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Camera For Self Tape Auditions – Types And How To Choose

As a beginner, I had a lot of doubts about cameras for self-tape auditions. For a long time, I believed a high-quality and expensive camera setup would help me crack more auditions. 

And I believe you have similar kinds of thoughts. You want the right camera to crack the important auditions. 

Here you will get every bit of information about cameras, how they affect your performance and which one you should get. 

best camera for self tape

Types Of Cameras For Self Tapes

You can choose various cameras from a basic 48-megapixel camera to an Alexa Arri. 

But for self-tapes, there are a few types of cameras that you should consider. And forget about the rest until you are a photographer or filmmaker. 

Out of all types, only three, I believe, are sufficient for shooting a self tape with minimal lighting or no lighting. 

iPhone 13 Mini Camera Test

Smartphone

I wouldn’t have considered suggesting phone cameras for shooting self-tape auditions a few years back. 

But today, most cameras today are powerful enough to shoot a movie. 

Take the example of the iPhone. The camera is so good that many big Hollywood directors use it in their movies. 

It takes these scenes from the Black Swann. It was shot on iPhone. 

There are many other movies shot using a phone camera. 

If filmmakers use it for movies, it is perfectly okay to use it for self-tapes. 

However, not all phones are good for shooting videos. When choosing smartphones for self-tapes, look for a high-resolution camera, in-built modes for cinematography, and brighter images even in low light conditions. 

DSLR

Smartphone has one disadvantage. It is used for quite a lot of other purposes. So whenever you have to shoot self-tape, you will spend some time just setting the camera. 

With cameras like DSLR, you have a dedicated camera set up just for your auditions. 

Create a self-tape set up in one corner of your home. 

So whenever you need to shoot a new audition, you just have to switch on the lights and hit the record button. 

Not just that, DSLR cameras provide much higher quality images compared to smartphones

Videos shot on iPhones may look high quality on the small screen, but as soon you play them on a large screen, you will see the difference. 

It won’t be as good as the video captured on a DSLR.

Another advantage of DSLR compared to smartphones is the Lens. 

The lenses you get on phones are small and are limited, but with DSLRs, you can open up various shots and frames without compromising the quality and detail.

Mirrorless

DSLRs use a reflex mirror to get you the image. Whereas, as the name suggests, it has no mirror. 

The light goes directly through the lens and falls on the sensor to generate the image. 

Without getting too technical, you can say that mirrorless is a newer and better version of DSLR cameras. 

They tend to be light in weight, provide quality images, and you can view the live image. 

However, they are more expensive compared to DSLRs or smartphones. 

You can say both are almost similar when it comes to capability. But if you want 4k or UHD video quality, you will have to buy expensive DSLR cameras and lenses, whereas even the budget mirrorless camera can give the result. 

What Camera Is Best For Self-Tape Auditions?

 All the actors do not have the same requirements and budgets. So I suggest looking into your requirement before you choose the camera. To understand more about your requirements, try to answer these questions:

  • How many self tapes do you shoot in a month?
  • Do you use the camera for other purposes like photography, filmmaking, vlogging etc.?
  • Do you have other equipment for sales tape like a professional lighting backdrop, microphone, etc.?
  • And finally, how much money are you willing to invest in a camera?

By answering these questions, you will be able to understand your needs and what type of camera will be suitable for you.

I have listed three groups, and answers to the above questions determine which group you belong to. 

Beginner Actor

If you are an actor just starting and receiving a few requests for self tapes per month, then you belong to this group.

As a new actor, I would not advise you to get an expensive DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Rather, I suggest going with a smartphone. 

I recommend you to get an iPhone or a Google Pixel. 

If you own some other phone, just upgrade it to recommend phones.

Our Recommendation To beginner Actors:

iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max

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I was talking to a fellow actor booking several TVCs in a month. I asked him what camera he used to shoot his self-tapes for these commercials? He said, “ he was using his iPhone 12 and recently upgraded it iPhone 13 pro.”

He also said that casting agents sometimes would ask him to send a self-tape shot on phones rather than a DSLR because the camera software the phone uses is designed to make a face look good. 

One great feature of the iPhone that you can take advantage of is the cinematic mode. It allows you to adjust the focus and create depth in the background. This mode makes the self-tape auditions look good. 

Also Read:

Google Pixel 6 pro

Google Pixel 6 pro

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If you are not a big fan of iOS and you are more of an Andriod user, Google Pixel 6 pro is the best option. Of course, you can go for Google Pixel 5 or the new Pixel 6, but for the best features, go for the Pixel pro. 

The Pixel uses a 50-megapixel camera sensor which provides dynamic video recording capability. 

For a self-tape, a phone camera like on Google is just perfect. If you want to use a wide lens, it uses a 12 MP lens. 

Professional Actor

If you are an actor who is regularly booking gigs and has to send out several self-tape auditions every month, you belong to this category. 

