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Video Making Equipment for Beginners: Affordable Camera Gear to Record High Quality Video

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Where to begin, where to begin? 

That’s the problem, isn’t it?

As an entrepreneur getting into video to expand your reach, trying to figure out the best video equipment for beginners can be a real head scratcher. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice, particularly if you don’t have a technical background. 

Then, of course, there are fears about the cost of basic equipment for video shooting. Yes, video equipment can be expensive. It’s also true, though, that for your purposes it doesn’t have to be. 

We’re here to help you to put together a video making equipment kit for beginners with which you can create videos to boost your business image – and you won’t have to go into debt doing it!

The goal is to make this happen as inexpensively as possible with equipment you can get the hang of in a fairly short space of time. Look, you aren’t starting a video production company. There’s no point spending loads of cash when you can put out excellent quality videos with less expensive gear. 

That’s why we’ve put together a thorough, tactical guide to video equipment for beginners. 

So here’s what we’ll be sharing in this guide:

1. What’s the best video starter kit to get—building your own ‘starter kit’ is the way to go

2. The must-have video equipment for beginners—The bare essentials for creating professional-looking video

3. Smartphone video kit for beginners—The bits and pieces that will transform your smartphone into a video recording powerhouse. 

4. DSLR video starter kit—Inexpensive DSLRs options and accessories to make them video-ready. 

5. Camcorder kit—Video camcorders that are easy on your budget and a breeze to use right out of the box 

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Entrepreneurs serious about using video to build a name for themselves are typically obsessive about the quality of videos they produce; that quality says a lot about their brand. 

Consequently, they invest a lot of thought in their lighting, audio and framing of the images – they way the video looks for the viewer.  

When it comes to videos we see online, the quality ranges from cringey to blue ribbon excellence. 

Now, while equipment does not guarantee high-quality video, it does play a role in what your content looks like. What you want to keep in mind, though, is that top-notch video equipment can produce ghastly video without the right know-how. 

Conversely, those with basic video knowledge can produce professional-looking video with modest, inexpensive gear.

It’s critical, therefore, that once you decide on your video making equipment you should learn as much as you can about those tools.

At No Fuss Video, we're all about keeping the focus on the story of your business and less on the gear and gadgets used to tell that story.

1: What’s the best video starter kit to get?

When you Google “video starter kit”,  you’ll trigger an avalanche of recommendations for pre-assembled kits sold on sites like Amazon. 

These kits can, in theory, save video newbies from wading through a tonne of choices for video cameras, lights and microphones.

In our opinion, these pre-assembled video starter kits aren’t necessarily ideal. Instead, we help our clients put together their own kits. We’ll do the same for you in this post. That way, you know every piece of gear in your kit will pay for itself by helping you to produce great videos.

We’ll shepherd you on each item you need to build your video starter kit. Also, all the gear that will be explored in this piece we’ve personally used. As such, our recommendations are based on first-hand experience.

All the reputable brands in the video world offer similar quality. What matters most is choosing the gear that fits your needs and budget.

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E.G. If you’re new here, get the free Blog Plan course – the step by step plan to $9,000 per month!

2: The must-have video equipment for beginners

Video is a combination of images and sound. At minimum, you will need to get equipment that takes care of both these basic requirements – a decent camera, some lighting and a microphone. 

There is literally a universe of choice between that baseline and the upper end of where video equipment can go, both in terms of price and sophistication. 

At No Fuss Video we’ve seen entrepreneurs fall into the gear-buying trap – obsessing over purchasing equipment. If you’re going to obsess about anything it should be your messaging and style of on-camera presentation. Cameras, microphones and lights are merely tools. 

The good news is there are just a few bits and pieces you need to churn out professional-looking video for your social media pages and websites. 

Video camera

If we’re going to have a conversation about the best video camera for beginners, it’s worthwhile to consider what most entrepreneurs tend to favour nowadays. 

It can be as basic as the video camera in a laptop (not the best, but it works in a pinch) or a business webcam like the Logitech c390. These options, however, limit you to shooting only ‘talking heads video’ – that term describes video in which only a person speaking on camera is seen. 

DSLR cameras, the ones you think of for taking pictures, are hugely popular with entrepreneurs, video marketers and YouTubers. 

