“Now I am planning to buy a professional video camera, would you please suggest what brand and model to buy. Budget is around S$4000 (US$3237)?”
That’s a question from a participant of last year’s 2-day Basic Videography Course.
He is now ready to move on from the basic consumer camcorder into serious full-time video work.
The budget constraint immediately brings to mind a perfect video camera brand and model.
The Panasonic AG-AC130!
I know many Videographers using this model for professional work, especially shooting events, seminars and interviews.
Here are top 5 reasons why I recommend the Panasonic AG-AC130.
1. Wide Lens
When shooting events, we use the term “run and gun”, meaning you run after the action and shoot whatever is happening. There is no such thing as a retake like in film making. So that means there is no time for you to change lenses. Some events take you to tight spaces, like in a tiny exhibition booth or a crowded area where there is no room to move. A built-in wide angle lens is perfect for such situation.
2. 22x Zoom
At the other end of its wide lens capability is the powerful 22x telephoto zoom. Optical not digital. This is perfect for shooting seminars in a huge hall where your camera is positioned right at the back. With a regular camera, there is a problem getting good mid shots or close-ups of the speaker on stage if the camera is too far away. Cheating with digital zoom is not a good idea either. So the 22x zoom is my favorite.
3. Low Light Sensitivity
Low light is an issue for event Videographers. No matter how many portable lights we bring, we are still at the mercy of the available light in the shooting venue. Again, take a seminar for example. Most seminars and conferences are held in hotel ballrooms where their maximum lighting is just good enough for romantic candle-light dinners. You can see the stage with your bare eyes, but a regular video camera records only darkness. So good Low Light sensitivity is a must.
4. Dual Card Recording
With two memory card slots, you may be able to shoot for 2 days without stopping. Just joking because I have not encountered the need for a long recording to overflow from one card to the next card. There are sufficient breaks in most events for you to change card. The beauty here is that you can set the function of the dual card slots to make one act as a backup. Great for backup-obsessed freaks like me.
5. XLR Audio Input
If you are going pro, this is the sign that your camera is really pro… XLR audio input! This is how I look at camcorders. The XLR audio input allows you to connect individual sounds for each channel. For example, I like to set the left audio channel for ambient surrounding sound using the on-camera microphone and the right audio channel for the wireless microphone which is hooked directly onto the subject.
These are my top 5 reasons why I like the Panasonic AG-AC130. There are many other features that I like too… Like the ability to shoot in either 1080/60p or 1080/50p HD recording format, the manual focus/zoom/iris control rings and more.
Then some people will ask me why not get the DSLR camera. All I can say is DSLR produce great looking videos, but they do not have all the features and versatility for a wider range of professional Videography work.
That being said, if you are using a professional video camera, please do not set everything to automatic. The result may be worse than your consumer camcorder. That’s why they give you more buttons in a professional camcorder, so that you can control the settings while you are shooting, in order to produce professional results.
So… “What Professional Video Camera Should I Buy?”
I hope my humble recommendation helped you make the decision.
Please leave your comment or query in the box below.
Videography and Web Video Production