What equipment do I need to record a church service?

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums General Video and Film Discussion What equipment do I need to record a church service?


Viewing 32 reply threads
  • Author
    • #47877

      I have been tasked with getting information about filming our church service. The videos will be placed on the church website, which I currently operate. I am very familiar with computers and websites, but do not know much about video equipment. Our church capacity is about 175 people, so is not a great big church. We do have a fairly new sound system, so I assume we can use that for the audio portion of the recording. First of all, I need some advice as to how much the equipment will cost, so I can present the costs, and if that is OKd, I will need some specific suggestions. Any help will be appreciated.

    • #197002

      When we started recording our church services, we just used a consumer level handycam and a cheap tripod. We were not able to connect that to the sound system (camera inadequecy), and the pastor did not like the sound recorded on the camera. (Too hollow-sounding) Now our sound tech records the service to CD. He gives it to me and I sync up the audio to the video (I actually match the two sound sources in my editing program – Pinnacle Studio.)

      We record from the balcony at the back of the church. Recently I “went tapeless” by running from the camera to a laptop running WinDV and save to an external harddrive. Saves me capture time and I don’t have to take the camera home with me. (The staff uses it during the week sometimes.)

      If you will be recording any music your church will have to check out an organization like CCLI that can help you with copyright issues, etc.

    • #197003

      I also film church services for my very small chruch (about 50 people). I use my own equitment. A canon fs200 hooked upto my soundboard and I have a wireless LAV going into the soundboard. I have the manera on a manfretto tripod. I currently use one camera but I have a second that I can use. I edit the services on pinnacle studio ultimate. I use acouple”churchy”video loops from movietools.biz and bingo I have a church servie.

    • #197004

      I think I would like to find the cheapest camera that I can connect to my sound board plus record directly to hard drive. I saw these things in a few other places, but don’t know specific brands or model numbers. Any suggestions?

    • #197005

      donnyb I don’t have any suggestions for models butI have two thoughts: first, if you’ll need a zoom feature, make sure you look at OPTICAL zoom and not digital and you might want to add a lense with that, so look for that ability. second, maybe you don’t want to limit yourself to recording ONLY to a hard drive. My camera does not haveany internal recording source–it records to flash cards. I can easily take the card out and copy/paste my files to the computer, and edit them without capturing, etc. I use Pinnacle on occasion, too. Just make sure the file format that your camera records in can be edited by Pinnacle (it probably can, but better safe than sorry). just my thoughts; hope it helps.

    • #197006

      Panasonic AG-HMC70 – Would this be sufficient for my needs? It has audio in and has tapeless recording to a SDHC card. That is almost the same thing as record to hard drive. What I was thinking for this is that after recording, I could just take the card home and work on the recording at home as opposed to taking the whole camera home.

      If I get this type of camera, will I need anything else, like something to go between the sound board and the camera (assuming I can take the audio from the sound board to the camera) ?

      Another thing I was wondering about was lighting. If I get the right camera, I may not need to concern myself too much about the lighting – is this correct? We do have 4 spot lights that shine down from the ceiling, but am not sure if that will be enough.

    • #197007

      Hi Donnyb

      I have used a Canon ZR 900 (i think it is now the ZR950) at the back of the church on a very inexpensive tripod. The camcorder costs about $200, has 20x zoomand has an external microphone input. I use the Azden wireless mic which costs about $200 and avoids the church-like echo sound. The downside is that it is a tape-based camera (which has many other advantages) but if your service is longer than an hour, you would have to change tape. It can be edited with MovieMaker, iMovie, or Premiere Elements quite easily.


    • #197008

      Does anybody know the difference between the Panasonic AG-HMC70 and the AG-HMC150?
      It looks like the HMC150 is about $1000 more, but was wondering what the extra amount would get me. It looks like they both will do what I need. That is, I need a tapeless camera with an audio in connection.

    • #197009

      Hi all – I’m now typing this for a second time after my browser crashed whilst helping someone get rid of a virus 🙁


      I’m surprised that no-one has yet asked what sound system you’re using – this will help sort out a few issues.

