As a videographer, creating commercial videos that make an impact is all about getting the foundation right — this means your hardware needs to be up to industry standard.
In this article, we explore five must-have bits of kit that enable you to do your job to the best of your ability:
- Professional camera: to capture your content
- External microphone: to record crisp audio
- Artificial lighting: to boost your video quality
- Cable adapters: to improve connectivity when editing
- Monitors: to be more accurate during editing
Read on as we outline this hardware and help you up your game as a commercial videographer.
1) Professional camera: to capture your content
A videographer’s job starts with a good camera, but with a sea of conflicting opinions out there, how do you know which camera is right for you?
This is a question many budding commercial filmmakers ask themselves, so we’ll start with the basics and help you find the best hardware to get the job done.
When looking for a camera to capture content you tend to have two options:
- DSLRs: for an affordable solution that provides more flexibility and portability
- High-end video cameras: for a professional touch and better image stabilization.
So let’s take a quick look at the DSLR vs high-end camera debate…
Firstly, DSLRs are popular among videographers because they are a flexible solution that shoots both quality stills and reliable video. Plus, many modern DSLR cameras capture 4K UHD, which makes them one of the most affordable ways for videographers to do their job.
Depending on your required specifications, expect to pay anywhere in the region of $600-$2000 for a good DSLR camera. Here are some of the best to keep an eye out for:
- Nikon D780: a little on the expensive side, but can record 4K UHD
- Canon EOS 90D: a quality camera that shoots in full-HD with slow-motion playback
- Nikon D5600: a bargain that can keep pace with the best DSLRs on the market
Secondly, for videographers looking to reach the next level and edge more quality from their content, you’ll need to invest in a high-end video camera — this provides you with better image quality and improves sound performance, but it comes at a price.
Expect to pay in the thousands for a high-end video camera, though it’s worth the investment if your projects demand professional quality. Here are some of the best:
- JVC GY-HM170: a high performing 4K camcorder at a surprisingly fair price
- Canon XC10: a top tier recorder that delivers stunning image quality
- Sony FDR-AX53: a 4K capable device for under $1000
- BMPCC6K: 6K capable cinema camera body under $2000
Whether you go for a DSLR or a more high-end alternative, if you’re looking for hardware that makes the job of a commercial videographer that much easier, then finding the right camera should always be your first objective.
2) External microphone: to pick up crisp audio
Nowadays professional video cameras (like the aforementioned DSLRs and high-end camcorders) are far better at picking up audio than the devices of old, but that doesn’t mean they’re good enough to do the job of a commercial videographer.
With that said, you’ll still need to enlist the help of an external microphone to significantly improve sound quality and pick up crisp audio that’s worthy of your commission — this is particularly important if you’re filming speech and need to get a message across.
It’s also important to select the right kind of microphone for your needs:
- Omnidirectional: capture the sound all around you
- Directional: capture the sound directly in front of you
The best choice depends on your requirements, either way, expect to pay around $100-$300 for a professional quality microphone.
3) Artificial lighting: to boost the video quality
Lighting makes a world of difference to your video quality. If you get the lighting right, you’ll make the most average of cameras look incredible. However, get it wrong, and even the best high-end camcorder won’t be able to hide the flaws.
Ideally, you’ll be getting most of your lighting from a natural source, but as many videographers know, sunlight is an unreliable cast member — it is inconsistent and often leaves the set at the most inconvenient of times.
As such, experienced commercial videographers tend to create their own light by investing in an artificial lighting rig. This can be complex, but it does mean you can work without relying on the weather.
When it comes to lighting, there are lots of different types to consider (see this guide) and even more hardware to choose from:
- Black flags
- Open-faced fixtures
How and what you use to light your videos is up to you, but make sure your equipment does not create harsh shadows and can dull bright glares.
4) Cable adapters: to improve connectivity when editing
Linking your setup together makes life much easier for creators that spend a long time behind a computer, editing their videos and looking to get their content up to scratch.
But not all combinations of ports are as easy to combine as HDMI and USB…
For example, think of the Mini Displayport vs Thunderbolt conundrum. Some devices are Thunderbolt Compatible; others use Mini Displayport instead — and amongst all the technical jargon, this means many devices are difficult to make work together.
As professionals who need to link countless devices to their setup, some will inevitably carry Thunderbolt as it’s an efficient way of managing media files, so many commercial videographers use adapters to make everything work seamlessly.
Be it computers, hard drives, docks, or cameras, adapters boost connectivity across all your hardware devices, which means you can cast multiple pages across a monitor and bring your work together.
Choosing the right adapter depends on the combination of tech you are using, so make sure to do your research before making a purchase. Also, note these relatively inexpensive pieces of kit can make a big difference to your editing process.
Photo: Pi Supply
5) Monitors: to be more accurate during editing
To ensure your work is up to standard, you need to be using a high-quality monitor when editing — this makes sure every decision you make, from grading to contrast, are made to the reality of your work.
A poor monitor, on the other hand, obscures your vision, making it hard to judge whether your edits are genuinely improving the video.
When looking for a new monitor to up your video editing game, you should keep a special eye out for excellent color reproduction, accuracy, and an even backlight. You should also consider the ergonomics of your monitor seeing you’ll be sat in front of it for hours at a time.
Here are some great options available at the moment:
- Dell Ultrasharp: for great color accuracy and universal connectivity
- BenQ EX35001R: for excellent immersion and a fast refresh rate
- Asus ProArt: for an all-round monitor (but it’s on the pricey side)
As a rule of thumb, when investing in a new monitor you should look towards 4K, though full-HD is likely enough right now, the technology is evolving quickly with more and more cameras operating at the pinnacle of video quality.
A truly great videographer never blames their tools, but having the right hardware can make your life much easier. From picking the right camera to optimizing your editing setup, every facet of your work can be improved by investing in quality equipment.