Budget Friendly Videography Kit for Beginners




At the heart of every videography kit is the camera. Here are features that an aspiring videographer should look for.

  • Full Manual Control (Aperture, Shutter, ISO, Focus, White Balance)
  • Interchangeable Lenses
  • 1080p24 for that “Film Look”

Here are three popular and relatively inexpensive camera choices that have those features.

Camera Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
Sony Alpha NEX-5R
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
Price $600 $750 $650
Lens Mount EF-S and EF MFT E
Crop Factor 1.6x 2x 1.5x
Hack Magic Lantern
by Trammell Hudson
by Vitaliy Kiselev
Someone 1.00 and Vitaliy Kiselev are working on it
Slow Motion 720p60 720p60 1080p60
Video Quality Better Best Good
Portability Good Good Best
Low Light Good Better Best
Recording Limit 12 Minutes No Limit 29 Minutes
Universal Shoe Mount Yes Yes Needs Adapter
Memory Card SD, SDHC, SDXC SD, SDHC, SDXC SD, SDHC, SDXC & Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Sample Footage “Salton Sea Beach on Vimeo”
by Philip Bloom
Shot with T2i (discontinued) which has the same sensor as T3i.
“Home Cooking”
by Philip Bloom
“Booths and Bodies”
by Philip Bloom
Shot with 5n (discontinued) which has the same sensor as 5r.
Verdict It’s the least expensive and the sheer number of lenses and accessories available make the T3i a great learning camera. If you value video quality above all else and are willing to spend more, then the GH2 may be the best option for you. It can record continuously for hours. It can hang with more expensive cameras such as the Red Epic and Arri Alexa. The best camera is the one that’s with you. The 5R with a pancake lens can literally fit in your pants pocket. A good choice for impromptu moments and short form videos.


Good audio separates the professionals from the amateurs. A common workflow for videographers is to capture audio from an external audio recorder with a video mic or lav mic. Then, sync the audio from the external recorder with the internal camera audio in post.

Zoom H1 Audio Recorder Rode VideoMic Azden EX-503 Lav Mic
$95 $150 $20
1 AA Battery 1 9V Battery Phantom Power
Tripod to Shoe Mount Adapter


Capturing light is the essence of videography. You can achieve nice three point lighting with just the sun and a reflector.

Neewer 110cm 5 in 1 Collapsible Reflector Neewer CN-160 LED Video Light Cowboystudio Umbrella Continuous Triple Lighting Kit
$20 $30 $60
6 AA Batteries


For the love of all that is good in this world, please use a tripod unless your scene calls for handheld or shaky movement.

Sunpak 9002TM Tripod/Monopod with 3-Way Fluid Head (Quick Release) Vello Triple Shoe Mount V Bracket for Lights, Mics, and Audio Recorders General Brand Gaffer Tape
$35 $30 $6


Starting for around $1,000, you can get a decent kit and enter the wonderful world of videography.

If that’s out of your budget, consider buying a used previous model of one of the cameras suggested from sites like KEH or Amazon. A Canon T2i, Panasonic GH1, and Sony 5N may be discontinued, but they still offer full manual control, interchangeable lenses, and 1080p24 for a great price. For example, the T2i can be bought used for about $450.

If that’s still out of your range, you can rent from places like LensRentals.com, BorrowLenses.com, or ATS Rentals. For example, the T3i and a lens can be rented for a weekend for about $90. That’s enough time to shoot a couple of short video projects to start your portfolio. Then when you’re more confident, you can charge your first paid gig to cover your next rental plus a little extra to go towards purchasing.

However you decide to finance it, do what you have to do to start shooting!






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