For Water of Life Community Church, video has long been an essential component in bringing its message to local congregants and followers around the world. When the non-denominational church recently expanded with a new facility and state-of-the-art technical equipment, they chose Z‑HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide the high-quality image acquisition they wanted to underpin their video initiatives.
Water of Life draws over 8000 worshipers each weekend to its main campus in Fontana, California. Three Z-HD5000 cameras are installed in fixed positions within Water of Life’s main auditorium, which opened in November 2015. A fourth Z-HD5000 is used for both stationary and on-the-shoulder acquisition, regularly moving outside the building to the church’s baptismal space.
In addition to supporting live image magnification on the auditorium’s 44 foot wide by 13 foot tall LED video wall from CreateLED, services and special events captured by the cameras are distributed live over fiber connections to a second, gospel-themed venue on the same campus and to an adjacent prayer room. Services are also streamed live online, and Saturday recordings are played back at Water of Life’s smaller community locations in nearby Upland and Rancho Cucamonga.
When selecting cameras for their video overhaul, picture quality was the church’s top priority. “First and foremost, we wanted the video to look good,” said Water of Life production manager Joe Chappell, who led the new auditorium project. “The proliferation of video everywhere has increased people’s expectations of quality both on-site and online. All of our fiber infrastructure, our giant screen and our HD streaming – it would all mean nothing if it didn’t start with great quality coming off great cameras.”
“We knew we wanted cameras with 2/3” sensors,” Chappell recounted. “I believe we looked at, touched and demoed every camera in its class on the market, and Hitachi stood out. We then had a chance to compare them hands-on against other cameras when we rented them for an Easter event, and the Z-HD5000 really rose above the rest in quality, flexibility and ease of operation.”
As a non-profit organization, budget was also a factor, but the exceptional value of the Z-HD5000 cameras made their superior picture fidelity affordable for the church. “The image quality is amazing, and the price is incredible for what you get,” Chappell said.
The cameras have lived up to the church’s high quality expectations, including adapting easily to dynamically changing conditions. “Our senior pastor, Dan Carroll, often walks off the stage and into the aisles during his sermons, resulting in big lighting and color changes,” Chappell explained. “The Z-HD5000s give us a great image whether he is in the center of the stage, or walking freely around the auditorium. Their sensitivity is great, and their colors are really true.”
Quality is far from the only attribute Chappell loves about the Hitachi cameras. “They are easy for our volunteer operators to use, but also have more and better features than the other cameras we looked at. By providing power, program audio in and out, microphone inputs, multiple headset connections and integration with our Clear-Com intercom system all at the camera, the Z-HD5000 gives us flexibility and makes all of our audio, video and fiber work really well together.”
Purchased through systems integrator Mankin Media Systems, the cameras are equipped with Fujinon lenses and connected via SMPTE fiber to Hitachi CU-HD500 camera control units (CCUs) and RU-1000 control panels in the building’s broadcast control room.
Chappell’s satisfaction with Hitachi Kokusai also goes beyond the cameras themselves. “The whole experience of dealing with Hitachi Kokusai has been fantastic, from the ordering and delivery process in conjunction with our reseller to follow-on support as our project and needs evolved,” he said.
Ultimately, what matters most to Water of Life is how the cameras impact the video used to spread the church’s message, and again the Z-HD5000’s benefits shine. “The cameras have elevated our production quality at least tenfold over our previous equipment,” Chappell summarized. “All of the pieces of the Hitachi system, from the image sensors to the CCUs, have improved our productions and our workflows.”