What is the best video camera for you?

November 23, 2009


People ask me all the time, “what is the best camera to shoot video?” My answer, “the one that has the qualities that match your ideas”. Cameras don’t take images moving or still. People do. People with ideas. There are 100s of camera choices for video today. Cell phones. Digital SLRs. The RED and Phantom. All can tell a story. What is the story you want to tell?


Some of my favorite stories were shot with old 3/4 inch gear, no wireless mics, very poor sensors and I had very few lights. The reason I was excited by the outcome was I knew the old camera backwards and forwards. I knew how far I could push it and where it would let me down. I knew when the highlights would go streaky or the blacks crushed to mush. I could operate that cinder block with a lens blindfolded. The camera was an extension of my brain. My focus was on images, sounds, people, and their stories. And the outcome showed up on the screen. My bosses at WRAL, in Raleigh NC, where I got my start, bought the latest and greatest and it lasted 10 years before the next model came out.You could learn your gear and form a partnership to create.

Now a new model comes out every 15 minutes. Shooters get caught up in new this and that and never get comfortable with the gear they have. How many of you have read the manual and really know what you camera can do? Does it match your vision? Don’t wait until you have an assignment or a must capture moment to figure out your gear. Sounds simple but execution is hard. Find the manual, read it, learn it, push your gear, let it push back, and then push and play some more. Nothing beats push and play.


One of my favorite quotes is “you only get better when no one is watching”. Spend some time alone with your gear. Some quality time. Go out with whatever gear you have and make the images you have stored in you mind. Tell the stories that need telling.

I look forward to contributing to the DPE web site. There are so many topics for us to explore. But first, go get that manual, read it, get whatever camera you own and make it an extension of your brain.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 7 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

For 30 years, two time Emmy award winning photographer and producer Art Howard has helped viewers experience life through images from both poles, 49 states and 30 countries. Taking the viewer to places like the Gulf war in Kuwait, -30 degree conditions in the Arctic, or the ocean floor 3000 feet below the surface he pushes constantly for new ways to tell the story.

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2 Responses to “What is the best video camera for you?”

  1. Jeremy Pollack Says:

    Art –

    Wonderful advice. It can be hard to get past that gear-lust but it is worth the struggle. One goal I set for myself is to be able to operate my camera in the dark/blindfolded, and that doesn’t happen overnight. And as you suggested, practicing that while alone is better than doing so in front of others, though!


  2. Art Howard Says:

    Getting to know your gear is so important.

    Operating it blindfolded reminds me of when I used to cover the 82nd Airbourne at Fort Bragg here in North Carolina. Soldiers were ordered to dismantle, clean and reassemble their weapons and be ready to fire in the dark. Knowing your gear this well may be the difference between no shot and a great shot.


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