Quick guide: Essential video gear for any budget

Thirty years ago, you’d have to drop some considerable cash – about $25,000 – for a professional-level camcorder. A video editing system could set you back tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s no wonder video production was left to the professionals and serious hobbyists only.

Today, anyone with a $200 iPhone and a monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud has the tools to make an award-winning film.

That means that whatever your budget, you can create something that looks pretty darn good. Let’s make the most of what you’ve got…

Scenario #1: No Budget

No money to invest in gear? Use a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera along with a laptop to create your videos.

Audio is important. If you can’t afford a mic, use a phone or tablet to capture audio separately. Watch this video to learn more:

Several free video editing options exist. We’d recommend HitFilm Express, which is both Mac and PC compatible and has lots of great tutorials to quickly get you started. iMovie is a popular option for iOS and macOS.

Additional options are available for Windows, including ShotCut. (Windows’ popular video editing program, MovieMaker, was discontinued several years ago.)

In addition to iMovie, Splice and Videoshop are popular for iPhone.Kinemaster and Timbre are free, powerful video editing apps for Android.

Scenario #2: Small budget

If you have a bit of cash and want to make the most of it, think about investing in a microphone. A separate, external mic can make all the difference in production quality.

If you’re doing a lot of interviews, buy a lavaliere mic (here’s one popular option), which clips on to your subject’s shirt. A shotgun mic that mounts onto your camera or boom is also an efficient way to capture sound when you’re on the move. RODE sells a boom mic kit for $200 on Amazon.

Instead of plugging your mic into your camera, use a portable audio recorder. Two popular and relatively inexpensive options are the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40.

Scenario #3: Big(ger) budget

The sky’s the limit here. A decent setup includes a digital SLR (take a look at the reasonably priced Canon T6i or 5d), lenses (start with the versatile 24-70mm) a tripod, LED lights, external mics, and a digital audio recorder. Consider renting or buying used or refurbished items to cut costs.

On the post-production side, you may consider a powerful computer for editing. Upgrade to professional editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, which is the program we use, or Final Cut Pro (Mac only).

We hope this guide has shown you that you can easily acquire (or that you may already have) all you need to get out there and start making videos! To take your filmmaking to the next level, be sure check out our other posts on conducting better interviews, shooting professional-looking footage, and crafting compelling stories.

Top photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Open Eye Creative is a small video production company with a huge vision: to use the power of story to strengthen and propel organizations that are changing the world. Read more.