Do you currently have the best cameras for livestreaming church? While every church can’t always afford top-of-the-line equipment, there are plenty of great options out there. Live stream services have become a weekly staple, and your cameras’ quality makes a tremendous difference in the viewers’ experience.
Videocameras are not cheap, so before you commit to overhauling your equipment, it’s crucial to understand what type of livestreaming you want to do and what specific features you need.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to consider before purchasing new cameras for your church and includes seven excellent camera options from most to least expensive.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
- Is Livestreaming Here to Stay?
- What to Look for When Buying Cameras for Livestreaming Church
- Types of Videocameras for Livestreaming Church
- Best Cameras for Livestreaming Church From Most to Least Expensive
- In Summary
Is Livestreaming Here to Stay?
The rise of the internet has changed the way people consume content. People are no longer tethered to their television sets to watch their favorite shows. Instead, they can watch whatever they want, whenever they want, on any number of devices.
The pandemic also opened their eyes to digital alternatives to live events – one of them being church services.
According to Pew Research, in August 2020, 33% of Christians attended services in person, and 74% watched online or on TV. That means at least three-fourths (and likely more) of people had grown comfortable with online church viewing.
With more people attending church services online, it’s clear that livestreaming is here to stay. If your church isn’t already broadcasting its services, now is the time to start.
What to Look for When Buying Cameras for Livestreaming Church
Now that an online church service option is a member expectation let’s discuss what features you need to look for when purchasing the best video cameras for livestreaming church.
When it comes to livestreaming, there are a few key things to look for in a camera. Before diving into different camera models, let’s briefly discuss a few of these.
- First and foremost, you’ll want a camera that captures high-quality video. What are the features and resolution of the camera?
- How many cameras will you need, and how much is your total budget? It’s best to cut right to the chase and examine the options within your budget constraints. There are good options at various price ranges.
- You’ll also want to ensure that the camera has good low-light performance, as many live streams take place in dark auditoriums in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
- Choose a camera with a wide field of view so that you can capture as much of the action as possible.
- How long is the camera’s battery life? You don’t want your camera dying in the middle of a service.
- The weight of the camera matters. A heavier camera is often more stable and produces less shaky footage, but a lighter one is easier to carry around and won’t wear you out quickly.
- Is the camera easy to use? If you’re new to livestreaming or utilizing volunteers with limited experience, you’ll want a camera that’s simple to set up and operate.
- Finally, you’ll want to make sure that the camera is compatible with your existing livestreaming setup. Think about the types of shots you need to capture, your minimum video quality, and other technical aspects.
Types of Videocameras for Livestreaming Church
You have a few options for the type of camera you purchase for livestreaming church. Of course, you could use a simple webcam built into your computer or purchase and attach an external camera. Although they’re cheap and easy to use, the webcam video quality will be lower than you may like.
So let’s look at the general types of cameras you can purchase.
- Camcorders: A camcorder is a consumer-grade camera designed to shoot video. They’re small, lightweight, and easy to use, making them a good choice for churches just starting to livestream their services.
- DSLR Cameras: A digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera is a type of mirrorless camera that uses a digital sensor instead of film. They’re often used by professional photographers and videographers, but they can be expensive.
- Action Cameras: Action cameras, like the GoPro, are designed to be small and lightweight so that you can take them anywhere. They’re popular with extreme sports enthusiasts but can be used to capture creative shots in a church service.
- 360-Degree Cameras: A 360-degree camera captures a full spherical view, giving viewers the ability to explore the scene in every direction. These are becoming more popular and affordable, making them a good option for churches looking to share their viewers a unique experience.
- PTZ Cameras: A pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera is a type of network camera that can be controlled remotely. They’re often used in security applications but can also be used to capture creative shots in a church service.
Now that we’ve looked at the different types of cameras available let’s examine some specific models.
Best Cameras for Livestreaming Church From Most to Least Expensive
The Panasonic AG-CX350 is a 4K camcorder that offers high-quality video recording and advanced features for professionals. The CX350 can record clear, sharp 4K video footage. Additionally, the camera features a variable frame rate of 1 to 60 fps in UHD and 1 to 20 fps in HD.
The CX350 also features a variety of professional-grade functions, such as IP streaming, dual SD card slots, three discrete lens control rings, and advanced audio controls. Although costly, the Panasonic AG-CX350 is an excellent option for those looking for a top-of-the-line camcorder.
- UHD 4K, 1080p, Variable Frame Rate
- 20x optical zoom, 32x intelligent zoom
- Front-Mounted Mic with Front Audio Level
- FHD streaming without a PC or an encoder unit. During streaming, UHD/FHD video can be recorded to SD cards in the camera body.
- Dimensions: 7.1 x 6.8 x 12.2″ / 180 x 173 x 311 mm
- Weight: 4.19 lb / 1.9 kg
- Battery: Panasonic AG-VBR Series
- Price: $3,695
If you’re looking for an excellent option for photo and video, check out this option from Sony. Although pricy, it has rave reviews and is also a #1 seller. This advanced hybrid camera will not only help you with video streaming but can also provide top-quality photography for your media team.
