Cameras, lenses and other gear are obviously important when it comes to filmmaking. I’m often asked what’s the best camera equipment for videographers so I thought I’d put it all in one place.
Here is a list of some the gear I use with a short explanation about why. This is only what has worked for me and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you!
You can also see some of my work here.
SONY A7s III
After a long time waiting, it feels as though the ‘almost’ perfect hybrid-camera has been released. The Sony A7S III.
This camera shoots beautiful 4k video at up to 120fps as well as having a wonderful sensor for low light shooting. This thing can practically see in the dark!
Sony have also opted for reliability in this camera rather than trying to ram any crazy features in there like the 8K offerings of another camera on the market.
Instead Sony have delivered an absolute workhorse of a camera that has not overheated or malfunctioned once whilst on shoots – something that seems to be happening in other cameras at the moment.
I used this camera on a short film that was three days straight. The camera was a delight to use and was super reliable. Having only had the Sony AS7 III for a few weeks, I took my old one with me just in case – but I didn’t touch the other one once!
Stills from the shoot (Sony A7SIII and 24-70mm 2.8):
However, saying that the camera is reliable doesn’t mean it doesn’t really push technology forward. If you are moving from an older camera system (like I had), the ‘standard’ features now expected on modern day cameras do feel like a huge step forward and are brilliantly executed in this camera.
Things like reliable autofocus, slow mo, 4K resolution and image stabilisation make this feel camera feel like a whole new world for me.
The low light performance is fantastic and if you’re shooting at events like me where you haven’t always got the time to set up lights, this is a life saver (and I think is an important factor when considering camera equipment for videographers).
The quality of 4K is excellent. Shooting in 4K and exporting videos in HD allows you to crop into your shot in post, effectively giving you two shots in one like I did on this recent shoot:
The autofocus on this camera is unbelievably good with the continuous eye tracking sticking to the subject like glue. It’s the best autofocus system I’ve ever used.
When filming people now, instead of trying to manually keep them in focus as they move forward and backwards in interviews, I can now just tap on the eye and watch the camera magically keep them in focus.
Another simple (but in my mind essential) function of this camera is the ability to shoot video to both SD card slots at the same time giving you some peace of mind in case there are any problems with your cards. I once had a card corrupt on a previous camera without this function and I lost everything!
The only ever-so slightly disappointing feature on this camera is the 12mp sensor. ‘Disappointing’ is probably quite an over-statement as 12mp is completely fine for most uses and if your main priority is videography whilst also wanting to take photos for social media or web, then this is more than enough.
I actually think the 12mp sensor creates some really stunning photos – it’s not all about resolution. The only time this would cause some people a problem is if you were looking to punch in and re-frame in post.
Here are some photos taken from the Sony:
Sony full frame cameras also work with a wide range of Sony and third party lenses and you can therefore avoid spending thousands more on glass. Brands like Sigma and Tamron are also really affordable and versatile lenses which match or occasionally beat Sony’s own lenses. We’ll talk about those in a moment.
In conclusion, if you are a serious videographer and are looking for a camera that is reliable and feature rich, this is seriously worth the consideration. It takes beautiful video, quality photos and really does just allow you to get on and create your stuff.
- Quality image
- Dual card slot recording
- Amazing autofocus
- Incredible low light
- Great dynamic range
- 12mp sensor
Sigma 24-70 f2.8
I use this lens for events where I can’t easily change my lens and just need to put one on my camera and leave it. A good zoom lens like this is an ideal piece of camera equipment for videographers who are shooting events, weddings or documentaries, or who haven’t got the luxury of time.
It’s a perfect focal length for this kind of shooting – with the 24mm being wide enough for capturing good establishing shots and the 70mm getting in a lot closer. I’ve often shot videos where this was the only lens I used.
If you are moving to the Sony system for the first time and can only afford one lens initially, this is the one I would go for.
This whole video was shot on this lens.
This lens is way more affordable than the Sony version of the same focal length, and after using this Sigma for a while now, there’s nothing that the Sony offers that I feel like I’m lacking with this lens.
Sony 35mm 1.8
I love this lens so much. The 35mm focal length has something really magical about it – it is wide enough to give your shot some context but still isolates your subject well with some really nice background blur. This is a great piece of camera equipment for videographers and photographers too (or someone who does a bit of both!).
These were all shot using the Sony 35mm 1.8:
This lens if often compared to the Sigma 35mm 1.4 and I too debated about which one I should have picked but I’d take this lens over its counterpart every time.
What I really like about this lens (over the Sigma) is how small and lightweight it is. It’s actually tiny when you compare it to the Sigma. This might not sound like a big deal but you really do start to notice a heavy lens when working handheld for a while.
This is also quite reasonable when it comes to cost too. https://amzn.to/37I6Gvt
Sony 85mm 1.8
A new lens of mine. This for me does the exact opposite of the 35mm and compresses the background really nicely and is perfect for isolating your subject.
If you are taking photos with this lens too, it’s a perfect portrait lens.
As with the 35mm, the autofocus is fast, accurate and quiet for both video and photography.
These photos were all taken on the 85mm:
If you’re looking for a great lens to compliment your other staple lenses, then seriously consider this one. It’s also good value when compared to other 85mm out there:
Lighting is one of those things that’s so easily overlooked. I actually think that lighting is a better use of your money than buying extra lenses and new camera bodies.
Better lighting will have more of an effect on your videos than anything else and it’s therefore worth investing in.
Here are two lights that I use. One is a more expensive version and one is a budget friendly version:
Aputure 120d mark II
I pretty much use this light for everything and it is ideal for interviews and talking heads. It’s powerful, with a good quality light, and can produce incredibly soft lighting when paired with a softbox. It’s built well and can take a bit of a battering. It can be powered by V mount batteries and by the mains.
For a cheaper option:
I actually couldn’t believe the quality of this light when I first brought it when compared to its price.
It is obviously a little less robust than the Aputure light but it’s completely comparable when it comes to light quality and power. The only reason I would choose to use the Aputure light over this one is the fact that this has a slight fan noise that could be picked up on mics if used for an interview set up.
Having said that, it wouldn’t take much to clean up in post and if you’re on a tight budget I’d choose this one all day long. For product videography, photography or anything else that doesn’t require sound, then there would be no obvious reason why you’d buy the Aputure over this.
Remember something important.
If you’ve been looking around at camera or equipment reviews, you may now be completely sick of hearing this but here it goes…it’s really not all about the gear!
The right gear is important but what is more vital is how to actually use it!
What’s the point if you can shoot quality video but freak out when you have to sit down and actually interview someone.
If you’re looking for a bit of help with this then check out my e-book!
- How to shoot people: Film great interviews.Product on sale