Just like you groom yourself thoroughly before a job interview (or date night), having the right camera when recording video lectures is imperative.
It is more than the packaging. It is literally the lens through which your learners will be viewing you, and therefore, choosing the right video camera calls for careful selection.
The right camera might mean different things depending on what your lecture subject is. We’ve rounded up some of the top considerations that you might want to keep in mind.
So buckle up – we’re about to look at some of the main aspects of selecting an appropriate video camera for creating your online video courses:
From a learners’ point of view, high-resolution cameras are a must-have for reasons stemming from vanity. Low-resolution cameras mean grainy images, which are not flattering. There’s no way they’re going to be down with that.
For the creator, grainy images just make you even more of an old fogie in their eyes (and that seriously dents their respect for you). Then there’s also the fact that the grainy image of you delivering your course could be distracting and just plain low quality for viewers who live their lives through clear, high definition images.
It simply looks unprofessional.
Lastly, unclear and grainy videos might interfere with your learners’ ability to see what you are doing and what you are teaching. And this will almost surely affect the quality of their education.
If you’re buying a webcam now, in 2021, when buyers are way far more demanding than they have been in the past, you might as well put your money into a 1080 pixel model.
Demand has pushed for this category of webcams to become much more affordable right. Now we’d recommend that you do not pinch pennies, but if you’re strapped for cash, you could go with the bare minimum – a 720-pixel webcam.
2. Frame rate
A low frame rate results in images freezing on screen.
Like it isn’t difficult enough to hold the attention of learners in these times when nearly everyone has a low-attention span!
You cannot afford to freeze on screen for even a few seconds, during which your audience might look away for a ‘quick check’ of some notification, never to return again, at least not during your 30 to 40-minute lesson.
Do not accept anything lower than 30 fps (frames per second) at this time. To put it in context, 15fps is the bare minimum for something to be called a video.
3. Wide-angle lenses
Creating courses from home? Think twice about that wide-angle lens.
Of course, everyone loves wide-angle lenses when it comes to nature stills and party photographs, videos of adventure sports, and other memorable moments.
But when we’re teaching from home and trying to protect our privacy (“shirtless toddler appears momentarily on-screen” anecdotes, anyone?), that wide-angle lens might not be something you want to invest in.
Look for lenses with a 65 to 78-degree angle.
You don’t need anything more than that unless, of course, if you’re a dance instructor or a coach in martial arts, or you – for some reason – use multiple boards and screens and need a wide view to conduct your lecture.
Kinda hard to fit that drop-kick into the frame without a wide-angle, right?
You already know what exposure is because we use this edit for under-lit pictures and night shots captured on our smartphones. How well-lit your video emerges is determined by something called the aperture.
F/2.0 to f/2.8 is the range of apertures that you will generally find in webcams today.
Anything lower than that (or in cases where it is not mentioned at all – which usually means it is indeed lower than F2.0) is not acceptable.
Would you accept a smartphone with a 2MP camera in this day and age? No? Same deal.
Most of us don’t sit entirely still while speaking (and not even while trying Shavasan) and even more so when demonstrating any activities.
Autofocus does away with the momentary blurriness that happens when the person on camera moves about.
Investing in ensuring that your camera has autofocus is optional.
It might be more important if your course involves a lot of moving about and a lot of activity. However, especially if costs are a consideration or choice is limited, the absence of autofocus should not make a tremendous difference for most creators.
Not every webcam and computer work together, just like ketchup does not go with everything. Ensure that you jot down the operating system and your computer and then go through the webcam specs that you are considering buying.
Most Windows systems are unlikely to face issues because webcam manufacturers try to appeal to the largest chunk of the market by making their devices compatible with as many computers as possible on the market.
However, if you have a Mac, sometimes even a Linux or a Chromebook, you might run into compatibility issues. #youcantsitwithus
Similarly, if you have an older laptop or desktop computer, you might need to ensure that the webcam’s requirements regarding processor speeds, memory, and hard drive specs.
The bottom line here is: Check thoroughly before you hit buy!
7. In-built microphone
If you can get an in-built microphone with your webcam, excellent. That way, you will avoid the necessity to invest in a separate one.
However, many laptops and desktop PCs come with fully functional microphones (even if their inbuilt webcams might not be acceptable).
Additionally, you can have a cheap and easy fix by just attaching your old school earphones, a pair of headphones, or even connecting in any Bluetooth headphones.
8. Full HD versus HD
If you’re a regular academic educator, you may not need to invest in full HD. However, if your appearance is very important in your job, then full HD is certainly a better way to go.
If you are a grooming guru, for example, your course should ideally be recorded in full HD.
However, for a history teacher or a chemistry lecturer, perhaps such a feature does not compulsorily invite additional investment.
If you’re getting full HD at the same price as HD, go for it. But if not, you need not necessarily invest in it unless you want to.
If you video chat with your friends and bae post-lectures with the same camera, we’d say go for it! HD makes you look better.
Take your time selecting the right video camera for you to record your online courses.
Do make sure that you are clear on your specific, individual requirements before you make your purchase.