Choosing video cameras

If you already have a digital video camera available (perhaps a tape-based DV camera) or older analogue camera, plus the necessary computer interface to transfer video into digital format you can get started with theprimarychannel. Many schools will want or need to purchase new equipment - the latest cameras offer greatly improved ease and speed of use compared to models just a year or two old. This guide offers some practical advice on choosing suitable equipment.

Cameras

There are literally thousands of digital video cameras on the market with a very wide range of pricing from simple "point & shoot" types through to sophisticated broadcast models. For school use, we recommend a simple, robust but good quality camera be used. We strongly recommend that you choose a camera that uses solid-state memory (eg; SD cards) as its storage medium. Compared to older tape or DVD storage methods, SD cards are cheap, reusable and allow large video files to be transferred to the computer almost instantaneously. These factors and the virtual elimination of moving parts make this type of camera most suitable for school use. Ideally, the camera should have a "hot-shoe" for attachment of external accessories (such as lights and microphones) though these can always be attached using an accessory bar. A socket that allows use of an external microphone is essential - see below.

Tripod

One of the main differences in the quality of video footage take by amateurs when compared to professional film-makers is the simple use of a tripod to hold the camera steady while shooting pictures. It's important to use a tripod designed for video use with a head (the bit that the camera attaches to that allows it to tilt up and down and pan from side to side) that is damped to help prevent judder when panning and tilting the camera. Otherwise, look for a model that is strong enough to hold the camera steady (and won't break in use!) yet light enough for children to carry. Lightness is usually the opposite of steadiness so some compromise is available here!

Microphones

If a tripod is one of the main diffferences between amateur and professional results, the use of suitable microphones (as opposed to the camera's in-built microphones) is the other. To cover your initial needs, we suggest buying a lavalier ("tie clip") type microphone for use by "talking head" presenters and a "short shotgun" type microphone that can be used outdoors and to cover a small group of people. Make sure that your camera has an external microphone socket!

If shopping around is all too much for you ...

... here's a straightforward list of what you need! We recommend the following equipment as a basic camera kit to equip one “team” for studio or outside filming. We strongly advise schools to purchase at least TWO complete kits. Larger schools might want to consider purchasing additional kits.

Kit contents:

a.    Canon FS200 video camera
b.    4GB SD memory card
c.    Velbon DV-7000 video tripod
d.    Audio-Technica ATR35S lavalier microphone
e.    Rode VideoMic shotgun microphone
f.    Hot shoe extension bar

These items can easily be found on the Internet or the complete kit can be purchased through Edudigi Ltd - please contact our Sales department (sales@edudigi.net) for current pricing.