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2.1 Choose Your Camera

There’s an old saying: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” But which should that be? This lesson looks at the pros and cons of different types of cameras used to record video.

2.1 Choose Your Camera

Welcome back. I'm Cindy Burgess for Tuts+. In this chapter, we're going to focus on how to prepare for capturing video on your next trip. In this lesson, you'll learn about the different types of cameras you can take along and the pros and cons of each. It's been said that the best camera is the one you have with you. And for more and more travelers these days, that camera is the one in their smartphone. Most now record video in full high definition. Some even record Ultra HD or 4K. That still blows my mind. The advantage of using your smartphone to capture video is that you're probably going to have it with you when you travel anyways. It's small and light, and you can share your video clips directly to social media. The downside is that these devices have a relatively short battery life and limited storage space. Video files are big. Yes, you can upload them to the cloud, but you may not have access to Wi-Fi or want to use cell service in the country you're in. The other downside is that you have limited control over the image. Although there are some good apps and accessories you can get to improve the quality of your recordings. We'll check some out in the next lesson. So that's the smartphone. Its bigger cousins are the tablet and phablet like the iPad and the iPad Mini. Now, they're not the kind of thing you're going to pack specifically to record video, but if you're bringing one anyways to use the Internet, you have that option. I've seen people using them by the pool at resorts to record video of their kids swimming, for example. And then they go back to surfing the net or whatever it was that they were using their device for in the first place. The nice thing about the tablet is that you have a big screen, if you want to edit your videos before you share them. But they have the same limitations as smartphones, limited storage space, battery life, and control over the image. Next we have the point and shoot or compact cameras. These are also small and light, and some are even waterproof. They're fairly easy to use and cheap. You probably won't lose a lot of sleep if yours gets lost or stolen. Some even have Wi-Fi technology so you can share your videos without having to transfer them to a computer. One downside is that many of them don't have viewfinders. You have to use the LCD screen to frame up your shot. If you're in a bright sunny location like the beach, it can be hard to see what you're recording. You also have no way to attach an external microphone for recording better audio. And sound is a big part of creating quality videos. If you're a serious photographer, you will likely be taking a DSLR with you. These capture stunning video, you have a lot of control over the image, and you can attach different lenses. And newer models have mini jacks for attaching external microphones and shoes for attaching lights to help improve the quality of your videos. The downside is, DSLRs can be bulky and heavy, especially if you attach big lenses like this one which I plan to take to Africa on my safari. They're also pretty expensive. You don't want this kind of stuff to be lost or stolen or damaged, for that matter. These aren't waterproof or drop proof. And if you're a novice, they can be a little more complicated to use. Camcorders are made for shooting video. On the plus side, they're small and light. Some of them fit right into the palm of your hand. And you can usually get one for a couple of hundred dollars at the low end of the price range. They capture beautiful high-definition images. All but the most basic models include little ports for attaching microphones and shoes on top for attaching lights or microphones. Most will let you take photos as well and some have Wi-Fi for sharing images directly from the camera. Some of them even have infrared night vision so you can record video in the dark. I plan to use that feature on my upcoming trip to Africa when I go on evening game drives. The downside of camcorders is that they can be expensive, and of course, they can be damaged by the elements. They also have a fixed lens. If you're a serious photographer, you're probably not gonna want to use a camcorder for your photos, which means bringing along another camera. Finally, we have action cameras like the GoPro. The advantage of these little cameras is that they are pretty much indestructible. The camera is encased in a plastic housing, which protects it from water, sand, dust, snow, you name it. You can take it pretty much anywhere and you don't have to worry about damaging it if you drop it or get it wet. They record video in high definition, even 4K, and most let you take photos as well. In fact, you can create some pretty incredible time lapse videos with these. Some of the higher end models can be controlled remotely with your smartphone or other device. One downside is that some models like this one don't have an LCD screen, so you can't see what you're recording. It makes it difficult to frame your shot. The other negative has to do with audio. When you're using the waterproof housing, the camera picks up little if any sound. So your videos are silent. You're going to see in the next chapter why sound is such an important part of video storytelling. So that's a quick overview of the different types of cameras that you can use to record video, and their strengths and weaknesses. What you take with you ultimately depends on where you're going and what you're planning to do. When I travel, I always take more than one camera, so I have a backup in case something goes wrong, especially if my trip is work-related. Here's something to be aware of, though. Having more than one camera when you return to your home country can raise a red flag at customs. They may think that you bought some of them abroad and want you to pay import duties or taxes on them. If you know you're going to be taking several cameras with you, it's worth checking with the Customs and Immigration Department in your home country. Here in Canada, for example, there's a form you can get at the airport where you list all of your equipment and their serial numbers. A customs officer then signs it to confirm that you own the gear and are taking it out of the country. That way, when you come back, you have proof of ownership. Doesn't cost anything but your time. In the next lesson, we're going to take a look at some of the tools and accessories you may want to pack along to help you record better video. Stay tuned.

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