Your $1,000 Video Studio
Camera: For the camera, I recommend purchasing an entry level DSLR camera. The DSLR gets you a few things:
- First, you can swap out lenses as needed. Are you shooting a wide shot for a tour, a medium shot for a testimonial or a close up for a product demo? You’ll be able to swap the lenses accordingly, as well as use a zoom lens for all three shots.
- DSLRs are great for creating cinematic videos with the subject in focus and a fuzzy background (called “bokeh” or shallow depth of field).
- Having a DSLR and assorted lenses also gives you the option to use the camera for still photos, whether those are head shots for your executive team, product shots, or your own stock photos.
That said, you could also buy a prosumer-level video camera like the Panasonic full HD camcorder. One key benefit of a camcorder like the Panasonic is it’s a short learning curve. You basically point and record your video. These can be great for testimonial videos, or talking head videos that you’re shooting on a regular basis. The Canon T5 or T6 DSLR camera will set you back $399 or $499. The Panasonic camcorder will set you back about $230.
Lens: Let’s say we purchased a mid-range DSLR camera for about $500. You will also need a lens. These cameras often come with a kit lens, which will work in a pinch, but you can do better. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is a decent lens (and even a greater value) for $125.
Tripod: For a tripod, I really like the Magnus VT-4000, which costs $150. You can buy something cheaper or more expensive. The thing to look for in a tripod is to ensure it can support the weight of the camera you will be putting on it; that it is well built and can take a beating; and that it has a fluid head (for tilting or panning). Read the recent reviews of any product you’re considering, whether it’s a tripod, camera or light setup.
Microphone: For your microphone, I recommend buying a wired lavalier microphone, Audio-Technica makes a good one for $25. The wired lav isn’t the best, but it’s great for the time being and for this budget. Once you upgrade, it’s great to have this in the camera bag as a backup (I learned this from experience).
What should you get first, a lav mic or a shotgun mic? I recommend the lav mic, which will give you great sound and can be used in interviews, testimonials, talking head and even voiceovers. The shotgun mic is great when more than two people are going to be speaking in your video.
Et alia: That gets our total to about $800. We’ll spend the remaining $200 on your lighting and support equipment. That would include a light stand (set of two for $23), two portable LED lights ($66 for the Yongnuo YN300111), and batteries for the lights ($33 for a set of two with a charger).