Those pricey new cameras are enticing. Wouldn’t we all like to pick up the latest RED or Sony cinema camera and fill the rest of our bag with some killer lenses?
Unfortunately, that is out of reach for many of us and it is ill-advised for beginners to blow that much money on kit.
If you are getting started it’s unlikely you have enough to even go for a respectable current mirrorless system without some major cash in hand.
Don’t fret, it is possible to get your first complete shooting kit for only a couple hundred bucks. FoxTailWhipz actually has a great example of one in this video.
What do you get in this kit? Pretty much everything you need to start rolling:
- SD Card
Getting everything you need for under $200 is a much better way of thinking.
A lot of people will go looking for a camera and then will find out that after they get all the necessary bits and pieces the cost has almost doubled.
This will get you started for almost no cost.
Camera and Lens
This is going to be your major cost savings. Cameras have been good for many years and for your first camera you will do well with nearly any of them.
For this kit he found a used Sony NEX-3N with an 18-55mm lens. Bundles of these can be found used for $150-175 – gotta be under $200.
If you are looking for places to find used equipment you should check out dealers like MPB or KEH, but if you are willing then eBay and auction sites can also work.
The camera will record Full HD 1080p at 24p, which is really all you need. Social media networks and smartphones are the most common deliver format right now and Full HD is the maximum resolution anyway.
What you are missing is slow motion.
The camera does offer a flip screen that will allow for easy vlogging and positioning.
One thing you will find with cheap cameras is that they are sometimes missing those small but nice features – like a 3.5mm mic input. The built-in mics aren’t particularly good on the NEX-3N either.
For this kit he is opting to use his phone instead. You probably already have a phone and they have really good audio recording capabilities.
You’ll want to get your phone close to you to get the best quality, and that might actually get you better audio than an on-camera mic anyway.
You’ll have to sync up your audio and video in post, but it is kind of necessary at this budget.
Small cameras can get away with fairly light-duty tripods. The one here is cheap and found on Amazon that cost only $8.50 and looks like a light stand.
It’s not amazing. You’ll really only want to use it to put your camera on it and leave it be. Outdoors you’ll need to be extra careful.
This is easy as storage has come down in price dramatically over the years and you don’t need much for Full HD recording.
Go for something like the SanDisk Extreme 32GB V30 SD card. It’ll only run around $13 and will be plenty good. If you can you might even want to pick up a second.
Now, in this price range you are going for barebones. If you can splurge for another $50 or so there are a few extra pieces that can help.
One is a cheap LED light, like the iFootage C4. It’s small and rechargeable and can help give you a bit more control over your scene either as a backlit or as a key for small items. This costs $50.
The other is a mist filter. These can be found used for cheap and can help get the silky “cinematic” look.
That’s the entire kit! For under $200 that isn’t bad.
Looking at the sample footage things look fine. There’s nothing indicating that the camera kit for these shots are so cheap. A little bit of care with your set design and positioning will have a bigger impact on your footage than the cost of your camera.
The audio is recorded with an iPhone and the built-in Voice Memos app. When he switches back to the camera mic it is a night and day difference in quality.
Even vlogging doesn’t seem that bad. It won’t get you the same degree of background separation but you can still make it look good.
Focus is something that won’t be as good as newer models, but if you aren’t shooting fast subjects you’ll likely be just fine.
If you are vlogging a lot you might want to consider upgrading the audio and getting a more serious mic or even recorder to get things even clearer.
What did you think about this ultra-budget shooting kit?
- Fugetek 51” Selfie Stick Tripod (Amazon)
- SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDHC Memory Card (B&H, Amazon)
- iFootage RGBW Handy On-Camera LED Light (B&H, Amazon)
- Tiffen 49mm Black Pro-Mist 1/4 Filter (B&H, Amazon)
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