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2.1 Which Cameras Will Work?

Do you need a high-end camera to pull this off? Or will something more basic work? In this lesson you will learn what to look for in a camera for YouTube videos, Zoom meetings, and other online video conferencing and live streaming services.

2.1 Which Cameras Will Work?

When it comes to cameras, you have a ton of options. But, do you need to go with a high-end, very expensive video camera or can you get by with something a little bit more basic? In this lesson, you're gonna find out exactly what to look for in a camera system. So, right away, I can tell you that you do not need a high-end video camera for really good results. A consumer video camera is going to be far better than any web camera, and here's why. Consumer video cameras have a much larger sensor compared to a web camera. This is important because the sensor is the main thing that's responsible for the picture quality. When it comes down to it, a larger sensor, in almost all cases, is going to be better than a smaller sensor. Because given the same number of pixels, a larger sensor is going to be able to gather more light or, in other words, more photons are going to be able to hit that sensor. That's gonna make it more sensitive to light. So, compared to a smaller sensor, a larger sensor will not have to turn up the volume on the picture, to properly expose the image. When a camera has to turn up that volume or turn up the gain, it gets noisy. So a larger sensor is not going to have to turn it up as much. Therefore, the picture is going to be better because you're not going to have that crazy noise that you get with almost all web cameras. The lens on a camera also makes a really big difference. When you're looking at web cameras, most of them have fixed lenses. Some of them can do auto focus, some of them can't. But, even with a little tiny lens, even if it has some nice elements in there, it's still not gonna be nearly as good as a basic consumer level camera for one reason. A consumer level camera is going to be able to zoom or use a higher focal length. This is a big deal, because almost all web cameras are wide angle, because they have to get a lot in at a very close distance. You get this wide-angle look and a wide-angle camera tends to distort the picture. Meaning that things that are closer look kind of disproportionately larger than the things that are further back. So, you can get kind of this distorted image in a web camera. It's not as bad as something like a fish-eye lens, but even with a basic consumer-level camera with a zoom lens, you're going to be able to zoom the picture in and use a more narrow field of view. What that's gonna do is two things. First, when you have a more narrow field of view and you can back the camera up, you're essentially going to make you look the same compared to a web camera, because you back the camera up and then you zoom it in. So, you are going to be the same size compared to a wed camera that's very close and very wide in the field of view. The main benefit to this is that with a zoom lens or a higher focal length lens, you're going to see a lot less of the background. Which means you don't have to light the background as much, you don't have to worry about what's going on back there. That's a benefit. The other thing, is that when you use a higher, focal length lens, it makes you look better. So moving the camera back farther and using a higher focal length, or a narrower field of view, is going to make your features look better. They're gonna look more normal, and if you get the camera back far enough, you're gonna actually look better than you do in real life, because it's gonna make your nose look smaller, and your face kind of look more compressed, and you're generally going to look a lot better on camera and that's a good thing. Bigger sensor, better lens, these are all great things. Dynamic range is another thing that's going to be a good bit better on even a basic, consumer camera compared to a webcam. Now dynamic range is the camera's ability to capture extremes in brightness, very, very bright things and very, very dark things. And you're thinking, well, that's not really super important, because I'm not gonna be broadcasting outside. So, I don't need to capture the sun and super dark shadows. But here's the thing, webcams are so bad that even things that are not very bright sometimes get clipped in to being fully white. A lot of times this is very problematic when it comes to reflections on the face. Little tiny light reflections that normally, in real life, you wouldn't see on a web camera, they tend to look really bright and shiny, and it makes you look sweaty and bad. That's not really great. So even with a basic consumer-level camera, it's gonna handle those highlights and those shadows better, and that's gonna make you look better, you're not gonna look greasy and sweaty, which is generally not really a great thing. Another major benefit to a consumer video camera is color accuracy and white balance. Getting the color of skin to look like the color of skin is going to be pretty important, because you don't wanna look green, or blue,or even more orange. You wanna look like you. These kind of cameras do a much better job than almost all web cameras. White balance is another area where a consumer-level video camera does a lot better job. Depending