Mandy Crew USA

Filmmaking Gear For Aspiring Filmmakers

Sometimes, they give up before really starting... Of course, those better informed know that there has never been an easier time to get started as a filmmaker. There is plenty of affordable gear, whether used or new, that will let you develop your skills and show off your talent.

With that in mind, I have a list of gear recommendations. Start with the basics and then add equipment as your skills and career progress. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list. I only list here equipment that I’ve used, reviewed and can personally recommend.

First, of course, comes the camera. My two favorite choices are Sony NEX-5RK and Canon T3i. Click on the links to see my review of them. Before buying a new unit, I encourage you to look for deals on used equipment. You want to invest your money wisely and buying used equipment often makes better sense.

Whatever camera you choose, you want to couple it with good lenses. The stock lenses are always great value but eventually you’ll want to add something faster. Whatever the camera mount you use, a 50mm (or similar) prime lens is usually affordable. It is also very useful. You’ll find that the field of view of such a lens is exactly what you need in a lot of situations and the extra f-stops will let you shoot with less light. Also, you’ll be able to have a narrower depth of field, giving your work a more cinematic look. 

It makes a lot of sense to buy used lenses. I love looking for bargains on old manual-focus lenses. As a filmmaker, the autofocus function is useless to me and it’s great to have aperture rings on the lens when I use it with a camera mount adapter.

You don’t want to always hand-hold your camera, therefore I’d get a decent tripod. The good news is that - for smaller cameras - they are inexpensive. I’ve had good experience with Manfrotto tripods. 

Until you get lights, you will probably mostly shoot outdoors in daytime. For that, it is great to get a light reflector. They are cheap but make a big difference. Also, they will start you learning about how to control light – the key to cinematography.

There is a lot more equipment that you can buy, but just using the camera, a couple of lenses, a tripod and a light reflector can get you far. You will certainly be able to create videos that will impress others. Once you do that, people will want to work with you (for free) and to hire you (although you will have to put in a good effort in marketing yourself). As things snowball, you will be able to do bigger projects and buy more equipment.

Next on my shopping list would be: a camera stabilizer (or maybe even a digital camera stabilizer, as their prices drop), a camera slider, and lights, especially LED lights. If you are doing film work, you’ll also want to get good audio. 

New, more powerful equipment constantly comes onto the market, giving better and better tools to indie filmmakers. Hopefully, though, you will not get too caught-up in buying the latest technology. What makes somebody work great is much less about their gear and more about their creativity and skills. So, get your hands on equipment you can afford right now and start developing your skills.