For most of my video work that isn’t shot with one of my drones, I use a combination of footage from two different cameras, each of which serves its own unique purpose. Read below to see the two models that I recommend, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Moving Footage and Action Camera
When the footage requires a moving camera, such as when walking, riding in a car, or panning across a wide vista, I use a stabilized camera system called a ‘gimbal’ that uses motors to counteract my jerky movements to keep the camera steady on the subject or the horizon.
I use the DJI Osmo Camera Gimbal because it is an all-in-one unit that can display the video feed on your phone, but does not require it. There are gimbals that can utilize your iPhone or Android’s camera, but these can be cumbersome to use. The video below shot in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana shows the capabilities of the Osmo – any shots that weren’t from the air were shot with this camera.
- Extremely stabile footage
- Easy to operate joystick
- Ability to connect phone for live feed
- Interchangeable batteries
- Various accessories (extension pole, tripod)
- Hard case included
- Takes high quality still shots as well
- Somewhat fragile, and not dust/waterproof
- Somewhat pricey (~$500)
- Battery charger doesn’t display progress, only charging and fully charged
- Only comes with one battery
- Can’t tell battery status unless connected to phone
- 4 Steps to turn on (becomes muscle memory, however)
- Slow motion footage has difficulty with bright light
- Cannot attach to a standard tripod (mount is on unit’s side)
Also, if you plan on using the Osmo more than just once in a blue moon, I recommend buying a few extra batteries. I took a leap of faith buying non-DJI brand batteries, but after months of use and many charges, have found that there is no discernible difference in quality or battery life.
If the $400+ price tag of the Osmo is scaring you off, there is also a lower cost option that allows you to use your phone camera, rather than a separate camera. Read our blog post here about how to shoot steady iPhone video, and consider an iPhone gimbal that is usually less than $150.
Stationary Video Footage
For video that doesn’t require the camera to move (such as a wedding ceremony), I recently purchased the Sony RX100 Mk iii, which I have already become quite impressed with. I bought it due to the rave reviews, as well as the ultimate compact footprint (especially when compared to much larger DSLR cameras). And, at 20.1 megapixels, it takes incredible still shots as well.
The all-in-one camera can fit in the palm of your hand, and after just a few days of use, I cannot recommend this camera enough. In the automatic mode, the camera adjusted itself perfectly for the different light settings, and also captured audio that rivaled that of my professional level microphone unit. In addition, I have had fun playing with the variable aperture video mode, allowing you to easily create cinematic shots where the background is out of focus.
In the video below, any scene where I am talking or the camera is completely still was shot with the Sony RX100 Mk iii.
- Extremely portable
- All-in one (no detachable lens)
- High quality still shots and video
- Great autofocus capability
- Moderate Price (~$550)
- Pop up viewfinder with OLED information display
- 24-70mm zoom equivalent
- Slim size can be difficult to handle
- Viewing screen isn’t touch capable
- Doesn’t come with separate battery charger
- Doesn’t come with a carrying case
- No detachable/upgradeable lens (also a benefit)