on the type of color of the light, these type of cameras are going to do a much better job managing and kind of picking where white should be, which is going to make all the rest of the colors fall into place. A lot of times, even if you have some manual setting on your webcam, I know from personal experience, that I can't get the white balance to look right. Even if I set it to the exact color temperature of the lights that I'm using, it still just doesn't look right. Color is another important thing and these type of cameras do a much better job. Now that you know why these are better, let's talk about what to look for in a camera. Like I mentioned earlier you do not need a very expansive camera for great results. The main thing that you need to make this work is a camera that has a clean HDMI output. Clean HDMI output is a very clean looking picture with no onscreen displays, no minutes remaining, no exposure settings, or values, or meters, no audio meters, just the picture. It also means that it means to be just the picture without any weird kind of resolution reformatting, so if you're shooting in 1080, you want a 1080 picture over the HDMI without any weird kind of scaling or resizing of the picture. You're also going to need a usable frame rate, a video to come over that HDMI cable, something like 30p, 24p, 60i, or 60p. Most of the time if you have a clean HDMI output all of those other things are going to be no problem. You're gonna have the right frame rate, in the right format, without any weird kind of resizing or rescaling of the picture, and it's gonna look great. One of the reasons that it does look great is because you're getting the signal before it goes through any kind of encoding or reprocessing for recording on the camera. When the image is captured by the sensor, it does some initial processing, which you can't really get around, then the HDMI tap kind of goes out. Then after there it goes through some more kind of encoding and processing, where more information and resolution is kind of chucked out the window, and then it gets recorded. So we're actually getting a better signal out of HDMI than you can record on the camera, which is really fantastic. And that means even with a consumer-level, fairly inexpensive camera, you can get really, really great quality. In addition to having a clean HDMI output, you're going to want some more settings for your camera to get the best results. The two main areas are manual exposure, and if you're going to use audio, manual audio. So on the exposure side, some cameras are going to let you set the aperture, the white balance, the shutter speed, and the camera's gain or ISO, basically the sensors' sensitivity all manually. Then some cameras that have a manual exposure are much more limited, but still kind of manual. So for example, I set up a camera for a client of mine and that had kind of full manual controls where I could set the aperture, and the shutter speed, and the camera's gain and the white balance. This camera is basically a kind of touch exposure, and then it sets the exposure ,and then you can kind of push it up or down by a few stops, which is still kind of manual exposure, because the most important thing that you're looking for is to get the exposure right, so things are as bright as they need to be, and they're not to bright, and they're not to dark, because the aperture and the shutter speed are not as important. The aperture is going to be whatever the aperture is, and because these are pretty small sensors, you're not going to be dealing with kind of a large amount of depth of field. That's not really something you're going to need to worry about. And the shutter speed is almost always going to be set appropriately, especially if you're using enough light, which in this course, I'm gonna show you exactly how to do. If you're going to try and use the camera's audio system to bring in audio with the HDMI, you definitely need manual control over that microphone input. You're also going to need a microphone input because, if you're going to try and use the on-board microphone on the camera, then it doesn't really matter because that's not gonna sound great. So, you need a microphone input, and manual control over that microphone input. So when you're looking at cameras, you don't really need to spend much more than $200 to maybe $300 at the high end, and that's for a brand new camera. But the great news is that camera technology from today looks almost identical to camera technology from about five years ago. Because despite what the media and the marketing will tell you the sensor technology has not changed a whole lot in that time period. Sure, there are slight increases to quality, maybe every year, but it's very, very minimal. I mean a camera from 8 or 10 years ago, sure that's going to look a lot worse, but from 5 years ago or 4 years ago, it's probably gonna look almost identical. In fact, the camera that I'm going to use for this course is not a new camera, it's a couple of years old, and it looks almost identical to a camera that I bought brand new this year and I set up for a client. They're almost identical in image quality, so you can definitely get a great looking camera ,and you don't have to spend a ton of money. Now that you know what to look for in a camera, it's time to talk about tripods, and that's coming up next.

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