What Is A Video Camera?

Are you a novice in videography? There are certain tools you can not do without as a videographer, that is if you want to excel in it off course. One of such tools is the video camera. If you have no idea or a little idea of what a video camera is, this guide is right for you. we would be defining video cameras in this guide. If you are interested in having knowledge of video cameras, then read through.

Video camera

A camera that captures moving images and converts them into electronic signals so that they can be saved on a storage device, such as videotape or a hard drive, or viewed on a monitor.

The video camera is a camera used for electronic motion picture acquisition (as opposed to a movie camera, which records images on film), initially developed for the television industry but now common in other applications as well.

Video cameras are used primarily in two modes. The first, characteristic of much early broadcasting, is live television, where the camera feeds real-time images directly to a screen for immediate observation.

A few cameras still serve live television production, but most live connections are for security, military/tactical, and industrial operations where surreptitious or remote viewing is required.

In the second mode, the images are recorded to a storage device for archiving or further processing; for many years, videotape was the primary format used for this purpose, but was gradually supplanted by optical disc, hard disk, and then flash memory.

Recorded video is used in television production, and more often surveillance and monitoring tasks in which unattended recording of a situation is required for later analysis.

The Video Camera – History

Today, the video camera is a tool that is so deeply woven into everyday life that it seems strange to find a person without one. Whether on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or another device, most of us carry video technology and seldom think about it. However, when one stops to consider the history of this device’s development, one develops a new respect for the advances in the technology of motion photography.

It is important to differentiate the video camera from a “movie” camera, which is a motion picture camera that utilizes photographic film to record images. Film cameras have a long and varied history dating back to the late 19th century.

Modern cameras utilize video technology rather than film. This is an electronic format that has historically been stored on various media such as magnetic tape, CCD chips, and solid-state flash memory.

The video camera was initially developed for use in broadcast media. In the early 1900s, the first experiments in image transmission were completed. A Scottish engineer named John Logie Baird contributed to this work with a variation of an older device known as a “Nipkow disk,” a mechanical device that breaks an image into “scanlines” using a rotating disc with holes cut into it.

Early televisions produced mechanical video images, but by the 1930s, new all-electronic designs based on a cathode-ray video camera tube, including two prominent versions by engineers Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin, replaced the mechanical variations with electron scanning technology. This system, which was created for broadcasting, became the standard in the television industry and remained in wide use until the 1980s.

Cathode ray tubes were suitable for broadcast purposes, but the question of a medium for recording was a challenge. The obvious choice was magnetic tape, a technology that was already in use for sound recording.

However, figuring out how to contain the tape remained elusive throughout the mid-20th century because it held a higher volume of information.

Two companies, JVC and Panasonic, introduced a great advancement in video recording when they developed the first self-contained large format video cassette tapes in the 1970s. This invention came later to consumer prominence in the 1980s via the video camcorder, a device that brought video recording into the mainstream.

Dedicated filmmakers are interested in video-capable DSLR cameras because they feature relatively large sensors compared to standard video cameras. This lends a large format look (with shallow depth of field), and their interchangeable lenses provide a wide range of focal lengths. These cameras also have the benefit of better lowlight performance and more options for lenses when shooting.

The goal when shooting video is very similar to digital photography: capture and achieve the best translation of the scene (from your vision) to a high-quality image. With video capture, there are several challenges to achieving a visually compelling and technically superior image.

In the professional photography realm, this requires understanding all the choices and making appropriate decisions to best match image quality to workflow needs.

As you start to look at the video features of a DSLR camera, it is very easy to succumb to marketing-speak confusion created by camera manufacturers. You may feel pressure to purchase the latest and greatest when it comes to video DSLRs.

But the camera won’t be of much use if it doesn’t feel right in your hands or the sensor crop factor frames your subject in a way that’s objectionable to you. You can’t do much with the footage if the camera doesn’t shoot the frame rate or resolution that your project requires. Which video-enabled DSLR you choose is largely a matter of personal preference.

Factors To Consider When Getting a Video Camera:

There are several factors to consider.

  • Cost
  • Form factor
  • Sensor resolution and size
  • Crop factor
  • Available frame rates and frame sizes
  • On-camera LCD


Cost is always a consideration and it certainly factors into camera choice. The video quality captured on most entry-level DSLR cameras closely matches the top-of-the-line cameras. Where these cameras truly differ tends to be in still image performance. There are of course subtle differences, with the more expensive camera models often providing a greater level of manual control over camera settings.

