The most important piece(s) in your IMAG system will always be your cameras. They are the most expensive part but they determine the quality and are the basis for your effectiveness for your IMAG. It doesn’t matter if you only doing webcasting, IMAG for message or IMAG all around, Prosumer cameras, as in-expensive as they are, just are not good for IMAG. Here are some reasons why…
1) Proper connections: To fit well into a broadcast or live scenario cameras need to have SDI out’s and Genlock-in in order to get high quality video timed into your system quickly and efficiently. Without these connections you have to convert the signal and timed it into your system, which can cause delay and have the possibility to destroy quality.
2) lenses: IMAG requires users to be zoomed in tight, to magnify the IMAG on stage. Most prosumer cameras don’t offer great built in lenses or even if they have swappable lenses, they have lots of limitations to the lenses you can get. When shooting 50+ feet away you need powerful lenses to get the shots you need in order to be effective.
3) Weight/ smooth operation: We never want heavy cameras, but having a bit of weight on a GOOD tripod allows for nice smooth movement. Light cameras are hard to shoot from a distance and keep steady.
4) Chip size: Prosumer cameras often times have small chipsets in them. Even though they have 3 chips usually in them doesn’t make them good chips. Often times in IMAG environments you are shooting against theatrical lighting environments and harsh lighting conditions which can oversaturate the chips and make lighting for video near impossible. 2/3” chips are always idea for for shooting IMAG.
5) longevity: Prosumer cameras have a shelf life of 3-5 years where studio cameras have a shelf life of 10-15 years. Prosumer cameras aren’t made to be on for long periods of times, which can put lots of wear on the cameras and destroys the image quality of the video. Cameras like this are made to go on quick shoots for a couple of hours a week and be replaced when you replace your edit system/ computer. Studio cameras in some cases are on 24/7 for their entire life. You could end up spending money 5 times over rather than spending it up front.
6) Proper tools: Every camera operator needs to have the ability to have tools for them to succeed. You need good lens controls such as zoom and focus, tally lights to know when you are live and when you aren’t, “return video” to look at a return feed of what is currently live, and Com to communicate with the rest of the production staff. As there are ways around this, they tend to be bulky and in-efficient and never work as well as they do with a camera where everything is tied together in one system.
7) Quality Control: Quality control is key in any expanded system, especially when you have multiple cameras. Prosumer cameras lack controls such as iris, white balancing, black balancing, and other controls that directly effect image quality and matching camera to camera. With these tools you can use a waveform/ vector scope to do fine adjustments in order to match all your cameras and perform constant quality control.
Before you take the cheap way out with buying a camera that won’t fit the bill, really consider the benefits of going with the proper tool and getting a studio camera for the job rather than a Prosumer camera. It is a big bill to swallow but I guarantee you won’t regret spending the money. I believe cheeping out in this area is one of the most common and biggest mistakes people make in their IMAG systems.