Your requirement is different from that of a beginner actor. Since you must send out auditions almost every few days, you need to have the proper camera set up for self-tape. 

Also, you need cameras with high-quality videos which look good even when seen on a large screen. 

Since, you are already booking some gigs. You can invest in some expensive cameras. 

Here are some of the best cameras that you can buy:

Panasonic Lumix G7

Panasonic Lumix G7

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I like the type of DSLR camera that is easy to use without setting too many things. Because I am an actor. My job is to act and not worry about the camera settings. 

So I prefer cameras that do everything for me. 

You can consider Lumix G7 an entry-level digital camera that is good for shooting videos.  You can use it with a quality lens to improve the quality of the videos. 

Using the camera, you can shoot up to 4k videos. But for self tapes you won’t be using such a huge resolution. 

Its features like autofocus, intuitive control, and big viewfinder help you to work quickly. 

You don’t have to set too many things before you start shooting, which is why I like cameras like G7. 

You can consider the camera even if you are a beginner. It doesn’t cost much compared to other cameras. 

Canon 90D

Canon 90D

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I have personally used 80D for years. We have shot short films and headshots with it. But I recommend you get 90D as the next version of 80D. Because 80D is not available most of the time, being an old camera. 

However, most of the features of 80D are available with 90D. However, you will spend around $1500 on this camera. Even though it looks expensive, it’s worth it. The quality of the image is sharp and detailed. 

Even when you capture it at 4k, the video has a lot of details. Using the camera with proper lighting could be your go-to camera for capturing self tapes. 

I also recommend your camera for photography. If you also do the modeling or constantly add photos on your social media page, use 90D. 

But if the camera is heavier, I recommend you get a sturdy tripod to manage it.

Filmmaker 

If you are like me, who not only wants a camera for self-tape but wants to shoot short films or shoot for YouTube videos, you need one that is made for filmmakers. 

But mind you, these cameras will be expensive. Buy them if you need them beyond self-tapes. 

If not, choose from the above options. 

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS R5

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Canon has recently released EOS R cameras. These are probably the best canon cameras you can get.

These are mirrorless cameras designed for professional use. The color and detail it produces are unmatchable. 

Once, we used it to make a short film. The whole story was set in a dungeon, and the director wanted low light for the film and needed a red tone. 

Our cinematographer tried different cameras, including 80D, which I had. But we ended up using EOS R5. It gave the best result for the lighting we had set up. 

Using R5 just for self-tapes would be like burning your money. It costs more than $3200 just for the body. With a lens kit, it could go beyond $4000. Get it only if you want to use it for short films, independent films, or videos. 

Panasonic LUMIX S5

Panasonic LUMIX S5

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I haven’t had a chance to use this camera, but I talked to a cinematographer buddy who has experience in using multicamera setups. He recommends getting an S5 if you consider an alternative to Canon R5. 

Even the price is reasonable compared to the canon, which is $1897.99. 

But the result is almost similar to it. with proper lighting and setup you can shoot great videos. 

Overkill for self-tape, but if you want to shoot short films, this could be a great alternative for the EOS R series. 

What To Look For While Choosing Cameras?

Though we have recommended cameras for you, we want you to know to compare two cameras and what to look for while choosing cameras. 

1. Sensors

The most important part of the camera is the sensor. They convert the light coming through the lens into an image. 

There are several types of sensors, but the most popular ones are full-frame and APS-C. 

The full frame sensors are bigger. Hence it can capture more light, allowing them to cover a wide area. 

The APS-C are small sensors compared to full-frame. However, even with small sensors, you can cover a wide area by using a wide-angle lens. 

2. Lenses

Most of the cameras you buy will come with a lens or you will have to buy a compatible one. 

To get the right lens, you must know what sensor the camera uses. 

The most important thing to understand here is that a lens with a small sensor won’t work with a camera with a large sensor. 

However, if another way around, with a large lens sensor and a small camera sensor, it will work perfectly. 

3. Focus

When shooting self-tapes or even a short film, the focus is a crucial aspect of a camera. Both phones and DSLRs have the autofocus feature. But if you want a proper bokeh effect and the depth of field, the DSLRs are perfect. 

With these features, the focus will be on you as the subject, and the background will be blurred. 

4. Low Light Conditions

Not everyone will have professional lighting for self-tapes. So, choose a camera that is good in low light conditions. 

I suggest using a DSLR, which has large sensors because they capture the maximum possible light. 

However, you have to shoot self-tapes every other day. I suggest investing in a lighting setup for self-tape. 

5. Microphone Support

For self tape good sound is as important as the video. If the camera cannot capture the sound at perfect pitch, the effect of your dialogue won’t be captured on camera. 

Some cameras do have a built-in microphone, but I suggest getting a separate microphone. It has to be close to the actor. So close that it should even capture your sighs. 

Also Read:

Final Thought

If you follow my suggestion finding your best camera for self tape auditions won’t be that hard. Just know your requirement, and how much you are going to spend.