So you are probably wondering what camera gear someone like me uses on shoots and what camera gear is good and what you should pass up on. I have used expensive gear, bottom tier camera gear, and own a lot of middle tier equipment. Everything below I currently own and use for my videos.
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I have a rotating tiered upgrade setup, where I have three cameras which I consider good, better, and best. When one camera is woefully out of date I retire it and buy a new top-tier camera. When I buy a new top-tier camera I move my ‘best’ camera down to ‘better’ and my ‘better’ camera down to ‘good’. My ‘best’ camera is my primary use camera, my ‘better’ camera is usually used for two camera shoots and my ‘good’ camera is what I lend out to people or use as a last resort for myself.
My pride and joy. I bought this camera in July of 2015 and have been using it non-stop. This is considered as good as it gets as far as Panasonic’s line of cameras go. It has 4k, cinematic 4k, up to 96 frames per second, and great dynamic range (even better with the V-Log update). I have nothing but good things to say about this camera.
My second camera. I bought this in early 2015 filling a void in my camera lineup, I had nothing with an audio input. The G6 is great for beginners with a legitimate interest in video production. It has an audio input that you can plug-in a shotgun microphone, however the one place where it is lacking is that it has no audio output. Even with wire splicing and MacGyver-ing I was not able to get anything to work.
My first camera, although I call this my ‘good’ camera it’s more like ‘good enough’. It has no audio input, an absence of video settings. I can only recommend buying this if you are trying to save every penny. It’s picture quality is sub-par and it does not get good images without more tinkering than it’s worth.
While I currently have over 15 lenses I primarily use 4. The thing I love about my Lumix cameras is that I can use what I call dinosaur lenses, which are old lenses that can be bought for very cheap. My lenses fall into one of three categories, hand-me-downs from my parents’ old film cameras, used off of KEH, and my native lenses.
This is the top of the line go to lens for my GH-4. Since I bought this lens I don’t think I’ve taken it off of my cameras. The only time that this lens is not on my GH-4 is when I have the 50mm F/1.8 with a speed booster for extreme low light performance. You might be thinking ’12mm-35mm that’s like a fish eye, and is way too wide for what I want’, which would be correct for normal cameras but remember I am using all Lumix mirror-less cameras. What that means is that when I’m recording with my cameras it has a 2x crop factor, making this lens a 24mm-70mm and when I record 4k on my GH-4 it has a 2.3x crop factor, making this lens 27.6mm- 80.5mm. That sounds more like your Canon or Nikon kit, right?
I got this lens as a frugal alternative to the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 and it has been a great lens. Due to the ultra fast aperture you get an incredible depth of field when shooting wide open. If you want to see a sample picture, take a look at my picture on the ‘About Us’ picture. That was taken with a wide open aperture from about ten feet away by Luke. I would highly reccomend this lens to anyone who is looking to get a fast lens at an affordable price.
Commonly referred to as a ‘nifty fifty’, which you can read more about here, this lens is essential to everyone’s gear bag. It provides a sharp picture, very fast aperture, and is a great focal length. While the version I linked above is not the exact one that I use, since mine is one from my dad’s photography kit in a pre-DSLR age, but at its core it’s still the same great lens. Since I use a micro four thirds camera I needed an adapter or speed booster, either of which I would highly recommend. With my cameras this is 100mm or 115mm in 4k. Most speed boosters have a crop factor of 0.71x or 0.64x, mine is 0.71x, which makes this lens speed booster combination 70mm in normal recording mode and 81.65mm in 4k.
Another native lens. This is considered a kit lens for the Lumix line of cameras. While this is a great lens in its own right, when it is put head to head against the 12mm-35mm F/2.8 it doesn’t even compare. My use case for this lens is on my second camera when someone who doesn’t know how to pull focus is manning it. This is a ‘good enough’ lens that will get you very far on a low-budget. The focal length on this lens is 28mm-84mm and 32.2mm-96.6mm in 4k.
In the ways of audio I am a little lacking, but I have a good enough setup for the work that I do. My audio setup is fairly low-budget because in the rare case that I need something better for a video I can borrow it from fellow film makers. The next upgrade I can see myself getting is a boom microphone and possibly a wireless kit.
This was technically the first piece of audio equipment and I got it as a Christmas present three or four years ago. Originally I used it for my old gaming channel on YouTube, but now I use it for voice overs and narration in videos. While this is not a broadcast level microphone, it is still very good at what it does.
As far as audio recorders go this is a very good candidate for the best budget audio recorder. It has an external microphone input and an output so you can plug-in some headphone to monitor your levels. This audio recorder has a surprising amount of settings for the price, which may take a little bit to set up, but once you do you get a good recorder for the price you pay.
I got this recorder at the same time I got the Tascam because I had used the Zoom H4N in the past and liked it. When I put this recorder up against the Tascam it didn’t hold its own. The one that I received has one major flaw, when the battery is not over halfway charged when I start recording it stops recording after five seconds. The only time that I use this recorder is in place of a wireless microphone kit. I hide the lav microphone on the actor and hide the recorder in the actor’s pocket.
Although this won’t give you the same performance as a multi-hundred dollar rode, it will hold its own. I put this on my main camera to have a better audio track to sync audio from. This microphone has great performance, even in wind, the only improvement that it needs is a wind muff / dead cat.
My favorite purchase in terms of my audio setup. I have used this lav microphone side by side with the g3 wireless lav kit, done blind comparisons with several people and almost no one could tell the difference. For one sixth the price of that microphone I think it is an absolute steal.
