7 Pieces of Essential Videography Gear for Beginners


DIY Video Studio is supported by its readers. Please assume links on this site are affiliate links or ads, and that I get commissions for purchases made through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use any of the links.

If you want to get serious about videography for YouTube, TikTok, or your own website, you need to know what essential videography gear you should invest in. So, what equipment do you need for videography?

I’ll go through the video gear you need and break down each category into various options.

This gear will serve as the basic kit that you can rely on in most filming situations that you are likely to find yourself in for the early part of your video-making journey. Once you’ve gained more experience that’s when you might consider getting other equipment, if any, to raise your video production game.

What equipment do you need for videography

I have listed the video gear in order of importance so that you know what’s an absolute must-have item and what purchase can be delayed avoiding spreading limited funds too thinly. For instance, a camera is essential, but buying a good video tripod could be put off because you could film handheld or even set up your camera on a pile of books or bean bag.

Essential-video-gear

Camera

Webcam: You need some way to record video, and a basic webcam isn’t going to be good enough. If you are going to record in your bedroom or home office, you could use a decent quality webcam. Something like a Logitech C970 that can record Full HD footage.  A Logitech Brio would be even better since it offers the advantage of 4K recording and better image quality. However, this is not going to be good enough if you want to shoot outside or record anything else of better quality.

Sale
Logitech C920 Hd Pro Webcam (Black) Black
  • Full HD 1080p video that's faster, smoother and works on more computers.   Skype in Full HD 1080p...
  • Logitech partnered with Skype(TM) to deliver high-definition 1080p resolution with the C920 webcam
  • Record videos in widescreen Full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second
  • The same H.264 encoded compression that enables high-definition video calls with Skype, also lets...

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

To step up your video quality and have more flexibility in what and how you shoot, you have two options. First, use the camera you already have in your pocket, your smartphone. Or two, get a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Smartphones

You don’t need the very latest iPhone to record good-quality videos. I would recommend any iPhone from the 5s or later. However, the newer models do provide advantages.  For example, bigger screens, improved and multiple cameras, more processing power, and often more storage. But even older models, like the 5s, 6s, and SE (1st gen), will let you capture fantastic video footage. The video camera is great on all of them, but I would recommend using a better camera app than the native one included with your iPhone. Filmic Pro, Moment, and Mavis are all ones I’ve used. Although they are not free, the pro-level controls are worth paying for.

If you’re an Android user, there are plenty of options open to you, and, just like iPhone users, you don’t need the very latest phone. A few months back I was trying to turn a phone into an external monitor, so bought the cheapest Android phone I could find, a Blackview A60. It turned out that if mounted on a tripod and under good lighting the phone was able to shoot acceptable quality video. If the cheapest of the cheap could manage to shoot reasonable video, other moderately priced Android phones and above should do a superb job of shooting video.   

DSLRs

Just a few years ago the Canon 80D was the go-to camera for many vloggers. It is still a good DSLR camera, but it has been superseded by the Canon 90D. Both these cameras are affordable and are excellent at both photography and videography. If you love DSLRs these the 80D or 90D may be right up your street. But they have two disadvantages. The first is that their maximum video quality is Full HD (1080p). If you want to shoot in 4K you’ll need to look elsewhere. The second, for me at least, is even more of a dealbreaker. The world of cameras that have interchangeable lenses is going mirrorless. For instance, Canon has moved on from making DSLRs with EF lens mounts to their M and R range of mirrorless cameras that are smaller, lighter, and have more advanced features than older DSLRs.

Mirrorless cameras

If you want to take the plunge into mirrorless cameras try the Canon EOS RP, M50 MkII or the Sony A6400 (a little older but still packs a punch). These are entry-level cameras but can shoot Full HD and 4K video, as well as take photos. If you want to step up the quality, and features, look at the Canon EOS R6. This is really the baby sibling of the Canon R5. It has the same excellent autofocus system as the R5. In fact, it has most of the useful features of the R5 minus the 45MP sensor that lets you shoot in 8K and the hefty price ticket. Even though the video is recorded as IPB files, it’s beautiful to look at. Once you have some video experience under your belt, you might even want to use the R6’s C-Log or C-Log3 recording capabilities to squeeze out the maximum dynamic range.

