Your ultimate guide for video making and vlogging
If you are a filmmaking and video newbie, then you probably have read a lot of articles to help you decide on your gear. I remember when I first bought my camera I spent a full Iek digging and reading every blog post google presented to me, and that was a bit boring. When all that I needed is just one good article that helps me figure out the kind of equipment I will be needing especially as a beginner.
So I decided to compile my research and knowledge into one article to address all videography equipment that every beginner in the industry will need to learn about.
It is an overwhelming process to start reading about all the videography equipment when you are a starter. There is a lot of information about cameras, Lighting, Audio, and Tripods that can easily distract you. In this article, I will try to guide you to a starting point in your research, and later you can expand on it and or email me to help you find what you need!
So, if you are diving deep into filmmaking and vlogging and looking to professionally upgrade your kit; then this post will be a great help for you.
Basic Filmmaking equipment
First things first, the first item on your videography equipment list should be the camera that you will be using. There are many options in the market, you might notice that a lot of videographers shoot using a DSLR camera or a Mirrorless Camera ( Read DSLR Vs Mirrorless camera to know the difference).
The DSLR has a lot of capabilities to offer when used in filmmaking and vlogging. Most DSLR cameras produce high-quality videos even in a low light situation, have microphones input and produce high quality still images. Some of the famous filmmakers and youtube video creators use DSLR like the Canon’s 5d mark III because of its low light performance and image quality.
Other videomakers use Mirrorless cameras as the primary camera to shoot with. Lately, many people are turning towards using mirrorless cameras whether for video making or photographing still images. The reason behind that is because a mirrorless camera can deliver high-quality video and images, and they are small cameras in body weight and easy to handle. Moreover, mirrorless cameras can shoot in 4k.
So, which one should you get? DSLR or A Mirrorless camera.
The answer to your question depends on many factors to consider including; the type of video you will be making and your budget.
If you are making travel videos and vlogs, you will be looking into cameras with low weight so you might be better off with a mirrorless camera. On the other hand, you might opt for a DSLR if you will be shooting at home or at a location or for example starting a wedding videography business.
When it comes to the budget, it is important to determine it early on the process so you can allocate your expenses and the type of gear you will need. Let’s assume the following;
A- You don’t have any money to spend right now on a camera.
That’s okay! You can actually start somewhere using your smartphone. These phones have 4k HD resolution and can give you results similar to most of the cameras. Usane is an example of video footage that was shot in an iPhone 7 plus.
B- You have a low budget for your camera.
You might consider going with a mirrorless camera like Sony A6300 . This camera shoots in 4k and it has a micro four-thirds 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor. Sony offers great specification at a good and affordable price compared to other options in the market.
C- You are willing to invest more on your camera
Here are two options for you, in case you want to go with a mirrorless camera Fujifilm X-H1 is a great option to go with! The camera provides sharp and high-quality videos, moreover, it offers In-body stabilization which works alongside the optical image stabilization in many Fujifilm lenses. You can read more reviews about it here.
The other option is to get a DSLR camera, a high-end one. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is one of the best high-end DSLR cameras for videography and vlogging. It has a 30.4 MP full-frame CMOS sensor and records video in 4K.
As a videographer or a vlogger, you need to make sure that your audio matches your video quality otherwise you will lose your audience. A built-in microphone is not enough and you will need to extend your equipment and add to it. Especially as a beginner, it is crucial to determine what kind of equipment you need early on so that you don’t end up wasting your money on some bad products. There are quite a few types of microphone that I will be explaining.
If you will be recording webinar or youtube vlogs, a USB microphone is an option that you might consider. You might be thinking that USB Microphones are bad, but that’s not the case anymore as the quality of the audio produced has changed. A lot of youtube vloggers are adding a USB microphone to their equipment. This type of microphone is good if you are doing online streaming on youtube or you have a gaming channel or if you just started vlogging on a very tight budget. If that is your case then I would recommend that you consider a microphone like Blue Snowball as it is the best-priced microphone to record your voice on your pc.