It is highly recommended that you balance your needs for video acquisition with still image quality. Many photographers have found that they can add a lower-cost DSLR video camera while continuing to shoot on their existing camera for still work.

Additionally, many photographers will add lower-cost camera models for additional angles of coverage when shooting video. Extra, affordable, camera bodies let them leverage their investment in lenses.

Form factor

When shooting video, you are no longer freezing motion (but capturing it continuously). As such, vibrations or unwanted movement can impact the usability of your footage dramatically. How the camera handles and its physical feeling is an important part of choosing a video-enabled DSLR.

If the camera doesn’t feel right, you’ll probably be thinking about how hard the camera is to operate rather than focusing on important tasks like capturing great video. As when evaluating a camera body for use as a still camera, you want the camera to meet specific criteria.

Sensor resolution and size

When comparing cameras for shooting stills, it seems like the megapixel wars will never end. The use of megapixels is often used as an easy-to-understand “measuring stick” for image quality. While an 8-megapixel camera was considered high-end just a few years ago, you can now find that resolution in a smartphone.

When it comes to sensor resolution and video, don’t let the megapixel count influence your choice of the camera body. For most, the DSLR camera will be used to shoot both stills and video. You will want to choose a camera body that meets the megapixel requirements of your still images and don’t worry about sensor resolution for video.

When shooting video on a DSLR camera, you’ll be using only a fraction of the available pixels on the sensor. Take for example the 21.1-megapixel Canon 5D MKII, which has a max resolution of 5616 x 3744 when taking still photos. When shooting video at 1920 x 1080, your effective megapixel count is only 2.1 megapixels!

The area to be more concerned with is the size of the sensor. If a manufacturer tries to push the megapixel count too high on a camera sensor it can cause problems. As you increase the number of pixels on a sensor, the more tightly packed those pixels will be. Higher density sensors (a lot of pixels packed into a small space) can possibly increase noise that is visible in the stills and video of that camera.

Crop factor

Another important factor for photographers to consider is whether the sensor is “full-frame” or will crop the angle of view of the lens. When the digital sensor is smaller than the original format covered by the lens, the angle of view of the lens is cropped. When shooting video, you typically are not using the full sensor, but a cropped sensor will still impact your shooting style.

For instance, the standard 35mm format is 36mm x 24 mm in size. Many DSLR cameras have sensors that are 23.6mm x 15.7 mm, which is approximately 2/3 size. This results in a crop factor of 1.5. A 300mm lens on a 1.5 crop factor camera will have the same magnification as a 300mm lens on a full-frame camera, but the image will be cropped to the same angle of view that you would get with a 450mm lens on the full-frame camera.

The crop factor can be an advantage when shooting video as it will let you capture closer shots from a further distance. But it can also be a disadvantage if you need a wider view.

Supported frame sizes and frame rates

As you compare DSLR cameras capable of shooting video, there are two major options that will vary between manufacturers. There are two HD video sizes (1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720) and multiple frame rates. When evaluating a camera body, be sure to check out the maximum frame size the camera supports.

  • 1920 x 1080: Choose a camera with a maximum frame size of 1920 x 1080 if you want the best resolution that HD video supports. You may also need this site if you’re doing lots of video projects for broadcast television.
  • 1280 x 720: Cameras with a resolution of 1280 x 720 are capable of producing beautiful images. Although not the highest resolution, they are still considered high definition. Many lower-end and entry-level cameras with video features offer this resolution.
  • Another feature to consider with a video-enabled DSLR is what frame rates it supports. Frame rates in use for video will often vary by country and broadcast standard. The most flexible cameras will offer these frame rates.
  • 24fps (23.98fps): A rate that closely matches that of motion picture film
  • 25fps: The common frame rate of video used in Europe and around the world that uses the PAL standard.
  • 30fps (29.97fps): The most common frame rate for broadcast in the U.S., Japan, and other countries using the NTSC standard.
  • 60fps (59.94fps): A common frame rate for 720p HD video. It can be used to create slow-motion video effects (a process called overcranking).
  • Above 60fps: Anything shot faster than 60fps is typically used for slow-motion playback.


Having read through the above guide, you know what a video camera is. Video cameras offer the best video experience for videographers.

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