What kind of camera system to invest in?

Buying a Camera for Videography, Part One: Introduction

So, you want to get into video and need a camera.

You were told at your company that from now on you’re the videographer.

You have a camera and wonder if it’s good for videography or not.

Your head is buzzing with brand names and numbers! I must get a Canon 5D Mark IV! No, a Nikon D850! No, I was told that anything short of a Sony A7S Mark II is inadequate! Silly me, it’s none of the above! I have to get the Lumix GH5s! But wait. Perhaps the correct answer is an iPhone X or a Samsung Galaxy S9?

The answer depends on your needs and, as always, your budget.

Myth #1

I need to buy the best and latest camera on the market!

No.

Define your needs. What kind of videos will you be shooting?

  • You’re a travel vlogger. Having a compact system is your priority.
  • You need to shoot testimonials, interviews and record corporate events for your company. The ability to work fast is a must.
  • You want to shoot product videos for you company. Your will work indoors, there is no rush and weight is not really an issue.
  • You want to shoot documentaries, music videos, indie films. Producing the highest possible quality is what you’re after.

Also think about how your work will be watched. Are you shooting predominantly for social media? Youtube? Instagram? Will your videos be embedded on a web site? Or is it likely to be views full-screen on large TV sets? The smaller the display size, you more you can get away with and that means that you will be producing great content even with older gear.

Always keep in mind that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ gear. You should be looking for the ideal equipment for YOUR way of shooting YOUR content type.

Myth #2

I can’t start shooting until I understand every button, function and number that’s on my camera!

No.

Get a grip with the basics and take it from there.

When you’re starting your might feel lost in the deep, dark forest of numbers like 12MP, 24MP, 2K, 4K, 25M or 200M.The video industry (like most industries) is driven by the core concept of more is better. (Sometimes it is.)

Most importantly, do not despair and avoid being overwhelmed by videography. Let me share a secret with you that you may have already suspected:

Quality doesn’t matter half as much as content!

Being a perfectionist, old-school semi-geek this saddens me. I want you to shoot perfect, beautifully lit, well-composed videos. Even so, deep down you already know:

Having decent enough video is already infinitely better for your business than having no video whatsoever.

Myth #3

I have a really good camera. That’s all I need to start shooting amazing videos!

No.

Always think about the complete system that you will need.

And already at the outset, think about your overall budget. Realise that you’re not just buying a camera – you’re buying into an entire ecosystem of lenses and accessories.

The most important investment will be your lenses, because camera bodies come and go, but good lenses stay with you for decades. But that doesn’t mean that you should forget about tripods, gimbals, sliders, external LCD monitors, sound recording, portable lights or any specialised gear that might be important to your filmmaking (e.g. underwater housing, rain covers, external batteries, etc).