Choosing the right camera is the most important decision you'll make in your videography business. Most consumer cameras record in HD and connect seamlessly with laptops and desktop computers, but you'll want to look at the specs a little more carefully when choosing a camera for professional jobs. Whether you're doing wedding photography or broadcast work, look for a camera that performs well under the conditions you'll be shooting in.
1Memory: Digital cameras have built-in memory and removable memory cards. HD video takes up a lot of memory, so look for a camera that supports high-capacity memory cards. Calculate the amount of time you'll be shooting and purchase enough memory to cover the time without having to switch out cards every several minutes. If you're shooting short segments or standard-definition video and you don't want to bother with removable memory cards, look for a camera with a lot of built-in memory.
2Resolution: Even most consumer-grade video cameras have HD capability now, but if you're shooting professional video for television or movies, check to make sure the camera's resolution is broadcast quality. In the U.S., this means the video should meet NTSC color balance and gamma correction resolution standards. This requirement is only relevant for older "standard definition" TVs and monitors, so it will be a consideration only if you're shooting for broadcast as opposed to Internet or home viewing. For wedding and non-broadcast videography, any HD camera that shoots in low light should have adequate resolution for your needs.
3Features: Depending on the type of videography you're doing, you may want to invest in different lenses or filters that attach to the end of your lens. Some examples are wide-angle lenses that allow you to shoot a much larger area than a regular lens and diffusion filters that gives everything a soft, hazy look. Make sure your camera supports attachments and changeable lenses if you anticipate using them. Also look for a camera with an appropriate zoom range for your needs. If you'll be shooting from a distance, test out the quality of the footage when you're at full zoom. If you're going to use a tripod and external monitor the screen size won't matter so much, but if you're going to shoot handheld footage make sure the screen size is large and clear enough for you to set up shots.
4Connections: Consider your whole digital workflow when choosing a camera. Are you going to edit on the fly on a laptop? Make sure the camera supports connections that will work with your laptop. A FireWire connection transfers data faster than a standard USB cable, so keep that in mind. As a professional videographer you'll use external microphones and lights to get the best sound and video footage, so look for a microphone jack and a way to attach an external light. Finally, external headphones are a must for checking sound quality on professional shoots, so make sure you've got a headphone jack.