Mirrorless cameras, close cousins to this format, are also big favourites. There are good reasons for that which we will get into a little later on. 

Tripod 

A desktop or conventional tripod can, in no small measure, add to the professional look of your video content. 

Lights

You can shoot video with natural light, but we use both natural and artificial lights depending on the nature of the shoot. 

Whether you’re using a budget-friendly LED ring light or a proper lighting kit, good lighting can really step up both the look and feel of your videos. 

Microphone

Many video recording devices come with some in-built audio recording capability. However, it’s not ideal to rely on the microphone in, say, your smartphone or DLSR. Their design seems more like an afterthought and the quality is noticeably limited. 

An external microphone is a sound investment in your success with video. 

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3: Smartphone video kit for beginners

If you don’t have the budget for a dedicated camera, you probably have one in your pocket right now that will do just fine. Most smartphones today can shoot exceptional footage with a bit of know-how. 

Here’s an important bit of advice, though: A smartphone, no matter how sophisticated it is, is still a phone. That means its audio recording capabilities will always be on the weak side. 

Additionally, if you’re shooting with a smartphone, holding it out in front of you while speaking isn’t exactly a look that inspires confidence. Some people may get away with that quality, but shaky smartphone video just isn’t good enough if you’re trying to reach the top of your niche.  

If you’re taking the time to go on camera shoot for the best standard. Your ambitions must be reflected in the quality of everything you do. As such, your videos should be sufficiently polished, not amateurish.

With that said, here are the basic accessories we use to get the most out of our smartphones.

Tripod

We can’t put too fine a point on it – shaky smartphone video or images that point up your nose just won’t cut it. 

A tripod for your smartphone is the bare minimum you’ll need to add to your video making equipment toolkit. Remember: shaky videos lead to shaky outcomes. 

The Joby GorillaPod – This table-top tripod has flexible legs, making it extremely versatile. We’ve been using this lightweight tripod for smartphone video shoots both indoors and outdoors for several years. 

Glif Quick Release Tripod Mount – You’ll need this attachment to mount your smartphone to the Joby GorillaPod

Lights

If you have lots of natural light where you’ll be shooting your videos, you don’t have to buy a professional light kit right away if there’s no room in the budget. 

We recommend, though, you at least get a reflector and diffuser to help control and manipulate your natural light.

The Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector is one of the most useful bits of gear we’ve ever bought. We can suggest two light kits in our video arsenal that you can consider when finances become available.

It’s worthwhile to note there are lighting options cheaper than our listed preferences. The LED ring light is quite popular with video content creators. Our suggestions,though, are based on a strategy of getting equipment that will grow with your business. 

As your business expands, you’ll undoubtedly level up the quality and creativity of your videos. Every entrepreneur has travelled this path – from wobbly beginnings, to the top of the heap with more sophisticated video content. 

For us, it just makes sense to have a light kit that will be useful along every stage of that journey. 

Impact Qualite LED Flood 2-light Bundle

This kit is reasonably-priced and comes with two LED (white, daylight) lights, two stands, and two softboxes. 

Ikan iLED312-V2 Light Kit

This kit has a higher price point and includes three lights (also LED white, daylight), three stands, three diffusion filters, six batteries, three battery chargers and a kit bag.

Microphones: the sound of success

A microphone is a must-have for videos that will help establish your credentials in your business niche. If you can’t be heard clearly poor audio will weigh down the performance of your video content. 

Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone – We’ve been using this microphone with our iPhones for several years. It’s sturdily built and while it does have a few drawbacks, they’re nothing we can’t work with. 

Rode VideoMic Me – Rode’s answer to the smartphone video market is the Rode VideoMic Me. What we love about this mic is that it’s compatible with both the iPhone and Android smartphones.

Storage

We’re not talking about storage for your video gear but storage for your video footage. Many video content creators make the fatal mistake of keeping all the video they shoot for their business on either their desktop or on the memory cards used to record the video.  

There are few calamities as soul-destroying as losing videos you’ve worked hard on. If you’re an online course creator or produce longer-form how-to videos for your YouTube channel, backing up that material should be as routine as brushing your teeth. 

