How to figure out the best camera for your recipe videos!
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Before you start selecting cameras to produce your cooking videos, take a step back, be honest with yourself, and ask: do you need to use this camera for a hobby or for business? If you want to do this just for a hobby, then stop reading and buy whatever camera you want to buy! If you’re shopping for a camera intended for producing videos for clients, then you better keep reading.
A lot of beginner food photographers/recipe videographers think they need “the best” cameras and equipment to start producing good-quality videos. But I’m here to ease your expectations on that a bit. You don’t actually need the more expensive equipment, you just need the right equipment. What it really comes down to is that expensive equipment is actually more of a want than a need.
When I started with photography, I thought that the more expensive the camera and lenses, the better image quality I could produce. Now I think totally differently! Using a top-notch camera helps, but only to a point. Over my years of equipment trial-and-error, what I ultimately found out was that all I really needed was a good, affordable camera with a diverse range of affordable lenses to get the quality and effects I desired in my content.
To help you better understand the equipment factors to keep in mind, and to help you figure out what will work the best for your particular video needs, I have broken down my formula for figuring out the Best Camera for Cooking Videos!
Is Bigger (more expensive) Really Better?
So, do you really need a bigger and more expensive camera to produce good cooking videos? Think about it this way: do you need a big, fancy spaceship to go to the grocery store? No, you don’t! The same goes for making good-quality recipe video content. You don’t need to break the bank to get the best, you just need equipment that will help you get the job done.
I started out with a more expensive set-up because it’s what I thought I needed. But it didn’t take very long before it came time to start replacing my equipment for one reason or another. And when that time came, I faced a big decision: continue to go with the more expensive camera and lenses or search for more affordable equipment that will do the job without costing a small fortune.
Well, instead of diving into a whole new costly set-up, I took a step back, asked myself what I really needed and started shopping for more affordable options. When I started shopping and comparing prices, I realized that I could get a camera under $1000 and get a range of different lenses to fill all of my cooking video needs. After all, for my video content, I don’t need all the functions a camera can possibly come with, just a few specific ones.
Ultimately, when it comes time to find the best camera equipment for cooking videos, you just need to narrow down the most important camera functions for your daily recording needs, and compare costs.
Break Down the Basics
Before camera shopping, ask yourself: what specific camera functions do you need for your particular videos? Then, make a list. When I was trying to figure this out for myself, I wrote down what the most important camera functions were that I needed to use on a day-to-day basis to produce my cooking videos. For me it came down to these particular camera functions:
- Cost of replacement – this is so important to keep in mind!
- 4K capability – not just HD
- Slow motion – 120 fps
- Fairly good image quality
- RAW image file format
- Interchangeable lenses
- Physical weight of the camera
- Customized shooting modes (memory recall)
After figuring out what specifics you need to look for, it’s time to compare costs. Not just start-up costs for the camera, lenses, and other equipment, but the cost of future replacements as well! I cannot emphasize this point enough! For us food photographers and recipe videographers, accidents happen a lot more often than we’d like. Equipment gets dropped, spills occur, and sometimes the equipment stops functioning for unknown reasons.
When I bought my initial expensive camera lenses they ended up sitting there collecting dust most of the time. For lenses that can cause damage or functioning problems, which can also be super expensive to replace. Replacing your camera equipment is inevitable and you don’t want to have to break the bank every time it happens.
I personally use 2-3 cameras for my videos which could easily rack up some expensive replacement costs in no time. This was one of the very first factors I took into consideration. If the camera (or a lens) breaks, what will be the cost of replacing it?
After switching to a more affordable camera, I felt so much better about it that I decided to downsize all of my equipment! As I said, replacing the equipment is inevitable and now it’s not nearly as devastating when those undesirable accidents happen.
Best camera for cooking videos
|One camera set up||Two cameras set up|
|Camera, Sony A6400||$898||$1,796|
|Zoom lens, Sony 16-50mm||$148||$148|
|Telephoto lens, Sony E 55-210mm||$265|
|Batteries and charger||$38||$38|
|Tether tool support**||$21||$42|
|Total for camera equipment||$1,164||$2,335|
|External monitors equipment|
|Micro HDMI to HDMI cable (15 feet) between field monitor and camera**||$10||$20|
|C -Stand for field monitor(s)||$105||$105|
|Total for external monitors equipment||$210||$315|
|C -Stand with grip arm||$119||$238|
|Camera connect adapter(s)||$30||$60|
|Total for camera stands||$149||$298|
|White desk top||$58||$58|
|MDF board with contact paper||$33||$33|
|Total for background||$131||$131|
|Dracast DRP-LK-2×1000-BG 2 X LED1000 Bi-color**||$999||$999|
|Dracast Softbox for LED1000**||$178||$178|
|Dracast S Series Bi-color LED500**||$599|
|Total for lighting equipment||$1,177||$1,776|
|Total set up cost*||$2,831||$4,855|
|*Prices are subject to change per retail store and country.|
|** optional for one camera set up|
Shop for Needs First, Wants Later
After I figured out what specific functions I needed, it was easy for me to compare different cameras and brands. And I’m so glad I did! About 1.5 year after my initial upgrade (or downsize), one of my cameras stopped functioning. (I told you, it happens more often than you might think!) But since I had decided on an affordable camera, it was fairly painless for me to replace the broken camera!
At the time when I was originally upgrading my equipment the best choice for me was to go with the Sony a6300. When that camera stopped working on me and I went to replace it, I found out that particular model had been discontinued. However, I quickly and easily found a similar model to replace it perfectly! Let me tell you, it would not have been nearly as easy to find a replacement equivalent if it had been an expensive camera.
- Currently the Sony a6300 camera is discontinued and the Sony a6400 is the equivalent.
Now, once you have an affordable work set-up that is your daily go-to, then it’s time for some fun! I do own my expensive fun camera that I purchased just because I wanted it. It’s for me, not for daily work use. I couldn’t resist and treated myself to a Sony a7 III, but not because I felt like I needed it.
But, big but here, my Sony a6400 does everything I need it to as well as the Sony a7 III does for work purposes. So, when it comes to business, why spend double on a fancy camera when I can get a more affordable camera with the same specific functions that I need for daily use?
Over time, I found out that I can actually make great-quality videos using my more affordable cameras and lenses, and that they actually work out better for me in the long run than my more expensive cameras did! It all comes down to figuring out what specific camera functions you need for your content and keeping future replacement costs in mind.
Figure out what specific functions you need and compare the best price options for that equipment set-up. Then, when you want to invest in a camera just for the fun of it, get whatever your heart desires!
Need More Equipment Help?
I understand how helpful it is to be able to take in as much information as possible when getting started out with video recipes or food photography. To help you feel more confident in your equipment decisions, check out some more of my helpful blogs on video recipe equipment:
- My Favorite Cooking Video Tools
- Best Equipment for Video Recipes
- 7 Tips for Studio Equipment Safety
- 5 Ways to Improve Studio Organization
- Best Backgrounds for Video Recipes
- Storing Backgrounds for Food Photography
- Backdrops and Backgrounds