      The way I see it is that you have a couple of options:

      • Buy a camera and hook that directly into the sound system
      • Buy a camera to record the video portion, whilst using a separate sound recorder to plug into the sound system
      • Buy a camera and use your own sound equipment

      If you were to go with the first option, again we need to know what sound system you’ve got. For the second one, this is also helpful to know, but most recorders should be compatible. If you’re looking for specifics, get an Edirol R-09HR – I’ve used this myself on many an occasion (not in Churches, however) and found it to be a really reliable bit of kit.

      My other suggestion was to use your own sound equipment. This is really if you’re going to enjoy doing this, and perhaps do this as a more of a serious hobby, rather than helping the Church out. You could do things like record weddings for a decent profit, this would cover your expenses as well as provide a good service for the couple (etc).

      Moving onto the cameras you’ve mentioned:

      Comparing the 70 to the 150 is like comparing two vastly different cars (e.g. the ‘retro’ Mini, and the BMW one). As they were developed at different periods, they aren’t really comparable like that.

      From what I’ve read (I don’t own either of them), the 70 is basically a very capable prosumer camera, whilst the 150 is more of a lower-end professional camera – it has a plethora of manual controls, certainly when compared to the 70. If you’re going to be using the camera outside of the church, I’d certainly say go for the 150, otherwise feel free to stick with the 70.

      After saying all that about the Panny’s (which come highly recommended from someone I know), I’d like to talk about my camera – a Sony HD1000.

      This looks like a professional camera to people who aren’t “in the know”, whilst being extremely good value for money – they’re also excellent for this sort of thing, events. If this was me, doing the church recordings, I’d go with the Edirol for the sound recording, and use the camera’s on board (excellent quality, I may add) microphone for the backup/additional sound. Coupled with a cheap tripod (I found a tripod with 2 pan handles, and is basically a cheap Manfrotto rebranded, for under 200) this completes your setup.

      The camera records onto HDV tapes (MiniDV) so this is the only ‘let down’, but you can easily hook it up to a laptop via Firewire, and record the footage ‘live’.

      Just my tuppence (two cents 🙂 worth!


    • #197010

      We have about 140 people. I use three cameras in the auditorium, one is remote controlled and two on tripods. Audio is taken from the church’s mixer. Here are some ideas:

      I use three JVC GZ-HD7’s (now out of production, they record to HD), two on a tripod and one on a home-made suspended bracket hanging from the balcony. The balcony bracket also has on it a Bescor MP-101 Pan-Tilt ($120 + extension cable & PS) – I ran the cable along with the camera A/V output over to the side and have a mini-monitor. I also bought a Buffalo Electronics IR-100 infra-red reciever, IR-350 repeater,and IR-E1 flasher ($80 total), and ran its cable the same way. The flasher is clipped onto the camera using a badge-holder clip. This allows using the little JVC remote-control, while standing at the monitor, to adjust the zoom. The P/T is used to remotely aim the camera, not to track the speaker.

      Tha audio is taken from the church’s mixer Aux output, but an Aux output is too high for a camera mic input. So I use a Studio1 XLR-BP (but there are a number of devices which will work) to change the level and impedance to match a camera mic input. The audio turns out to be excellent.

      The other two cams are on tripods, are manned,and use mic’s for audio but this audio is just for sync’ing the video in post production (I use Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium) which nicely handles multi-cameras.

      All cameras and the P/T are on Bogen/Manfrotto quick disconnects because the cams have to be taken home for importing the files into the computer.

    • #197011

      I don’t know what modelthe sound system is, but it does have 3 extra output ports (12 total) that can use an XLR (3 pin) connector – which is perfect for the Panasonic, I think. I can find out the exact model in a few days. If it’s of any help, it has a grid of about144 small knobs (12 by 12) on the panel. That is, there are 12 knobs for each channel.

      I’m glad you mentioned software. As I do website development, I own Adobe CS4 Master Collection and use Photoshop, Dreamweaver, & Soundbooth for editing the audio files that go on the website. I assume that the video programs (which I have never used) will work for all the video editing. I am thinking all I will have to do is crop the beginning and the end of each recording and then save the finished product. BTW, my brother used to work for Adobe and he got me an obscene good deal on the software, and now I understand they are coming out with a CS5 upgrade.