Technology isn’t infallible – computers fail, memory cards get lost. It pays to take steps to avoid the headaches of lost video by duplicating your raw footage and completed videos with a dependable hard drive. 

OWC/Other World Computing 3TB Mercury Elite Pro External Hard Drive

With our backgrounds in television and video production for corporate clients we needed a storage solution we could count on. 

OWC external hard drives have been part of our workflow for more than 10 years. We use OWC drives ranging in capacity from 500 gigs to 4 terabytes. We generally purchase drives in pairs so one is a clone of the other for different projects. 

Nothing is stored on desktops so there are fewer elements slowing down the operation of our computers. 

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4: DSLR video starter kit

An acronym for digital single lens reflex, the DSLR camera is ostensibly  designed for taking pictures. As video features were added, they put tremendous video quality in the hands of ordinary folks at prices that, not long ago, seemed like the stuff of fevered dreams. 

So sure, today’s smartphones shoot exceptional video. However, DSLRs produce better quality footage because they have larger sensors. A such, they tend to reproduce more lifelike colours and perform better in low light than your phone. 

As an entrepreneur, you may have bigger goals for video in the marketing mix for your business. For this reason you might be interested in a camera that’s a bit more sophisticated, flexible and can produce a quality of image that’s compatible across all social media platforms and your website. 

DSLR cameras (and increasingly mirrorless cameras) are powerful tools for creatively exploring video as a marketing powerhouse for your business ambitions. 

DSLR camera for video recording

The question of which DSLR camera for beginners is the best one can be complicated. There are several equally appealing models on the market so we’ll try to simplify the subject. 

We’ve always used Canon cameras because of their quality, durability and compatibility across types – menus for operating many of these cameras are similar. That makes it easier to learn how to use them if you have prior experience.

What’s true of all DSLR cameras is that they can rarely be used right out of the box. Given that they are, first and foremost, designed for taking pictures you’ll need some add-ons to make them video ready.  

Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera

This particular model is one of the go-to options for entrepreneurs stepping up their video making equipment from their trusty smartphones. We love this camera for reasons too numerous to mention so we’ll just touch on a few. 

The compact size makes it easy on a one-man/woman operation. It records exceptional quality HD video and performs better in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. 

The 80D also has an articulating screen. That means you can turn it to face you when setting up to shoot, helping you get the right framing. 

Lenses for canon dslr

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom Lens

There are loads of lenses for these cameras, each engineered for a different purpose and look in your videos and pictures. 

As a beginner, you’re probably not keen on dropping a tonne of cash on a bunch of lenses you know nothing about. So we’ll recommend just one all-rounder. 

For a long time we worked with just one lens when shooting with our DSLR camera – that’s the canon ef-s 18-200 mm lens. 

This lens is flexible enough to allow you to shoot in tighter spaces, but with the ability to zoom you can get closer to a subject without moving the camera. 

Tripod

Manfrotto MVH500AH Tripod

We’ve used the Manfrotto brand for several years and the quality and durability never ceases to amaze. A dependable tripod is important for making steady, professional-looking video content. 

More often than not, you may be shooting video on your own. You want to be confident the tripod you’ve mounted your camera on is sturdy and reliable. This tripod is both robust and lightweight – two of the most important qualities in this bit of gear. 

Manfrotto 755XB MDEVE Tripod

This particular model is also ideal for the beginner video shooter, provided that you are using lighter cameras for your video work (it supports roughly 15 pounds).

For outdoor shooting, perhaps for videos on lifestyle products etc, this tripod is portable and easy to set up and break down quickly. 

Lights

Again, if you are using natural light, we recommend getting the  Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector. This accessory can help you make the best of the available light in a one person video shooter situation. 

As we recommended earlier, if you have the budget for a semi-professional light kit, we recommend the lights we use—the Impact Qualite LED Flood 2-light Bundle or the Ikan iLED312-V2 Light Kit.

Microphone

DSLR cameras don’t have the best audio recording capability. Given that these devices are ostensibly created for capturing pictures, the sound capture is not something you should put too much faith in. 

Clear audio is a crucial piece of the video making equipment puzzle. That’s why  you’ll need to supplement the video recording capabilities of your DSLR with a microphone that records your voice clearly. 

