Camera Gear – The Essentials for every Independent Film Maker
By Simon Yap
I’d imagine this is true for nearly every content creator out there, starting out small and growing your camera gear to a substantial size… which ain’t no cheap ‘thang!! I’ve been asked a few times recently “what’s in my backpack?”, “what camera gear do you use”, and so I thought I’d put it down on paper with the specific focus for those people who are in a similar position to myself: the start of the journey.
Taking this hobby to the next level is certainly expensive and the rate at which today’s technology is constantly improving and evolving, it means there is a never ending desire to get the newest, latest most up-to-date piece of kit.
The professionals will tell you that “Gear doesn’t matter” which is true. Not all of us have the money or the means to buy the best of everything and having the state of the art equipment certainly doesn’t mean you are going to win a Vimeo staff pick for your next travel video. Story Telling is key, 100% no doubt! But, if you want to bring your content to a level where clients will be happy to pay you for your service, it is certainly worth the initial investment in your gear to get a base level of production quality. Here I have listed what are my essentials for every trip / shoot / project; all the gear that I own and take with me everywhere as it all fits into my trusty Lowerpro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack, which I love and I highly recommend it.
I upgraded my Olympus O-MD to a Sony a7ii which came with the standard 28-70mm kit lens. I find it is a great all round camera, compact in size, works well in low light conditions and allows filming in 60fps slow-mo. It’s perfect for my needs right now. Going back to my point about the rapid evolution and progress of technology, Sony have just released their alpha iii series and if you want to get your hands on it click here: Sony a7iii.
Prime Lens US$365
With the standard kit lens you can cover a range of shots but I do recommend investing in a prime for portraits and night shots. My prime lens is the Sony 35mm f1.8, which is light weight, compact and gives a beautiful creamy bokeh (background blur) and with a fast aperture it is also great for night shots.
Wide Angle Lens US$1,348
I’m currently using the Sony Vario-Tessar 16-35mm f4, which I love. Its wide angle allows me to capture cinematic footage encompassing the whole scene in frame. It’s also a great everyday travel lens, perfect for landscapes.
Drone US$999 (Bundle)
I love my DJI Mavic Pro, it gives a totally different perspective on the world and adds a new dimension to my videos. I take it everywhere with me and any chance I get to fly it, I’ll take it up for a spin.
Camera Mic US$299
Getting good sound quality is essential and a must have bit of kit that is relatively in-expensive is the Rode Videomic Pro+. This latest camera mic from Rode is great due to its automatic power function, which turns the mic on and off when connected to your camera. It also comes with rechargeable batteries but the auto-function is a life safer! !
Wireless Mic US$69.95
It is useful to have a wireless lavalier mic especially for interviews or when filming from a far. I use the Movo Wireless Mic which can sit atop your DSLR and/or can also be used with your smart phone. It comes in a neat compact hard case and doesn’t take up much room in the backpack.
Gimbal US$399 for DSLR and US$119 for Smart Phone
Gimbals are so cheap now; the drop in price from when they first came out is astonishing. They take some getting used to but absolutely essential for the smooth cinematic camera motion. There are wide varieties out there now; I use the Zhiyun Smooth Q for my iPhone and the Zhiyun Crane for my DSLR.
I user the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod as it really does what it says on the tin. Compact and light weight, it comes with its own carrying case and it pops up and folds down quickly and with ease. The quick release plate also makes for easy mounting of my camera. For a smaller set that is much easier to carry and vlog with I user the Joby GorillaPod, and with its bendy legs it’s perfect to set the camera in various odd, uneven surfaces. It can be wrapped round poles, fences, chairs, pretty much anything goes with the versatile piece of kit.
Camera Bag US$ 164.99
Last but not least, my backpack that I use; Lowerpro ProTactic 450 AW. It’s a great size that fits all of the above gear in plus a 15” laptop. It looks great, is super comfortable to wear and has loads of functional pockets, especially the side-open camera compartment which gives quick easy access to my camera without having to take off the bag and unzip it.
So this is pretty much everything of note, I do also keep inside spare memory cards for my camera and drone, iPhone cables, chargers and spare batteries for the camera and drone. I hope this is a useful guide to anyone starting to document their travel or get into the industry. Let me know your thoughts – comment below and don’t forget to check out my portfolio.Tags: camera, camera bag, camera gear, equipment, film maker, gear, gimbal, lens, mic, my gear, sony, sony a7ii