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Dance videos create opportunities for dancers and for people who specialize in other areas of expertise, like cinematographers and editors.
Or, you can take on a number of those roles – choreographing, shooting, editing – giving you more control to make what you want to make.
If you’re interested in learning the more “behind-the-lens” part of dance videography, then a logical way to start is by purchasing a camera best for the kinds of videos you want to create.
As dancers and directors ourselves, we compiled a list of “Dancers’ Picks” cameras that we recommend checking out.
And don’t worry – there are budget-friendly options as well. Annnnd action!
1. Canon EOS Rebel Series ($600~$1200)
Any one of the cameras in this series is a great beginner DSLR. They’re the best bang for your buck for both photography and videography. The T5i, which is what STEEZY uses for a lot of event photos, starts at around $600 for an entire kit that includes multiple lenses and useful equipment. You can find a pre-owned older model (T4, T3, T2’s) for a lot cheaper, as well.
- Easy-to-use touch screen LCD for controls in newer models
- The variable angle screen allows you to flip the viewfinder around
- It’s a bit bulky to carry around, especially if you want to swap out the kit lens for bigger ones
- The lens’ autofocus video is not the quickest
2. DJI Osmo (~$600)
Don’t be fooled by the Osmo’s selfi-stick-esque look, it’s a great high quality camera! The selling point for dancers is the smoothness of its videos that is difficult to achieve on other devices.
- Super lightweight and easy to use
- The stabilization makes each shot super smooth. It’s ideal for videos where you want a lot of movement without any shakiness
- Remote camera control through the DJI Go app for your smart phone
- Battery life is relatively short – approximately 1 hour, making it unideal for longer shoots
- The Go App will also drain your smart phone’s battery
3. Go Pro ($200-$500)
Often, we want our dance footage to have a wider frame than our phones or camera lenses allow for. The GoPro is already set to capture in wide-angle, so that problem is taken care of. You can edit the frame in post to include exactly what you want in the shot.
- Compact and convenient
- You can shoot almost anywhere with the right accessories. Underwater shots? Bungee jumping vlogs? No problem
- Built-in wifi for later models
- No LCD screen so you can’t see what you’re capturing unless you use your phone
- Sound quality is not the best
- Only about an hour long battery life
- No focus control
- REALLY not good in low light
4. Sony A7S series ($1,400~$4,000)
These full-frame mirrorless cameras are great for shots in low light for those darker shots. They’re pricey, but the quality is well worth the price.
- Did I say “great” in low light? I meant RIDICULOUS. It’s basically night vision.
- Much lighter and more compact than DSLRs
- Wifi functionality
- Detailed viewfinder
- High-speed autofocus system
- It’s quite.. expensive D:
- Lot of rolling shutter skew, when you move the camera, the video looks jello-y
- Low battery life
5. Panasonic Lumix GH4 ($1,500~$2,500)
Okay okay, I know what you’re thinking. That price tag is pretty hefty! But the GH4 is actually one of the most reasonable mirrorless 4K DSLRs currently on the market. In fact, this is what STEEZY uses for most of our videos on STEEZY Studio! If you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Ross’ pores, you can see them with the GH4 footage.
- Rocket fast autofocus
- Super bang for your buck – the detailed video quality is unsurpassed
- Not ideal for low light shots
- Slow buffering, but this is to be expected for such HUGE raw ..files
6. Your Smartphone
Your Phone! Even if you aren’t quite ready to purchase a camera, you can still get dope video footage with your phone! Most smartphones’ cameras are rather impressively high-quality. With the right accessories and a good eye, it’s definitely possible to do without a pricey camera.
Wide Angle / Fish Eye Lenses ($10-$20)
We often record classes or rehearsals from the back, through the mirror. If you were to try to record from the front of the room, then you’d only get the middle 3 people in the frame. But a fish eye or wide angle lens will expand the scene you’re capturing – easily including everyone in the room. The best part is that these clip-on ones are easily detachable and universal – meaning you can use it on anyone’s phone.
Monopod / Tripod ($20-100)
Ah, the selfie stick. As much as it’s useful for taking front-facing photos of you and your friends, it also comes in clutch when recording video because 1. You can easily capture the shot from different angles 2. You can capture more people in your shots 3. It’s easier to stabilize the shot. Tripods are obviously great for still shots – I.E. class footage of groups or run-throughs of a set in rehearsal. They’re also good if you want to record yourself during those late night garage sessions so you can watch yourself after.
This isn’t an accessory, but an app. Hyperlapse basically stabilizes your footage – which is awesome for dancers who want to create time-lapse videos or even ones in real time without shakiness. The app virtually renders bulky and expensive stabilizers unnecessary – for phone footage, at least.
P.S. it’s also important to note that great lighting plays a huge role in making a good quality video. It’s probably just as, if not more, important as having a “nice camera.”