    • #197012

      Mixer outputs are fairly standardized, and typically those output ports are off a a bus and are of a “high” level (>1 volt) which will over-drive a mic input. Some pro cameras, though, do have a switch by its XLR input to set according to the device plugged into it. The choices are between mic and line, so in your case you would set it to line. However, other cameras have no such switch, certainly not the consumer ones I have, so if that is the case, you can safely use a device that fits between the mixer and the camera to change the signal levels to suit the camera.

      Yes, Premiere Pro is ideal for editing video, and After Effects can be used for creating some of the more artsy stuff including fancier moving text, etc. I tend to edit out more than just the beg and end, I will also edit out “junk”, such as unrelated off-hand remarks, or announcement-type remarks, etc.

      CS5 will be formally “announced” Apr 12 but we might have to wait a month(?) before we can actually get one. CS5 will offer full 64-bit support with Premiere Pro and After Effects – something that is very important with HD editing.

    • #197013

      I think the camera has two LXR audio inputs and volume controls for each line going in, so I should be able to control the input level (I think).

      I just built a new computer running an i7 920 processor running at 4.1 GHz and 8 GB of memory using Windows 7-64, so am all set. I guess now I will have to upgrade to the CS5 just for the 64 bit support.

    • #197014

      Sorry, rotary volume controls usually do not solve the level mis-match problem, as far as I know – the difference between mic levels (~50 micro-volts) and line levels (>1v) is just too great. Also, the mixer bus output will likely be an unbalanced mono output while the camera mic input is balanced, and if so, your cabling will have to account for that, else you might get a constant buzz in the audio.

      Also, you’ll want to keep the output level from the mixer quite high – the objective is to maximize signal-to-noise ratio. So avoid thinking you can just turn down the mixer output to its lowest level.

      If the camera doesn’t have a switch or menu option to change the input signal type, perhaps you should look into an adaptor. You might be able to use in-line adapters (they’ll have XLR’s on each end of a small cylinder) but sometimes direct boxes (like my Studio1) are handy; mine can also serve as a mini-mixer.

    • #197015

      I downloaded the manal for this, but am even more confused about this. I would attach the two pages from the PDF, but I don’t think I can do that on this forum. Anybody know how to do that?

    • #197016

      Assuming you’re on a PC – To get a couple of PDF pages on the forum:

      1) bring up your reader with the PDF

      2) rotate the PDF 90 degrees (so it’s sideways on the monitor)

      3) set to view full page and adjust zoom until the document fills the screen

      4) hit Ctrl-Print Screen

      5) open your photo editor of choice and hit “paste as new image” or something close to that

      6) rotate back to rightside up and save as a PNG or JPG

      7) upload that image to someplace online

      8) post a message with that image (use the little tree icon above)

      Hope this helps.

    • #197017

      Well, if you can do that and keep the text clear, fine. If not, another option is to specify the camera you are looking at and I’ll be glad to go to the mfgr’s site (hopefully I’ll find and read the correct manual!)

    • #197018


      Here is the link to the manual. Page 58 or 59 starts the discussion about audio input. I guess the real question I have is: Do I need another device between this camera and the sound board? By the looks of the manual, I would say I don’t, but I am not really quaified to answer the question.

    • #197019

      Strangely I couldn’t download it (I even managed to find the parent page on panasonic’s site but it wouldn’t work from there either!). It always timesout.

      However, I found this page http://notesonvideo.blogspot.com/2010/01/panasonic-ag-hmc70-xlr-audio-problems.htmland if indeed this is your camera, see those switches in the drawing labelled “Settings for AG-HMC70 XLR input” that says Line-Mic-+48? Just set that switch to line for the channel that comes from the mixer board.

    • #197020

      that is the camera we are planning on getting and that answers my question. Thanks so much
      for checking that out for me.

    • #208721

      I have been videoing church services using a handheld camera on a tripod and recording to a flashdrive then burning it off onto a DVD. My problem is the flashdrive divides the services into 2 or 3 videos, so when I do make a DVD I have to make 2 or 3. How do I fix this?


      Can everyone help me with this?

    • #208803

      I hate to take things from videomaker but  pro church is a great resource if your concedering using videoing service go here.



