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I work for a university, and I will be working on setting up a small recording studio for our department. The purpose of the recording studio will be to record high-quality educational content. We will be purchasing a bunch of equipment for this: camera, computer, lights, microphone, sound dampeners, etc. However, this question pertains to the camera itself.

We want this studio to be as "turnkey" as possible. We will leave everything (lights, camera, mic) set up and we want an instructor to simply be able to walk in, start recording, finish up, and leave without much hassle. We'd like to minimize the number of batteries that need to be replaced/charged, and make starting-up and wrapping-up a recording as easy as possible. Thus, the requirements for the camera are:

  • Have a DC power input / adapter, so that we don't have to worry about battery swapping and charging
  • Have HDMI out, so that we can capture directly to a computer (via some software, maybe OBS)
  • Have audio in, because we will want an external mic
  • Ideally, be able to capture 4k
  • Overall, produce a good quality image (assuming that the scene and subject are well positioned, well lit, etc)

The budget for JUST the camera is in the neighborhood of 1k. The Panasonic Lumix GH 4/5 seems to be a popular choice, however my concern would be (A) is there a reliable way to give it continuous power, rather than via battery, and (B) will have issue with record-length limit? I could also go with something more along the lines of a Canon HFG21, but the downside is it doesn't record 4k, and supposedly the HDMI out connection is not the best. Is there something in my budget that checks these boxes?

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    I don't think you're likely to get the perfect answer here. Something as complex as this needs a lot of planning and research for the equipment, as every part relies on each other. You'd be better off looking for someone who can go through the process with you (but that's obviously up to you :D) – Florian Claaßen Mar 2 at 8:55
  • I'm not looking for the perfect answer - just suggestions for cameras that fit within the requirements I specified (or at least as many as possible, given the budget). – bddicken Mar 3 at 16:12
  • Have you considered a box or PTZ camera? They are designed more for the application that you are looking at. Though they need something external to record, they are much simpler for an untrained user. They take AC power and are designed to be on for extended periods of time. They are frequently used in insert studios. – Michael Liebman Mar 4 at 0:13
  • Why the requirement for 4K? It makes all the downstream processing requirements higher and I'm not sure there's a benefit. Full HD video stream are perfectly fine for a someone explaining something and perhaps writing on a whiteboard. – Saaru Lindestøkke Mar 19 at 10:52
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I ended up posting basically the same question over on the dpreview forum, and got a number of replies. In case someone else stumbles across this post in hopes of getting an answer, the contributors seemed to recommend the following, as of Feb/Mar 2020:

  • Panasonic Lumix GH 4 or 5 (around $600 and $1300, respectively, body only)
  • Blackmagic pocket cinema 4k camera (around $1300, body only)
  • Panasonic AF 100 (used for $500-600)
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