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Best Professional Quality Camera for under $3,000

simplepickup's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 02/01/2012 - 5:07am

I make videos on YouTube and need a professional quality camera for 3 different kinds of filming:

1. Filming interactions from far away (30-50 ft). I need about 4 hrs of battery life for this.

2. Interviews from medium range (5-10 ft). I also need about 3-4 hours of continuous filming for this one.

3. Vlogs from close range (3-6 ft). I would like this to have an effect where the background is blurred and the picture is focused only on the person talking.

Since I have such a wide variety of uses for it, I was thinking of getting a DSLR but the battery life on those are not too long so I'd have to buy multiple batteries. Each battery only lasts about 30 minutes so even with a a battery extender (where you can put in 2 batteries at a time), I'd have to end up buying 8 batteries and keep switching them out.

Another option would be to get a camcorder with an interchangeable lens (like the Sony NEX VG20) but these have worse reviews.

Any other suggestions you guys can help me with? Thanks in advance.

brunerww's picture
Last seen: 1 day 9 min ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

If you want unlimited shooting time and shallow depth of field for less than $3000, your choices are pretty much the poorly-reviewed Sony VG20 or the well-reviewed Panasonic GH2 and a $21 AC adapter kit. No more batteries, and you can run the camera until your SD card fills up.

Of course, if you want a real video camera with a 4 hour battery and can save up a few more bucks, the terrific Panasonic AF100 is on sale right now at Adorama for $4369. With a $500 mail in rebate, the bottom line is $3869. (of course, you'll still need a $114 lens ;-))

Hope this is helpful,


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Kenkyusha's picture
Last seen: 11 months 1 week ago
Joined: 09/22/2011 - 6:46pm

@Kong- the battery life issue isn't quite that stark, on the GH1 and GH2, I can get 3 + hours out of each battery (hacked/higher bit rates eat juice more quickly). One fully charged battery in unit and another waiting to go has gotten me through nearly a full shooting day.

Charles Schultz's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 10:38pm

You can always check out the Panasonic HMC Ag150 as long as you have a good amount of distance between your subject and the background, blurring the background will be pretty easy. You can get a package from B&H photo for about $3500. Get the 64 gig HDSD card and you will have 6 hours of recording. Plus the kit comes with two batteries, one that lasts for about 1.5 hours and the other lasts 4 hours.

Cville's picture
Last seen: 2 days 14 hours ago
Joined: 03/28/2009 - 7:58pm


Vimeo has a Sony NEX VG20 users forum. I am actually considering this camera. There are some very good reviews on this camera. Just depends who you read. On the Vimeo forum you can ask question of people who are actually using the camera. Some of the video I have seen posted from this camera is great. Sure it has some limitations. Every camera has them. You just have to decide which camera will work best in your situation.

It is my understanding that most of the HDSLR's will not do continuous shooting so that is probably not an option for you.

Good luck with your decision. Let us know what you end up with and if you are happy with your choice.




We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.- Walt Disney

composite1's picture
Last seen: 5 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator


Up front, when I hear the words 'YouTube', I don't think 'professional'. I also don't believe you're going to get a professional kit for under $3k. Professional rigs give you much more control over your image and sound. That extra control costs money. The cameras mentioned by the other members are good choices, but they neglected to mention the accessories needed to accompany your camera. Extended power batteries are the more expensive types. You're also going to need camera support, a good bag to protect your investment and the type of recording media for multiple long takes if you're not using tape 16GB or better flash media can get pricey depending on what format the camera uses. Also, does your camera have built-in ND lenses? If not, you're going to have to purchase them and good ones that won't interfere with your image because of aberrations in the glass or pigment ain't cheap either. If you're looking for a DSLR, then the accessory expense can easily blow your budget just by getting one decent lens.

You might want to get a lower-end prosumer rig to cut down on the amount of incidentals you'll need. You'll still get a quality image that will hold up after YouTube's compression codec mangles it and you'll have something useful if you decide to distribute on DVD or Blu-Ray should you choose.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc.

papayamon's picture
Last seen: 7 years 6 months ago
Joined: 02/27/2007 - 10:36am

the hmc-150 is going for $2,795 at bhphoto. for what it's worth, i'm buying another one of those.

Charles Schultz's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 10:38pm

They have a nice kit for the 150 for about $3500 and the memory cards are coming down in price. You will also need a good tripod which will cost anywhere from $250 on up. I would save your pennies and get the best equipment that you can get, you will not be sorry.

Doublehammer, I shoot pro-vids for YouTube all the time. They are essential back links to companies websites that help in Google ratings.

brunerww's picture
Last seen: 1 day 9 min ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

"Vlogs from close range (3-6 ft). I would like this to have an effect where the background is blurred and the picture is focused only on the person talking."

Sounds like Kong wants shallow depth of field from 6 feet away or less. So I'm confused as to why folks are recommending small sensor camcorders (unless they want him to buy a $4500 Letusto go with them)?

It seems to me that only a $3000 or less large sensor camera or camcorder with 4+ hours of battery life (or an AC adapter) can meet his clearly stated cost, shot duration, and DoF requirements.



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