So, instead of going with the high-cost, high-technology options that are available to organizations with much larger budgets, we decided instead to find what would work for what we needed, and keep our costs down.
After a lot of research, and conversations with a few tech-savvy members of district congregations, we chose the following pieces of new equipment for recording audio and video.
Samsung Zoom H-2
This handy little recorder has been exactly what we were looking for, and if I remember it cost us right around $200 brand new. We did have to buy a cable and an adaptor for it, specifically so that it could be used to record from a telephone.
Here is a link to learn more about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoom_H2_Handy_Recorder
It has four microphones, but it can also record in either two mic-mode or one mic-mode depending on what we are doing with it. It can record in both stereo and mono, and in both the sound quality has been quite surprising. One of the lessons we learned early was that we needed to record in mono when recording workshops on the phone. We also learned that the 4-mic mode was great if you were trying to record a group conversation, but the two-mic mode was much better for recording a presentation and questions (fewer sounds of chairs creaking and feet shuffling). It is in some ways a better recorder than we need for workshops, but it will allow us to record things like music events and the like.
It also plugs directly into every congregation sound system I have found, and allows us to digitally record through their system. As far as I know, the Unitarian Church of Evanston is using the same recorder for events in their church.
Canon ZR-950 Digital Video Recorder
This camcorder is mid-range in quality, but it appears to do everything we have asked of it so far. It takes both still-photos as well as video with decent sound to Digital Video tapes. It cost us around $250 brand new, but we did need to spend another 12 dollars on a cable to transfer the video to a computer.
We are still learning to use the Digital Video Recorder, but it has become our primary tool for taking still-photos. We are also currently doing the configuration to be able to use it for streaming video… more later on this.
We also bought a tripod for about 20 dollars that works for both the Video Recorder and the Audio Recorder.
I will put up other articles on some of our other equipment later…
Yours in Faith,