The Best Affordable Live Stream Cameras For Churches

Brady Shearer
Brady Shearer
Jul 21, 2020
min read

Ready to discover the best live stream camera for churches that won’t break the bank?


The best live stream camera for churches is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. At just $1,295 USD, the BMPCC 4K is accessible for many churches – while still boasting impressive specs normally found on cameras at least 3X more expensive.

But that’s just part of the story…

Because there’s no such thing as the perfect camera for every church. So is this camera the right one for you?

Keep reading to find out.


The Best Live Streaming Camera For The Most Churches

Here’s the bottom line:

There is no perfect camera.

No single camera that will be the right choice for every single church. But it’s my belief that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is the best choice for the most churches.

So that begs the question – how do we know if this is the right one for us?

Simply stated, there are seven strengths that set this camera apart from others.

But let’s first acknowledge the camera’s weaknesses…

It’s my belief that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is the best choice for the most churches

3 Reasons You Should NOT Get The Blackmagic Pocket 4K

Let’s highlight the key weaknesses of the BMPCC 4K.

Namely, this camera does not have in-body image stabilization or continuous autofocus capabilities. Many modern cameras do have this technology – the Blackmagic Pocket 4K does not.

However, for the purposes of a live streaming setup, neither of these should negatively affect us.

When setup for live streaming, your camera should be on a tripod – making a lack of image stabilization obsolete. Moreover, relying on autofocus for live streaming should be avoided.

The one feature missing from this camera that does pertain to live streaming, is a lack of auto-zoom lenses. This is a cinema camera – not a camcorder. So you won’t be able to control zoom with the press of a button. Instead, you’ll need to manually do that using the barrel of the lens.

Personally, I don’t consider this a significant barrier – but you should be aware of it.

7 Reasons The Blackmagic 4K Is The Ideal Solution For The Most Churches

Now, let’s get to the strengths of this camera.

What sets the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K apart from the rest?

Reason #1 – Affordability

The list price for BMPCC 4K camera body is $1,295 USD – making it accessible for many, many churches.

The best part about a cost-effective camera?

That means more money for other parts of your live stream setup – like audio equipment, tripods, switchers, encoders, etc.

Bottom line:

Cameras in the same price range as the Pocket 4K aren’t nearly as capable.


Reason #2 – Versatility

The Pocket 4K is an exceptional live streaming camera. But it is also an exceptional cinema camera.

Why is this important?

It means that with just one camera you gain the flexibility to create any kind of video you could want for your church.

This is unusual. Because most cameras excel in one category – but not both. And then, when you remember the cost – it’s that much more impressive.

For years, churches have been forced to invest in production cameras for their weekend live streams. Plus, additional cameras for narrative and storytelling videos.

With the BMPCC 4K, you can do it all.

The Blackmagic Pocket 4K is an exceptional live streaming camera. But it’s also an exceptional cinema camera. This is unusual. Because most cameras excel in one category – but not both.

Reason #3 – Pairs Perfectly With Blackmagic Switchers

Another benefit of shooting with the Blackmagic Pocket 4K camera is that it pairs perfectly with the rest of Blackmagic’s line of live streaming equipment.

As an example, we’ve paired the Pocket 4K in our live stream studio with the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro.

This is a switcher from Blackmagic that allows us to remotely control the camera from our live streaming software.

I can remotely adjust white balance, exposure, focus, shutter speed, ISO, and even color grade our footage live while adding audio effects like compression, EQ, and limiters to the embedded audio.

If we were using a third-party camera, instead of the BMPCC 4K, that would not be possible.

Additionally, Blackmagic continues to release new firmware and updates in support of their cameras. In fact, I’ve been recommending the Pocket 4K to churches for a couple of years now, but in the past, I’ve explicitly said: “This is a cinema camera. Not a live streaming camera.”

That was until April of 2020 when Blackmagic released a firmware update that introduced new features turning the BMPCC 4K into a full-fledged production monster.

Reason #4 – Compact Size

Another element that sets this camera apart is the form factor. Blackmagic put it right in the name – pocket.

This is a very compact camera.

