Filmmaking is one of the most financially demanding career paths. It is no mystery to anyone that film equipment can be quite expensive, and that the variety of gear you need to have to get the ball rolling can ramp up the costs way beyond any amateur’s budget. Luckily for us, nowadays there are more options than ever, and plenty of them are more affordable than they used to. However, the age-old question remains: what is the best way to start investing in film equipment? Every artist’s ideas and needs are different, but below we break down the key areas in which you may want to put your money if you’re just starting out.
Lenses and cameras
When talking about filmmaking, one of the first things that come to mind is getting a camera. If you are just starting out, you don’t need to shell out everything you got in a new camera. A smart investment is looking for used cameras online or at your local marketplaces. You can find great deals in used equipment, and for the money you could spend on a new camera, you could get a higher tier device if you buy used.
The same thing goes for lenses. If you absolutely feel like you should get a new lens, consider getting a zoom lens that covers a decent amount of range, which can get you through most situations. Nowadays, if your budget allows it, some manufacturers sell lens kits that are affordable enough in contrast to brand equipment.
Audio recording equipment
One thing you cannot neglect in this line of work is audio recording. While you may be able to get by with your built-in camera microphone, it can only get you so far. Sooner rather than later, you’ll realize you need to have dedicated audio equipment for your projects.
The same advice that applies to cameras and lenses applies here. Fortunately, used and affordable audio gear is plentiful, though as usual, the thing you need to look out for the most is that the equipment is in good shape. A recorder, a cable, and a boom mic and pole should suffice for most shootings. Later on, you can invest in wireless tech like lavalier mics for additional audio coverage.
Lighting and grip gear
Lighting equipment is perhaps the field that has most benefited from technology advancements bringing costs way down. Illuminating a scene with strategically placed LED lights, bounces, and natural light is more than doable today.
In that sense, perhaps one of the most useful lights you can invest in besides an LED panel is a softbox. Most of the time, you will have a key light source around which you can work. A softbox allows you to use it as the fill light you need most of the time to complement your scene. If you can’t afford a bounce to use as a back light or additional fill light, you can always get a mirror instead or a Styrofoam panel.
If you can afford it, a used c-stand is also a worthwhile investment since you’ll get plenty of value out of it and it will hardly deteriorate enough to make it necessary to get a new one. Any additional piece of gear you get that you’re not using constantly, you can rent out to friends or other professionals that are also starting out and can’t afford their own gear.