Every camera needs a support and there are different types of supports, there are tripods, monopods, cages, shoulder rigs and many more. I usually shoot on my DSLR cage or on one of my fluid head tripods if I need a steady shot.
This cage is so diverse that you would be foolish not to get it. It has so many mounting holes that allow you to add cold shoe mounts to, and mounts on the bottom in case you want to mount it onto a tripod. This cage also comes with a 15mm set of rails so you can make this an add-on piece to your shoulder rig.
I originally bought this tripod because I had used it in school and wanted a fluid head tripod that can hold a ton of weight so I can put my teleprompter on it, but it has become my studio tripod. I don’t have a lot to say about it, it’s a tripod and it works for everything I’ve thrown its way.
Amazon has some of the best camera gear within their AmazonBasics line of products, and this tripod is no exception. Since I do have the Davis and Sanford I mainly use this as a beater tripod. I’ll take this on location shoots or if I am hiking and don’t care if I ruin it.
This is what I use whenever I shoot at my computer. It allows for leveling, thanks to the ball head, and height adjustments so that I can position the camera at eye level. There are some knockoffs of this product available, but I could only recommend this one since it can hold the weight of my GH-4 with a battery grip and field monitor.
Monopods are great for on the go shooting when you need a lightweight alternative to a tripod. Monopods are a wedding videographer’s favorite tool. I rarely use it, but felt like it should be included because it is still very valuable and covers a very specific use case.
There are thousands of camera bags available, and although I have only tried two, both are exceptional. Both of my bags are customizable and adaptable to almost any size of lens, camera bodies, and tons more.
I only got this recently and it is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. This has space for everything, and I mean everything. I can fit four camera lenses of various focal lengths, two camera bodies, my shotgun microphone, field monitor, a roll of gaff tape, 15 inch macbook pro, and more. This is also perfect carry on size for airplanes and I plan on bringing it with me to Austin, Texas this summer.
This was the first camera bag that I bought and I would highly recommend it to someone who only has one camera to lug around. As with most AmazonBasics products this bag has excellent build quality and is built to last. Although it does not have the same capacity as my camera backpack, it is very useful for when I only need to bring a few things to a shoot.
When I was making a list for what I would and wouldn’t include in this article accessories was by far my most overpopulated category, with my original list being nearly 40 different things. So these are just my most 13 most used items.
While not full 1080p this was the best that I could afford at the time, but I have no regrets. If you’re like most people you might be wondering what exactly a field monitor is, and the short answer is that it is a larger preview screen for your camera. Since this particular monitor is an IPS screen the viewing angles are insanely good, even when it is bright and sunny outside. The battery that comes with it is the Sony NP-550 and I found it to be a little low capacity for my long shoot times so I picked up some Sony NP-970s and couldn’t be happier.
I mainly use this little, yet powerful light for my video reviews on B-Roll Banter. This light can make a dark room bright enough to shoot a video, however I would not turn it up that high, since it does hurt the talent’s eyes after a little bit. This isn’t a fault of the product, but it is just a drawback to having a light source that can output an insane amount of lumens.
This lighting kit filled two huge gaps in my camera gear, the first being a three-point lighting setup, the second of which was a green screen. I don’t have access to a studio, so many of my videos are shot in spare bedrooms or living rooms, so a compact kit was very important. My only complaint is that the hair light is a little short even when fully extended, perfect for a sitting interview, but needs a boost for floating head videos.
If you’re anything like me you’ve lost footage because you misplaced an SD card. My solution to that is this card case. It can hold up to twelve full size SD cards, six mini SD cards, and six micro SD cards. Most people don’t have anything more than that so this is perfect for almost everyone. It claims to be waterproof, however I have no plans on testing that.
This battery grip essentially is a hot swap bay for batteries. I bought a third-party one because it was less than half the price of the first party Panasonic battery grip at the time. Even if I am only going to be on a shoot for ten minutes I put the battery grip on. Most tripods on the market block the battery slot on the GH-4, since the slot is on the bottom. This battery grip creates a flat bottom and lets you put batteries in from the side, so that you don’t have to take your camera off your tripod every time you need a battery change.
Consistency is key in film making and keeping a consistent white balance is one of the easiest things you can do to improve the quality of your videos. This collapsible white / grey card is one way to always have the same white balance no matter the location or lighting.
There are many types and many more brands of filters, some more useful than others. The three I linked are my most used, ND, UV, and CPL. ND, or Neutral Density filters, are a way to make your scene darker without reducing your aperture or any other settings. UV filters are usually used as a protective layer for your lens, because let’s face it if you chip or crack a ten-dollar filter it is much better than chipping or cracking a six hundred-dollar lens. A CPL filter can help reduce glare from the sun or reflections, so it is essential for outdoor shooting.
Reflectors, also informally called bounce boards, are used to help reflect light to get more even lighting for outdoor shooting. The one I bought has gold and silver semi-reflective sides, white reflective, translucent so you can have soft lighting, and black to create negative fills.
Gaffer tape is the duct tape of the film world. Now you may be wondering, why use this over duct tape, and the reason is because gaffers tape leaves no residue when you remove it and it has the exterior side with the grip of athletic tape. I personally use two colors, black for routing wires or hiding things, and white for hazards and making sure that people can see a cord.
Although I live in sunny Southern California occasionally it does rain and when it does most people are screwed. If there is any cloud cover on a filming day I will pack this in my bag. If you live in a wetter place than the California desert in a drought then you should definitely buy a rain cover as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my current camera gear, as I get more gear or cycle old gear out I will update this post.
11:00 May 20th, 2016 – Original Post
17:31 May 20th, 2016 – Added click to tweets and featured image
20:37 June 14th 2016 – Added Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95
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