If you’re just starting out, you’ll need a camera and a laptop or desktop computer with editing software. An external 7200rpm hard drive is also useful so that you don’t use up precious hard disk space on your computer.
Choosing which camera to buy is a big decision, and is as personal of a choice as what car you drive. The main questions to ask yourself as you shop around are:
What will I be shooting with my camera?
Are you shooting home movies of your family, or are you pursuing a more professional path?
Today, even very inexpensive cameras shoot great HD-quality video, but the built-in microphone may not be enough if you are creating more professional work.
What is my budget?
How much camera can you afford? Don’t forget to include any additional items that you’ll need such as
memory cards, external audio equipment like a shotgun microphone or a wireless microphone kit. The
good news is that cameras are getting progressively better and cheaper every year.
Tape or Tapeless?
Today’s camera market is becoming more and more dominated by tapeless technology (internal hard
drives, and flash memory cards), but tape cameras are still around. If you go with a tapeless camera, you’ll need a place to store your footage to make more room on the internal hard drive or to re-use the
memory card. If you go with a tape camera, you won’t have to ‘back up’ the video, since you have the
tape, but you’ll still need to keep and store the tapes.
Here’s a list of a few cameras that we like, in three different price ranges, but we always encourage anyone who is in the market for a new camera to take advantage of the exhaustive resources and user reviews on the web.
Tapeless: Sony HDR-CX190 High Definition Handycam Camcorder
- Full HD 1920 x 1280/60i recording capability.
- 5.3 Megapixel still images.
- Exmor CMOS sensor (excellent for low-light video)
- Memory card slot that supports SD/SDHC/SDXC (class 4 and higher) memory cards, as well as Memory Stick Pro Duo (Mark 2) and Memory Stick Pro HG Duo cards.
- Built-in USB cable for easy file transfers and and charging.
Tape(Mini-DV): Canon Vixia HV40 High Definition Camcorder
- HDV/DV recording
- 1920 x 1080 HD
- 24p Native (60i) shooting rate.
- Image Sensor and DIGIC DV II to reduce image noise.
- SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization
Tapeless: Canon VIXIA HF G10 Flash Memory Camcorder
- Records 1920 x 1080 HD.
- Internal 32GB flash drive.
- 2 SD/SDHC/SDxc memory card slots.
- Dynamic SuperRange Optical Stabilization
- Canon HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor
- Customization Cinema-look Filters
Tapeless: JVC GY-HM150U Compact Handheld 3-CCD Camcorder
- Integrated 10x Fujinon Zoom Lens
- 1920 x 1080i @ 35Mb/s (MPEG-2)
- Quicktime, MP4 or AVI file formats
- Two SDHC/SDXC Card slots.
- Dual XLRs and Included Microphone.
Tapeless: GoPro HD Hero2 Outdoor Edition
- HD and SD resolutions.
- Powerful 11MP Sensor.
- Professional Low-Light Performance
- 3.5mm External Stereo Microphone Input.
- Simple User Interface.
- Helmet Strap, Head Strap and Adhesive Mounts Included.
- Additional Sport-Specific Mounts Available.
Keeping your image stable is the hallmark of professional-looking video. Much like cameras, tripods very greatly in price, but a reasonably good one with a fluid head and a level can be purchased for less than $200.
Monopods can be very useful when you want to travel light, but still want some image stabilization. Decent Monopods can be purchased for less than $100.
For the Sony HDR-CX190 High Definition Handycam Camcorder
and the Canon Vixia HV40 High Definition Camcorder:
Rode VideoMic – Camera Mounted Shotgun Microphone
This shotgun microphone’s lightweight, unobtrusive design is ideal for long usage and comes with a custom shock mount. Connects to your camera via the stereo mini jack.
For the Canon Vixia HF G10:
Canon DM-100 Directional Stereo Microphone
This shotgun microphone attaches to your camera’s advanced accessory shoe for cable-free installation.
For the JVC GY-HM150U Compact Handheld 3-CCD Camcorder:
This shotgun mic features a highly directional, cardoid polar pattern yeilding great attenuation at the sides of the microphone, maximizing pickup at the front.
Sennheiser EW112-p G3 Camera Mount Wireless Microphone System (B / 626 – 668 MHz)
Intended for portable wireless operation. Includes a UHF diversity receiver, bodypack transmitter and ME2 lavalier microphone.
iMovie (Mac Only) – This is the “lite” version of Final Cut Pro, but they really didn’t take too much out.Â Anyone using HDV, DV, or consumer/prosumer tapeless cameras will find Final Cut Express to be a full featured editing powerhouse, for a significantly cheaper price than the Final Cut Studio Suite.Â With almost all of the features of Final Cut Pro, you will be able to create polished and professional videos with ease.
Premiere Elements (PC & Mac) – $79.95 – Premiere Elements is an incredibly easy to use video editing program that allows you to create great looking videos very easily.Â With lots of great templates for text and graphics, you can spice up your videos and easily send them out to YouTube, the web, or burn to a DVD.
Final Cut Pro X (Mac Only) – $819.00 – This is the industry standard for video editing.Â Everyone from commercial editors, Hollywood movies, television networks, and full-time video journalist use Final Cut.Â This is what we use in all of our offices and what we teach at the Travel Channel Academy.Â Besides coming with Final Cut Pro, the best editing software available, the package also contains Motion, Soundtrack, DVD Studio Pro, Color, and Compressor.Â These additional applications allow you to professionally create motion graphics, mix sound and music, create highly polished DVDs and BluRay discs, and compress your films to almost any standards to deliver it to the most people as possible.
Premiere Pro CS6 (PC and Mac) – Adobe Premiere Pro is an excellent, professional editing program that works for both PCs and Macs. It is full of advanced editing tools, and can handle just about any video format you throw at it. It has advanced color correction tools, a strong DVD creation program, and full encoding program as well to get your video out to as many audiences as possible. Premiere Pro works seamlessly with After Effects, Photoshop, and other Adobe products.
MacBook Pro Laptop – Great for professional high definition video with a fast two core processor, plenty of memory, beefy graphics card optimized for churning through video, and a fast 7200rpm hard drive for rapid HD editing. We recommend Final Cut Pro X with this.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 15.6″ Core i7-3630QM Notebook Computer – Speedy computer with two graphics cards that will give especially good performance with Adobe Premiere CS6.
Final Cut Pro X
Adobe Premiere CS6