beginner, intermediate, and advanced gear guides for travel videographers and vloggers
Easily the most commonly asked question I get is what my gear set up is and what I would recommend for those just starting out in videography. I collaborated with several internet friends and have put together a Gear Guide for Videographers: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. These are comprehensive lists of the basic necessities including everything you'll need from camera gear, accessories, and editing software. If you're a travel vlogger then you want to keep your gear light and easy to carry through airports, trains, buses, etc. Everything on this list I have either used at least once before, use on a regular basis, or know someone who uses it and can vouch for its quality. I indicate which items are bigger budget items and try to include a cheaper alternative when possible.
BEGINNER SET UP FOR VIDEOGRAPHERS
If you're just starting out in video - welcome to the club! I know you're going to love it (if you don't already). These are some solid recommendations to get you started without busting your bank account. These will help you learn a lot about your video style and are perfect for that initial learning curve.
Point-and-Shoot: A point-and-shoot is a camera designed primarily for simple operation. They come with an attached lens, automatic systems for setting the exposure options, and have flash units built in.
This is great for a first-time vlogger. This reasonably-priced, compact camera comes with a flip out screen, auto focus ability, and audio quality perfect for getting you started on your video journey. The image quality is very impressive for the price and size of the camera.
DSLR: DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera. It is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film.
This is the perfect starter camera and comes recommended by almost every videographer I know. Getting to know Canon settings is made simple with this compact, lightweight DSLR. You can take advantage of the multiple settings to snap photos or take video. The auto focus is a good and the flip screen makes it great for a vlog excerpt or a sit-down-and-chat type video. The audio quality is good for a starter camera, but there is an external mic jack if you choose to purchase audio equipment.
You can opt to buy the camera body alone or my recommendation, the body with lens + accessories.
You can use your smart phone to do all the filming with the DJI Osmo Mobile. I just recently upgraded to the iPhone X and joked that sometimes my phone was shooting better quality than my camera. This is a great budget-friendly item that stabilizes your phone and gives it a professional look. Make sure you have enough storage on your phone before you start recording!
You can opt to buy the DJI Osmo Mobile alone or the DJI Osmo Mobile bundle with accessories.
Audio is usually underrated and people just starting out (myself included) don't understand that good footage with bad audio is more likely to be poorly received by your audience. This microphone is a great starter mic. You simply plug it into your iPhone (or other smartphone) and hit record. For this price, you can really up the quality of your video.
This is a great tripod because it is lightweight, compact, and fits anything from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR up to 3kg (6.6lbs).
The perfect starter drone. It's small in size, shoots HD footage, and is available at a great price point. You'll learn how to get a drone in the air and shoot some footage before making a bigger financial investment. Drone footage can really take videos to the next level, so I would say this is a must have for your set up.
You can opt to buy the DJI Spark (base only), DJI Spark (base with controller), or the DJI Spark (Fly More Combo). I recommend the Fly More Combo because it comes with your remote, extra batteries, a charger, extra propellers, and a carrying case.
When I started out the GoPro HERO4 was the newest version in the GoPro line. I instantly fell in love with the look of underwater shots and the HD quality is the perfect addition to your video. This model is now much cheaper due to the release of newer editions, but the quality is brilliant and I'd recommend it for a videographer of any skill level.
To keep your GoPro HERO4 Black from sinking, you'll want to get the GoPole - a floating selfie stick.
This backpack is great because it will fit literally everything listed above. It is made of waterproof nylon, super lightweight, and easy to carry. It is a less expensive option for a camera bag but I have trusted it for about a year now when I am taking a light trip or going on a weekend getaway. I often use this as a carry-on and it even has room for your laptop/tablet and wallet.
INTERMEDIATE SET UP FOR VIDEOGRAPHERS
This is for the videographer who has been at it for a while and might be ready to upgrade your gear and continue to refine your skills, but not ready to fully dive into the investment of a pro camera.
For a vlogger who is ready to upgrade a bit, at a reasonable price point, this camera has everything you need. It shoots HD, but lacks the 4K you'll find in the advanced set up. Frame rate is expressed in frames per second (fps). Most videos that play at normal speed are shot at 24 or 30 fps. Anything higher can allow you to slow down the footage for slow motion. The Canon PowerShot G7 x Mark II shoots up to 60fps. The built-in wifi makes it easy to share photos and videos quickly.