    • #208806

      I have been recording out church services and uploading to our website since 2006. I started with a standard definition JVC camcorder with a built in hard drive. I used an audio CD recorder to record the sound from the sound board. then sync the audio and video up on my computer. This worked ok, but it took a long time to sync the audio and sound. I started with Pinnacle Studio 11, then upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 12. I used this video editing program for 3 years. It did the job, but I wanted to take my video editing to the next level. I consulted Kingdom electronics. They told me to purchase an audio compressor/limiter; this keeps the audio from becoming distorted when too much sound enters the board. It really improved my audio quality. They also told me to purchase a DVD recorder; I purchased thier Toshiba DVD recorder. If I had a choice now I would buy something a little better. At that time I upgraded my camcorder to a Cannon HF21. The most important part of using a camcorder is the amount of optical zoom. This camcorder has an 18x optical zoom. I can shoot about 70 feet; which is all I need for my church. The face recognition feature has been really useful for autofocusing on the speaker. I use the AV cable to transfer the video signal to the DVD recorder; then I capture the sound from the sound board to the audio input on the DVD recorder. This works well, and I get DVD quality video footage. In the past three months I have wanted to take it up a notch. I have subscribed to Adobe creative suite, and use the HD video from my HD Camcorder's hardrive and the audio from the DVD to sync them together using Adobe Premiere Pro.  It has greatly improved my video footage by doing so. My next step is to replace the DVD recorder with a way to capture the video and sound on a computer's hard drive in HD. From there I can use my passport 2 terabyte drive to transfer the data to my editing computer. If you cannot afford Adobe Premiere Pro; Cyber link Director Suite 2  is the next best thing (http://www.cyberlink.com/products/director-suite/features_en_US.html). The quality output is very close to Adobe Premiere Pro.


      Summary of what is needed:

      1. HD Camcorder with a high optical zoom. (Sony, JVC, Cannon, Panasonic are the top consumer models).

      2. A good output from the sound board (everyone who speaks needs to have a microphone), preferably with an audio compressor/limiter on the output.

      Example: http://www.kingdom.com/behringer-autocom-pro-xl-mdx1600-p/kb2cle.htm

      3. A video capture device. (Example: DVD or Blue ray Recorder, Computer with and HD Video capture, or HD Video capture box)

      Low End DVD recorder:


      Mid to High End DVD Recorder.





      4. Cables to connect everything. Measure all the lengths to connect the sound and video to your source.

      5. A video distributor (varies depending on what cables you use for you sound and audio). If you want to share the output with multiple sources.

      6. At least 1 monitor to see the output. I have a monitor in a room separate from the sanctuary. This is for parent with children and overflow. I plan on adding another soon to a larger room.

      7. A video switch if you want a multi-camera setup.

      8. A stage that stands above the crowd (optional). Prefer one that allows the camcorder to be slightly higher than the tallest person in the church.

      9. Video editing software. Use handbrake if you are able to record sound and video to DVD or Blue-Ray Disc. This program is free and it converts the video to mp4 for web. Other recommendations include Cyber link Power Director, Sony Vegas, Adobe Premiere. I have found these to be the best so far.

      10. Oh you need a good computer (quad core or greater, at least 4GB RAM) with a good graphics card. (NVidia Cuda or NVidia Quatro series video graphics card).

      11. CD/DVD Duplicator if you want to make mass copies for members of the church.

    • #210132

      Let me explain what I use with our small church

      1-IKEY HDR7 on pulpit

      2-Panasonic (SD9) 3CCD CAMCORDERS W/ 5.1 SOUND

      1-Panasonic (SD5) 3CCD CAMCORDER W/ STEREO SOUND

      2-Samsung (F50) standard def camcorders- notice these camcorders leave about a 2 second gap when closing and opening new files due to memory size, so had to use 2 camcorders in order to fill in gaps.

      For editing I love Corel Video Studio X6 which runs on my I3 laptop minus ultimate extra software.

      All recordings are to shdc memory chips. I just copy files onto computer via card reader, place into working directory and launch Corel. Usually video of Children's Moment, Choir if we have CCLI coverage, Scripture Readings, and Sermon edited and uploaded to our Churches Facebook page Sunday night or Monday.

