What follows is not about the actual brands listed, but the KINDS of accessories you should be looking for. Brands and models change faster than I have written this post.
The task at hand, such as
shooting an interview or a testimonial, recording an event, shooting a product video or a travel vlog
stays the same.
Also, these recommendations will mostly make sense to people who have attended my workshops. Most of them are the budget items that we have talked about. Spending thousands on equipment is never an issue. It’s reasonably priced gear that most of you are looking for.
Use: how important is AF for you? If it is and your camera has it, consider using native lenses even if you could use lenses from other brands with adapters. If AF is not very important to you or if you are comfortable focusing manually, you can get amazing cine-style lenses.
Zoom or prime? Depends on the nature of videos you’re producing and speed with which you need to shoot.
Pros of prime lenses:
- Relatively small, lightweight and inexpensive. Meaning: a prime lens will be all of these compared to a zoom lens of similar optical quality.
- Better in low light thanks to apertures larger than f/2.8 (f/2, f/1.4 or even f/1.2).
Pros of zoom lenses:
- Flexibility when shooting in environments where movement is limited for social or physical reasons. E.g.: travel videos, corporate events, documentaries.
- There is always a trade-off between range, aperture size and price which means that if you’re shooting a lot in low-light you need to weigh your options carefully. A 24-105mm f/4 lens might be fine when there is plenty of light. For low-light shooters a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom could be a lifesaver.
Cons of prime lenses:
- Carrying around more gear.
- Time needed to swap lenses can be an issue if you need to work very fast. E.g.: wedding videography.
- In an windy, sandy, damp or very cold outdoor environment changing lenses increases the risk of getting dirt and moisture inside the camera body.
Cons of zoom lenses:
- Cheap zoom lenses do not perform equally well at all focal lengths.
- What you save in size, you might lose in image quality and to ability to shoot in low light.
- If you plan on shooting lots of hand-held video, look for lenses that have “IS”, “OS”, “VR”, “OIS” or some similar acronym on them. These stand for Image Stabilisation, Optical Stabilisation, Vibration Reduction, Optical Image Stabilisation – they all help a great deal with reducing camera shake. The switch to turn it on or off is usually on the body of the lens. On some mirrorless cameras the body itself offers stabilisation and then you need to enable it in the camera’s menu.
- If your camera offers auto-focus for video certain lenses will be physically faster than others offering you a distinct advantage for video. Sometimes these lenses will say “IF” (Internal Focusing) or if it’s a Canon lens “STM” (Silent Motor).
- It’s also good to keep in mind that a lens that’s great for stills photography might not be ideal for videography. And vice versa: a cine-style, manual focus lens might be great for a certain genre of videos but not for stills.
Recommendation for budget lenses:
Canon 24mm, f/2.8 pancake lens: https://www.canon.co.uk/lenses/ef-s-24mm-f-2-8-stm-lens/
This is a great little mild wide-angle lens, great for travel, street, landscape and even architecture.
Canon 50mm, f/1.8 lens: https://www.canon.co.uk/lenses/ef-50mm-f-1-8-stm-lens/
Also called the “nifty fifty”, this is a good lens for close-ups, portraits, interviews.
Canon 17-55mm, f/2.8 zoom: https://www.canon.co.uk/lenses/ef-s-17-55mm-f-2-8-is-usm-lens/
Sigma 17-50mm, f/2.8 zoom (made for Canon and Nikon, just make sure you get the right fit): https://www.sigmaphoto.com/17-50mm-f28-ex-dc-os-hsm
Samyang (or Rokinon, it’s the same lens under different brand names) makes fully manual and relatively inexpensive Cine lenses. These are all prime lenses with large apertures (T/1.5), a continuous aperture ring and a housing that allows the use of follow-focus equipment.
Additional Accessories for your Camera
External LCD Monitor or Recorder
An external monitor not only offers a larger, 5″ or 7″ screen as opposed to the 3″ display of a typical camera. It should also have exposure and focus assist functions that your camera may not have. Look for these!
- Functions assisting exposure: live histogram, zebra, false colours
- Functions assisting focusing: focus peaking, pixel-to-pixel zoom, live zoom (during recording)
An inexpensive but nice little monitor is the Feelworld FW760: https://bit.ly/2frUnvT
Incredibly versatile external monitors that also acts as a very high quality recorders are made by Atomos, e.g. the Atomos Ninja V: https://www.atomos.com/ninjav.
A fast enough SD card (other card types are being developed, always check your camera manual for the recommended card type and speed)
SD card specifications
DSLR / Mirrorless Cage
A cage around the body of the camera is great if you have multiple accessories that you need to attach ergonomically to your equipment (e.g. both an LCD monitor and a microphone). A good cage will allow you to handle your camera with much greater ease.
There are lots of small and large brands out there. Some will make rigs and cages just for a few cameras, others offer a huge selection of accessories.
Take backup extremely seriously. With a digital workflow all your work is contained on small, fragile memory cards until you back them up.
Think strategically. Think about short-term backup and long-term archival.
The cheapest and simplest solution is getting a couple of large-capacity (these days 4TB) hard drives.
Handheld digital recorder:
Lav mic (wired and wireless):
Audio-Technica ATR 3350: https://bit.ly/2Oa3mxz
Rode Rodelink: http://www.rode.com/wireless/filmmaker
Sennheiser EK 100 G3: https://en-uk.sennheiser.com/wireless-microphone-camera-receiver-ek-100-g3
Camera Movement / Stabilisation
Manfrotto makes excellent, affordable and durable tripods.
In case it’s too much for your budget, you can look for a “fluid head video tripod” on eBay and hope for the best!
Edelkrone is always a good source of inspiration: https://edelkrone.com/products/sliderplus.
But there are plenty of other brands out there, make sure you research the market properly before you buying a slider.
Take into account the weight of your gear, the length of the slider, the support it will need (a very sturdy tripod) and if possible, try it out. See if the movement is smooth and in case you’ll be recording sound check out how much noise it makes.
A great place to look at different kinds of lights, cameras and accessories is cvp.com.
When looking for one make sure you can get the accessories that you will need, e.g. a softbox with a grid or barn doors. Watch out if the LED light you’re getting is bi-colour or dimmable.
Don’t forget about stands.
There are two brands that offer pretty solid, budget lights.
LED light: https://www.aputure.com/products/ls-c300d-1
Ring Light: http://a.co/d/7ZchR2D
Bi-colour LED panels: http://amzn.eu/d/fOMq5m8
“No-name” continuous, fluorescent softbox kit: http://amzn.eu/d/dWLAN0P
Peer-to-Peer Hire & Used Equipment
Peer-to-peer camera hire is a great way of testing equipment for a few days before you decide to invest hundreds and thousands of pounds into your own equipment.
You’ll find great deals on these sites:
Buying second-hand equipment is safer than ever and is also a great way of building up your kit.
All these sites usually offer a 12-month warranty for used gear and are also good to keep in mind when you decide to trade in your old gear for something new: