It depends on many factors –


It depends on many factors – e.g. the recording bit rate, color bit depth, the resolution of the sensor (and its quality), the CODEC it records and the glass it can use. Nearly any decent video camera is going to offer you many benefits over a DSLR, the biggest is one button touch to perform functions. Since audio is so important and a DSLR can’t give you pro-quality, then you’ll need a field recorder. And a DSLR is limited on how long it can record and is a compromise in bit depth and record rate, often producing moire patterns. All of the features on a camcorder are what make it so much better.

The internet has hundreds of people saying they upgraded to a camcorder from DSLR and they couldn’t believe what they were missing. Now, when comparing a quality 2/3″ 3-chip camera to one with a 1″ or Super 35 mm chip, image quality could be better with a large chip. Other than DOF, most noticeable are facial tones and a better dynamic range producing overall tonal quality and shadow details, especially if the large sensor can record in S-log.

Also, a large single chip can typically gather more light than a 2/3″ 3-chipper. If dark shooting is important make sure the camera has a good codec to do that avoiding video noise. You will also need to consider lens focus and aperture control – auto vs. manual. With large chip camcorders, most people use DSLR glass which are manually controlled.

A lens with an auto-focus in a E, F, S or PL mount will cost multiple tens of thousands, which is out of most people’s budget. Most 2/3″ 3-chip camcorders come with a decent lens that has auto everything with the push of a button. This is most important when shooting “run-n-gun” events since you will not always have time to think and control focus, aperture, depth of field, white balance.

With a 3-chip ENG type camcorder, this is automatic. 3 chip cameras were and still are the darling of the media for broadcasting and ENG event recording. They provide broadcast quality color and are designed for minimal post production work, retaining quality. Their CODECs are simple like MPEG2, with bit rates around 50mb/s, producing images good for television (as well as the web and most other mediums). They also edit easier without a proxy file. Large chip cameras are designed for higher quality images (higher bit rates =>100 mb/s and 10 bit color depths) so that their images can be processed more in post production without noticeable loss. They generally require more shot planning so that one can achieve a greater, controlled result.

Finally, who is your audience? Most people still can’t tell the difference between 720-60p and 1080-60i on YouTube. Very few people can tell the difference between true quality, high bit rate/depth 1080-60p and 4K, most of which is shot at 80 to 100 mb/s, which is like 25 mb/s HDV. You have to decide since there are so many factors to consider. If you can’t control the event, get a 2/3″ 3-chipper.

If you can, get a Super 35 cam with a high bit rate and 10 bit color depth otherwise, stick to 3-chips. Remember, Star Wars IV was shot in 1080-24p with a Sony HDW-F900 with a 2/3″ 3 chip CCD (FIT) at 100 Mb/s in 12 bit. Most people thought it was film. Good luck.

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