There are a ton of different cameras on the market. Each brand has a multitude of models to choose from. Most of them can be used for streaming, and all have their pros and cons.
This is both good and bad:
- It’s good because you can find a camera in your price range that has everything you need to produce a quality stream.
- It’s bad because you can go crazy trying to choose from all the options available.
It’s important to know that “best’ is subjective. Everyone is going to have their preferences. So, we won’t be able to answer that question definitively and scientifically. However, we have tried a lot of different combinations, and we’re going to give you our opinion of the best camera for live streaming in 2020.
What’s the Best Camera for Live Streaming
First, there are a few things a live streaming camera needs, especially in the church setting:
- Good low-light performance.
- 4K capability.
- The ability to run non-stop without battery changes.
- Autofocus (in some cases).
- A clean HDMI output.
Use a DSLR-Type Camera
Camcorders used to be the “thing.” And a lot of people think that’s what they need. Why? Because camcorders have a “turn it on, and go” reputation. They are easy.
While there are still some really good camcorders out there, we don’t recommend using them. They limit you, and they really aren’t any more “simple” to operate than other “DSLR” type cameras.
It’s our belief that the massive advancement in DSLR type cameras over the last few years have made them the obvious choice in live streaming setups, especially for churches.
We have tried a lot of different options from Canon, Sony, and Panasonic. And we’ve narrowed down our favorites to two models: the Panasonic GH5 and the Sony a6100.
The Panasonic GH5
This camera is a beast. It’s still one of my favorites. For a long time, this was our live streaming camera of choice.
It can be powered indefinitely with a dummy battery adapter.
It shoots amazing 4K footage – in fact, this camera can actually shoot up to 6K quality if you know how to make it work.
The lenses for this camera are pretty cheap compared to other options.
Its low-light performance is pretty great. And, it has a clean HDMI output with a built-in full-sized HDMI output.
It also features double SD Card slots, so you can record an entire service, in 4K, to SD cards if you choose. Since recording through OBS will downscale the quality, this option is a nice to have if you want to record high-quality footage of your service.
The only downside to the GH5 is its autofocus. It’s not amazing, and will often pick things in the background to focus on.
In a church setting, this really isn’t a problem if you’re using the GH5 in a stationary location. You can set the focus on the platform area manually, and be done with it.
In fact, most churches choose not to use autofocus regardless of camera, because it’s the only way to guarantee your focus is where you want it at all times.
The Sony a6100
This is our live streaming camera of choice, and the camera we include in all of our live streaming kits on Church Setup.
Its sensor is amazing, which captures beautiful 4K images and impressive low-light performance. In fact, the sensor in the a6100 is the same sensor found in the newer a6600.
We choose this camera over the GH5 for two reasons:
- It’s a little cheaper.
- The GH5 extras aren’t best utilized in live streaming settings.
The autofocus on this camera is also really great, especially in zoomed-in “talking head” kind of shots. It has eye-tracking that locks on to the subject, and does a great job of tracking them.
Other Options: The Panasonic G85 and G7
The G85 is the little brother of the GH5. It’s missing some of the bells and whistles, but like we said before, most of them are bonuses for filmmaking, not necessarily live streaming.
For example, the GH5 shoots 4K at 60 frames per second, which allows you to get 4K quality slow motion. But, in live streaming, you won’t be using that feature.
The G7 is another step down in features, but it still allows a clean output of 4K image.
Why is 4K Important?
4K allows you to capture the highest quality image from the camera, and allows OBS (or other streaming software) to downsample the quality. This means your image will be crisper and sharper than other options.
It’s kind of like having too much information, and OBS has to throw some of it out. Conversely, having a low-quality image from the camera, OBS will have to “fill in the gaps,” which means a fuzzy image for the viewers.
Also, 4K allows you to do “digital zooming” without losing any quality of the image. You can crop into the image and zoom in without touching the camera.
What Camera Should You Buy?
If you’re going to “run and gun,” I would say go with the GH5 – it has in-body stabalization that makes hand-held shooting smooth. So if you are going to have a camera operator moving around with a camera, this would be a good choice.
If you’re going to mount the camera, I would say go with the a6100. It’s image is awesome, and you will be satisfied with its performance.