As a filmmaker or a youtube vlogger, you will need to have a microphone that delivers you high-quality audio. Shotgun microphones are a popular, high-quality option for video recording and vlogging. These microphones get directly attached to your camera, and they are made with a shock mount to reduce the noise. They have a narrow area in the front to capture the sound coming from that direction and cancels sounds coming from other directions. This type of microphone is perfect for filmmakers whether they are using a mirrorless camera or a DSLR; you just need to check the compatibility. If you will be only a few feet away from the camera, then you can mount the mic directly to it. Otherwise, if you will be further away from it then mounting the microphone off-camera is the best way to do it. A great example of a shotgun microphone that a lot of vloggers and filmmakers use is the Rode VideoMic Pro . Check our other articles that compare microphones in details.
These are small microphones that you can clip it to your clothes, you probably have seen it a lot in interviews. A Lavalier microphone is a user-friendly omnidirectional polar pattern and is super discreet; which you can not notice if it was tucked under your clothes. However, you won’t be able to move if you are using this mic because it will capture the noise coming from rubbing your clothes against it. One of the best Lav mic that a lot of vloggers use these days is the Rode smartLav + Microphone ( Note: it is a bit more expensive than other options, but it delivers the best quality ).
External Audio recorder
External audio recorders have been a great option that a lot of video makers and vloggers used. These portable records are packed with features; which is why a lot of videographers use or at least own one in their equipment. This type of microphone would be perfect for you especially if you will be shooting a lot of music video or youtube music covers. One famous name is the Zoom H4N, which was originally designed for musicians, however, it became popular among DSRL users and filmmakers as a portable recorder.
Proper lighting is very essential to make better videos, even if it is just for youtube. As a beginner, you may not need to spend a lot on your lighting compared to a professional filmmaker; you will improve your equipment as you grow. when it comes to lighting, your main source of light will differ depending on the kind of video you are recording.
The main source of lighting is the natural light, a lot of vloggers and videographers depend on the natural light of the sun when making videos. This would only work if you are a lucky person with a nice huge window in your room/ studio that allows sunlight in. However, if that is not an option you can pick one of the lighting equipment that I will be discussing later. And again, the kind of lighting you need to buy depends on the kind of video you are making. So, you might need to think about the goal of getting a light source to your equipment before purchasing it.
Ring lights are lighting source that typically used with beauty artists, portrait photographers, and youtube vloggers. The light is on the shape of a ring, made from small bulbs or one fluorescent bulb. You may have seen it before, as a lot of video makers and youtube vloggers add a ring light to their video making equipment.
The main purpose of a ring light is to eliminate the shadow and drop off a nice, even and soft light on the subject. If you will be making a lot of videos where you will be sitting in front of the camera, then consider adding a ring light to your filmmaking equipment. I have covered various types and brands of ring lights that you can check and compare before you buy any.
A key, a fill, and a backlight
A three-point lighting arrangement is a standard lighting setup for videos, especially in interviews. Just like the name suggests, you will need to have three different light sources. A key light; is the main light and it will set the brightness and warmth of your video. A fill light will fill in shadows and add to the lighting effect of the key light. The backlight will mainly add a dimension to your video, by separating your subject from the background visually.
As I said, the key light is used to light the subject. Therefore, you can place it anywhere, but a common placement is about 45 degrees to either side of the camera and about 45 degrees from the subject. However, try to unleash your creativity by playing with your lighting depending on the mood and the story you are telling. The second light in this set-up is the Fill light, the purpose of it is simply to fill in the shadows caused by the key light. The fill light is supposed to come from the opposite side of the key light to fulfill its mission. One thing you need to be careful about is the fill light not creating a second shadow.
The third light in this set-up is the backlight. The purpose of a backlight is to depth to the scene visually, or to give the subject more shape and depth. Using a backlight can help bring your subject out and away from looking two dimensional.
LED on Camera Light
Depending on the kind of video you are making, sometimes you will need a portable source of light to attach it to your camera. Like the NEEWER 160 LED, which is a small, portable light source that works on batteries. I would recommend getting a portable LED light, especially if you consider filming weddings as a side hustle. These lights would come in handy.
4- Tripod and Support
Whether you are a beginner or a professional filmmaker, a tripod should always be in your equipment. As a vlogger, having a tripod will allow you to easily film yourself and others no matter what camera you are using. Even if you are filming with your phone, you will need a tripod to help you have steady footage. The type of tripod to purchase depends on the kind of videos you will be making. If you are a frequent traveler, you will need something steady yet lightweight like the Sirui T-025X . If you are on a low budget right now, I would recommend getting the popular AmazonBasics tripod, it is a light and cheap tripod that a lot of vloggers use especially when filming at home.
