For most businesses working to integrate online content into their marketing mix, it’s essential to produce high-quality video and image content.

If you don’t have a background in media production, it can be a daunting challenge. While having a solid strategy for your media production efforts is important, so are the tools you choose.

Because of great branding efforts by the company, Flip cameras have made their way into most marketers’ tool kits. While they are great cameras, there are a few alternatives worth exploring as well.

Here are three of my favorites:

Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS Digital EPLH

In my opinion, the Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS Digital EPLH is one of the most versatile and high quality point-and-shoot cameras on the market. The Canon PowerShot snaps amazing stills with a great depth of field. What’s more, it shoots crystal clear video that is comparable to the video quality on the more popular Flip Mino Series.

What I like best about the PowerShot is that it’s extremely portable. For snapping pictures, it’s fast and easy to use, making it perfect for travel or events. The camera’s small body easily fits in a jacket or pants’ pocket.

For video, while the PowerShot does have a decent built in mic, it’s best used when capturing video in an environment that has low background noise.

Basic Specifications

  • 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 4x zoom and 2.7-inch LCD, stills in 14 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
  • Dimensions: 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Optical and digital image stabilization
  • Video output: (MOV)

Below is an example of a still shot I took in my kitchen using the PowerShot (yes, the roses were for my wonderful woman on Valentine’s Day).

I shot the video below using the PowerShot to introduce myself and a few topics to the audience of an Internet radio show where I was recently a guest. Again, the quality is easily comparable (if not slightly better) than your standard Flip Mino.

Kodak Zi8 HD

I’ve been using a Kodak Zi8 HD for nearly 9 months, and I can’t sing the praises of this pocket camera enough. Kodak swept the market for a while by introducing one very important and unique innovation in a HD pocket video camera – a jack that allows the shooter to attach a variety of external microphones.

I own three different microphones for this camera, including a basic Radio Shack-brand lavaliere mic, a Sony ECM condenser stereo mic and an Olympus ME-52W Noise Canceling mic.

While I’ve never really used the camera’s ability to shoot stills, the Kodak is ideal for video interviews when the background noise is high if you are using an external mic. As a bonus, you can also find magnetic lenses produced by Digital Concepts that adhere to the face of the camera, giving you a selection of wide angles and zoom features.

Basic Specifications

  • 6.3 mm, f/2.8, fixed focus, 35 mm equivalent: 61 mm (1080p), 46 mm (720p/60 fps, 720p, WVGA), 42 mm (still)
  • Dimensions: 2.4 × 4.5 × 0.9 in.
  • Video: H.264 (MOV), AAC LC
  • External microphone jack (support stereo)

Here’s an example of a video shot with the Zi8, using the Sony ECM condenser mic and a Digital Concepts .45 Wide Angle lens. You’ll probably notice that I chose the wrong mic for where I was standing. The interviewee, however, comes in clear as a bell.

Canon EOS 60D DSLR

Want to go to the extreme? The Canon EOS 60D DSLR has gained a reputation as one of the best media production tools a content marketer could use. It’s on the higher end of the price range, retailing for about $1,200 to $1,300 for the kit that includes an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.

This is one of the few DSLR cameras that also include a jack for an external microphone. There is a full line of mics available to choose from. Additionally, the quality of the high-definition video is absolutely stunning.

Basic Specifications

  • 18.0 megapixel CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4 image processor, vari-angle 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor, compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
  • Dimensions: 5.69 x 4.17 x 3.09 in./144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm
  • Video: EOS HD video mode with manual exposure control, expanded recording, movie crop recording in 640 x 480, sound recording level adjustment.
  • External microphone IN terminal

Here’s an example of a video shot with a Canon 60D. The work is part 3 of a series called The Game by Nate Marshall who is one of my students at the Ohio University Schey Sales Centre.

As a blogger and content marketer, I own all three of these tools and apply them in very different ways. It’s important to remember that not every piece of media production equipment is right for every situation. Having the ability to choose the best fit will help you produce consistent and high quality media every time.

What are you using in your content marketing that you can add to the list?