Selecting Your Camera (Free Preview)

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Reviewing footage

The camera you use is up to your comfort level. Your options include:

Traditional Camcorder

This is the most traditional option, the type of camera that you would normally think of when you think of filming video.

Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera (DSLR)

While this type of camera is traditionally used for still photography, advancements in digital photography allow for most DSLRs today to be used to film video.


Compact and simple usage, usually on the lower end of the price scale.


The average smartphone is far more advanced that most cameras that people were using in 2011. Advantages are features like higher fps (frames per second) for better slo-mo and often even 4K capability. You’ll need a tremendous amount of memory (probably 160G +) but it’s worth it.


A sport and action camera with a small sensor and a wide lens.

These days, most videographers either shoot with a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera.

The benefit of the DSLR is the versatility of the lenses. You can change your lenses on the fly to achieve a variety of looks, from wide-angle to telephoto.

The latest GoPro 5 offers a huge advantage in cleaner audio that the previous GoPros didn’t have. The addition of the LED screen on the back makes changing settings on the fly and getting the perfect shot that much easier.

The common point-and-shoot camera is far easier to use and offers stunning quality.

No doubt you already have a comfort level with a particular type of camera. Even if you once used a more traditional camcorder, you can now adapt that to fit your style of filming. What’s important is that you use a camera that you enjoy, and that is easily transfers footage.

For example, a drawback of a traditional camcorder that records to cassette is that transferring footage to your computer will take longer than if you had recorded to a memory card with your DSLR.

If you already have a camera that can record decent video, you might want to stick with it. If you’re looking to invest, you can buy a video capable camera for anywhere from $250 to $6,000. Realistically, you should expect to put $1,000 into a reliable video camera that will be a real workhorse.

There are videographers that do all of their work on a GoPro. If that is what you’re used to, then go for it! Again, it depends on the type of videographer you want to be.

When selecting a camera, first consider a sensor size.

The sensor is the part of your camera that receives information. Basically, the larger the sensor, the better the image. Although that’s a simplified explanation that could be made more complicated, for a beginner’s purposes, the sensor size is the most important factor for image quality.

Bear in mind that the majority of travel video will be watched on a small section of a laptop screen – or increasingly, on a mobile device. While you might have the greatest image quality in the world, your audience may never see it in all its glory.

Select a camera that plays to your strengths. A vlogger might pick a light camera with a cropped sensor, knowing most of their videos will be watched online. Meanwhile, a destination videographer might choose a full-frame sensor that will allow production of the highest quality videos.

Consider both where the videos will be viewed and what type of content will be viewed.

For the destination videographer highlighting a place, striking imagery is paramount, and a larger sensor may be required.

The vlogger who relies more on personality to capture and retain their audience may find a smaller sensor adequate.

Whatever you choose, bear in mind that a larger sensor equates to a more substantial investment. Not only does a larger sensor size need a larger body to house it, but it will also need larger lenses to fill it. All of this means more money up front, but could potentially yield more money down the road.

And don’t be fooled. Terms like HD and megapixel can often be misleading. Sensor size is the primary indicator of camera quality.

A smartphone will obviously have a smaller sensor size as compared to a Canon 7D Mark II. Both are technically “HD” but there will be an enormous difference in image quality.


My filmmaking really began with technology. It began through technology, not through telling stories, because my 8mm movie camera was the way into whatever I decided to do.

— Steven Spielberg

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