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PTZ Cameras or Camcorders – Which Is Better For You?

PTZ cameras

When it comes to houses of worship and the cameras they use to film or live-stream their sermons and other events, nearly all of them at one time used basic camcorders. Although these are excellent cameras, more and more of these organizations are switching to pan/tilt/zoom cameras instead. Known as PTZ cameras, they have a lot of the same advantages as camcorders but offer perks those cameras just don’t have. If you belong to a new church or synagogue and you’re looking into the perfect camera for your own needs, it’s good to know a little bit about both of these cameras so you can make the right decision in the end.

PTZ Cameras Or Camcorders – Which Is Better For You?

When you’re comparing PTZ cameras to camcorders, you should compare all of the features of each so that you can decide which one of those features is most important. Both PTZ cameras and camcorders are able to zoom into certain subjects on stages and other locations, but camcorders don’t always have usable controls that allow you to pan, tilt, or zoom remotely. In addition, since camcorders typically run off of batteries, they have to be plugged in a lot of the time and can’t be installed on walls or ceilings permanently. With PTZ cameras, you can mount them almost anywhere because they are operated via a power source or Power over Ethernet (PoE).

These things being said, if you are still unsure about the type of camera your house of worship will do best with, you can take a look at the pros and cons of each type of camera to help you make the right decision.

Pros and Cons of a Camcorder

Some of the pros of using a camcorder include the following:

  • It tends to be less expensive than a PTZ camera.
  • It can capture very high-quality stills and videos.
  • Its lenses tend to be top-notch.
  • It can record to a DVD, memory card, or even a hard drive.
  • It can even record extreme closeups.
  • It usually has built-in 4K support.
  • It can capture video at higher bit rates than other cameras.
  • It can support external microphones and other peripherals.
  • It is able to record surround sound audio.
  • They are now even more comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
  • Many of them have LCD displays that rotate.

If you’re curious about some of the cons of using a camcorder, here they are:

  • They have to be run off of batteries, which sometimes have a short life span.
  • They do not have all of the features that a good PTZ camera has.
  • They usually can only zoom up to 2x the size of the original image.
  • They usually have very small LCD screens.
  • There is usually no external memory.
  • You sometimes have to have perfect lighting conditions for them to work right.
  • You often don’t get speed-up and slow-down features when you’re playing something back.

It isn’t that camcorders are not quality items; it’s just that their capability and features are somewhat limited when you compare them to other cameras, such as PTZ cameras.

Pros and Cons of a PTZ Camera

PTZ cameras offer numerous pros and cons. Some of their many advantages include:

  • Since they move almost constantly, you get a lot of views of the area that’s being filmed.
  • You can use preset buttons to make sure the camera captures everything you want it to capture.
  • They come in a wide variety of price ranges.
  • Their zoom lens capability can be quite high, allowing you to get extreme closeups.
  • You can set more than one of them up to a controller and manage all of them at the same time.
  • They are very versatile cameras that work well in a variety of lighting conditions.
  • They operate 24/7 and are therefore low-maintenance.
  • You can operate them with a remote control.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of choosing a PTZ camera.

  • Although they come in a variety of price ranges, they are usually more expensive than a camcorder.
  • You sometimes get limited views when they’re being used. Once they start tilting and zooming, much of the area surrounding the middle of the lens is blocked out of view.
  • They are sometimes difficult to learn and can have a big learning curve.
  • They are sometimes complicated to set up properly, depending on the brand you choose.

The A/V equipment you choose for your house of worship services and other events is important. While budget is always a consideration, it’s best not to look just at your money situation when you’re choosing the right camera for live-streaming and recording in your church or synagogue. Indeed, things such as image resolution, required power sources, motion fluidity, and remote control options all need to be considered for you to feel confident you’ve chosen the right camera in the end.

Best Use of Both Types of Cameras

Now that we’ve determined that both camcorders and PTZ cameras have something to offer houses of worship, let’s take a look at which camera is best for which situation. First of all, most PTZ cameras are pricey, usually $1,000 or so. Yes, you can get them less expensive than that, but they often don’t give you the quality you need and deserve. Super-inexpensive PTZ cameras often don’t provide the quality you want, and they can sometimes give you jerky, robotic movements instead of smooth ones. Still, if the events you’re taping are not going to have a lot of motion in them – for instance, it’s just a basic sermon or talk and not a play or other live event – a good camcorder will usually work just fine, which can also save you some money over time.

Regardless of which type of camera you choose, remember that there is a learning curve. Even if you find the camera easy to learn, it still takes practice to perfect this skill, so make sure the people operating the cameras get some practice time in at least occasionally. These are definitely not cameras that people can become experts at overnight, especially if they are only using them during a weekly religious service and at no other time.

This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Duke Taber has been a Senior Pastor of various churches since 1988. Prior to that, he was involved in the Christian rock scene opening for such notables as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Rez Band, and once played briefly with Darrel Mansfield. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world. Currently he is serving as a Technology Consultant for Living Waters Fellowship In Mesquite NV.