fbpx
February 23, 2020 Craig Spinks

Video Equipment Recommendations

Recommended Video Cameras (& other gear) for Veterinary Practices

We love to help veterinary practices get started making their own videos. The tools for making high quality videos are readily available thanks to recent technological advances, but there are also SO many choices. We’re commonly asked “what video camera should I buy?” While there isn’t a simple answer to this question, in this post we’ll try to unpack the variables to help guide you in the right direction.

Camera Recommendations

It’s probably best to first decide what style of camera you need (Smartphone, camcorder, DSLR, etc.) and then look at the options within that category.

Smartphone

If you’re just getting started with video, we’d highly recommend you get a few videos under your belt using the equipment already readily available…your smartphone. While they have some limitations, they are perfectly capable of producing excellent images with a little preparation and practice.

Recommend accessories:

Ergonomics Smartphone Hand Grip – to help hold the camera, but be careful, it can result in even more shaky footage

Movo VXR10 – Inexpensive on-camera mic

Rode VideoMic Me – mid-range on-camera mic

Shure MV88 Condenser Microphone – higher end option, but still an on-camera mic

KIMAFUN Wireless Microphone System – surprisingly ok for $50

Purple Panda Lavalier Microphone – wired mics are simpler, with less change of technical issues

Zhiyun Smooth 4 – Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer that’s about $100

FiLMiC Pro – Camera App (iOS and Android) that gives you more control over camera settings

Camcorder (Consumer Video Camera)

The next step up would be to purchase a video camera that has easier to access advanced camera settings, but while still being user friendly. A downside to this option is that you’ll look a bit old school with a camera shaped like it came out of the 90’s – but maybe 90’s looking cameras are hipster now?

Cameras to consider:

Panasonic HC-VX981K

Canon VIXIA HF G21

Sony FDRAX33

Recommend accessories:

Rode VideoMic – this mic would be silly on a smartphone (too big), but a great little mic for a larger camera

Manfrotto Tripod MVK502055XPRO3 – If you use a tripod, buy something durable

COMAN Monopod KX3232 – Using a monopod is a great way to balance keeping the camera stabil, while not having the footage feel too static.

Action Camera

We’d recommend action cameras for an inexpensive user friendly option that’s not a smartphone, but not a great long-term option if you’re looking to dramatically improve your videos. They have similar limitations as smartphones, but the camera settings can be even trickier to access since the cameras are so small. Additionally, the wide angle lenses are usually too wide for normal use. On the good side, they’re often waterproof – so great for underwater treadmill and facilities with pools.

Cameras to consider:

GoPro Hero 7 Black

DJI Osmo (has built in stabilizer)

Mirrorless or DSLR Camera

Most still cameras these days can also shoot video that compares to the quality of much higher costing cinema cameras. The downside is that these cameras have a steeper learning curve and it’s easy to mess things up if you’re not careful.

Cameras to consider:

Canon EOS 80D with 18-135mm lens (28-216mm equivalent) – A nice DSLR option on a budget. Pluses include autofocus for video, a wide zoom range (18 to 135mm (35mm equivalent focal length of 28.8 to 216mm)), includes image stabilization, and 60fps at 1080p. One negative is that it has a crop sensor, which will give you a less wide angle than a full frame sensor.

Sony Alpha a7S II with 24-70mm lens – This is a mirrorless camera, so you’ll be one step closer to hipster. Pluses include it having a full frame sensor, autofocus, 4K at 30fps, 100fps at 1080p, and in-camera stabilization.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K – This camera is built more for video, but still with it’s limitations. Filmmakers love this camera because it will record RAW video, but we find it highlight unlikely that most practices would ever really use this since RAW video results in huge file sizes and lots of extra work and specialty in post production (color grading, etc.). There is a newer version of this camera available that records in 6k, but even 4k is overkill for most practices : )

Other Cameras – there are so many cameras in this category, and new ones released every week it seems. Limit your anxiety by narrowing down what is important in your situation and then searching for features that help with that.

Recommend accessories:

Rode VideoMic – this mic would be silly on a smartphone (too big), but a great little mic for a larger camera

Manfrotto Tripod MVK502055XPRO3 – If you use a tripod, buy something durable

COMAN Monopod KX3232 – Using a monopod is a great way to keep footage stable while maintaining some natural motion.

Atomos Ninja V 5″ Recording Monitor – The built-in display screens on most cameras isn’t great, so you might want to consider purchasing an external monitor. Some monitors, like this one, even record video, which is an advantage because it can record in a less compressed video format, like ProRes, at a higher bitrate than many video cameras record at in-camera.

