This is where most people who want to start a career as a videographer are scared off, but this need not be the case, even with a small budget you can get some good quality equipment which will bridge the gap between amateur and pro. This article will hopefully help you on your way.
Obviously to be a videographer you will need a good camera, which goes without saying, nobody will be willing to use your services if your video is of a poor quality.
New or used? I bought my first professional camera secondhand. As long as your careful when buying secondhand equipment, it can be a great way to start your videography business. Obviously there is always a risk but you can make some significant savings. Make sure you see the camera working and spend time testing all the features before handing over your money. When buying new it’s good to go into a shop to try out the camera first but be aware the prices online can be a bit cheaper. For expensive equipment, it is even be worth haggling at your local retailer to bring the price down slightly, it is always worth trying, they can only say no. It is reassuring to have a warranty on the camera which is defiantly an advantage when buying new.
It is worth buying HD. Not all videographers are using HD but it is about the right time buy or upgrade to high definition. After all you don’t want to be left behind before you’ve even started.
Not all videographers own their cameras, there are a lot of companies out there which offer good daily rates for camera rental, I often use these when I’m working on a project which requires a multiple camera setup, this can work out more cost effective then buying extra cameras which may not be used very often and will eventually need upgrading as technology improves. For a larger more expensive purchase it can also be a good idea to rent the camera you want to buy to check that you are making the right decision.
When buying any equipment always look at reviews online and do your research, so you know that the camera has all the features you will need.
There are very few videographers who use the microphone which is built in to the camera, this is because they are usually of a poor quality and can pickup noise from the camera. Don’t forget sound is half of your production.
If your camera has professional outputs, which you would expect on all good cameras, then it is worth buying a good quality microphone, more than likely you should be looking at a shotgun mic. These are the most directional of all microphones and can be used to pick up sounds from longer distances; they can be mounted to the top of any good camera. There are many different types of microphone out there but if I had to name a standard microphone, a shot gun mic is it.
Different microphones will be useful in different situations, for example some wedding videographers will have a shotgun microphone attached to their camera but also mic up the groom with a lapel microphone, (a small microphone which attaches to clothing) to record the vows.
This can also be an essential tool when making video but make sure you buy a good quality tripod or it could be just a waste of money. So what is a good quality tripod? Well, you should be looking to buy a tripod with a fluid head, this will give you a smooth action when filming, depending on the quality of the head. Fluid heads have lubricating fluid in their mount; this allows a much smoother camera movement than with a non-fluid head. Many shops sell the tripod legs and the head separately, this is something I’ve always liked as you can replace or upgrade the parts separately without buying a complete tripod. It may be worth taking your camera into the shop to try out the tripod before buying it. Make sure that the tripod is able to take the weight of your camera; the last thing you would want during a production is for your camera to topple over.
If you are reading this online, you probably already own a computer. Depending on the specifications it may already be suitable for video editing; chances are though you will want to upgrade it.
A large hard drive is essential when editing video as the video files you will be working on will often be very large, especially if you are working with high definition video. It can be useful to have multiple hard drives, with all your video files being stored on a secondary drive. This will improve performance, as the only activity on the second drive will be video related, without all the normal background operations happening. If you’re buying a new hard drive make sure it’s at least a 7200rpm drive.
Memory is also something worth upgrading; I noticed a huge difference in the computers performance when I upgraded the memory of my computer, without it I found the software slowed down my computer and the time it took me to edit was increased.
Essential is a firewire port, this is used to connect your camera to your computer to transfer the video. Many new computers come with a firewire port, if your computer doesn’t have one you will need to buy a firewire card. Be aware there are different speeds of firewire available make sure you get firewire 800 or better.
If your processor is slow, consider upgrading this too, you do not need the best processor out there but its always nice to have a speedy processor.
Many people think you need a really good video card to do video editing, but they are wrong, as long as you have a reasonably good card to start with, money will be better spent on other upgrades.
I could go on listing even more upgrades but I feel like I’ve named all the important ones, other upgrades worth considering are an extra monitor and a dvd burner.
You will need to buy some software to edit the video, these can range in ability and price. Popular products with professional videographers are Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or Vegas Pro but there are cheaper options out there, it’s worth taking a look at some reviews and trying out some demos of the software before purchasing your preferred choice. Just make sure the software has all the features you require.
This can be essential depending on what kind of work your taking on, for example at a wedding you don’t have time to set up lighting and will have to make do with the conditions on the day or possibly use a mounted light, whereas the production of a company training video will be vastly improved by the use of a good full lighting setup.
As with much of a videographer kit you can spend as little or as much as you would like. There are some fantastic lighting kits out there but for myself who does a lot of outdoor work filming corporate events, it’s not worth spending a fortune on lighting. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to decide what kind of work you would like to specialise in, it makes buying the equipment a whole lot easier and cheaper. At the minimum you should probably own enough lighting for a basic three-point setup. Also useful is a mounted light which sits onto of your camera, this is usually connected to a separate battery which can clip onto your belt or hang over your shoulder.
Always get yourself a good set of headphones, it’s sometimes surprising what the microphone can pickup, so you will want to monitor the sound at all times and make any adjustments accordingly.
This article lists the basic equipment you will need when starting as a full time videographer, there are many extra gadgets out there which you may think you will need and may come in handy. Just make sure that you are purchasing the equipment for the right reasons, as it is very easy to get carried away with spending your money on gadgets which will make very little difference to your productions.