Again, these CanonOpens in a new tab. EOS R cameras not only capture great footage to record or stream live but also take phenomenal still images. In the case of the EOS R6, you can also easily extract usable stills from your 4K footage.

Side note on Flip-out screens: Getting a DSLR or mirrorless camera that includes a flippy screen or variable angle screen will be ideal for videography. It will enable you to see the display when shooting selfie videos for a vlog or when shooting in tight spaces or from angles where you just can’t see the back of the camera. Some screens flip out to the side of the camera body, others can flip up above. Either type will do since you will only use the screen for framing or camera control at the start of the shot. If you’re vlogging you’ll be looking into the lens and not at the screen, otherwise, you won’t be making eye contact with the viewer.

Lens

Smartphone users will mostly use the camera lens on their phones. Although some phones may have two or three lenses, wide-angle, standard, and telephoto. Enabling you to zoom from a wide to tight shot. If you have a phone with just a single lens, you can try a clip-on wide or telephoto lens. The cheapest ones that promise remarkable levels of magnifications are likely to disappoint you. But a reasonable and popular choice is the Xenvo Pro Lens Kit. It includes wide-angle and macro lenses, plus a clip-on LED Light. A significant step up in quality is the Moment 58mm Tele Lens that gives you 2 to 4x magnification, although at a higher price.

With a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can swap the lens for any in your kit bag. But there are basically two types, prime lenses (fixed focal length) and zoom lenses (variable focal length). These are subdivided into lenses with fixed or variable aperture.

Zoom lenses are useful because you can reframe your shot without changing your position. Your digital camera body may come with a zoom kit lens, usually with a slow aperture of F/3.5-5.6. This might be OK to get you started but if your budget allows, get a standard zoom lens. 

Standard zoom lenses have a fixed aperture and are better for videography. With a fixed aperture the image is equally bright throughout the zoom range, so it won’t dim as you go from a wide to tight shot. The downside is that standard zooms cost more but are worth it. Good examples are the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8, and Canon RF24-105mm f/4.

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Prime lenses, which have a fixed focal length, require you to physically move your position if you want to reframe the shot. This may seem like a disadvantage, but prime lenses are generally better quality and faster, meaning they have a lower f-number so produce a brighter image.

Fast primes are ideal if shooting video inside or under poor lighting conditions. Every camera bag should include a nifty-fifty or 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. Not only does a 50mm lens produce a look similar to what the human eye sees but these lenses are the most affordable way of being able to shoot video under low light conditions or where you want a shallow depth of field (smooth blurry backgrounds). Good examples being the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, and Canon RF 50mm f/1.8.

Last update on 2021-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Memory Cards

When starting off, pick up a memory card that has fast write speeds and offers plenty of storage space. Even so, you don’t need to go overboard. I use both the Canon EOS R and R6 cameras to shoot YouTube and client videos and use SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC I V30 cards. These offer speeds of up to 95MB/s and so far, I’ve not lost any images or footage whether shooting Full HD or 4K. Although I have a fast 64GB card, this is mainly for firmware upgrades and bird photography.

The workhorse SD cards for my videography business have a capacity of 256GB, although 128GB would be fine if primarily shooting Full HD and only some 4K video. The type of videography will also influence the memory card capacity you need. I specialize in producing corporate videos where I capture specific setups or short interviews, so 128 and 256GB SD cards are sufficient for each shoot.

However, if you aim to start in wedding videography where your clients want a record of almost everything from the morning preparations of the bride through to the night-time party, then get a couple of 256GB cards or a 512GB card. As a guide, one of my corporate clients once asked me to video their company’s 10th-anniversary party at Trump Turnberry. I was able to shoot more than enough Full HD footage from early evening until midnight onto a single 256GB SD card that was edited down to an hour-long finished video.

Finally, if your camera is capable of recording to two card slots simultaneously you may wish to have an SD card in each slot. That way, if one card fails you will still have the footage on the other card. That’s an important consideration if you plan to shoot events where there is only one opportunity to get the shot.