A Black Magic Design camera.
I always prefer to shoot with smaller cameras

And personally, my preference is to always shoot with smaller cameras when possible.

Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Smaller cameras are easier to shoot handheld
  • Smaller cameras take up less space in our studio setups
  • Smaller cameras are less intimidating when shooting interviews or testimony videos
  • Smaller cameras draw less attention to themselves when out in public
  • A smaller camera means I have more room in my gear bag for other items – and allows for lighter travel overall

Reason #5 – Image Quality

If you want to know about my bias on camera choices, I will always prefer the camera that can produce a better image.

And that’s why I was first drawn to the BMPCC 4K.

Here are a few key specs that make the Pocket 4K capable of capturing a stunning image:

  • Micro Four Thirds Sensor (compared to many camcorders and cameras with smaller sensors, the Pocket 4K will more easily allow you to capture a shallow depth-of-field – blurred out background)
  • A larger sensor also means better low-light performance (which can be helpful in church settings with darker auditoriums/sanctuaries)
  • Record in 4K 12-bit RAW or 10-bit ProRes
  • 13 stops of advertised dynamic range (dynamic range measures the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of your image that can be successfully captured – and it’s one of the most important factors when it comes to capturing a cinematic image)
  • Input custom LUTs (this means you can color grade your live stream in real-time to give it a cinematic and polished look – which is the look that I personally love)

Reason #6 – Future-Proof

This Blackmagic Pocket 4K is already a couple of years old. And you’ll be able to stick with this camera for years still.

Naturally, when our churches are investing in camera equipment, we want to know what we’re choosing to buy will still be relevant and useful in the years ahead.

And while camera manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with list specs of 8K and 12K resolution on newer camera releases, the quality of image the Pocket 4K can produce will be more than enough for virtually any church over the next 3-5 years.

Rest assured, if you choose this camera, you won’t need to soon replace it because it has become dated.

Reason #7 – Internal Recording

Picture this…

You’re live streaming with the Pocket 4K. It looks good. But it’s still just a live stream. And your data rate is being throttled – either by your Internet speed or by YouTube/Facebook’s bitrate limits. And by the time people see your stream online on their device, it doesn’t look nearly as good as it did in-camera.

That’s just how it goes with live production.

But what the Pocket 4K allows you to do, is record internally a separate copy of your service, while simultaneously streaming online.

So after your live stream is done, you could take your separate internal recording (recorded at a much higher quality), bring it into Da Vinci Resolve (a free video editing software I recommend and use), color grade and edit the footage, upload that to YouTube and your website – and now your final published version of that service will look outstanding; much better than your original live stream.

And yes, this requires more work and may not be something every church cares about (for me, I’m always going to prioritize image quality). But this is yet another example of how capable and flexible the Pocket 4K camera is.

Best Lens For The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

A final note on this camera:

The Pocket 4K does not come with a lens. My recommendation? The Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8.

It’s compact. High-quality. Future-proof. This lens will run you about $900 USD. And will work nicely in church situations where your stage is anywhere from 20-60 feet away from where your camera is setup.

A Lumix G camera lens.
My preferred lens for the BMPCC 4K is the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8

Additional Camera Options For Church Live Streaming

Now, let’s talk about a couple of other camera options.

Because, again, there is no such thing as the perfect camera. No single solution for every church.

So what are some alternatives?

If you like the cinematic features of the Pocket 4K, but need something more affordable, the Panasonic G7 is a good option. You can pick up this camera with a lens included for right around $500 USD.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you prefer a camcorder, the Canon G50 is a great option. This will cost you around $1,000 USD. A camcorder will give you the power to focus and zoom with the touch of a button – but your image quality won’t match that of a cinema camera like the Pocket 4K.

More Live Streaming Resources For Churches

Dive deeper into live streaming for churches using the links below:


Free bonus

Download The iPhone Church Photography Case Study – learn to shoot stunning photos for your church with only your phone.

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Free bonus

Download The iPhone Church Photography Case Study – learn to shoot stunning photos for your church with only your phone.

Download Case Study
Free bonus

Download The iPhone Church Photography Case Study – learn to shoot stunning photos for your church with only your phone.

Download Case Study

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