If you're getting serious about videography, but not ready to drop thousands of dollars on a camera. This is a great option. The photo and video quality of the Canon 70D is excellent. I shot an entire 60-minute documentary on this camera. It was great
You can opt to buy the Canon 70D body only, Canon 70D with 18-55mm lens, or my recommendation to get the most for your money the Canon 70D with accessories bundle.
When you get a DSLR, it's important to invest in good lenses. I recommend getting two to get started and adding more as you go. I'd start with a wide angle zoom lens and a mid-range prime lens.
This is a great wide angle zoom lens that will give you a great range and a quality image. You could honestly get away with just using this lens for a while if you can only get one lens to start with.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens
This is commonly referred to as the "nifty fifty" lens and is in the camera bag of (almost) every videographer. I use this lens for pretty much every shoot. For the price, it's a great addition to your camera bag.
This mic will plug directly into your DSLR. Flip the switch on and it records when you record on your camera, so you don't have to edit and match the audio in post-production. It's captures a clean sound from all directions and is a great mic for any type of video.
Tripods are extremely important when it comes to stable shots. If you're shooting an interview, time lapse, or any conversation exchange the last thing you want is shaky footage. They help you maintain stability. Tripods come in two parts - the legs and the head. It is important to note when you purchase a head that you want it to help with fluidity so that you don't have any unwanted sharp movements. An industry-wide favorite tripod brand is Manfrotto and their Aluminum 3-Section Tripod with a Manfrotto 502 Video Head is a great option for an intermediate filmmaking set.
Having a slider for your camera allows you to get smooth shots that you would not get otherwise. As an intermediate videographer, this is a great way to step up the quality of your videos and add some cool shots. If you're looking for a lightweight, compact, easy to transport slider at a great price point - this Glide Gear Video Camera Track Slider is for you! Note: You will need an additional head if you purchase this slider - I recommend the head also listed above: the Manfrotto 502 Video Head.
I love my DJI Mavic Pro. It has been a great addition to my travel gear set. It folds up and fits into a small bag which makes it so easy to take on trips. The image quality is incredible and it's very easy to learn. I never played video games as a kid and picked up the remote control use very easily. I would say this is a must-have for any intermediate or advanced videographer.
You can opt to buy the DJI Mavic Pro base and controller or my recommendation the DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo which comes with extra batteries, charger, and a carrying case.
The GoPro HERO5 Black is an upgrade from the GoPro HERO4 Black because it is waterproof up to 10 meters without a case and has stabilization. These features both come in handy when you are shooting footage - the stabilization is a game changer. The touch screen display is also a great upgrade from the HERO4. I love using GoPro HERO5 Black for all my underwater shots.
You can opt to get the Telesin Waterproof Dome to dive down deeper than 10 meters or the GoPole which is like a selfie stick for your GoPro that floats if you let go - so you won't lose it at the bottom of the ocean.
I have been using the Tenba Roadie Backpack 22-inch for about a year and a half now. I am obsessed with it. It fits literally all my gear, my laptop, hard drives, chargers, wallet, sunglasses, water bottle, and a book for the plane. I have taken it to eight countries and wish I had it when I had done my Europe trip. I can't recommend this bag enough. It has all the pockets and necessary storage and the quality is incredible. At this rate, I think it will hold up forever.
Final Cut Pro X is the upgrade to iMovie. The short cuts are similar and the style is the same with Final Cut being a much more advanced version. I started editing on Final Cut Pro X and learned a lot with this program. This option is again for those with an Apple computer and is a good option because once you buy it with your iCloud account you can download it on up to 5 devices. For intermediate videographers, this is a great way to learn editing skills and only paying a one-time fee to own the program.
ADVANCED SET UP FOR VIDEOGRAPHERS
The biggest question I get in regards to an advanced set up is "Canon or Sony." If you're ready to make a significant financial investment for fantastic quality, there are options from both brands that will suit your needs. The rest is up to personal preference. Currently, I am using Canon and absolutely love my gear. There are more advanced cameras down the Canon line I could buy to fit my needs however, I am willing to make the switch to Sony gear when the time is right -- I don't think I'll part with my Canon gear anytime soon. I'll have it as backup. I do believe there is great value to know both well, especially if you decide to work in video in a professional setting for a production company or with a production team.