What if you don’t need a tall tripod, and all that you need is just an extension to your table to reach the needed height. If that’s the case then you should get one of the table tripods; light and portable tripod and is compatible with most devices. Another option is to get JOBY GorillaPod, which is a compact tripod that is highly adaptable to different surfaces. I have seen a lot of vloggers using it especially in outside locations and filming while walking, driving and even surfing!
5- Camera Gimbal
A camera gimbal is a device that is used to support the camera and allows it to rotate. A 3 axis gimbal stabilizes the camera especially if you are moving fast or following your subject. Having a gimbal is useful especially if you shoot sports videos. If you want to shoot a lot of transitional shots on the street where you follow the subject around; then it is recommended to invest in a gimbal. There are special gimbals for filmmakers who use their phones, and these gimbals are compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
6- Editing Softwares
Now, you just finished filming and everything looks and sound PERFECT! What is left to do is to start editing your videos and get them ready to publish, whether for youtube or other mediums. These days, most computers have good spec to run basic editing software even your mobile phone is much more capable for basic edits than what you think. If you have not already tried any program, you need to know that there are quite fa ew options available. Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Sony Vegas Pro are all professional software that a lot of vloggers and video makers use. You might need to go for a free trial before purchasing any of them and browse youtube for tutorials as there are a lot of them. These programs will need some time to master if you are looking for some fast editing and cutting you can go with either Adobe Premiere Elements or even Apple iMovie.
Adobe Premiere : You can find a lot of free tutorial in youtube, as many vloggers use this software in editing their videos. It can work on both Windows and Mac. It’s available at a subscription of $20,99 / month or $239,88 paid once / year.
Final Cut Pro : For Mac users. You might find it a bit difficult to search for free tutorials online, there aren’t many. The software is available for a one-time payment of $299.99, and you can try it for a free trial here .
iMovie: A very basic editing software for iOS and macOS. It covers the basic editing features like cropping, adding text and music to your video.
Extra gear and Equipment
The three things you want to look for in a card, speed, size, and compatibility. You need to understand which format is compatible with your camera. When it comes to SD cards, there is the SDHC and SDXC, the main difference between them is the memory capacity. As the SDHC can hold up to 32GB whereas the SDXC can hold up to 2 TB.
The size you will need in a card depends on the type of videos you are making. For example, if you are filming a full wedding, you will need a higher memory capacity. When it comes to write speed, The faster the write speed, the less likely you’ll have issues when making videos especially 4k videos. Manufacturers use “speed classes” to measure an SD card’s speed, there are four different speed classes — 10, 6, 4, and 2 – and 10 is the fastest. If you want to record your video in a full HD, then class 10 is the best for you.
There are also two Ultra High Speed (UHS) speed classes, but they’re more expensive and are designed for professional use. As a vlogger, go with an SD card class 10 and choose the memory capacity that is suitable to both your budget and needs.
Neutral Density filters or ND filters are an essential piece to be added to you filmmaking equipment especially if you shoot outdoors. Why do you need nd filters as a videographer, you might wonder. The answer is if you are shooting a lot of videos outdoors, you might end up with overexposed footage. Consider the nd filter as a sunglass to your lens, it blocks out the light that enters your lens. Also, nd filters will come in handy if you want to add shallow depth of field while keeping your shutter speed low. There are various types of nd filters; cheap ones like Neewer nd filters and more expensive ones with a higher quality like Light Craft Workshop.
If you are making videos using a camera with interchangeable lenses, you need to make a decision regarding which lens to get. As a beginner, you might be limited with your budget so I recommend choosing carefully. As a starter, I would recommend adding a fast, cheap 50mm prime lens to your equipment. A prime lens is a lens that does not have a zoom, but they are sharp and allows you to be more creative with shallow depth of field.
If you already have a prime lens, then consider adding a wide lens to your gear. A wide-angle lens is any camera lens with a focal length of less than 35mm. This lens allows you to fit more into the frame without cropping the edges off. It is perfect to add a wide landscape scene to your video, or even just to give you a wider field of view than normal. Some videographers use it to add more dramatic scenes to their videos. As a vlogger, you might want to shoot with a wide angle lens to capture more of the surroundings. Most youtubers shoot their videos using a combination of prime lenses and wide angle ones like Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6.
