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What should I complete my gear with?


Mikael Andersson
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Hello! Mikael from Sweden here. Unfortunately there isn't any good forums for DSLR film making in Sweden, so I'm hoping this is better! 

 

So, I'm thinking about starting a small business besides my ordinary job and help other small companies with some graphic design and photo/video ads. 

 

I've got some gear right now:

Canon 60D with an extra battery.
Tamron 17-50/2.8 older variant
Nikon Ai 50 1.4 from the seventies with adapter
Sigma 70-200/2.8 older variant with faulty auto focus

2x tele converter
Velbon cheapy tripod
Stabilizer Glidecam copy
Some different light, both LEDs and halogens with soft boxes 
Studio backdrops in green, white and black
Portable back ground in black and white
External small flash
Zoom H4n
Decent but not good lavalier
Cheapy Röde VideoMic copy
A really good computer with Premiere elements and Reaper
Soundcard and condenser microphone
A couple of good bags for the equipment

Since I've changed employer this last month I'm going to get a double salary on monday, so I'm thinking about making an investment in my gear. I could spend about 3000 usd, but since I'm guessing the prices are a bit different in the US, I'm not sure if it matters.

 

I would really like to upgrade my camera, but since I'm waiting for the next Canon 7D or 5D I have to wait until later this year.

 

So far I've decided on this:

Canon 24-105/4L IS. About 700 USD used
Canon 50/1.4,I'm going to sell the Nikon 50 and the Tamron 17-50 so that will pay for this lens
Some nice Manfrotto tripod with video head. That's about 450 USD in Sweden.

 

That's leaving about 1850 USD for some other gear, but now it's not that clear to me what to buy anymore.

 

I've been thinking about a slider, external 7" monitor, GoPro 3 Black(Mainly for action and slomo sequences), wireless lavalier mic, Canon 70-200 f/2.8L II IS, product photography table or maybe a good shoulder rig.

 

At the same time, it really feels like I'm missing something really important here. 

What's your thoughts on this? What should I prioritize? 

 

Thanks and sorry for the bad english, it's in the middle of the night here in Sweden.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Don't spend now. Start working with what you have, and during work, you will find out what you're missing.

Maybe you'll find the image quality to be lower than your clients need, then you invest in a camera with better image quality.

Maybe you'll find your audio is lacking, then you invest in the needed audio equipment.

Maybe you'll find you need cinematic movements more, invest in sliders/fluidhead/etc

maybe you'll find you need to handhold the camera for a long period of time, invest in a shoulder rig

maybe you'll find you need a bigger monitor for composing and focusing, then invest in a nice external monitor.

Maybe you'll find you need an ultra wide angle lens, a longer telephoto, a faster prime or certain focal lenghts,

the list goes on and we can't tell you what you should invest in for your next piece of gear, only you can decide by shooting and finding out what you're missing and what you're not missing and have already covered.

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So, I'm thinking about starting a small business besides my ordinary job and help other small companies with some graphic design and photo/video ads. 

 

At the same time, it really feels like I'm missing something really important here. 

 

Indeed. Trust that feeling.

 

 

What's your thoughts on this? What should I prioritize? 

 

What should I complete my gear with?

 

Experience.

With actual shooting mileage.

 

I know this may sound pompous and blunt, even patronising perhaps, but it also happens to be true. Many people here have been there and done that, you know. You're kind of asking the wrong question.

 

Many/most of us seem to go through that stage at some point when we're just starting out. We get blinded by all the glorious gear out there. We start obsessing about gear first, and not about the craft and the actual shooting gigs. But unfortunately that's like trying to climb a tree with your arse first. 

 

My point being, the world is filled with all sorts of fancy gear, but you don't really know what you actually need the most and what works best for you until you've got some shooting mileage under your belt. But after you do, you don't even have to ask these questions. They become obvious. Having a thick pile of cash burning a hole in your pocket, probably GAS, too,  and not knowing what you really need is a 'dangerous' situation. Or at least it's often a sure way to waste a lot of money. 

 

So I sort of agree with Ebrahim, don't buy anything yet. Don't wait for the new 7D or 5D, either.

You already have plenty of gear to get started. Use it to start practising. Learn to use the gear you already have. Including your editing gear. Remember that many other aspiring filmmaker have started and made sellable stuff with less gear. 

 

Ask your friends and acquaintances if you can do some practise gigs with them, then produce as good a film for them as you can, as if it was a real paid gig. You'll learn a ton whilst doing that, and after a few gigs you'll know what you need, rather than what you want.

Just my 2 öre.

 

PS.

You already have a long list of gear, but the only lighting gear mentioned is a flash. That is, no continuous lights for video. Those might get handy at some point, when you start working with the small companies at their premises. A proper video tripod is a nice to have right from start, too.

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Got to agree with the others - pop the $3000 into a business bank account (a free one!). Get out and shoot 3-6 demo productions, organise yourself as if you are actually working for a client. Find a local printer and get a couple hundred flyers printed and, bundled with your demo reel on cd, distribute to the type of clients you are targeting.

