7 Essential Buy Guides for Cameras, Gear, and Equipment
Investing in new cameras, gear, and equipment? Purchase with intention with these helpful filmmaking camera and gear roundups.
As we posted the other week, the digital filmmaking landscape is changing at an astounding rate. For both professional and amateur filmmakers and videographers, this can be a mixed blessing of sorts.
Yes, cameras and gear are advancing almost by the day. But, it also means that prices are being cut and quality equipment is more affordable and ready-to-use than ever before.
And while you should still do your diligence into what your exact film and video needs truly are — as well as research into what types of gear are better investments than others — for those looking to invest in new cameras, gear, and equipment, here are some essential “buy guides” to help with your purchasing decisions.
Upgrading from the BMPCC4K to the BMPCC6K
One of the hottest topics in the industry right now is the impressive introduction of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K earlier this year. Then, a surprise follow up with the updated Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Both cameras represent some big breakthroughs for digital filmmakers and videographers, as well as introducing some solid specs at what would be unheard of lower prices, just a few years ago.
In this guide by Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera expert Lewis McGregor, we get some helpful insights, not just into comparing and contrasting, but also into the relevancy of each camera and how the price points and specs relate to each other.
Budget Documentary-Style Lenses
While the documentary film genre has remained relatively unchanged over the history of cinema, the moniker has evolved in terms of what a modern-day documentary filmmaker looks like. These days, the documentary-style has become synonymous with any uncontrolled or true-to-life shooting situation. Whether that be weddings, events, or even hybrid narrative shorts or features.
As such, documentary filmmaking gear and equipment isn’t just a niche for specifically focused filmmakers. It’s pretty much for everyone. And for good reason, as documentary-style lenses — like the five outlined in this buy guide — can represent some of the best value with the most flexible options on the market.
Essential Documentary Tools
Similarly to the point above, not only are “documentary” cameras and lenses now in vogue, but also all the miscellaneous tools of the trade have become part of any good run-and-gun filmmaker’s arsenal. In this breakdown by Tanner Shinnick, we get a solid list of essential documentary tools to add to your camera package, including insights into how to use follow focuses, external monitors, and simple camera rigs.
Sliders for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
As cameras and gear continue to get smaller, lighter, and more handheld-friendly, we’ve begun to see the equipment of the industry reflect these changes. Yes, there are still your heavy duty cinema cameras that require even more complex build outs than ever before. But for most indie filmmakers, you’re often working with DSLR or mirrorless cameras the can pack some serious 4K punch.
One advantage of working with these smaller, lightweight cameras means that gear — like the five sliders recommended in this article — can also be lighter, more compact, and portable, and most importantly, less expensive.
Cheap and Under-Appreciated Cameras
While there’ll always be a class of videographers swept up in chasing the newest camera releases and latest technological breakthroughs, perhaps the best way to take advantage of the quickly-changing digital video landscape is to be part of the group of video professionals who are ready to pounce on that under-deservedly more affordable second wave.
For every BMPCC6K or Panasonic S1H, there’ll be price drops on nearly just as good (and sometimes more reliable) BMPCC4K or Panasonic S1. The same could be said for these three cheap, under-appreciated cameras currently on the market.
Affordable Slow Motion Cameras
Another tech spec that most camera manufacturers seem to be chasing with a fever these days are those high frame rate recording speeds. Apparently, the new standard for any consumer to prosumer-level digital camera needs to be at least 4K at 60fps recording. And while 4K/60fps is great for slow motion, there are (in fact) plenty of cameras that can already record these results. You just have to know where to look.
Here are six slow motion cameras at different price ranges. (Note: Don’t buy. Instead, rent the higher-end options here.) These cameras can push well above 4K/60fps, and many should see price drops as soon as technology advances.
Considering Used Gear
Finally, perhaps the greatest way to find the best deals and beat the new camera cycle is to not buy new gear at all. Instead, buy used! As crazy as it sounds, one of the first cameras I bought was a used Canon 7D and it lasted a good seven years for me. No joke. It all comes down to price vs. value and risk vs. reward.
Here’s a great guide breakdown of everything you should consider before buying used cameras or gear. It might be scary for some, but if you do your research, ask the right questions, and have realistic expectations, it might be the best way to save on quality production gear.
Cover image via structuresxx.
For more buy guides, roundups, and general filmmaking tips and advice, check out these articles below.