Work Package: Cameras & Lighting

Summary

This project has a range of videography requirements- from project closeups, interviews, presentations, and more. As such several cameras are recommended: mirrorless interchangeable lens body, webcam, and an action camera.

Glossary

  • DLSR - digital single lense reflex- viewfinder image is via imaging lens. Have a mirror to direct light to viewfinder. Mirror mechanism may wear/break with lots of video use.
  • Mirrorless - no mirror. Viewfinder image uses the main sensor.
  • Clean-HDMI - HDMI video is full quality, and does not have any camera overlay (focus, battery status, etc). Also, should not disable any features (eg some Canon models require autofocus to be disabled)

Types of Cameras

Video Camera VS Digital Camera

Video camerars are designed to be fully self sufficient and extremely versatile- ie longer battery, bigger zoom range from a single lens, bigger/better recording capabilities. This project does not need the battery life, extreme portability, wider zoom range, or better onboard recording.

By choosing a mirrorless camera, we can “reallocate” the cost of the parts to focus on a (much) better lens and sensor.

Fixed vs Interchangeable Lens

There are some fixed lens cameras with clean HDMI-out. However the ability to add functionality (zoom, macro- eg for use with a microscope, etc) that an interchangeable lens camera body allows is worth the extra investment.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

Mirrorless- no mirror actuator to wear out. Also available as micro 4/3 cameras which have smaller sensors (but still much bigger than a video camera) so less expensive.

HDMI vs USB Connection

HDMI capture is better. For USB- Canon, Sony, GoPro, and Fuji USB capture is video only- requires seperate audio. Image resolution, frame rate, and quality is lower. These brands all require an application to be running and create a virtual webcam. This piece of software may become abandoned. Conferencing software sometimes disallows virtual cameras. Having both clean-HDMI + USB as options seems the best choice.

Webcams

Good 1080p is good enough; 4K (eg Brio) nice to have.
Useable as second angle camera, project camera, document camera, etc.

Action Cameras

Unique, attention grabbing look. Can be used as webcams (some with same USB caveats mentioned above. Insta360 One R acts like a real USB UVC camera.) Potential for using as a WiFi remote camera for streams- via RTMP. Webcam Tool for Action Cameras may be a quick and easy solution- walk through.
Rough & Tough- can be used in places you don’t want to put your other cameras - e.g. close to a saw, next to a soldering iron, etc.

Main Camera

Suggest mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera.

Should be ~24Megapixel sensor, 4kUHD capable, 120fps @ 1080p resolution, or similar.

USB compatible camera lists using official, 1st party software: Sony, Canon, FujiFilm (only highest end X & GFX cameras), Pansonic Lumix (hacky solution, requires OBS or similar to grab an onscreen window.)

Other info: Canon FAQ which mentions limits. SparkoCam Virtual WebCam- third party software that works with Nikkon and Canon cameras.

Clean HDMI compatible official camera lists: Canon, For Sony, FujiFilm, and Lumix using the Elgato Camlink4K compatibility list- other models may work, but we want to be sure.

Canon - Popular, good availability of 2nd hand accessories. Good autofocus. All cameras on their clean HDMI list are compatible with their USB driver software (as of 9/12/2020.) Filtering to mirrorless & sub $1000 (using London Drugs pricing) leaves only: EOS M50 Mark II - London Drugs- Item # L1268801, Note: be careful, original M50 is almost identical, but does not have clean-HDMI (unless you disable autofocus.) Also of interest: M50 (original) vs ZV-1.

Sony-Famous, best autofocus. Good market of parts. Overpriced? Some issues with overheating on some models. A6300 open box (4k) @ LD. A6100 would be a good model… but it’s often overpriced. Or A6300, A6400, A6500 as they are a newer generation than the A6000. Have to check if LD can special order them. (Comparisons). ZV-1’VLOGGER’ point and shot may also be an option (it is a fixed lens camera, smaller sensor than the APS-C cameras so not as good at low light.)

FujiFilm-Less popular, more enthusiast level. Excellent features, good autofocus, nice images. X-T200, X-E3- (both on sale) 4K, clean HDMI, no official USB webcam support for either.

Nikon- nothing sub $1000 has USB and/or clean-HDMI.

Panasonic (Lumix)- G85, clean HDMI, no USB support.

Recommendations

For better flexibility (lenses) and other accessories: M50 Mark II (given local popularity of Canon) or X-T200.