    • #212459

      We are a reseller that specializes in exactly this niche (video recording equipment for churches).  We get so many of the same types of questions that we put together a (hopefully) helpful guide for designing such systems: http://www.goelectronic.com/GUIDE%20-%20DESIGNING%20A%20CHURCH%20VIDEO%20SYSTEM.pdf

      Also we offer customizable church video packages (understanding the importance of customer specific  budgets) which can be previewed here: http://www.goelectronic.com/1%20AV%20CHURCHES.html

      We work with churches on a daily basis to help them customize video systems that are tailored for their specific needs and requirements (streaming online, sending video to overflow rooms, nurseries, shut-ins, recording and distribution solutions etc. etc.).  Feel free to give us a call or email (our contact info is listed on our website).  Thanks!

    • #212475

      First and most important: How much light do you have?

      This is what I recomend and have used at our Church Service:


      1. Good light:

      Panasonic HC-X1000 4K DCI/Ultra HD/Full HD Camcorder

      The controls are awsum and all you need is Class 1 SD cards.


      2. Low but not bad light:

      Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

      Good up to 1600 ISO needs lens and fast class 1 SD card for 4k. This can be used with SpeedBooster for better images in low light.


      3. Lower/bad light about as good as GH4 with SpeedBooster but has better controls and you can stream to your ChurchSite on the Web live.

      JVC GY-LS300 4KCAM Handheld S35mm Camcorder


      4. Very low/bad light which is what our church gives me:

      Sony A7s + dummy battery attached to Sony L series battery; 28-135 Cine lens; Odyssey 7Q+ recorder to DownRes 4k to 1080P30. This gives me very clean Video at the 6400 ISO I usually need to shoot and much better than any other cameras I know of.

      I use an Azden SMX_10 Shotgun mic

    • #71100924
      Gursimran Jassal

      Here is the complete list of film productions equipment that can be help to record a church services with easily packed up and moved around, so it’s perfect for churches on the move.
      Portable Churches—A Live Streaming Equipment Checklist
      1. A single camera.
      2. A tripod.
      3. An encoding device.
      4. High-speed internet.
      Brick-&-Mortar Churches—A Live Streaming Equipment Checklist
      1. A single professional-level camera or multiple professional-level cameras.
      2. Hardware-based video switching and encoding units.
      3. A way to integrate in-house audio.
      4. A way to integrate in-house graphics into your broadcast.
      5. An internet connection.

      If you’d like to get some honest advice about the video productions equipment your specific church needs for live streaming, we’d love to talk. We’ll consider your budget and your goals and figure out a way to make your plan a reality.

    • #71105684

      wow,that’s cool

    • #71105685

      good,i like it.

    • #71105760


    • #71106100

      Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here.
      A Goody Life

    • #71106254

      a notebook and pen.

    • #72044050
    • #208800

      The major difference between the HMC70(http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/547680-REG/Panasonic_AGHMC70PJU_AG_HMC70U_Shoulder_Mounted_Camcorder.htmland the HMC150 is the 70 is a shoulder mount camera. It's has fewer manual controls than the 150. The HMC150 is not a shoulder mount, but for church services, you're going to be on sticks anyway. It does well in low light, and offers a range of shutter speeds.  Videomaker did a complete review of the HMC70 here: http://www.videomaker.com/article/13695-panasonic-ag-hmc70-avchd-pro-camcorder-review


      For audio, consider recording on a digital recorder such as the Zoom H4n (about $270). Top notch sound quality and if you don't mind synching up during editing, it's a better quality than most cameras can supply. It has XLR inputs and also records on SD cards in WAV format. 



    • #208801

      What camera are you using that records to a flash drive? Did you mean an SD card? There is a difference. 


      Assuming your camera is recording in AVCHD format, when you edit the footage in most NLEs, the sequential files should join seamlessly.  

    • #212476

      I use CyberLink PowerDirector. Just drop the segments on the timeline where you can also crop out any part you want.

      It will produce almost any format you might want including burning to DVD and BlueRay. It also has links to produce and upload to Vimeo and Utube.

    • #208808

      Here is a link to some good  low cost camcorders:




      The best ones in my option are the JVC's Sony Handy cams, and Cannon Vixia. Make sure you get a really good optical zoom.

    • #208809

      Please post if you have had a video camera that works well for you. What do you like about yoru setup? Any recommendations?

Viewing 32 reply threads
  • The forum ‘Video and Film Discussion’ is closed to new topics and replies.


Panasonic LUMIX GH5s w/ Leica lens

Given away to one lucky winner

Competition is open worldwide