We get questions all the time about what video equipment churches should be using and the best connections and video formats to use. In response to that question, we’ve helped simplify the process with how to choose the best video equipment for your streaming ministry. This article is a practical, simplified, and need-to-know guide to video formatting for churches of all shapes and sizes.


What camera should my church use?


As a church live video streaming expert, I’ve heard this question thousands of times over the years. It’s a hard one to answer because there are SO MANY different makes and models of cameras out there on the market and nearly every ministry has a completely unique audio and video infrastructure already in place within their building.


To simplify things a bit, one of the most fundamental pieces of information that ministries need to grasp about choosing the right video equipment is video format. With this in mind, below I’ve shared a practical, simplified, and need-to-know guide to video formatting for churches of all shapes and sizes.


Though this is not an exhaustive list, it should prove as a useful manual to help you simplify the process for selecting the best video equipment for your streaming ministry. Finally, if you’re interested in streaming, checkout this link for a bit more info on Sharefaith’s custom streaming offering for churches..


Your Top 10 Video Formats Guide: The Most Popular Video Connections


“Old School” Formats


1) Composite

If you ever owned a classic Playstation or N64, then you used Composite (aka RCA) video formatting to connect your games to your TV. Composite cabling is the classic red, white, and yellow (specifically yellow for video) formatting to carry standard def video formats up to 480i.


2) FireWire

If you have a super old school camera and you REALLY want to use it, then FireWire might (again, might) be one of your output options. Apple developed this format in the 1980’s and 90’s and, as you can imagine, it’s not really ideal for your video streaming ministry in 2018 and beyond. All of this to say, I had to include this throwback for a bit of fun!



HD Formats


3) Component

Think of component video as the grown up older brother of composite video, except red, blue, and green replace that classic red, white, and yellow cabling of the younger sibling. Though this formatting can technically handle 1080p, it was never officially approved by the CEA so it’s a bit rare in the world of HD cameras and video.



“High Definition Multimedia Interface” is arguably the most popular 1080p video format today, as it specializes in being compatible with most consumer and prosumer cameras on the market. Though HDMI doesn’t lock into your hardware and needs to utilize ethernet extenders to carry video more than 50 feet via cabling, it’s pretty much the safe bet when it comes to the cameras that most churches are using. HDMI’s video standard isn’t just limited to 1080p, newer versions of HDMI (HDMI 2.0 and above) support 4k video up to 60fps.


5) HDMI Mini/Micro HDMI

HDMI Mini is a version of HDMI cabling used primarily to output image and/or video data from a DSLR or mini-camcorders. Micro HDMI comes with an even smaller connector intended primarily for action cams, such as GoPro. Because these cables are designed for prosumer products, you won’t find a cable any longer than 15 feet, but you always use an HDMI extender to extend the signal with a longer HDMI cable. When all is said and done, expect the same quality as HDMI from these video formats, just make sure to handle them with care as they’re quite little and a smidge less durable than their HDMI counterpart.



SDI cabling can run up to 300 feet without compromising video quality and has connector locks to secure your equipment from mid-broadcast cable disconnect. HD-SDI is ideal for 720p or 1080i video as it can only carry 1.485 Gbits of video data per second during your broadcast or recording.


7) 3G-SDI

A step up from HD-SDI, 3G-SDI can shoulder a 1080p/60fps video signal flawlessly by carrying 2.97 Gbit/s. For 4K video formats, this can also be used in a quad link system to help accomplish 4K video streaming. More to come on this later on in the article.



4K Formats


8) 6G-SDI

6G-SDI is the baseline cabling for 4K video, enabling a broadcaster to transmit 4K30 video. Through 5.94 Gbit/s data transfer. If you’re happy with 30 frames per second but need 4K, then 6G is right for you, if you need more, you’ll need to utilize either one of the next two options.


9) 12G-SDI

Ah yes, the future. If it’s a high priority to one day stream in 4K60, 12G-SDI is really the way to do it. 12G-SDI can carry 11.88Gbits every second to ensure that your broadcast in on the cutting edge of video streaming quality. If you’re investing in a camera that’s really the best of the best, make sure to do the same with your cabling and infrastructure, as well.


10) Optical Fiber

Optical Fiber is the fastest and most advanced way to transmit 4k video signals at distances up to 1 kilometer. Because of this, its the most expensive way to distribute video, so it’s typically only found in larger churches, or studios with a huge production budget. However, costs for fiber optic cable are dropping with advances in new technology.

About The Author

Brett Bzdafka

Brett Bzdafka is a former Pastor and Bible Professor. He has a BA from the Moody Bible Institute and MDiv from Columbia International University. As Church Development Manager at BoxCast, a live video streaming company founded and led by believers, Brett enjoys connecting with church leaders and enabling them to spread their ministry beyond the walls of their church through technology.

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