Cinematography : Best Camera for Shooting Reality TV by Jouet Dotson

Jouet Dotson

Best Camera for Shooting Reality TV

Hello fellow filmmakers ...i would like your opinios on the best camera for shooting reality TV

Brooks Leibee

Any camera is the best camera when it comes to that kind of subject matter. MTV's "Catfish" uses cameras ranging anywhere from professional level camcorders to point and shoots, even to iPhones. It all depends on how the person behind the camera utilizes the tool.

Nicholas Jordan

Yeah, Brooks Leibee nails it here. Ever heard of The Legend of Krasnogorsk and the crystals?

Andrew Sobkovich

There was a Krasnogorsk with crystal sync? Who Knew??? OK camera though. Last time I shot with one we were randomly momentarily pressing on the turning motor shaft to get flash frames and also did a couple of manual speed ramps. Not a camera to use on a “reality” TV show though. For “reality” TV shows where the operators are going to be handheld for long portions of the day, a shoulder operated ENG based camera is essential. The Sony F800 is one example but there are many to choose from. With very large zoom ratio 2/3” B4 mount lenses these cameras are ergonomic, reliable and do the job. Such work is not a strong suit of the lenses available for Super 35 sized sensors. If any old random cluster of cameras is used, trying to put the show together later means it either looks like an even more amateurish hodgepodge than typical “reality” TV or all of the footage is degraded to the lowest common denominator in terms of quality. Unless there are very specific needs that need to be met implementing such an approach needs careful planning to avoid it looking like rubbish.

Mark Morris

Besides the 2/3 inch sensor camcorders, I like the Sony EX1 with a 1/2 inch sensor and a great zoom range. Its smaller and more versatile (and has the same signal recording) than the EX3. An ASC buddy of mine has shot several features on it and thinks very highly of its quality. I'd say that makes it quite suitable for reality stuff. To avoid arm fatigue in hand-holding it, just use a monopod like this ( Definitely avoid using a Super 35 sensor camera like the Canon C300. That way lies madness!

Royce Allen Dudley

As has been said, reality uses multiple camera types. The best way to determine selection is talk to the post team ( in pre production ) who must ingest endless footage and make sure the cameras chosen have workflows that marry well later. You may find mixed manufacturers cameras on set with different assigned tasks; that's where a seasoned DP comes in in pre production.

Mark Morris

Whatever you do, don't let the post team tell you which cameras to use. Their knowledge of acquisition is nil. They can advise you on the network's required framerate and codec, but that is about all. Whether your primary cameras are Sony, Panasonic, or JVC you will be mixing them with Go-Pros as every reality show does. Choose your main cameras for their handling characteristics that work in your show environment. For instance, you don't want to be caught doing lots of car work with a lens that doesn't focus closer than 4 ft.

Pup Che

It is not the camera it is the woman behind the camera.

Andrew Sobkovich

Pup, care to explain?

Robert Franklin

I need a new camera too! Sometimes it easy to think they are all good enough for a project you are doing .... but thats not the case.

Ken Hall

Arri Alexa, Red Scarlett, Red Raven or the Canon C700. For TV you need the top of the line raw image.

Royce Allen Dudley

Most reality shows use a ton of gear in different formats, from GoPro to handy cams to full ENG style cameras to cine-style rigged cameras, all for different applications. 8 to 10 cameras would be considered simple coverage for most things. Certainly 3 at an absolute minimum, each assigned to certain people, spaces or anticipated events.

Then there are the wireless mics... dozens...

Michael Giordano

I am in the same boat as you. I was told that Netflix won't accept anything less than 4k. So, should we all be thinking 4K if we ever want to submit this type of work for consideration even if its not Netflix? For the quick run-and-gun stuff, I was considering a JVC GY-HM170U Ultra 4K HD 4KCAM (approx. $1200) or a Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD (approx. $900). Anyway...just some thought.

Andrew Sobkovich

Different exhibitors have different Production and Post-Production requirements. Yes, Netflix is 4K. But not just any 4K. These are their requirements.

The choice of what to shoot on for anyone else is quite simply one of two choices. Shoot the specific requirements asked for or shoot for the highest standard asked for and it will fit most of the lesser standards.

Michael Giordano

Of course its always best to start high and be able to downgrade from there. No argument from me.

Mark Vadik

I really like the Panasonic DVX 200

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