What Is The Best Video Camera For A Church Sanctuary?

The pastor and the elders talked about broadcasting video from your church. Maybe they want to live stream. Maybe they want to do video announcements. What ever the case may be, they talked, hopefully prayed, and believe God has said, "Let There Be Video!" 

Now you have to figure out what is the best video camera for a church sanctuary and you have no idea where to start. Well you are at the right place. I have gone through what you are going through and hopefully my experience will help you make the best decision possible about choosing a video camera for your church.

I will be sharing with you 4 different types of cameras for your church sanctuary.

  • The best consumer camera for your church (Least expensive)
  • The best prosumer camera for your church (​Best bang for your buck.)
  • The most unobtrusive camera for your church (Pan Tilt Zoom camera)
  • The best production grade camera for your church (TV studio quality camera)

Video Camera Quick Comparison Chart

Important Considerations When Choosing A Video Camera For A Church Sanctuary

As I mentioned above, the idea of using video in your ministry sounds like a great idea. It is a great idea but most people don't understand all the considerations that go into making a good decision about it. There are some questions that you need to ask yourself before you just go out and purchase an inexpensive camera from a big box store.

​Some cameras are great for filming video clips but need a lot of work in order to be used for live streaming. Some live streaming cameras are easy to connect to live streaming services but are not that great when producing a video announcement. The video quality is not real good when you put it up on a large projection screen.

So before you run out and just buy a camera, consider these things.

​Where will the camera be placed?

Will your video camera in your sanctuary capture congregation shots?

Most churches want to place their video camera as far in the back as possible and out of view. There is nothing wrong with this. It just makes you have to think about size, zoom capability, and possibly lighting levels.

Other churches who want to have a multi-camera setup in their sanctuary may place a camera behind the pulpit facing the congregation to get congregational reactions to points the pastor is making. Or they may place one at a side angle to get a profile shot of the pastor while he is speaking.

All of these things make it important that you consider where you are going to be placing your camera and if the camera is going to need a human operator manning the camera or not.​

Optical Zoom Capabilities

One of the most important things you should consider is what type of zoom a camera has and how far it will zoom. I would strongly suggest you stay away from cameras that have digital zoom only. You want optical zoom. Digital zoom just crops the image that you have and tries to replace the amount of pixels with copied pixels that end up being blurry.​ 

Optical zoom actually refocuses the picture with lenses that change the size of the image the image sensor is seeing.

​Image Resolution

Do you choose HD, Full HD, Or 4k? Each of these come with a higher price point. The question is whether or not people will notice the difference. I think they would be hard pressed to tell the difference between HD and 4k on a streaming video of your service. However on your video announcements, they may tell the difference if the screen you are projecting to is a large one.

4k records the images at 4x the clarity of HD. This is the direction the industry is moving and someday HD will go the way of VGA cameras of the past. So part of your decision is how long you expect to use the camera before you might upgrade to higher quality. There is nothing wrong with starting out on a budget with a vision to improve in the future.

Another consideration is that most modern video editors that are out today can edit within the scene. So if you want to crop a video scene, with a 4k image, you do not lose any of the video quality.​

​Low Light Video Recording

Low light considerations with a video camera for a church sanctuary

Another important factor to consider is the light level in your sanctuary. With churches experimenting with light levels during worship and some being almost dark, this is extremely important. It is also important to churches that don't have a lot of outdoor light shining into their building. You would be surprised to find out how many churches really are considered low light venues when it comes to video recording.

​Make sure your video camera for your church sanctuary has good low light recording. Many say they do, but look to see what customers are saying about the graininess of the picture when recording in their homes. That will be a good indicator. 

Of course if you go with a higher level of camera like a 4k or PTZ camera, this is not nearly an issue.

​Consumer Cameras Vs. Prosumer Cameras

There are 2 main factors to consider when deciding between purchasing an inexpensive consumer grade camera and a higher prosumer grade camera. They are low light levels and whether or not there is a delay in the video output of the camera.

Now this might not make a lot of difference to you if you are only using the camera for live streaming or making video clips. But what if you are projecting the worship team on the screen or the pastor? You will notice that their lips are not synced to what the audience is hearing. ​This could be quite distracting.

​Other Camera Considerations

  • If you are live streaming, you need a camera that has a clean live HDMI output or wireless output that will connect to your live streaming computer and software.​
  • If you are using multiple cameras, you need cameras that can be easily operated by remote control or by volunteers. Cameras that need professionals to set them up, need professionals to operate them.

Going Live With Video In Your Church Sanctuary

It is really not that difficult to set up a church live stream or to pipe video and audio to the nursery or over-flow room. Here is what you will need besides just a camera.

Equipment You Will Need

  • Video camera for church sanctuary (covered below)
  • Computer connected to high speed internet.
  • HDMI cable from the camera to your computer or Wi-Fi capable camera and computer.
  • HDMI to USB video converter
  • Video editing software that will connect to YouTube, Facebook, and other live stream hosting providers.
  • Sound mixer (optional)
  • Audio cable (optional)
  • Church website (optional but not really)

Steps To Going Live

  1. Turn on all your equipment. (Camera, Computer, Sound Board, Ect.)
  2. Connect your camera to your HDMI to USB converter or do so wirelessly through Wi-Fi
  3. Connect your HDMI to USB converter to your computer.
  4. Open your video editing software on your computer
  5. Connect your sound board to your computer with the audio cable
  6. Set up your camera and audio inputs to your video editing software
  7. Record your service and either live stream it on Facebook or YouTube or save it as a video file for later editing before publishing in on your social media accounts or church website.