Azden WLX-PRO Lavalier Microphone

We’ve swooned about this model lavalier microphone in other blog posts. It’s easily one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment in our video making arsenal. 

Easy to use and connecting to your DSLR through a simple microphone jack input, the Azden lavalier microphone is great for capturing clean sound that also reduces echo in your videos. 

Rode VideoMic Pro Shotgun Microphone

This mini shotgun microphone mounts directly to the top of your camera.  Provided that you’re within relatively close range when doing your on-camera recordings, this microphone is also a fantastic piece of gear that converts your DSLR into a video-ready device. 

Storage

In addition to the OWC/Other World Computing 3TB Mercury Elite Pro External Hard Drive to store your video footage, you will also need an SD card, commonly referred to as media, for the DSLR camera. 

We recommend the SanDisk 64 Gig SD card.

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5: Camcorder kit

Now, we’re going to say something that might sound like heresy in today’s age – the DSLR isn’t always the easiest camera to work with for the average beginner. 

It’s not the dashboard of a space shuttle or anything like that, but getting the best out of a DSLR does require some technical know-how. 

As longtime video content creators, we could not have accomplished all that we have without the mighty DSLR. The price point, undeniable quality and creative flexibility enabled us to stay within some of our clients’ undersized budgets and outsized creative vision. 

For the newbie to video, on the other hand, there’s lots to know about operating a DSLR effectively. There’s the ISO, aperture, and focus combination you need to get used to. 

A DSLR isn’t, strictly speaking, what could be called a point-and-shoot camera. 

If you can invest the time to learn how to work the DSLR camera, though, it will definitely be worth it. However, if the goal is to start making videos immediately, a good camcorder is also a good option to explore.

Camcorder camera

Camcorders aren’t necessarily the most talked about cameras when it comes to video making equipment nowadays. DSLRs tend to take up all the oxygen in the room. 

The DSLR has a larger sensor than your average, lower-end camcorder. Consequently, it produces a better image than a camcorder and performs better in low light conditions. 

With that said, advantages to the camcorder are many, particularly for entrepreneurs wanting to get up and running with video in a hurry. 

The camcorder takes care of most of the technical tasks that can tax the brain – so, this device more closely fits the definition of a point-and-shoot camera. 

They’re by no means perfect, but they certainly have their place in the video making world. 

Canon VIXIA HF R800 Camcorder

We bought this model several years ago and it’s still part of our video toolkit. Coming it at about $200, it’s a good buy, all things considered. 

What we like about the camcorder in particular is the continuous autofocus feature. As a DIY shooter that means you don’t have to worry too much about appearing sharp and in focus in the frame and staying that way. The camcorder handles that for you, which is a huge plus. 

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of camcorders is that they’re relatively easy to use right out of the box. The auto function can become like a close friend. 

That’s not to say you’d throw the manual in the trash, but you can get up and running fairly quickly because most camcorders are easy to learn. 

Putting together the rest of your camcorder kit

Much like the DSLR, camcorders need a bit of help in the accessories department to make the most out of their capabilities. 

You can apply the same add-ons recommendations we’ve already given for the DSLR camera (lights, tripod, microphone, media) to assemble your camcorder kit. 

Choose equipment according to your budget, but also the kind of video content you want to create for your business. 

Conclusion

The most important video equipment for beginners

We’ve pulled from our toolkit the more affordable video gear to get you started. As your ambitions grow, so too will your enthusiasm to boost the look of your content with more sophisticated video gear . 

It’s worth mentioning that writing a guide about video making equipment for beginners isn’t the easiest thing to do. There are countless options and it’s difficult for us to know what your objectives are and what kind of budget you’re working with. That’s why we kept it simple, focusing on the basics to get you started. 

In the beginning, image stability, lighting and sound quality should be the top priorities. Everything else will fall into place as your video abilities blossom. 

There’s a lot to be said for starting small. It isn’t just a question of money. We strongly recommend investing as much time and energy learning the principles of video as you do in choosing your gear. 

The most important gear is really what’s in your head. With the right techniques, you can do wonders with the recommendations we’ve shared. 

Speaking of know-how, we suggest you check out our blogs on getting the right lighting and audio for your videos.

You can find the links below. And to see all the video equipment we use, you can scope out our complete toolkit here.

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