Recently, a few friends have asked for advice on the video gear they should use when moving into freelance wedding videography. I’ve been out of the video world for a few years, but if I was starting out, here’s the gear I’d pick up.
Legendary creative Chase Jarvis says “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. I learned on a Sony DCRTRV-38—literally any camera on the market is now better than that. Gear can be a great help, but also a huge distraction. Try before you buy. Get to know your gear inside and out. And remember that all the best gear in the world won’t help if you’re not comfortable with it.
CAMERA & LENS
Your main expense is the camera and lens. Here’s three suggestions:
Canon 5d Mark III
I’ve used a 5DMk2 since they first came out, and I love the portability and small footprint. I LOVE the 35 f/1.4L lens and shot 90% of this recent wedding on it.
DSLR’s are a great investment for starting out in video. They’re small, easy to carry around, and keep their resale value. Although DSLR’s are primarily designed for photography, they’re well suited for event video. If you love the super shallow depth of field that you find on vimeo wedding videos, a huge number of them would be using 5d’swith top notch lenses.
The major drawback to DSLRs is recording audio. If you plan to do documentary work, or anything that requires proper audio, a DSLR isn’t your best choice.
+ Small, easy to carry around
+ Shoots video and stills
+ Full frame
+ EF Lens mount for removable lenses
– No professional audio input
– Manual focus
– Limited to 29 minute long shots
The C-series cameras bring the goodness of a DSLRs, and add the convenience of professional video cameras. The C100 includes XLR audio inputs, dual recording slots (so you can change cards during a shot), built in ND-filters for working in bright sunlight, and auto focus options. They’re compact, but not small enough that you’d carry it around causally.
The C100’s are amazing for documentary work and run and gun jobs, especially because they allow you to get great sound. If you don’t mind the increased size over the HDSLRs, the C100 is an awesome option.
+ Made for video
+ XLR audio inputs
+ Good for long shoots (battery, memory, shots)
– It’s a large camera to casually carry around
– More options and dials make it harder to learn
– Crop sensor. Not full frame (EF-S Lens mount)
The XC10 is a new camera that isn’t shipping yet, so don’t buy it 😉 But it’s interesting one that I might rent a play around with a bit. The lens is a non-removable 27.3 to 273 mm zoom, with a 2.8 to 5.6 aperture range. It looks like a nice, compact, run and gun camera. No XLR inputs.
TRIPODS & SUPPORT
This monopod is perfect for events. It allows you to move quickly and in crowds without setup time. It has a tiny footprint, so you won’t trip grandma or the caiters.
When you’re shooting a wedding, you’ll most often use a tripod for a safe shot from the back. With a long zoom lens, a tripod eliminates camera shake, and makes for nice, distraction free footage. Tripods can get expensive, but this one from Manfrotto is good enough for the work I do. It also has the same camera plate as the monopod, so you can leave one plate on the bottom of your camera, and switch on and off the tripod easily.
Audio is hard. An on camera mic is ok better than nothing, but it won’t cut it for speeches, vows, etc.
Shooting video is hard enough without trying to get professional level sound. Depending on what you’re selling to customers, wedding videos don’t necessarily need sound. Andy Fitts, an amazing dude in Seattle is doing some amazing wedding work without audio.
This is the only wireless microphone set I’ve ever used. Might be a budget option out there, but I can’t endorse anything else.
Zoom H4n ($200)
Portable recorder. Simple and easy to use. Simpler than the Tascam DR100, but if you’re doing multiple inputs (ie, wireless mic and audio deck) go with the Tascam for better dual input volume control.
Hope that helps! The guys at Stillmotion put together a list on what to do with $20k investment here. (Edit: That list is from 2011, so a bit dated)