Although the Sony a7 III is a cheaper option, it has a recording limit of 29 minutes, whereas the a7 IV has an unlimited recording limit. The Sony a7 IV offers S-Cinetone, S-Log3, and Other Color and Gamma Controls and real-time eye AF during video recording,
- 4K 60p Video in 10-Bit, S-Cinetone
- Built-in stereo microphone
- 4K 15p UVC/UAC Streaming via USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 5.2 x 3.8 x 3.1″ / 131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8 mm
- Weight: 1.4 lb / 658 g
- Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
- Price: $2,498
If you’re looking for a PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera that can provide high-quality video footage, the PTZOptics 30X-SDI Gen is an excellent option. The camera offers full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second and 30x optical zoom.
The PTZOptics 30X-SDI Gen also features IP streaming and is low-light sensitive with Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), which is ideal for auditoriums. The camera features 2D and 3D noise reduction and simultaneous 3G-SDI, HDMI, and IP streaming.
- Up to 1080p60 Resolution
- Long-Distance 30x Optical Zoom; 60.7° wide-angle lens
- Simultaneous 3G-SDI, HDMI, IP Streaming
- Movement Range= Pan: 340° (-170 to 170°) and Tilt: 120° (-30 to 90°)
- Dimensions: 6.7 x 6.3 x 5.5″ / 17 x 16 x 14 cm
- Weight: 3 lb / 1.4 kg
- Price: $1,799
The Canon XA40 is a #1 seller on B&H. This popular option is lightweight and compact. The XA40 has a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor, two XLR audio inputs, and one mini-HDMI output. The camera captures to dual SD card slots and allows for automated switching or simultaneous recording.
Weighing in at less than two pounds makes this camcorder a good choice for those who have to be on the move during services. The XA40 is a versatile and affordable option that should be considered when choosing the best camera for livestreaming church.
- Up to UHD 4K30 and Full HD 1080p60
- Integrated 20x HD Optical Zoom Lens
- Dual XLR, 3.5mm mic/line audio inputs
- Dual SD Relay and Simultaneous Recording
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 4.5 x 3.3″ / 23.1 x 11.4 x 8.4 cm (With Protrusions)
- Weight: 1.6 lb
- Battery: Canon BP-8 Series
- Price: $1599
The Panasonic WXF99 is a popular choice for those looking to livestream in church. It’s a good option for those who want high-quality video without breaking the bank. The WXF99 features an exclusive HDR mode and 4K cinema in-camera editing and effects as well as infrared, night vision, anti-shake, and time-lapse special features.
In addition, if you need to adjust the pricing, you can choose between a 4K, 4K + Viewfinder, and Full HD option. One of the major positives of the Panasonic WXF99 is that it’s a small and easy-to-maneuver camera.
- 4K ultra HD recording, plus in-camera editing for 1080p displays
- Leica Decoma Lens optical 20x zoom, 5 axis hybrid optical image stabilization
- Dimensions: 3.07 x 2.68 x 6.42 “
- Weight: 14.2 ounces
- Battery: lithium-ion battery
- Price: $997
If you’re looking for a less expensive hybrid mirrorless camera with great reviews, check out this Panasonic option. The Lumix DMC-G7 combines still image capture and 4K UHD video.
The camera has built-in Wi-FI for wireless sharing and remote camera control. It can record Full HD 1080p/60 and supports recording 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video with either 30p or 24p frames rates at 100Mbps in the MP4 format.
One caution, the recording limit is 29 minutes and 59 seconds so make sure that will meet your needs.
- 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video
- Built-in stereo microphone
- High-resolution EVF and 3.0″ tilting touchscreen LCD
- Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.93″ / 56 x 49 mm
- Weight: 3.88 oz / 110 g
- Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
- Price: $697.99
$399 for one or $999 for 3-pack
If you’re just getting started and want something that’s inexpensive and user-friendly, then you may want to check out Mevo Start. This inexpensive, tiny camera can be purchased solo or in a 3-pack. The Mevo start is created specifically for livestreaming, and can stream directly to platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Live.
You can control the camera wirelessly from your smartphone. The app offers live production features like creating different angles from a single shot which you can select between in real-time. The Mevo contains a 3.5mm audio port for external mics, microSD card slot and is low-light friendly.
- 1920 x 1080p at 30 fps via HEVC or H.264
- Lens: f2.8 3.6mm EFL with low distortion
- 3 internal MEMS mics with spatial processing
- Livestreaming via mobile device when using camera access point mode or direct from the Mevo Start when joining a Wi-Fi access point
- Dimensions: 1.3 x 3.0 x 3.4″ / 3.4 x 7.5 x 8.7 cm
- Weight: 0.51 lb / 232 g
- Battery: Built-In Lithium-Ion Battery, 6 hours per charge
- Price: $399 for one or $999 for 3-pack
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best camera for livestreaming church. We hope this comprehensive guide helped you narrow down your options.
Livestreaming church services is not only a game changer for churches but for the people they reach. Remember that life doesn’t go back to “normal” from here on out. People are continuing to embrace technology and creative ways to communicate.
What camera have you found to be best for live streaming your church services? Let us know in the comments below.