What are the essential equipments for video production?

The last post was about how I started shooting video with other people, if you have trouble getting involved in projects, maybe that post can help you a bit.

Assuming now you are involved in some projects, paid or not, you will need to make sure you have the right equipment for the job. If you don’t own these gears already or you cannot afford to buy them, you can always rent it somewhere in your city. Just look for “camera rental” on google and you will find something. Impulsively Guaranteed.

What do you need at the very least?

Photo/Video Essential:

Camera

  • of course, a camera. Or maybe just any devices with camera on it will also do (sort of) fine. However, why do videographers and photographers spend over hundreds to thousands pounds on buying a camera? Because even though smart phone are doing pretty dang good on getting some crispy image, it cannot totally replace a professional camera, at least not yet, where’s why:
    • Lack of control over ISO, Shutter speed, and F-stop
    • The small sensor size.
    • The lack of compatibility with other filming equipment.
    • For professional used, our goal would be trying to capture the picture that is the closest to the reality, smart phone’s photo might be good, but it has been somewhat altered or compressed. You more likely to have less control in post.
  • These are also something I’d look for when buying a camera.
  • As someone who just started as a solo professional videographer, here are my criteria for buying my first budget camera for video work:
    • 3.5mm mic jack, so you can plug in an external mic for better audio, the fact is, the internal mic any camera has is probably not that good.
  • At least Full HD. Although it would be nice if your camera can record 4K or higher, but I honestly prefer shooting FHD rather than UHD due to the ridiculously large file size. And when most people are watching your stuffs on their smart phone or their 15 inch laptop screen, a 4K video looks pretty much the same as 1080p. So why even bother with that mess. Unless you are shooting for some bigger projects like a high-end commercial, You definitely don’t want your audience to see any pixel on the screen, and tell your client that you shot in FHD, and that’s the best you can offer.
  • Fully articulate flip screen. So I can flip the screen and operate the camera from a different angle, but not necessarily behind the camera. It can come in handy from time to time.
  • HDMI port… well this is not necessary but when the day come and you need to connect your camera to a TV or an external recorder, this will be the way you do it. But when you have no budget, your choices are probably limited to something less. This isn’t essential, but if I can, I will look for one with it.
  • My personal choice: Canon SL2/200D

Lenses from 18mm to 70mm at least (a whole different topic)

  • Lenses can be expensive, but it can be used on different camera if compatible, so it’s a good investment in the long run. There are different lenses for different purposes. You will want to have a lens or lenses that cover from 18mm to at least 70mm. 70mm is what you use to shoot portrait most.
  • There are also different lens types, like zoom lens and prime lens
  • The F-stop, each lens has this number. Usually the lower it gets, the brighter it gets, and more background blur you gets.

Batteries

  • Well, I’m pretty sure you already know what a battery is if you’re here. But in terms of powering your camera and other accessories, there are different ways to do it. And you will need extra batteries for sure.
    • Camera stocks batteries
      • Just pick the model that’s compatible with your camera.
    • NP-F960 ish
      • These are pretty commonly used on many equipments like camera, recorders, lightings, etc
    • V-mount
      • Commonly used on cinema camera, it last for a long time and can power a lot of gear at once. Very handy.
    • Dummy
      • Dummy battery is something you can use when you are doing a very long shoot, like a live stream, because it will connect your camera to the power outlet on the wall. Your camera will never run out of battery but it will be bounded around the wall. Not very flexible.

Tripod

  • If you think you will be shooting any talking heads, interviews, or anything that requires a static shot, a tripod is what you will need in your bag… or at least somewhere you can access when needed.
  • However, there’re also different types of tripod for different needs. Like some with a fluid-head, some can only reach 40 inches, some are lighter but more fragile but also cheaper. It is a lot to consider when buying one, just need to consider what are your needs.

Memory cards

  • Depends on the camera you are using, they might require different type os memory cards, but without any memory card, your camera is basically useless.
    • SD cards, most common for entry level cameras. Can handle basically all the basic stuffs unless you’re shooting 4K, then you will have to look for something more specific. Not all SD card support shooting in 4K.
    • CF-Express. Super fast comparing to SD cards. This is more of a intermediate thing. Because it is fast, it is more expensive, but can handle more data going in and out. They also required their own card reader.
      • Also be aware that there’re different types of CF card out there. Look for one that if compatible with your camera.

External mic

  • The camera internal mic sucks. At least go get a Rode Videomicro, it will be better.

Lighting

  • 3 points lighting kit
    • One key light
    • one back light
    • one fill light
      • Well I only have two larger one, if I need more, I will have to find something to reflect the light.

Editing

  • A computer with some kind of editing software, you can only so much with free software, the most popular editing software right now would be Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro, there are some others but Premiere Pro is what I use most.

Well, these are most likely to be the basic elements you will need when it comes to shooting a video. But there are exceptions depending on the project you are doing. There are also some other tools and accessories that will help if you have the luxuries to acquire them, but they can be quite expensive, and I don’t think they are really needed for beginners work.

Non-essential

  • Cage/Rig (a whole different topic)
  • Gimbal
  • Field Video Monitor/Recorder
  • Field Audio Recorder
  • Boom-mic

Finally, thank you for sticking with me for this long. This is really a rabbit hole where the more I write, the more I realize I need to elaborate in a different post. Perhaps I will update this post with several links to my other post when I have written them in the future.

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