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Microphone

You can get away with middle-of-the-road video quality and keep your audience happy, but they will demand solid quality audio. The secret to recording good audio is getting the microphone close to the mouth of the person speaking. Although the quality of the microphone also matters, an expensive professional microphone placed 6ft (1.8m) from the speaker will not sound as good as a $40 lavalier mic at a distance of 6″ (15cm).

If you are recording selfie videos for your vlog, you might just be able to get away with using the internal microphone on your smartphone or SLR camera. A video shotgun mic mounted on top of the camera would be better. But if you get closer to the speaker by putting the shotgun mic on a boom arm stand or use a clip-on lavalier mic and your sound quality will be improved significantly.

When you’re getting started the Deity V-Mic D3 Pro super-cardioid shotgun microphone is a good option. It is a smart microphone that detects what device it has been plugged into so that the correct connection can be made, and only powers up when the camera or digital recorder is switched on. It is flexible since it will work with most cameras and digital recorders. But can be mounted on a camera, small desktop stand, or if you get the Deity location kit it’s easy to mount on a mic boom arm and even plug it into pro audio recorders that have XLR inputs.

Another option is the Sennheiser MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone. This uses professional XLR connectors and 48V phantom or 1.5V battery power. You will need to use it with a camera or digital audio recorder with XLR inputs.

If you’re going to be a solo shooter it may be easier to place a wireless lavalier mic (sometimes called a lave or lapel mic) on your subject. This will give both you and your subject more freedom of movement. Good examples for video shooters would be the compact Rode Wireless GO II or more traditional RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker System.

But if your subject does not need to move you can save money by using a wired lavalier mic, essentially a lav mic with a long cord. The PowerDeWise Lav Mic is inexpensive, is compatible with iPhones, Android smartphones, and SLR cameras. Considering the price, the sound quality is excellent.

Last update on 2021-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Video lights

If you’re filming inside, you also need lights. Although they can also be useful in outdoor shoots if you’re subject is in front of a light or bright background. I’ve seen countless news reporters that look almost like dark silhouettes against a light sky.

Lights will help you make your subject look better by using the lights creatively and by also letting you use lower ISO settings that produce cleaner, noise-free footage.

The question is, why kind of lights should you get? Traditionally you might get softboxes or umbrella lights, but both of those are a pain to transport and set up. They also take up a lot of space. A more modern video lighting solution is to use LED panel lights. They’re compact, robust, and can use batteries or wall outlet power adapters. Furthermore, there are no glass bulbs to break or explode, and they don’t get hot.

If you’re going to shoot run-and-gun style, then get a small LED light and mount it on your camera. Otherwise, go for larger LED panels with enough power to light your set. Initially, you might be able to get away with just one light panel by using a reflector to simulate a second light source that can bounce light into the shadows.

Circular pop-up reflectors come with white, silver, or gold covers so you can adjust the quality of the bounced light. But there’s another use of these pop-up reflectors that isn’t talked about much. If you remove the white, silver, or gold cover you’ll find you’ve got a circular diffuser. I most frequently use it to soften harsh sunlight when shooting outside, but you could equally place the diffuser in front of your LED light panel so that you have a much softer source of light.

If you plan on filming at home, or in an office, you could substitute a white foam board for the reflector. It’s light and cheap and is a terrific way of bouncing light into shadow areas.

To go with your LED light you’ll need a light stand and maybe clamps. The same goes for your reflector unless you have an extra pair of hands helping on set.

Tripod

One essential piece of equipment every beginner videographer must have is a good fluid head tripod! At least, eventually.

If you have steadier hands than me, and you want a more natural and fluid look to your footage, you can of course film handheld. A lot of modern lenses offer image stabilization, such as the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 and RF 35mm f1.8 lenses. Coupled with camera bodies with in-body image stabilization (IBIS), handheld videography can look exceptionally smooth and shake-free.

