I like doing photo and video but I’m not sure what camera gear to get! I don’t have a ton of money and I’m scared of buying the wrong thing. What am I supposed to do?
… sound like you? No worries. We got you covered.
Below I’m going to talk a little about what the progression looked like for me, what I learned, and what I would do differently.
Smart Phone and iMovie and Vsco on your phone. When you are first starting out, you’re trying to figure out if this is going to be a hobby or if this could be your eventual dream job. Either way, I’d suggest making movies and taking photos with whatever you have around. It seems like most people nowadays have a Smart Phone and could get their hands on a computer with a cheap editing software like iMovie (if you have a Mac. or buy it for $15). There is no shame in starting this way. I actually think this is the smart way to do it. I started by making videos on my GoPro and a point and shoot camera and then would edit them in iMovie. Use whatever you have and just get started and have fun!
(1) First Investment
Canon Rebel with kit lens (around $500), Final Cut Pro (around $250), Adobe Lightroom (around $10/month). Once you know you’re into Photography/Videography you’re going to want to upgrade your camera and then editing software. You don’t have to upgrade to the Canon Rebel but that’s what I did and I really liked it. You can find kits on Amazon or Best Buy for around $500 and they typically come with a bag, some kit lenses, SD cards and some other stuff to make you feel like a real photographer/videographer. The Canon Rebel kit packages usually come with lenses that you will eventually want to upgrade but for starting out their good.
Note, I didn’t start with getting the Canon Rebel, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Lightroom all at once. I first got the Canon Rebel and played around with it for a while. Then decided I wanted to get fancy with my pictures and edit on Lightroom. Then I decided to get Final Cut Pro.
(2)First Lens Upgrade
Upgrade your lens for you Canon Rebel (around $125 to $1000+). Ya, lenses can get pricey! Here’s where getting to know your camera a little bit more comes in handy. Some cameras are “crop sensor” while others are “full frame”. This matters because crop sensor cameras are going to make your images looked cropped or zoomed. A Canon Rebel is a crop sensor camera. Higher quality cameras like the Canon 5D, 6D and 1D are full frame cameras. So, if you plan on upgrading your camera body, which you probably eventually will want to if you’re getting more serious about photography and videography, then you will want to upgrade your lens to something that could potentially work with your current camera (most likely a Canon Rebel) and your future camera (I upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark iv).
Which lenses will do that? Great question! I ended up buying the Canon 50mm f/1.8 for about $125, which might be something I would have done differently. A lot of people recommend this lens because it’s cheap and does a good job (which is true). BUT if you are using it on your Canon Rebel (which is a crop sensor camera) you are going to notice that your image is really cropped or zoomed looking. This wasn’t too big of a problem for me because I was fortunate enough to upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark iv but if you want a good lens for your Canon Rebel, I would recommend two options.
Option A) If you like getting more landscape shots, the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM lens ($150-$1,200) is a good option. A 24mm lens that goes down to 1.4 will be better for low light- BUT a lot more pricey- $1,200. On your Canon Rebel this 24mm lens will look more like a 35mm lens because the image will be cropped or zoomed. This won’t be the best landscape lens until you upgrade your camera body to a full frame camera but it’ll give you the ability to get a little landscape and will work for capturing people as well. If you are more like me and interested in capturing people and don’t care about the wider landscape shots as much then I would go with a 35mm lens (canon as a f stop of 1.4 that is $1,200 or an f-stop of 2 which is $450.) I’ve heard a lot of people like the 35mm Sigma Art lens. Now, I know these are expensive so there is a Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens which is currently $150 on Amazon. I’ve never used it but is seems to have good reviews and I would probably buy it if I could only spend $150 to upgrade my lens.
Option B) If you want to invest in a lens you plan on using for a while and is good for photo and video, I love the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 zoom (around $1,000). Ouch! Yes, it’s expensive but will allow you to get up close or further away shots. Plus, it has vibration control which can really come in handy if you plan on filming. Having an epic but shaky shot is a videographer’s worst nightmare. Sometimes, I have my camera and don’t have a stabilizer or monopod and I have to film with just holding the camera. When this happens, I’m so happy to have the vibration control on this lens. Overall, if you can make the investment this will be a lens you will keep with you as you upgrade your camera body. The downside to this lens is that it is kinda heavy so if you are buying a gimbal to stabilize your shots it might be too heavy for it.
Monopod ($150 to $200) and/or Gimbal (around $1,200). You’ve got some good camera gear and now you really want to get stable shots. We bought the MeFOTO Classic Aluminum Roadtrip tripod (around $150 to $200). This is tripod is actually really great because it is light, compact, and can turn into a monopod when you screw off one of the legs. The only thing is doesn’t have is a handle to do sweet panning shots (I believe this is called a “pan head”). The pan head would be nice but we get along without it. Definitely love this little tripod and think it’s a great buy for anyone that thinks they’ll be doing some traveling.
As for the gimbal, we bought the Pilotfly H2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for a wapping $1,200. Yes, it’s expensive but we’ve really enjoyed it. This is really awesome for getting movement shots where you are going to be walking around. This also has a really long battery life. We’ve used it at wedding lasting 3-4 hours and it hasn’t run out of power. When we’re not filming we turn it off and then after a shoot we charge it back up with a simple wall charger that plugs into the handle. Having a gimbal definitely takes your video to the next level!
(4)Camera Body Upgrade
Canon 5D Mark iv (around $3,300). Ok, so this is a big investment but if you’ve been using a camera like the Canon Rebel for a while you’ll definitely notice a difference in your video quality. The Canon 5D Mark iv is a full frame camera and can shoot 1080p at 60fps. This just basically means that your videos will look high quality even when you do awesome slow motion shots. With the Canon Rebel you have to either sacrifice quality to get the 60fps (frames per second) so you can do slow-motion or you can have higher-quality but your slow motion will look glitchy as you slow it down. Another option that we used for a little bit was the Sony a7s because it’s an awesome camera for video and does really well in low light (aka dark/bad lighting) which is something you will encounter if you’re filming evening weddings. We ultimately decided to go with the Canon 5D Mark iv because you can’t beat the coloring on the Canon! Sony cameras seem to have a darker look, which can be good too, but we love the richness of the Canon colors.
There you have it! Four easy steps to upgrading your camera equipment. Now if you talk to 10 different photographers and videographers you’re probably going to get around 3 to 5 different opinions, so if these equipment suggestions don’t work for you there are other awesome options out there. This is just what we’ve invested in and the experiences we’ve had so I hope they help! If you love video and keep at it, you will eventually have access to the camera gear you need.