1. Preliminaries

If you are considering the purchase of a truly professional high definition digital video camera, you should already know a lot about video. You should have a good reason to buy one, and a reasonable expectation of the costs involved.

But you’ll still need a lot of other information. You’ll have some tough choices to make, because each word in ”˜professional’ ”˜high definition’ ”˜digital’ and ”˜video camera’ phrase can be a purchase decision on its own.

2. Professional

No matter what camera you buy of course, ”˜professional’ at the end of the shoot is up to you. Your creativity and your conduct. Not really the camera. Professionals use the tool most appropriate for the task at hand. Depending, that might be a Smartphone or handicam, HDSLR or HDVcams, CineAlta, ArriD, RED, you name it ”“ gasp, even film!?!

No matter what camera you choose, the abilities you have and the kind of shooting you do can make it professional.

3 High Definition

The definition of high definition should be a more concrete matter, but there are as many flavors of HD these days as there are ice cream, it seems. You and your audience may have different tastes.

It’s usually widescreen, but letterbox and anamorphic is available. HD specifications allow for combinations of 720 or 1080; p or I; 23.94, 25, 29.97, 30, 50 or 60; 3.5 Mbps or over 100 ”“ and if those choices or terms confuse, watch out! There are more to come.

Your choice of a professional high definition digital video camera should be strongly influenced by the type of shooting you need to do, and how you plan to edit or deliver your final production.

4 Digital

It’s a computer, with a lens stuck on!

A crude but descriptive phrase used when talking about today’s digital video cameras. You have to be a great shooter, but also a good data wrangler.

The incredibly high quality imagery being created by today’s top cameras is generating, well, too much digital data ”“ even when all the compression, down sampling and color space conversion is applied.

All the bits and bandwidth needed to capture and store compressed HD (and particularly uncompressed and now even higher resolution 4K+ images coming off the camera head) means that camera operators ”“ or their assistants ”“ must be well versed in data management, format conversion and media archiving.

Your choice of a professional high definition digital video camera should be strongly influenced by the amount of shooting you expect to do, and how you plan to deal with the data management and media format issues that will result.

5 Video Camera

Finally – it is all about creating and capturing the most engaging and evocative video imagery you can.

When you are going to buy a professional, high definition digital video camera, you will want to treat the camera part of the equation separately, with all the consideration that it deserves.

The fidelity of the picture will be dependent on a combination of lens quality, image capture device, digital signal processing and other elements of the image path.

And you.

Your choice of a professional high definition digital video camera should be ultimately influenced by the kind of shooter you are, and the kind of creativity, vision and talent you will bring to the equation.

Extra Tips

• Three Rs – Research, research and renting.

After you’ve combed the Web for user reviews and video forums, product reviews and technical specifications; after you’ve visited a few dealers, trade shows or videographer association meetings; after you’ve carefully compared all you have learned with what you really need, consider renting a professional high definition digital video camera before you choose to but it.

You will be spending a lot, and it makes sense to rent and try before you buy, if you buy. See the list of US camera rental houses.

Many videographers, analyzing rental rates vs. purchase prices and considering the rapid pace of technological change as well as their own changing or evolving creative needs, decide that renting is the way to go.