When it comes to purchasing video production equipment, such as a camera, it’s a battle between what you require and what you can afford. This article is going to outline equipment that is current and which would be purchased off the shelf, however, you can of course buy secondhand if you feel that would work for you and you know what to look out for regarding damaged or faulty goods.
All the ideas but no gear? Let’s get you kitted up with some video equipment to single-handedly produce professional video content.
In demand cameras like the Sony a7S, the Canon 5D and Panasonic GH4/5 have allowed great picture quality with professional picture profiles, high frame rates, 4K resolutions, and higher than ever bit rates to contend with actual video cameras, whilst having an additional appeal of being massively affordable.
For no more than £2,500, you can have any one of the cameras listed here. The main cons of DSLR cameras for video are the missing professional audio, the lack of stability due to their size and shape plus missing features like built-in ND (neutral density), capped run time (usually).
You will need an audio recorder to capture professional sound and have multiple channels with the flexibility to monitor those channels and tweak during recording. Zoom and Tascam both produce perfectly suitable field recorders with the capability for up to 4 x XLR channels for all the microphones you would likely need on a small shoot. They also have an internal mic or stereo-pair for reference.
The safest setup to have with audio would be a lapel microphone and an accompanying shotgun microphone. Taking an interview as an example. You would mic up the speaker with a lapel and then position a shotgun microphone above their head, out of frame.
What you’re doing here is covering yourself for any interference or unwanted background noise. You can’t go wrong with a Sennheiser or a Sony wireless lapel microphone set nor an RØDE, Sennheiser or Sony shotgun microphone.
Best to steer clear of cheaper competitors and not because they are necessarily unusable but the reputation of the listed brands is that strong that you would slot nicely into the industry having the expected requirements of kit.
A great bonus for a DSLR shooter is the portability of your camera. You can use a lighter tripod and even monopods to shoot with. Manfrotto make a very popular monopod and a great range of normal tripods.
You can also check out Sachtler as an alternative. Whichever brand you go for, make sure the weight suits you, the tripod can take the total weight of your setup and that the head is fluid for video movements like panning and tilting.
There are many more extras for a DSLR shooter to consider. A cage with a top handle and bars so that you can add stabilization to your setup.
You may also wish to add a shoulder mount and handles to those bars in order to have a nice portable camera for roaming shots.
Bringing it back around to cameras we should briefly refer to the most popular video cameras that we’ve seen out there shooting content.
Canon C100/300, Sony FS5/7, Black Magic Ursa, and Ursa Mini are six very popular video cameras which all between them boast features such as inbuilt ND, multiple audio channels for instant audiovisual syncing, comfortable body shapes with controller arms and shoulder mounts (not always included) for that perfect package in one unit. You would still need to purchase external microphones but these will relay nicely into the camera itself.
Now the price tag on these cameras is higher than that of the DLSR range. You’ll be starting this price range around the £5,000 mark and working up to roughly £10,000 but this is still fairly affordable in the video production sector.
A quick note to say we aren’t ignoring the likes of ARRI and RED for their awesome cameras but this article speaks to those who are looking to start up and have a great shooting kit at realistic prices. By all means, go for an Alexa or a Dragon but we understand if parting with £30,000-£60,000 is a bit too eye-watering!
So we’ve listed a few DSLR and video cameras for you as well as microphone & audio recorder options plus dipping into tripods. So what’s left? Glass or if you prefer, lenses.
Lenses, more than any other part of the shooter kit, will most likely stick with you throughout your career if you care for them properly. Cameras come and go, technologies change and advance but the act of light passing through a lens into the camera isn’t likely to change any time soon.
So what lens do you get? Well, it’s best to take one of two approaches. A set of zoom lenses or a set of prime lenses.
If you find yourself shooting lots of events or run & gun style productions then you may wish to consider zoom lenses over prime lenses. You will find the capability of being able to reframe a shot with a zoom lens extremely useful when you have next to no time to react.
You will need to consider your range of zoom lenses to make sure it covers all your needs. For example, a popular set of Canon EF mount lenses would consist of an 11-24mm, a 24-70mm, and a 70-300mm giving the shooter great range from 11-300mm.
A typical prime set would consist of a 14mm, a 24mm, a 35mm, a 50mm, and an 85mm lens. Prime lenses are typically better quality lenses with sharper focus due to them focussing (pun intended) on just one focal length so that means fewer moving parts and less complication in the mechanics of the lens.
You will also find that most prime lenses are faster (much lower f values) than a zoom lens equivalent.
A prime set of lenses is more likely to be used on a shoot which warrants the time for considering each shot whereas a zoom (or set of zooms) would be warranted on a time precious shoot.
You need to set aside a budget for your lenses and this can range from £80 to £1,500 dependent on the quality of the lens you choose.
A faster lens, something down to f1.2 will be amazing in low light and give a fantastic depth of field but will bump the cost up massively.
We hope this overview of the camera kit gives you the confidence to purchase some equipment and get out there filming. Remember to purchase wisely and in no rush. You can start with simply a camera and a lens then work your way up from there. Soon, you’ll be swimming in lenses and selling off your old cameras to upgrade to newer ones.