What type of camera is best for making a documentary?

by Sunaina Panthy
(Kathmandu, Nepal)

Question: In Nepal the commonly video makers are not used to the high quality cameras. We want give the quality. So what type of camera is good for the documentary?

Desktop Documentaries | Answer:

Truly, the best camera for a documentary is the camera you have access to. If you don't have any money to buy a camera, the best camera is the one you can borrow from a friend.

If you have a bit of money to spend, then it really comes down to HOW MUCH money you have to spend. You can buy a tiny Flip camera for $120 US. Or you can spend thousands of dollars on a fabulous camera with great lenses and all kind of gadgets and microphone inputs.

A popular camera with documentary filmmakers is the Panasonic AG-HVX200A P2HD Camcorder. A bit less expensive, but still a great camera, is the Sony HXR-NX30 Camcorder. Or in the DSLR category, try the Canon EOS 7D.

Click here for a recommended Documentary Filmmaking Gear List.

There are a lot of great cameras on the market, so go ahead and do some research, but when it all comes down to it, a great documentary is in the storytelling, not in the camera that you use. If at all possible, at the very minimum, you want a camera that you can attach a microphone to for good audio. Other than that, make your best guess based on your budget (or what you can borrow) and start shooting!

Click here for more information on how to choose a camcorder.

Click here to read another Q&A: Advice Needed: Buying A Camcorder For Documentary Filmmaking

For super high-end documentary filmmaking ($10,000+ cameras), check out our interview with filmmaker and two time Emmy award winning cinematographer Jeffrey Farrell.

Got a follow-up question or comment about this topic? Got a favorite camera you'd like to recommend to Sunaina?

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