We bought a new vlog camera! Promted by our trip to California, we decided we should upgrade our vlogging camera to record better footage of our holiday than we’ve been getting from the Sony.
We’ve got a load of cameras being professional photographers by trade, and they all have amazing video functions, but we got sick of carrying big heavy DSLR cameras and lenses around for our day to day life so originally we bought a Sony A6000 purely for stills, and it totally rocks. Compared to a DSLR its super light weight and fits in a small bag. We love the Sony so much, we picked up a second hand Sony A5000 from eBay for video as it has a flip up screen for filming and seeing ourselves easily. It was OK to start with, but we very quickly became annoyed with the performance of the autofocus and having so many settings buried in menus it became a nightmare to use on a regular basis as we found out filming vlogmas. Thats not to say its not a great first camera for vlogging, but I’m very technologically picky, I don’t like products that make things hard work or cut too many corners, so I started searching for the perfect vlog camera that would suit everything we needed from it.
Our main criteria were –
- Focus reliability and speed
- Image quality particularly white balance and exposure accuracy
- A front facing screen
- Usable audio
Initially we saw that everyone was using the Canon G7X Mark2, and we almost hit the button on one, but I’m not one to listen to the hype of equipment as its caught me out before, so I spent many evenings watching real life reviews and focussing more on the negatives than the plus points so I knew exactly what its shortcomings were. One of the most complained about things was that the audio was awful, and it really was. Its compressed, flat and lacks any detail. It also doesn’t have a mic input so recording great in camera audio was a big No. The other thing that popped up was the fact that the autofocus was slow which was surprising as the videos we’ve seen from the Daily Bumps and Slyfox Family look great, but they nearly always seem to have amazing light (living in South California!) which would make a huge difference. Dark and cloudy Wales might make this camera struggle.
After deliberating the Sony RX100 cameras and the Sony A5100 we mistakenly found the Panasonic G7 and it really caught my attention. The Camera Sore TV with Chris Nichols pretty much sold me the camera there and then but as soon as I realised our local camera store had it in stock, we got in the car and went for a play.
The package we were checking out was the G7 with 14-42 kit lens. Now I generally hate kit lenses but its had some great reviews, and in all honesty its very unlikely that we are going to be doing a lot of shooting at wide apertures like 1.8/2.8 so the extra depth of field is going to be fine, even at the expense of some higher ISO. If we are really stuck for ISO we can always use the Sony A6000 with the sigma 30mm 1.4.
First impressions were very positive, the body is larger than the Canon G7X and the Sony A5000, even the A6000 but its super super light weight because its all plastic. The first thing we tested out once we fired it up is its capability to lock on focus to a face while using it in “selfie” video mode with the camera screen flipped around to the side. It instantly recognised Chantele, and started to focus on her eyes and track as she moved the camera around, back and forth. Big points so far. A few minutes later and lots of playing with functions and working out the touch screen ( AMAZING!) we were sold, even though the sales guy was trying to get me to try other cameras, they just didn’t hit it off for me.
The features which, for me, made this camera perfect-
- Superb autofocus! Video focus was fast and accurate but stills focus is unbelievable. Its not got phase detection points but its still real real fast and smooth.
- The video quality is amazing. Ok, I’m not getting too technical here and I’m no video editor, but for vlogging where you need good colour and quality straight out of the camera, it looked great.
- Microphone input. Ive seen lots of videos online where the audio just sucks big time. Having bad audio would personally put me off, so if we need to upgrade and get an on camera microphone then we can plug it in direct to camera.
- Flippy screen. Yup, its just a must for what we need it for.
- Lightweight. And I mean its real light its so surprising, but its bigger brother the GH4 and GH5 are metal alloy so being plastic is great for what we want it for.
- Records UHD (4K). Its not something we will use at the moment, but when 4k becomes a little more mainstream and we’ve upgraded the graphics chips in the iMacs, maybe we will start capturing and editing in 4k, so its a little future proofed too.
So, we’ve done little bits of filming mainly for testing purposes and so far its ticking all the boxes. We’ve grabbed some extra batteries for the holiday as we have no idea just how long they will last, and stolen a pile of SD cards from our DSLR kit bag to make sure we dont run out of storage.
So there you have it, new gear time and hopefully a good decision going with a system that we’ve never used before. We’ll be taking lots and lots of footage of our trip to California and posting when we get back. We are also looking into some simple colour grading presets and software at the moment to try and set our video apart from all the other content that gets posted to youtube so fingers crossed we find something that we like and isn’t too edit orientated as to be honest, we have enough image editing to do with our photography business.
So what do you guys currently use for video capture? Do you use a DSLR, Mirrorless, Smartphone, compact camera? We’d love to know.
Also what do you edit your video with?
Keep an eye out on the blog for camera updates and see how we got on with our new Panasonic G7.
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