounced rolling shutter, especially when shooting 4K / 24p/25p video.
  • Limited 8 bit capture
  • A bit pricey option

Overall, the Sony A6400 is a great camera with amazing updates. If your criterion is to stream one person video, this may fit you perfectly. The camera is light enough, so you can easily hold it in front of you. The wide-angle lens makes sure you won’t have to extend your arms to get a decent video. One of my friends got one for herself for vlogging and recording purposes. She moves a lot and often streams at different locations but still finds the camera great!

Sony PXWX70

A bit costly but still providing features that are comparable to high-end cameras. Sony PXWX70 delivers professional-level video that is liked by viewers. Unlike other cameras, PXWX70 offers dual XLR (external line return) audio inputs, 3 ND (neutral density) filters, dual recording slots, wireless LAN (local area network) control, a full-size HDMI and HD, SDI output.

Specs

  • Resolution HD 1080
  • Aspect ratio 16:9
  • Weight 879 g
  • Battery life estimates about 2.5 hours.
  • Microphone omnidirectional stereo electret condenser microphone
  • Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz (Giga Hertz) and 5 GHz

Pros

  • Large 1-inch sensors aids in low light areas
  • It has a 12x optical zoom on its fixed lens.
  • A handy clear image zoom feature allows for greater zoom.
  • It has 2 slots for SD/ SDHC cards.
  • It has an optical image stabilizer.
  • Wireless mic receivers
  • Up to 60 fps ( frames per second) slow-motion capabilities
  • The menu joystick is very handy.
  • It is lightweight
  • The camera has a very good audio system.

Cons

  • Only one ring, switchable between focus and zoom
  • It is used only by professionals as its operation is complicated.
  • Features can be hard to remember.
  • It is a pricier option.
  • The battery runs for about 200 minutes.

I have never been a fan of Sony’s naming process. They make amazing products but come up with too confusing names made up of capital letters and numbers. X70 is a medium-sized camera that shoots full HD video. It is effortless to handle. Its automatic exposure system is highly accurate, the zoom mechanism is easy to operate and the autofocus is quick. You can get high bandwidth recordings. It may be better to capture a video at high bandwidth and edit it later on.  

X70 is a great option for video enthusiasts, as well as those that are starting into serious video capturing. It is an excellent choice if you want to avoid shooting with a DSLR or higher-end mirrorless camera.

MeVo

A camera developed with social platforms in mind; it is fully compatible with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, and Livestream. It performs as a completely standalone device and features a built-in battery. Plus, it is supported by the MeVo App that is brimming with pretty neat features!

Specs

  • Battery; 6 hours of battery life.
  • Sensor ; Sony 1080p sensor
  • Resolution;1080p – 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect ratio; 16:9
  • Frame rate; 30 fps (frames per second)
  • Video (streaming); 10808p 30 – 6 Mbps ; 720p30 up to 3.5Mbps;480p30 up to 1.5Mbps; 360p30 up to 1Mbps
  • Bluetooth; Bluetooth 4.1.
  • Weight; 232 g
  • USB-C micro SD slot

Pros

  • Ergonomic body
  • Easy connection to streaming platforms
  • G40Long lasting battery
  • It is lightweight
  • It has a multi-camera option
  • The audio features and the quality is excellent.
  • One year warranty

Cons

  • The device gets warm after usage.
  • No micro SD included
  • It is not a good option for streaming conferences or large sermon.

MeVo is a great inexpensive option if you have small one-person live streaming in mind. This compact device offers excellent video quality at a distance as well as close range. The built-in functions are convenient and the accompanying app helps wonderfully. The camera can be placed on many surfaces because of its design. It has got a great zoom feature as well! Overall this can be a fantastic choice for people who are just starting in the streaming world!

Canon Vixia G40

Vixia G40 is a higher quality camera that is capable of streaming videos live. If you guys are on a budget but still want a camera that provides professional footage, this may be a great place to start. It is comfortable and easy to set up.

Specs

  • Resolution; HD 1080P
  • Aspect ratio; 16:9
  • Weight;765 g
  • Microphone; built-in 3.5 mm input
  • Wi-Fi;2.4 GHz (Giga Hertz) and 5 GHz
  • Battery life; 2 hours approximate
  • Warranty; 1 year

Pros

  • 20x high definition optical zoom lens
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 3.5 inch OLED screen
  • Highlight priority mode
  • Easily fits in small hands
  • Eight blade circular aperture reduces the ‘starburst’ effect
  • Sharp image/video quality
  • Great low light performance

Cons

  • IOS specific
  • The menu system gets confusing sometimes
  • Not a good starter camera for newcomers
  • Falls between medium price ranges

A great camcorder that succeeded the canon's G30. It is a professional device that is targeted at 'prosumers.' G40 has the capability to provide sharp videos, even in a low light environment. These videos can then be easily shared over the internet another plus when you need to share data quickly. The optical image stabilization helps your team to capture a steady video.
 

Conclusion

Now that we have reached the end let’s choose the winner, shall we?
Comparing all the aforementioned cameras, our champion is canon FX 105. Not only does it provide high-end features at a medium price range, but it is also liked by the professionals. The camera can be a good option for both live streaming whole sermons and single person lectures. The slow-motion is a bonus. The video resolution is fantastic and gives stunning results. Although some controls are hard to grasp, with a little bit of patience, you will get the hang of it. It comes with a one year warranty and the body design will be easy to handle and use!

Article written by Mark Le
An enthusiastic and charismatic Christian – dedicated to living a life of full service to the ministry through helping churches in bridging the gap between the Gospel and Technology.

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