For ease of use, excellent auto-focus and low light, and some nice convenience features: Sony ZV-1. It’s a fixed lens, so very difficult (impossible?) to adapt to eg microscope, telescope, etc.

Camera LD Price Local Supplier Link Clean HDMI 1st Party USB Sensor/Native ISO Max Mic input Battery Eliminator Unlimited Run time Notes
EOS M50 Mark II $949.99 London Drugs- Item # L1268801 Yes Yes 24.1MP/APS-C/12800 3.5mm yes- if like M50 Yes? Refresh appears to be streamer aware. Note 4K footage is limited to 24fps and more cropped. Awesome for 1080p. Top of list due to common brand- parts and help abound. Very new, stock limited.
Sony ZV-1 $899 (sale- reg $999.97) London Drugs- Item # L1102711 Yes Yes 20.1MP/1"/12800 3.5mm yes yes Vlogging specific camera. Probably easiest to use. Fixed lens. USB2 connection. Super hi slow mo (960fps- for 912x308 image size.) Fully articulated touch screen. Tags vertical video as such. Best in class auto-focus. Three capsule microphone. “Product showcase” feature is a “superfast” focus for showing items up close to the camera lens. Defocus feature- nice blurry backgrounds. Touch screen not used for settings/config!
FujiFilm X-T200 $674 (sale- reg $1049) London Drugs- Item # L0914603 Yes No 24.2MP/APS-C/12800 3.5mm yes Yes- if like X-T30 One of few that you can plug headphones in to (via USB-C adapter- included.) Less popular brand locally, but very good value for money. Julian is very happy with the X-T30. Autofocus maybe a little worse than Canon. Same sale at Kerridale Cameras. Only lack of USB webcam and less of them in local market stopped it being top pick (at $674.)
FujiFilm X-E3 $1074 (sale- reg $1299.99) London Drugs- Item # L9770116 Yes No 24.3MP/APS-C/12800 2.5mm yes Yes- if like X-T30 Older, not as good autofocus, USB 2 instead of USB-C.
Sony A6100 $1099.99 Kerrisdale Cameras Yes Yes 24.2/APS-C/32000 3.5mm yes Yes? Best in class autofocus. Excellent low light. Known to overheat if not careful. Rolling shutter issues in some video shooting situations. A little overpriced? Simplest to use?
Lumix G85 $999 (sale- reg $1199.99) London Drugs - Item # L6578132 Yes No 16MP/four-thirds/12800 2.5mm yes Yes? Much smaller lens, does not do as well in low light. USB2 connection. Was popular a few years ago for streaming.

X-T200 vs M50 Mark II comparison. Note- doesn’t mention M50 m2 4k crop vs X-T200 no crop. But this crop is probably not important for the expected use cases.

WebCams

Incredibly convenient, great as a second camera, document camera, etc. In 2020- aim for 1080p and whatever you can get your hands on.

4K, 1080, or 720?

4K: Given the Logitech Brio is ~1/3 of a “real” camera, has a much smaller lens, and sensor, and that you can buy 2-3 1080p webcams for the same price, they do not seem to be a good choice at the moment.

The sweet spot is still 1080p Webcams. Logitech is widely recognized as having the best webcams- any of the 9xx 1080p HD webcams. Avoid: StreamCam. Seems overpriced.

A good 720p webcam can still do fine service in a pinch.

Unfortunately there is a global shortage of Logitech webcams in 2020. Tom’s Hardware Guide has put together a set of reviews of lesser known- but good- alternatives.

ActionCams

Small. Tough. Fits in tight places. Great for showing equipment close up, crowds, etc.

Iconic, eye-catching looks with their wide angle views. Interesting capabilities- like 360˚ video, 360˚ re-framing.

With the latest updates many can be used as webcams, or as WiFi remote cameras.

There are many good, less expensive action cameras (eg Xioami Yi), but we’re going to focus on the larger brands/most supported.

Common downside: advanced features maybe/are only accessible from a phone/tablet application. (Possible PC workaround for GoPro.)

All of the recommended cameras have WiFi capabilities for “direct streaming” to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, etc. Most can also use an RTMP server.

This RTMP streaming feature can be used send the video to a local server, and get the video from that. Can be DIY or buy Webcam Tool for Action Cameras which does that + sends it into a virtual camera for use with video conferencing, OBS, etc. Video of it in action. Note: Webcam Tool doesn’t support audio. A DIY RTMP server should…

GoPro

As a USB webcam: Requires proxy software to be running; camera will appear as a virtual webcam. No audio will be captured from the GoPro. Instructions.

