Roland Switchers: How to Choose a Camera for Live Video

There are many camera options available for purchase, but not all are best suited for live video mixing.

In addition to this guide, I strongly suggest searching for "best cameras for live streaming" and "best cameras for video switching", and reading some list articles.

 

In general, it helps to have all the cameras be the same model. If you need to mix and match cameras, it's recommended to spend time adjusting each camera's color settings to get them to match as closely as possible.

If you are using the camera's audio as well, you may need to adjust the delay setting for each embedded audio input to get your headphone mix in sync.

 

 

REQUIREMENTS

  • You want cameras that can output either 1080P 59.94 or 720P 59.94; these are the best resolution and frame rate combos for streaming from an HD video switcher.

  • You want cameras with a clean HDMI or SDI output, meaning they will not output video with an overlay of menu settings or status indicators.
  • For additional support with setting up a supported resolution and clean output, please see this guide: Roland Switchers: How to Setup Clean HDMI Output on your Camera

 

 

CAMERA TYPES


CAMCORDERS

Pros:

  • Easy to Setup
  • Great compatibility
  • Some models support SDI

Cons: 

  • Many choices available
  • Infrequent firmware updates
  • Quality can vary
  • Lack of remote control options

Tips: Camcorders are often easiest to setup for live video, so I recommend researching suggestions from the list articles.

Examples: Canon HF Series, Canon XF Series

 

 

PTZ CAMERAS

Pros:

  • Designed for live output
  • Can control movement remotely
  • Can set preset positions and settings
  • Can easy adjust settings remotely
  • Some models support SDI
  • Easier to mount to ceiling

Cons: 

  • Price is higher than camcorder with comparable image quality
  • Many choices available
  • Quality can vary

Tips:  PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras are an excellent alternative to camcorders because you can remotely control them and recall preset positions, but will cost more than cameras with comparable image quality because of the motors inside them.

Examples: JVC KY-PZ100, Panasonic PTZ Cameras, PTZ Optics

 

 

ACTION CAMERAS

Pros:

  • Price
  • Overall quality
  • Small size convenient for placement

Cons: 

  • Hard to configure
  • Differences between generations makes mix & match difficult
  • Hard to access zoom and focus controls
  • No SDI options

Tips: GoPro's are a good value, but you will need to adjust a few settings to get them to output correctly, I suggest jotting down the working combination in case you need to reconfigure them.

Examples: GoPro Hero 4, Hero 5, Hero 6, and Hero 7

 

 

DSLR CAMERAS

Pros:

  • Great Image Quality
  • Can also be used for videography and filmmaking

Cons:

  • Lenses sold separately
  • Older models have HDMI output limitations
  • Hard to access zoom and focus controls
  • No SDI options

Tips: In general, do not use a DSLR camera, unless you know it can output "Clean HDMI" video (no menus/overlays on screen), and doesn't overheat or shutdown after running for a while.

Examples: Canon EOS Series, Panasonic Lumix GH Series, Sony A7 Series

 

 

CINEMA CAMERAS

Pros:

  • Great Image Quality
  • Can be used for videography and filmmaking
  • Some SDI options

Cons:

  • Lenses sold separately
  • More expensive than DSLR's
  • Hard to access zoom and focus controls

Tips: In general, do not use a Cinema camera, unless you know it can output "Clean HDMI" video (no menus/overlays on screen), and doesn't overheat or shutdown after running for a while.

Examples: Canon Cinema EOS Series

 

 

 

SECURITY CAMERAS

Pros:

  • Cost effective
  • Small size convenient for placement

Cons:

  • Image quality varies
  • Compatibility issues and unsupported formats

Tips: In general, do not use a security cameras, unless you know it can output HDMI or SDI. Some security cameras use signal types like HD-CVI, which looks like SDI with a BNC terminated Coax cable, but is not compatible with Roland products.

Examples: None

 

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