Mike Slinn

Camera Shopping

Published 2020-03-01. Last modified 2022-11-17.
Time to read: 3 minutes.

This page is part of the av_studio collection.

I only work with video and seldom take still photographs. For video, mirrorless cameras make a lot of sense.

Third-party support is essential to me because it enables interoperability. Tethering is a key driver of this aspect.

I mostly use aperture priority, so the depth of field can be controlled. This is important because I mostly shoot music videos in a confined studio space, and I want good separation between the subject and the background. Also, the background is only useful for general mood, and a background with too much detail causes the talent to be less prominent. Depth of field is affected by aperture, focal length, the distance from the camera to the subject, and sensor size.

Sensor Formats (Sizes)

Full-Frame Sensors

Full-frame cameras have a 35 mm sensor, and they have a shallower depth of field (all other factors being equal) than cameras that have smaller sensors, such as APS-C and micro four-thirds formats. This is important when working in a confined studio space because full-frame cameras can be closer to the subject for a given depth of field.

The only full-frame mirrorless camera bodies that output 4Kp30 for $2000 USD or less when this page was last updated were:

Canon EOS RP $1,000 USD
$1,265 CAD
  • Not good with shadows.
  • No IBIS.
  • No timecode.
Nikon Z5 $1,400 USD
$1,550 CAD
Nikon Z6 $2,000 USD
$2,000 CAD
Nikon Z6 II $2,000 USD
$2,500 CAD
Lumix S5

Lumix S DC-S5
$1,700 USD
$1940 CAD
  • The only camera shown that seems designed with an emphasis on video.
  • Autofocus is horrible.
  • No crop @ 8-bit 4Kp60,
    4K 60p 4:2:0 10 bits w/ 1.5x crop.
  • Micro HDMI port.
  • 106 lenses available.
  • Supports timecode.
Sony a7C $1,799 USD
$2,400 CAD

Cameras with smaller sensors that otherwise might be competitive include the following:

APS-C Sensors

Cameras with APS-C sensors have a crop factor of 1.5 because they have 2/3 the sensor diagonal length of full-frame sensors. This means more depth of field when recording in small spaces; this causes the background to be more detailed and the talent to seem less prominent.

Micro Four Thirds Sensors

Cameras with Micro Four Thirds sensors have a crop factor of 2.0 because they have half the sensor diagonal length of full-frame sensors. This means even more depth of field when recording in small spaces; this causes the background to be even more detailed and the talent to seem even less prominent.

Regretting the Sony Alpha7 Mark iii (A7iii)

This was my second experience being misled when purchasing what was, for me, an expensive camera.

I purchased a Sony Alpha 7 Mark iii after doing a lot of research. This is a full-frame camera. In retrospect, the considerable misinformation that I found, and the half-truths told by Sony, plus unfortunate engineering decisions, have me regretting the purchase. The camera has proven to be unable to fulfill the task at hand.

Even today, I find many salespeople, influencers and reviews pushing Sony Alpha cameras very hard, even when the camera is clearly a mismatch with customer needs. I suspect that Sony has been misbehaving to distort the market this much.

The Sony A7iii crops by approximately 1.2x when recording at 4Kp30. HDMI Micro Type D port.

Timecode can only be set manually, which sucks.

The Sony A7 Mark iv is $500 USD more than the Mark iii, and it does not solve enough of the Mark iii’s issues.

This is a terrific device, definitely a good investment when used with the Sony A7iii.

  • Supports 1080p60 and 4Kp30.
  • Accepts 10-bit video, but only outputs 8-bit video. The Sony A7 Mark iv outputs 10-bit video, so the Cam Link 4K is less attractive when paired with this camera.
  • Captured video from my Sony A7iii camera does not include audio when used as a webcam via Sony Imaging Edge. This does not happen when recording or using the Elgato Cam Link 4K.

Samsung NX-30

This was my first experience being misled when purchasing what was, for me, an expensive camera.

This old APS-C mirrorless camera from 2014 cannot output clean HDMI, so it is only good for recording to the internal card, not for streaming. Neither the sales literature nor the person who sold it to me were aware of this limitation, so this is another camera purchase that I regret. (Product description.)

Samsung exited the camera business in 2015. I have listed my NX-30 for sale on several sites for years at various low prices, but I never received any offers.

Typically, I set this camera for use in my studio as follows:

  • Height: eye level
  • Quality: 1080p
  • 30 FPS
  • Shutter 160
  • ISO 800

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