While you’ve probably heard that it’s not the equipment that makes for a great video, but the content, well, that’s right. But it’s also true that having the right equipment can make your job easier and help you get shots you otherwise couldn’t get. Having good equipment also helps you get the quality that makes videos look more professional and attracts viewers.
In this article, we look at the essential equipment you need to produce high quality video to help you put your best foot forward with your audience.
The first item you need to shoot professional-quality video is a camera. And while you can get by with a decent cell phone, if you want to step up your game you need a good camera. Now, you can opt for a dedicated camcorder or you can choose a DSLR that has video recording capabilities.
Regardless of which you choose, there are several essential features you should make sure you have when making your purchase. The first thing to look for is the quality of the video it records. Get a camera that records at minimum 1080p and preferably one that records in 4k. You also want a camera that has an input for an external mic so you can get better sound quality than what you would get from the built-in mic. Also, if you’re opting for a camcorder, get one that has a powerful lens with the ability to zoom in and out. Another thing to look for is the camera’s sensor size; a larger sensor captures more information and makes for a better quality product. Other features to look for are image stabilization and multi-output formats.
Next to the camera, you need equipment to help you shoot better video. The first thing you must buy is a good tripod. Unless you’re going for the handheld shaky-cam look for all of your videos, you need a stable tripod so you can lock the camera down for stable recording. Regardless of how steady you think you hold your camera, you can’t beat a tripod for stability. Although unnecessary at the outset, consider getting a dolly to set your tripod into so you can incorporate smooth tracking shots into your video production for an even more professional look.
After the tripod, another essential for getting high-quality video is an external microphone. The sound recorded from the camera’s built-in mic is usable, but if you want your videos to look like they’ve been professionally shot, you can’t afford to be without good sound.
Next, let’s talk about lighting. To get professional-quality video, you must control the lighting. Most video production experts say at the bare minimum, you should have enough lighting to set up a basic three-point lighting shot. This standard setup is useful in a variety of situations, especially interviews, and incorporates a key light, a fill light and a backlight. If you’re shooting outdoors in bright sunlight, an external key light will help keep your subject well defined against the harsh daylight. And while you’re at it, get reflectors to have handy when you need a quick light source on the fly.
Besides using a tripod to get smooth, stable shots, you should consider a gimbal, which allows you to be more mobile than you could with a tripod while still keeping your camera steady. These devices come in a variety of sizes and will fit virtually any camera.
If you need to review footage while you’re out on the scene, it can be tough with your camera’s small screen. While it’s unnecessary, you can make footage reviewing easier if you get an external monitor that attaches to your camera’s HDMI port. Having a larger screen allows you to spot goofs and imperfections you might otherwise miss on a tiny screen.
Last, fast memory cards are essential for shooting HD video. While most people worry about having enough gigabytes, you also have to be concerned about the speed of the card as well. SD cards have a speed rating, so, for example, a Class 2 card has a minimum write speed of 2MB/second. For shooting HD 1080p video, experts recommend a Class 10 card, which records a minimum of 10MB/second. New UHS Speed Class 3 cards are ultra high speed and are recommended for 4K video recording.
Now that you’ve shot the best quality video you can, it’s time to make it shine via the editing. If you want your work to have that professional polish, you have to spring for some pro-level editing software. The two big hitters here are Adobe’s Premiere and Apple’s Final Cut Pro. While you can start out learning on less expensive options such as Apple’s iMovie or Wondershare Filmora that have fewer features, eventually, you’ll want the power and versatility that comes with having a pro-level program.
Odds & Ends
Other items you might want to have in your bag are a smartphone with HD video recording capabilities for those times when you need to grab some footage, but you can’t take your big camera with you or you’re in a situation where people feel intimidated by all that gear. A lavalier mic is handy for clipping on to your subject that’s being recorded and it can prove to be more useful than an on-camera mic for picking up sound. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, you might want to have some filters handy such as a polarizing filter, a UV filter, and a neutral density filter.
Making video content is fun and challenging, and there’s never been a better time for people to get in on the action. What once cost tens of thousands of dollars can now be done by virtually anyone with a decent camera and a computer. Just remember that all the gear in the world won’t make a bad video good, and content is still king.