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Guerrilla Documentary: Small & Light Cameras

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/4/2011

When you are filming in sensitive situations you are going to need to choose a camera that will meet your needs but stay small in size.

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    On the Move

    The ability to move quickly can be a critical element for certain documentary projects where important footage may not be filmed with ease. In these cases your equipment must match your desire for fast footage, and should not be out of place for the situation. To be able to keep yourself on the move a perfect digital video camera needs to be selected.

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    Sizing and Imaging

    The key thing to look for in a camera for guerilla documentary production is to be both lightweight and able to get a good image. The idea here is that you will need to be able to move freely with it, take it out and put it away quickly, and be able to maneuver it at the drop of a hat. Look for a camera that weighs less than a few pounds but still retains the features you need. You are going to want the ability to plug in several microphones, have an LCD panel instead of just a viewfinder, and the ability to change lenses.

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    Making Choices

    The best way to choose these is to look toward the prosumer line because they tend to retain a camcorder size but give you most of the features of a professional camera. Likewise, if you have some money to spend you may be able to find professional digital video cameras that will keep the size and weight down. Sony’s PD-170 is a standard for digital video cameras that are intended to be both fairly light weight and inexpensive. If you need to step up the quality somewhat, and if you demand high definition capabilities for you footage, you may want to look toward Sony’s Z1U. Canon is often considered the highest level for smaller sized digital video camcorders, but they do not have many cameras that stand out as being focused around high quality imaging being coupled with miniature sizes.

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    Make sure the camera is going to be able to utilize a variety of small storage methods because this is going to be easy to deal with than changing mini digital video tapes when on the move. Also keep in mind that you may need to strap it to your body or to carrying devices during video transit, so look for those features. The best camera in this case is one that is not going to weigh you down but has a resilient image no matter what kind of environmental conditions you are in.