 

Invest in the little stuff: clamps, gaffer tape, reinforced tape, tape that doesn't damage walls, clips, sandbags, pegs, card for flagging & bouncing, a cheap large diffuser (shower curtain),  spare cables, etc etc etc. 

 

With the $2500 you have left, you will be able to rent or buy random stuff that you find you need as and when you need it! 

 

Your kit looks solid, though I personally would upgrade the tripod, but after you have produced your demo reel and have secured your first paying customer!!!

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Hi again, thank you for your input! 

 

I'm sorry that I didn't mention what experience I have. Sure, I'm no pro but I've actually been shooting some, mostly hunting and "Youtubechannel show"-stuff though. I started out, as I'm sure many others have, by doing photography a couple of years back and after a break from that I'm now starting to feel the urge to be creative with a camera again, only this time with focus(no pun intended...) on the video part.

 

 

I've felt the need for some certain things while shooting, the lenses and tripod that I mentioned in my original post is by far the most pressing needs. I've also at some points felt the need for a slider, external monitor, new 70-200 etc. Alas if only for the extra mile kind of things and not as often as the former mentioned gear. That's why I'm not sure about what I actually want/need first. I'm sure that I'm going to buy it all sometime in the future.

 

Although, I must say that I believe that you're absolutely right in the sense that I need to get out and make some more productions, especially in the same field that I'm thinking about starting my business in. I'm sure that hunting videos and business commercials won't demand the same kind of gear list. So perhaps I will save some of the money anyway. Thank you!

 

 

You already have a long list of gear, but the only lighting gear mentioned is a flash. That is, no continuous lights for video. Those might get handy at some point, when you start working with the small companies at their premises. 

 

You must have missed the part saying that I have some lighting already. I didn't specify but right now I've got four halogens with soft boxes(a bit weak in brightness but hey, they were cheap) and two LEDs. One larger with 600 LEDs and one smaller with 160 LEDS. I think that will be adequate for the most part.

 

 

The renting tip is also good, though unfortunately I live in a small town and I'm sure we haven't got any film making rental business here(Yet...).

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You must have missed the part saying that I have some lighting already. I didn't specify but right now I've got four halogens with soft boxes(a bit weak in brightness but hey, they were cheap) and two LEDs. One larger with 600 LEDs and one smaller with 160 LEDS. I think that will be adequate for the most part.

 

Yes, so it seems. After taking another look I noticed it in your list. My bad.

 

What to add to, or rather how to improve your existing gear list, well, suppose that's a matter of taste. Looks like you've already got most of the usual stuff, and whatever works for you is up to your personal preferences. Suppose the sensible route would be to start working with those, and then improve them item by item on the run, based on your personal findings. Pretty much as suggested above by some.

 

The Canon DSLR aside, where I might start tweaking that gear list would be the video tripod, which doesn't have to be the fanciest and priciest around at first, and maybe a nice monopod to accompany it.

 

As for the lenses, those are a matter of taste, too, but I would also consider a wideangle prime lens. As long as you're shooting with a crop sensor camera, that would be at least 16mm or wider. The 24mm of the 24-105mm is not terribly wide with your 60D. You might also wish to consider some cine lenses, like the reasonably priced Samyang ones. Remember that during summer you may need an ND filter or two, too, along with a step up ring or two.

I might also consider upgrading the "cheapo Røde Videomic copy" to a real Røde Videomic, or some other quality mic. In fact, get two different types of mics. Good audio is important.

 

As for the other acute needs, I noticed that the NLE in your list is Premiere Elements. Whilst the Elements is fine for basic editing, I believe you will end up frustrated with its limitations pretty soon. Therefore one of the first items to invest in would be a mightier NLE app, something like Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas if you're using Windows, or FCPX or Adobe Premiere if you're using a Mac.

 

On the other hand, starting out with the Elements is perfectly fine, too. I know people have been doing pretty nice videos with Elements and iMovie. Just plan around the possible shortcomings and try to avoid stuff that will need some fancier editing capabilities.

 

What SleepyWill mentioned about the little items, and those are pretty essential, too. Clamps, clips, tape, extra batteries, cards, diffusers, reflectors, waterproof container for your cards, a Swiss army knife or a Leatherman, light stands, etc. 

 

As for shooting hunting videos and business commercials, those may not actually be too different from each other. Sometimes they might even be the one and the same thing, if your client happens to be in the hunting gear, recreational or a hospitality business, for example. You don't necessarily need too big and fancy a gear list to shoot commercials for online usage. Try to plan ahead and work around your biggest hurdles. Personal projects are a nice way to practise and find out what you need the most. Like SleepyWill said above, treat them as they were real business assignments.

 

 

The renting tip is also good, though unfortunately I live in a small town and I'm sure we haven't got any film making rental business here(Yet...).

 

Yeah, I know, that is a clear disadvantage for us small town boys, and the rental business is nowhere near as advanced like it is in, say, in the US.  But just out of curiosity, which small town would that be? Do the big chain stores over there rent out gear via mail?

 

Anyway, these are just my additional 2 öre, and no doubt you'll find a system that works for you.

Good luck with the new endeavour. 

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