If you’re planning to shoot video, you’ll want to know the main differences between mirrorless, DSLR and camcorders cameras.
If you want to shoot video, and want to improve the quality of your smartphone camera, you have a big choice: a digital camera or a camcorder? Many digital cameras these days can shoot great-looking video. other than high resolution images.
Camcorders don’t have that versatility, but they do offer a form factor and other features specific to video.Â Depending on your needs, you might find them cheaper.Â Here, we’ll try to make a more informed decision. easily by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each option.
Case for Digital Camera
Like many consumer electronics, digital cameras come in a variety of prices, specifications, and features.
Some key specs to look for:
- Does it have a microphone port?Â This is important if you don’t want to rely on the built-in microphone.
- Is there image stabilization, either in the camera itself or in the lens?
- Does it have a folding screen?Â This is important for vloggers who want to see themselves while recording.
- Autofocus (AF)what kind of thing does it have?Â In general, phase-detection AF is preferred over slower contrast-detection AF, especially if you want to capture scenes with a lot of action.
- How big is the image sensor?
That last specification is a major consideration in any digital camera. All other things being equal, a bigger sensor equals bigger pixels that can collect more light. You get sharper images, less noise , and better low-light performance.
Many compact cameras have a 1-inch sensor, but consumer-grade models with interchangeable lenses usually have Four Thirds or APS-C sensors.
The Four Thirds sensor is about twice the size of a 1-inch sensor, and APS-C is still larger. At the top of the stack is a full-frame camera with a sensor that is approximately 35mm (36x24mm) film size.
How do Digital Cameras Stack onto Camcorders?
Digital cameras that checks all or most of these boxes will offer several advantages over camcorders:
- Image quality is better. Image sensors in camcorders tend to be much smaller than those in digital cameras, which can degrade quality, especially in low-light environments.
- Ability to use interchangeable lenses. Depending on the project, you can equip your camera with a wide-angle or telephoto lens, or choose a zoom lens with a varying focal length range.
- More control over depth of field. With different lenses and camera settings, you can shoot with a shallow depth of field, where only the subject is sharp. Or you can go wide, where everything is in focus.
- High quality video and images.Â Most camcorders do a poor job of taking photos.
Mirrorless vs. DSLR: Which is Better?
Don’t expect to see the Digital Single-model Lens Reflex (DSLR) on the list of top digital cameras for videography. In recent years, mirrorless cameras have largely followed DSLRs in terms of image quality, but they have always had the edge in video.
Why is that?Â While DSLRs can shoot video, the design isn’t really adapted to it.Â The problem centers on the optical viewfinder, which is a DSLR’s main selling point.
The viewfinder lets you see what the lens sees before you take the shot. But that requires a relatively large mirror-and-prism system that works like a periscope, reflecting light from the lens into the viewfinder.
When you take a picture – or record a video – the mirror will flip over to allow light to pass through the image sensor. This disables the viewfinder, which is not a big problem with stills as it happens in a fraction of a second. But when you record video, you have to rely on the live preview screen or electronic viewfinder to see what’s happening in front of the lens.
The bigger problem is that the AF system in many DSLRs is not suitable for live video. Again, this has to do with the mechanism that activates the optical viewfinder. Traditional DSLRs use a phase-detection AF sensor that is part of the mirroring system. In mirrorless cameras, AF is built into the sensor that captures the image.
Canon DSLRs have a feature called Dual Pixel AF which implements AF directly on the main image sensor in addition to the AF sensor. But in general, manufacturers tend to prioritize the best video features on their mirrorless models.
Some Mirrorless Models to Consider
One of the camera manufacturers that puts a high emphasis on video is Panasonic. Over the years, the company has had success with video-capable mirrorless cameras based on the Four Thirds system.
A good entry level option isÂ Lumix DMC-G7,
|Lumix DMC-G7< /i>|
which shoots 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and has a microphone port. The camera itself doesn’t have image stabilization, but you can buy it with one of the two lenses that do. A cheaper kit includes a 14-42mm zoom lens, or you can get a more expensive version with a 14-140mm zoom.
|Lumix DC-GH5< /i>|
another Four Thirds camera, more for professional videographers.Â It was one of the first digital cameras to be able to record 4K video with 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling.Â This is a meaningless spec. for consumers, but it’s one that makes life easier for video professionals who need to do color correction or green screen compositing in post-production.
The company’s top-of-the-line video model isÂ Lumix DC-S1H,
|Lumix DC-S1H< /i>|
which features a full-frame sensor, built-in stabilization, and the ability to shoot 6K video at 24 frames per second.
Panasonic cameras use contrast-detection AF, which isn’t usually ideal for video. But the company has developed a proprietary technology known as DFD (Depth from Defocus) which is faster than other contrast detection systems.
Canon also offers full-frame mirrorless cameras aimed at video professionals. A popular camera for vloggers is the Canon EOS M50,
|Canon EOS M50|
APS-C mirrorless model. It can record 4K video at 24 frames per second, but because it crop frames at that resolution, it is better suited for recording in HD.
Case for Camcorder
Camcorders also come in a wide range of capabilities and prices, but generally speaking get the form factor and other features specifically designed for video:
- Unlike digital cameras, this camera is designed to be held for continuous shooting.
- They have long zoom lenses, usually 20x or more.
- They tend to be better at recording audio, even with the built-in microphone.
- They are more suitable for long recording sessions.
- Video controls are more accessible.
Top camcorder manufacturers include Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony, all of which offer models in various features and price. For a relatively affordable price, you can get an entry-level compact model with optical zoom, image stabilization, and HD quality resolution.
Expect to pay more money for a model with a 4K resolution. You can learn more about these companies’ offerings in our guide to the best camcorders for video hobbyists .
Even with mid-range camcorders, the image sensor is much smaller than digital cameras of the same price, usually less than an inch. This can degrade video quality if you shoot in low light situations.
In the high-end market, you will find digital cinema cameras, aimed at professional filmmakers. They combine the best features of digital cameras and camcorders.
Action cameras have also grown in popularity in recent years. GoPro is the most popular brand, but we also like the Insta360 One R 1-Inch Edition, with 5.3K video resolution and built-in lenses Leica.
Mirrorless vs. DSLRs vs. Camcorder: What’s the Verdict?
Like many other buying decisions, the choice depends on your budget and what you’re going to do with the camera. If all you really want to do is shoot video, a camcorder might be your best bet , and then you have to decide whether You need 4K or not.
If you want the flexibility to take occasional photos, or if you plan to shoot video in challenging low-light conditions, then a mirrorless camera is probably the best choice. Most vloggers, who tend to shoot indoors, also seem to prefer mirrorless camera.