Requires GoPro Hero 8, or 9- but the hero 9 has external microphone issues - avoid until resolved.

Hero8 at London drugs is $479.99.

Insta360 One R Twin Edition

A modular action cam that supports 4K and 360˚ image sensors.

With the latest firmware update, can be used as a REAL USB webcam. No proxy software or virtual cameras required! With the 4k camera it’s a good “regular” webcam with an interesting auto-follow/auto-zoom feature. This feature is either loved or hated- hopefully it will be configurable in a future update.

With the 360˚ camera it shows both sides of the camera as a single image- great for seeing people on both sides of a table, or audience + presenter.

This is a 2 minute video that explains and shows both features.

And another that compares the insta360 vs the Logitech Brio.

I’ve asked some reviewers on YouTube if the internal microphones are active when it’s being used as a camera- still waiting for responses. (Most people have separate mics setup.)

When in WiFi mode (RTMP) with the regular 4K camera, it acts like a regular remote camera.

With the 360˚ camera, you have two interesting possibilities:

  1. Stream the full 360˚ view; viewers can look any where in the room; they can change where they’re watching live. It’s very interesting, but usually less useful, because the thing of interest is usually happening in one spot.
  2. Live reframe. Viewers see a regular 2D view, but the director can pan, tilt, twist the cameras view without touching it. Here is an example from a bike ride. The camera is on a fixed pole above the handlebars. It is never moved. All the apparent camera moves are done afterwards in the editing software. It is now possible to do this live(!)

Insta360 One R Twin- Amazon - $515 after rebate (and only GST), free (Prime) shipping. Maybe simplest to return to.

Insta360 One R Twin- Visions- $543 (on sale, end 2020-12-13), free shipping.

Insta360 One R Twin- Direct- $543 (on sale), Canadian. States price includes free shipping, customs, and import.

Recomendation

Insta360 One R Twin- ~$50 more expensive than the GoPro, ‘real’ USB webcam mode, and 360˚ video.

Phones/Tablets As Remote Cameras

Possible- eg epoccam from Elgato. Can work by cable or WiFi. This use a virtual cam driver on your Mac/PC.

There are several NDI video streaming apps available too- which OBS can use directly.

The quality (image, sound, delay) is very dependant on the device used.

Lighting

TBD

Green Screen

DIY stand? Built in to location?

Artifacts

  • cameras
    • main camera
    • webcams
    • action cams
  • 5600k high CRI lights
    • minimum of three
    • Eg Lumen Cube 2, or generic LED sets (eg Newer- Amazon.)
  • diffusers
  • reflectors
  • tripods for cameras & lights (can be shared), pref with pan & tilt handle bars
    • full size
    • desktop
    • flexible
  • green screen stand
  • green and blue screens

Workbook

Google spreadsheet containing notes, estimates, etc. -> here

Options

Potential Suppliers

  • Camera manufacturers
  • Camera Specialists
  • Consumer Electronics

Key Observations

From capturing light:

  • we may not have “studio” lighting for all scenes -> advantageous to be able to adjust lens (size), aperture, and shutter speed
  • flexible focal distances and depth of fields - to be able to focus on a project/demo close up, or a room of people
  • Good (fast, little wander, good face detection) autofocus is required
  • Several mounting options are needed - full-size and desktop tripods, preferably with tlit/pan handles. Flexible mount (eg Joby Gorrilapod) for lighter cameras

From processing:

  • we have no use for effects: we will do them in the streaming software where it is easy to turn them on/off, adjust, has more options, etc
  • corrections that improve the image quality could be useful

From live output:

  • we need clean, full resolution, full framerate, HDMI output
  • being able to use USB instead of HDMI would be a big plus
  • 4:4:4 or 4:4:2 chroma sub-sampling, or 10 bit (HDR) output are nice to have (eg for green screens)

From recording:

  • we do not need advanced recording options on the camera
  • Cameras must be able to be powered by a plug pack/AC adapter during recording, preferably with the battery removed

From lighting:

  • 5600k high CRI lighting
  • Multiple mounting options: full tripods, desk/flexible tripods, 1/4" 20 pan heads (permanent mounts on walls/columns)
  • Diffusers and reflectors
  • Portable chroma screen stand
  • Green and blue screen backdrops
  • Nice to have: color gels

Camera Specs Terms

(D)SLR

Mirror-less

Clean-HDMI

10 bit vs 8 bit

Green screen - chroma encoding

Standardize on power- usb where possible

General purpose - within reason.