The Best Video Camera For A Church Sanctuary For Any Budget

I am a small church pastor. We have a small church budget. I wanted to give small churches an option as well as large churches. So I am recommending video cameras that will fit any budget. Just remember, don't out cheap yourself. If you can, purchase the best quality, not the cheapest camera.

The Best Consumer Video Camera For A Church Sanctuary

Canon Vixia HF R82 Review

Canon continues to show why it is a leader in the consumer camera market. The R82 doubles the size of its internal memory with 32GB of storage. The camera is sleek and the controls are intuitive. The zoom is right at your fingertips and the record is right by your thumb.

​The touchscreen display folds out on the left side. The majority of the camera's controls are found in this display which is adequately sensitive. It is extremely lightweight and easy to handle.

But what stands out is the quality of video you can shoot with this budget camera. Take a look at the Canon video below.

As you can see the image quality is quite impressive. The color is good and the image is stable. Canon's image stabilization process does a good job keeping things steady. This is important when you are using the camera while zoomed in.

The Vixia HF R82 has a clean HDMI output that when connected to a HDMI to USB converter provides a great feed from your camera to your computer for live streaming or video editing. You can even connect to a mobile phone or tablet via Wi-Fi enabling you to connect directly to the major live streaming services.

The Canon Vixia HF R82 is the best low end consumer camera on the market. Anything less expensive starts becoming a toy. If you need to keep costs low, then this camera is the one for you. It is the one I bought for my church to get us started producing video from our sanctuary.

Check it out on Amazon​

Canon Vixia HF R82

Canon VIXIA HF R82 Camcorder (Black)

Price - $399.00

You might be interested in my HD camera reviews in this price range.


The Best Prosumer Camera For A Church Sanctuary​

Panasonic HC-VX981K Ultra HD Camcorder Review

Although this camera is a couple of years old, it is still one of the best 4k video cameras on the market. It is Panasonic's most affordable 4k camera. It has all of the bells and whistles of it's predecessor the HC- 870 but also comes with some impressive features added on.

It has built in 4k cropping and editing tools along with a Wi-Fi app that allows you to control the camera wirelessly using a mobile phone or tablet. Great for your live stream operator. He can stay at the live stream computer and zoom in and out as needed.

Here is a little more about The features of the Panasonic HC-VX981

The best thing about the Panasonic video camera is it's video quality. If you need an affordable video camera for your church sanctuary then this one will fit the bill. Not only does it do well in lower light situations, but it gives you the top video definition that is available today. 

You would do well going with this camera if you want quality but don't feel you want or need to pay thousands for production grade video.

Check it out on Amazon​

Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder

Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder with Wi-Fi, Built with Multi Scene Twin Camera (Black)

$897.99

You might be interested in the 4k camera reviews I did for this price range.


​The Best Pan Tilt Zoom Camera For A Church Sanctuary

PTZ Optics Camera Review

The guys at PTZ Optics have done a great job understanding the needs of houses of worship when it comes to live streaming worship services. In fact, they have even taken the time to provide a complete class on live streaming church services for free on Udemy.

Here is a little more about PTZ Optics and their ptz cameras.​

I have included their cameras in this list because of quality and the fact they seemlessly integrate into most video editing software. Yes they are on the high side of the ptz camera spectrum but the quality is well worth the price. They have many more, including one that will follow your pastor or worship leader automatically, but they come at a steeper price point.

​This  PTZ Optics cameras I have chosen for you to consider has a 20x zoom. No matter if you are a smaller church or a larger church, 20x zoom will meet your need.

As with all high dollar and low volume products on Amazon, the reviews are sparse. However the one verified purchase review, (Don't trust unverified purchase reviews​. They are usually placed by competitors especially if they are short and negative.) absolutely loves the ptz camera. A review over at B&H says that the 20x ptz camera has great lens, skin tones, and image quality.

Check it out on Amazon​

PTZOptics 20x-USB Gen2 Live Streaming Camera

PTZOptics 2MP Full HD Indoor PTZ Camera, 20x Optical Zoom, 1920x1080 at 60fps, USB 3.0, HDMI, IP Streaming, CVBS, 60.7 degree FOV, Gray

Price - $1,799.00

You might be interested in the PTZ camera reviews I did.


The Best Production Video Camera For A Church Sanctuary​

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4K Digital Cinema Camera Review

I will be the first to admit that when you get to a certain point in talking about video cameras, the higher you go in quality, the more it is about specifics that are beyond me and most non tech people. This is true about the Blackmagic Ursa.

I have listened to many reviews on YouTube and they talk about things that go right above my head. I guess that is why I am a pastor and not a cameraman. However the guys I trust swear by this camera, so I am sharing it with you as an option.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well then a video must be worth a book. Just take a look at this video produced with the Blackmagic Ursa Mini.

Now, can you imagine a video like that being one of your announcements for church? Well maybe minus the pouring of an adult beverage, but you get the picture.

This Blackmagic Ursa Mini is all the camera any church would ever need. If your church values everything looking professional and studio quality, this camera is for you!

Check it out on Amazon​

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4K Digital Cinema Camera

PTZ Optics 20x ptz camera

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4K Digital Cinema Camera EF-Mount CINECAMURSAM40K/EF

Price - $2,995.00

Check out my complete review of the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini 4k


Final Thoughts On Church Video Cameras

When it gets right down to it, the best video camera for church is the one that does the best job at the price that is wisest stewardship for your church. All of these cameras will do the job well enough that you don't have to be ashamed. They look great. The question is whether or not you want better than great, or just great. For me, I wanted to accomplish a goal. I wanted us to start venturing into producing video. We are doing that now and it is producing good fruit.

Please let me know if this article helped you and what video camera for a church sanctuary you chose. I really want to know that this website is helping people go forward with their dreams and visions.​

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Pastor Duke Taber

About the Author

Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos CA. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.

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