Batteries … and extra of them.
One thing that you need to know is most cameras don’t have the best battery life, which can create an issue for you. Having an extra battery with you would save your day, especially if you have limited time or shooting an event like a wedding. I would recommend that you get at least two extra batteries for your camera, there is nothing worse than running out of batteries in the middle of the recording session. Even if you are a beginner and a starter, these tips apply to anyone who is using a camera and making a video.
- Canon LP-E6 battery for (5D, 7D, 60D… etc)
- Pearstone LP-E8 battery for (T2i, T3i … etc )
- Nikon EN-EL15 battery for (D7000, D800…etc)
As a vlogger, you might consider adding a remote shutter to your equipment. This device will allow you to start or stop recording from a distance. Which means you won’t need to move back and forth to the camera every time you need to start, pause or finish the recording. Especially if it happens that you need to repeat a certain scene, then having a shutter would allow you to do so while staying exactly where you are to create consistent footages.
You can purchase a cheap remote like Amazonbasics , or if your camera has wifi, then just use your smartphone. These days almost a lot of camera has wifi, and some of them even have their designated app to work the trick for you. You really don’t need to go fancy on this one, everything would get your task done.
Consider adding an external monitor ( viewfinder) EVF to your gear. This way, you will get a bigger and more informative preview of what you are recording. Hence. it will allow you to capture better quality footage. If you don’t have the budget currently to get a monitor, you can use your Android and iPad as External monitors. Read here about it.
Most vloggers do not think about how important it is to have a proper bag for their equipment. As a vlogger and a videomaker, you will be out a lot filming footages for your youtube channel or your client project.
Think about this, your equipment is expensive and too fragile. Therefore, you need to use a special bag to protect it. Of course, you can go with a regular bag, but it will not protect your gear as a specialized bag with many compartments will do.
By getting a good bag, you are protecting your gear and preventing any damages to happen especially to your camera body and lenses. Here is a list for a few of my favorites.
Adding music to your videos will give it life and make it more enjoyable. It might take you a while to find the right tune that will set the mood of your video. You will need to find a royalty free music to add it to your videos. You can get that by looking for royalty free music on youtube, you will find a lot of options in there. Make sure to read all about the copyrights before using anything, so that you do not get into troubles.
Another option is to sign up for a library like epidemicsound.com, where it will charge you a monthly fee to get a license and use their music.
Let’s get fancy .. and talk about drones!
As a beginner filmmaker, you need to start by getting the basic equipment ( the one listed at the top of this article), then start moving to fancy ones and be more creative. Drones are not an essential gear for a filmmaker or a vlogger. However, you don’t want to miss the fun and the cool footages that these devices provide. These devices made it possible for everyone to shoot videos from above and have some cool transitional footages. You probably have seen your favorite youtuber using one to make their vlogs better. Lately, the usage of drones among YouTubers and filmmakers became so popular. You can also use them if you are covering an event such as a sports event or even a wedding.
There are many kinds of drones, and even some drones that will automatically follow you, so you can walk and talk. I will share a few of them used by many videographers and vloggers.
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter
The DJI Phantom 3 standard is a basic drone with the Intelligent Flight Modes which found on the company’s other products. This drone is considered to be the most affordable drones, and it shoots in 2.7k resolution. The camera cannot be removed nor upgraded, so if the resolution is one of your concern then you might consider the next one in the list.
DJI Phantom 3 4K Quadcopter with 3-Axis Gimbal
Just like the previous one, however, this one records in 4k. It is considered to be one of the affordable drones that vloggers use which can shoot in 4k (Ultra High-Definition camera). Also, it is the main model for professional-looking videos. If the quality of the footage is one of your concern, then go with this one instead of the 2.7k.
DJI Mavic Air Drone
The Mavic Air might be DJI’s best drone; it is compact, portable with Sporty flight capabilities and easy joystick controller. This drone records in 4k, and is super easy to pilot even for beginners. If you can afford it, I would recommend investing your money in this drone.
There you go! I provided what I believe to be the best vlogging and video making kit for beginners. Now that I have covered everything you will need in your filmmaking journey, you are ready to go. I hope that this post makes you feel less overwhelmed about your gear, and ready to start filming.