SmallHD 502 – This is a great little external monitor if you just need a monitor and not an external recorder.

Professional Video Camera

A professional video camera will cost between $5-10k. I’d highly recommend starting with a camera at a lower price point before investing this kind of money, as you won’t benefit from most of the features at this price point without knowing your way around a camera.

Cameras to consider:

Sony FS5 II – At Veteos, we’ve been using the first version of this camera since 2015 years and it’s been fantastic. All around a great camera. We use a Metabones adapter and Canon lenses with this camera, but with the Sony lenses you’d get autofocus.

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro G2 – This camera is our current “Camera A”. The specs on it are amazing for a camera at this price point. The one drawback is its weight. We’re not a fan of body-shaming, but this camera is a beast at 5 lbs. (without a lens)‽ There’s also not a great kit lens for this camera with a wide aperture and zoom range. We currently use the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8. It’s not an L-Series lens and it’s a crop sensor lens, but it does the job.

Recommend accessories:

Sennheiser ME 64 Mic with K6 Module – We like this mic system because the power module can be interchanged with other capsules (changing your mic into a shotgun mic, etc.)

Manfrotto 504HD,536K Video Tripod Kit – A bigger camera needs a better tripod

Manfrotto Monopod with 500 Series Video Head – Using a monopod is a great way to keep footage stabile while maintaining some natural motion.

Atomos Ninja V 5″ Recording Monitor – The built in display screens on most cameras isn’t great, so you might want to consider purchasing an external monitor. Some monitors, like this one, even record video, this is less of an advantage with professional cameras, but it’s worth comparing specs.

SmallHD 502 – This is a great little external monitor if you just need a monitor and not an external recorder.

Lighting:

When it comes to lighting, first go to where the good light is, then supplement in a way that looks natural. A full blown lighting kit is probably overkill for most practices and will just end up looking unprofessional without some solid experience with lighting. For supplemental lighting, stick with light sources that can provide soft light, which will be more flattering to your subject.

Lighting Options:

HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit – No question about it, this is a cheap light. You’ll probably replace it within 6 months of use, but for occasional use it’ll do the job (and be a lot more affordable, our professional softbox light is about $1,000)

Dracast DRP-LED1000 – This is a mid-range LED option that we use regularly and is pretty decent. But to get soft light out of it you’re going to need to clip on some diffusion to the front of the barn doors with some clothespins.

Neewer Bi-Color 480 LED Light – There are a lot of inexpensive LED options out there, but one of our staff members has used this light and like it.

Aputure Light Storm LS C120D Mark 2 120D II – We’ve been looking for the perfect LED light for our needs and have finally found it in this light. It’s incredibly bright, directional when needed and fully dimmable. When we need a softer look, we use a softbox made specifically for this light. They have both a large and small option. Heck, get a lantern option while you’re at it! It’s certainly a pricey light, but worth every penny if you’re often lighting scenes.

Editing Software:

After you’ve shot your footage, you’ll likely need to do some editing. You could do that on your smartphone, but for anything more than a few simple edits you should plan to edit on a laptop or desktop computer.

Apps:

iMovie – Free software on Apple devices

KineMaster (Android & iOS, $40/year to remove watermark)

Software:

iMovie – Free software that comes pre-installed on Apple devices

Windows Story Remix – Free software that comes pre-installed on PC devices. To access it, open the Photos app in Windows 10 or later.

Final Cut Pro (Mac, $299)

Adobe Premiere (PC & Mac, 239.88/yr)

PowerDirector (PC, $129)

Camtasia (PC/Mac, $249)

Syncing Software:

Sometimes it can be easier and/or better to record audio on a device that’s different than the device you’re recording video. For instance, a small recorder hidden in a pocket. But you’ll then need to synchronize the audio track with the video footage later while editing. This feature is often built into video editing software (Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, etc.), so check there first. But separate specialized software is also available, and can often do a better job if your audio has background noise, etc.

Software Options:
PluralEyes – Industry leader and highly effective (and most expensive)
Syncaila – lower priced option than PluralEyes
Davinci Resolve – It’s color-grading software, but also includes syncing feature. Oh, and the software is free! You’ll probably need a tutorial like this one.

Don’t Let Equipment Fatigue Slow You Down

Sure, there are countless options when it comes to picking out the right video production gear for your veterinary practice, but don’t let equipment fatigue slow you down! At the end of the day, just make the best decision you can. With experience, you’ll have a better idea of what you need when it comes time to upgrade gear (which happens often with technology changing to fast). Good luck!