Video Cameras: what to do if you are just starting out?

Just like in my previous blog, I am only responding to requests that I had and answering some questions. Last blog was about how to get on the books of media/film related organizations and individuals. Here I would like to advise on kit.

So: kit

Have I got all the kit that I want and easy ways to get what I don’t have? No. No matter what I buy or hire, there is always something better, something with a greater kick, better ergonomics, etc.

No matter what you shoot on one thing to bare in mind is that you and your approach should be unique. Not all projects require the latest kit. I wish I had everything that I want but I don’t.

The kit will always be expensive and there is no way around it. Quality comes at a cost and one way or another we all have to incur it.

What is adequate for you?

Get yourself on as many different shoots as you can to figure out what is right for you. For example if you come to a film shoot, TV ENG shoot, corporate shoot and a wedding shoot you may see very different kit and you won’t be able to afford all of it. Figure our which area you want to concentrate on more to single out the sort of kit you would eventually buy or hire.

Hiring kit

A great idea if you already know how to use it. Trust me, you don’t want to learn a strange new camera on a job. The client will know and it won’t look good for you or the video editor (that could also be you). It’s great if you have a sufficient experience in many cameras even then you’d need some time to adjust.

You can hire the kit that you definitely know how to use: mics, lights, track, etc. I would be careful about the camera. Learn how to use it before you hire it.

Buying Second Hand

A tempting idea. Especially if you see professional kit at a very affordable price. Great idea but its a risk. Although it is being maintained and fixed, you just don’t know where it’s been and what happened to it.

It may certainly be a way for you but if you do decide to go that way please make sure that you have some sort of warranty and all the paperwork suggesting that the kit you are buying has been serviced. Enquire about what was broken, etc. Make sure you know what you are buying.

Borrowing (hiring on mates rates from someone you know)

A great way to learn a new camera is to shoot a simple project for yourself. It will be a learning curve with (hopefully) a result at the and of it. You will never learn how to use kit unless you have challenges to resolve with it. I want that shot and that shot alone, I won’t settle for less: that’s when you will learn the camera. If you are playing with it in the lounge, you’ll just know where the controls are. That is not enough. Having a project will give you an aim. A journey to that aim is your mastering of the camera.

If you are borrowing on a regular basis its probably time for you to buy. Don’t be afraid of high prices. Talk to a trusted dealer and explain your financial situation. They want to sell. You want to buy. You will find consensus. Trade your old kit in (if you have any) and then look at all possible finance options and by all means don’t jump into anything before research. You will find a good deal and you will get the kit you really need.

Mike Bogatyrev.


About zinasemenova

Russian filmmaker and blogger at

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