However, there will be many times when you need a tripod. Almost any tripod will do if it’s going to be locked off to record static piece-to-camera shots. I like the Joby GorillaPod 3K tripod stand and ball head that can take cameras up to 6.6lbs or 3Kg in weight. If necessary, you can gather in the legs and use it a bit like a selfie stick. But if you want to film dynamic shots with smooth pans and tilts, you’ll need a tripod.

Don’t be tempted to get a cheap tripod or one designed for photography. You need a tripod designed for video work, a video tripod with a fluid head. This provides stability and the kind of control to produce smooth and level panning and tilt shots. With cheap photography tripods, you’ll end up with jumpy pans that will look dreadful viewed on a TV or computer monitor.

You can find solidly built fluid head tripods on Amazon. I have the Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head, which goes well with the MT190X3 Tripod.

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Backdrop cloth or pop-up background

Strictly speaking, a backdrop is not essential. But if you are filming at home or in an office you may not want your audience to see the room where you are filming. Another reason for using a backdrop is to have a neutral background or to use green/blue screen background replacement.

The easiest way to hide your location is to use a cloth backdrop. There are numerous examples available on Amazon, both simple cloth backdrops and pop-up backgrounds. They are available in various plain colors (white, black, gray, blue, green) or abstract patterns. Some even are printed with illustrations or photorealistic images.

Depending on your preference you can also choose cotton muslin, micro fiber, PVC, or seamless paper backgrounds. Each of these will require a support stand, although if you are working from home or where space is limited, you could pin or tape the backdrop to a wall.

Another option is the pop-up backdrop. Light circular reflectors have a steel rim that pops out to keep the cloth flat. Once you’re done filming these can be folded down into a small storage case.

Here are some of my favorite content creation tools

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully, you found it helpful in creating your own content for your social media and YouTube channels. I have listed some of the gear I use as a YouTuber and online course creator and hope you’ll also find it useful. I have recommended this equipment to my readers and my own family and friends.

Camera: You can use your smartphone when starting out, but I’d recommend getting a Mirrorless Camera. I use both the Canon EOS ROpens in a new tab. and EOS R6Opens in a new tab.. Both can shoot Full HD or 4K, and the Eye AutoFocus will keep you sharply in focus even if you move around. If your budget is smaller, I would recommend the Canon M50 MkIIOpens in a new tab..

Video microphone: Arguably, sound quality is more important than video quality, that’s why I use a Deity V-MiOpens in a new tab.c D3 Opens in a new tab.Pro super-cardioid shotgun microphone on my mirrorless cameras. It automatically powers on when I turn on my camera and powers down when I switch off the camera. But I also like the versatility of the mic. It automatically senses what device it is connected to ensuring it works with SLRs, camcorders, smartphones, Handy recorders, laptops, and bodypack transmitters.

Video Lighting: Although daylight is my favorite lighting, I use LED lighting for all the videos I shoot indoors because good lighting can make a tremendous difference to the visual appeal of a video. For video calls on Zoom or Teams, I use the Lume Cube Broadcast Lighting KitOpens in a new tab.. For YouTube videos and creating video tutorials for online courses, I love the Lume Cube 18″ Cordless Ring Light Kit. Both these lights are excellent, and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them.

Teleprompter software: I use the iCue teleprompterOpens in a new tab. app on my iPad when using it with a traditional beam-splitter teleprompter and control it remotely with the iCue RemoteOpens in a new tab. app on my iPhone. On my PC I use Teleprompter ProOpens in a new tab. from the Microsoft Store.

Teleprompter hardware: Teleprompters help you present to the camera without needing to learn your script. When I need more screen space and the durability of an all-metal build, I like the Glide Gear TMP100Opens in a new tab. beam-splitter teleprompter. It works with my mirrorless cameras and uses an iPad or tablet to run the teleprompter software.

Tosh Lubek runs an audio and video production business in the UK and has been using the Canon EOS R since it was released in the Autumn of 2018 and the Canon EOS R6 in 2020. He has used both cameras to shoot TV commercials broadcast on Sky TV, promotional business videos, videos of events and functions, and YouTube creator content. He has also won several international awards for his advertising and promotional work. You can meet him by visiting his “video booth” at HashTag Business Events across the country.

Recent Posts