Small Church Technology: Videographer’s Basic Kit

November 4, 2011 — 4 Comments

First thing’s first: this post is primarily directed at the beginner videographer who is with an organization, like a small church, with a limited technology budget. In fact, such a person may have to purchase all of this equipment themselves, so economy is very important.

Second, what we are putting together here is a basic kit. It is meant to be expanded over time, as the need arises (and as funds become available) for better/more equipment.

Third, I am not talking about a kit for recording live performances. I am talking about for creating movies – sermon illustrations, event highlights, testimony videos, fund raising videos, etc.

With those things in mind, I’ll see you after the break!

#1 Camera ($800)

Get a decent DSLR camera that is capable of HD video. You might be asking why I am proposing a still camera for movie-making. Well, instead of talking about that here, let me direct you to a previous post where I talked about DSLRs for video in detail. You should also visit our post on choosing a DSLR. I highly recommend the Canon Rebel T3i EOS kit.

#2 Basic Lenses ($200)

If you bought your camera as a kit (like the excellent T3i kit) then you have a great start on half of what you need. That kit comes with a respectable 18-55 mm lens. For the majority of what you’ll be going, that lens will do great. You will however begin seeing a need for a longer lens, say a 55-250 mm lens for getting “close” without being in the middle of the action. Now, keep in mind – these are basic, starter lenses. The more you get into this stuff, the more you’ll want better lenses, like the mid-range Tamron 17-50mm lens that I adore. But for a basic kit, these are more than adequate. I will mention another lens that is not initially vital, but is one of the best bang-for-the-buck lenses available – the Canon 50 mm F/1.8. It is a super fast, and very affordable ($100) prime lens, that gets you some excellent depth of field.

#3 Tripod ($150)

Sometimes you’ll get a very basic tripod with your camera purchase. You can also find some inexpensive, but fancy looking tripods at your local department store. To be honest, these $15-$50 tripods are terrible for videography. If you’ve ever handled a pro-level tripod, you would know they are incredibly large and heavy. They’re made that way for a reason. You really need a stable platform, and those cheap tripods just don’t cut it. The pro-level tripods can easily cost $800 – without the mounting head! Fortunately, there are some very good tripods that are quite a bit more affordable. The tripod I use is a ball-mount, fluid-pan-head tripod. For its price, it is very stable, and highly adjustable, with some pretty good movement. It costs about $120. I also got an inexpensive tripod dolly for it.

#4 Extra Battery ($40)

In the long run, you really should invest in a plug-in a power source. But to begin with, you’re better off just getting another battery. Two batteries should be fine for most shooting situations. You can re-charge during set changes and breaks. The battery pack for the T3i will cost you under $40. While a T3i power supply will run you about $70. Even if you do opt for a power supply, you should still get a 2nd battery because it’s not always easy to get to a wall plug.

#5 Camera Gear Bag ($50)

There are all types of camera bags you can choose from. I like the sling-style camera bags because they are great for a solo videographer. Your gear is highly accessible, even while wearing the bag. However, I also like backpack style camera bags. They are usually larger, and more natural feeling while toting, but your gear won’t be quite as accessible. You can find hybrid backpack/sling camera bags that let you reconfigure from a back-pack to a sling, but they are usually a little more expensive.

Conclusions…

Remember, this is a very basic kit – for about $1,240 (including camera). I put mine together over the course of several months to ease the financial burden, and along the way learned where to invest a little more money (i.e. better lenses). As I’ve used my kit, I’ve learned what to add/upgrade/replace (i.e. bigger camera bag).

What would you add to a basic videographer’s kit?

herbhalstead

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Herb is the lead pastor at Thrive Church. Herb also does freelance web design, 3D architectural modeling, and works as an architectural designer.

4 responses to Small Church Technology: Videographer’s Basic Kit

  1. Nice post. As a kid, I’d always wonder what went into the audio production and rudimentary video production at the Assemblies of God Church where I belonged. Brings me back.

    Per my previous post, I use a lot of StockFuel, http://stockfuel.com video content as background animation in many of my videos.

  2. Herb, is this still the basic set that you would recommend? I saw that you wrote this in November and didn’t know if anything new had come out since then. Love your site. Keep up the good work!

    Blessings,

    Kendall

    • Thanks for the kudos, Kendall. Yes, I think that what I’ve listed here makes up a pretty basic, but functional kit. I might add that you can still save a few bucks by getting the T2i camera instead of the T3i. You can still install Magic Lantern on the T2i. For video, you are basically only giving up the T3i full-hd zoom, and the flip-out screen.

      Oh, wait there is one more trade off. With the T3i, you get better control over your audio.

      I recently purchased the Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 lens to match-up with my Tamron 17-50 (linked above). It’s a great deal for a SUPERB long lens, but it costs about $500 more than the 55-250mm I mentioned above. Perhaps, it’s not really a ‘basic kit’ type of purchase, but if you have the money, I’d get both the Tamron lenses and buy the body only version of the camera. Here are some shots I took with the 70-200.

      Also, since writing this article, I’ve some newer ball/bowl-mount tripods that look pretty promising. I can’t remember the brands, but I haven’t tried them physically either.

      Once you get going, you’re going to want to look into some lighting kits, and audio capture equipment.

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