I have been using the Sony RX100 series for almost two years now. I started with the IV and upgraded to the V when it was released. In my opinion, it is the best camera for vlogging excerpts or sit-down-and-chat style videos. I love the video, photo, and audio quality of this tiny camera. It shoots great in low-light situations, 4K quality, up to 960 fps for great slow motion, and the auto focus and stabilization are a big improvement from it's predecessor. I highly recommend this point-and-shoot!
This is my all-time go-to camera for anything and everything. I shoot all my professional videos with this camera and most of the b-roll for my vlogs. I have been using the 5D series for two years now and would only complain about it's low light (easy to fix with good lighting) and the autofocus abilities could use some work. A flip out screen wouldn't suck, but this isn't the kind of camera you would use to walk around and talk to selfie-style anyways.
You can opt to buy the Canon 5D Mark IV with the accessory bundle or my recommendation is the Canon 5D Mark IV body only and purchase the lenses you want separately.
While I learned everything I know about cameras, photography, and videography on a Canon I recently used Sony in a professional setting and fell in love. I love the Sony a7s II. Its low-light capabilities and slow-motion features are truly unmatched by Canon. The auto-focus is also a great feature that is lacking in the Canon alternative. If these features are important to you, there is no comparison. If they are not, the cameras are very similar in every other aspect. The photo and video quality are incredible.
You can opt to buy the Sony a7s II body only (my recommendation) or the Sony a7s II with the accessory bundle.
More Advanced Options
This is the ultimate Canon DSLR camera. The specs are brilliant and the price definitely reflects the quality of the camera. It shoots 4K up to 60fps or 1080p up to 120fps. The auto focus is the best of the Canon DSLR line. I couldn't brag more about the photo and video quality. You sort of know you're going to buy this camera if you're looking for one, but if you haven't heard of it, want to check it out, and have the funds I would highly recommend it. I just messed around with one recently and didn't want to give it back!
This camera is pure magic. Anything more advanced or expensive will take you into equipment way beyond my area of expertise. If you are looking to shoot a short film or a feature-length film - this is your camera. When I was working in video production in Washington, DC this was my favorite camera to use. There is seriously nothing better that I have used. It's up there in price, but worth looking into at least to have some "goals" in mind for the future.
This camera is a great introductory Sony while still offering nice photo and video quality. It shoots in 4K so that is a definite perk and Sony has been making great advances in their video capabilities on their cameras so it is a great option if you are more advanced but still trying to stay within a stricter budget.
You can opt to buy the Sony a6500 body only or my recommendation, the Sony a6500 with accessory bundle.
If you're making any sort of documentary-style video or even a short film that requires having a mic on someone, the RodeLink FM Wireless Filmmaking System is my go-to. Rode is a very trusted brand and I have used this wireless system for almost a year and have not needed to look for a new or better alternative.
This mic is a great shotgun mic if you're looking for clear "nat sound" (natural sound) or several people talking. Basically this microphone is on your camera whenever you are using your Wireless Filmmaking System.
This tripod totally changed my life. I love Manfrotto and their other cheaper alternatives, but the ability to completely turn your camera top-down is great for flat lays or stop motions. It is fairly lightweight and easy to carry around. It has been essential for my professional and travel videos. Don't forget your Manfrotto 502 Video Head!
The freshest edition from GoPro has quickly stolen my heart with all of its features. It is quite similar to the GoPro HERO5 Black, but the stabilization is an entire step above that of any previous GoPro edition, making it (in my opinion) the best option at a very comparable price. If you don't already have a GoPro, this is the one to invest in.
You can opt to buy the GoPro HERO6 Black base only or my recommendation, the GoPro HERO6 Black with accessory bundle.
Pelican cases are known to be very durable and most industry professionals I have worked with use their cases of various sizes. The 1650 is the perfect size for all of my gear and I highly recommend it because it rolls like a suitcase and is durable and reliable enough to check through when you're traveling. You can purchase one and use the cut outs in the foam to fit your gear or purchase a few cases to fit everything if you're packing a lot of gear.
With the monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can choose between a number of options depending on what you want to spend and what apps you will use. I pay for the full set and find that I use these apps the most for video and photo editing: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES I LOVE
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
LENS CLEANING KIT
FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI
Thank you so much for checking out my Gear Guide for Travel Videographers! I'd love to hear your feedback. I hope it was helpful -- Share it with a friend who is just getting started making videos or has been at it for a while.