What is the best budget DSLR filmmaking kit for video?
If you are going to be a successful digital filmmaker you are going to need to add some equipment to your DSLR once you have bought it. Although choosing the right camera for filmmaking is important, it is only one part of the puzzle to becoming a good filmmaker. You will need to add a shotgun microphone, lapel microphone, a hand-held microphone, a wireless microphone, LED light, tripod, gimbal and a backpack to carry it all around. This may seem like a lot of gear to have to invest in but it is all useful. Don’t panic into thinking you need to get all this stuff immediately. A tripod, lapel microphone and a shotgun microphone are a good starting place and shouldn’t cost too much to buy. The rest you can get as you progress. The good news is that in the future you may replace your camera but all the extra equipment you buy you can keep on using and is worth the investment.
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Takstar SGE-598 Condenser Microphone
The Takstar SGC-598 is a low cost shotgun microphone with a shock resistant mount. It also comes with a windsock and a handy carrying pouch. Reviewers often compare this microphone next to more expensive microphones like the Rode VideoMic Pro+, which can cost hundreds of dollars more. The Takstar is not as good as the Rode VideoMic Pro+ but in various tests it stands up well to this competition and is a fraction of the cost.
The build quality is decent and it also has +10db audio boost and a low-cut switch. The frequency is 50kHz, which is a pretty good for a budget microphone of this type. It does lack bass for low-end frequencies but you can solve this by adding the bass back in, when you edit your video. It also has a cardioid polar pick up pattern which is common for a shotgun microphone and it does a good job of only picking up sounds that are in front of it. As far as shotgun microphones go, it’s excellent value for money.
Price: $46.00 £37.00 €41.00
Deity V.Lav Mic
The Deity V.Lav is a lapel microphone that you can use with many devices without the need to invest in adaptors. It is a broadcast-grade omnidirectional lavalier microphone for use in video production. It features a microprocessor that adapts the TRRS plug to work with almost any 3.5mm microphone input. This means it will work with DSLRs, Camcorders Smartphones, portable audio recorders, laptops and wireless audio transmitters. It comes with a 5m cable that should give you plenty of length to attach to your video camera. The Deity V.Lav gives a clear and natural sound which will pick up sound equally from all directions.
The V.Lav gets its sound from two LR41 cell batteries which are enclosed in a aluminium housing. This battery power only comes into use after the microphone determines what audio device it is plugged in to. If it recognises the device does not need external power it will put its batteries into standby. The V.Lav comes with a windscreen to reduce wind noise when filming outside and a cord organiser to manage the long cable. There is also a carry case to protect and carry the microphone.
Price $49.00 £39.00 €45.00
Movo HM-M2 Hand-held Mic
The Movo HM-M2 is a budget omnidirectional dynamic hand-held microphone, which is ideal for the beginner reporter. It has a frequency response of 70 Hz – 15 kHz, which makes it great for speech and on location interviews. Its frequency response in this range helps it to reject most environmental sounds that could interfere with any sound recordings. This also maximises its sound for clarity of vocalisation. It has a professional built body with a long handle of 26 cm.
The body itself is made of tough die-cast aluminium that should put up with any wear and tear that you should give it. It also has a black finish, which makes it discreet for on camera appearances. It weighs 191 grams, so should not be too much strain on your arm. At the bottom of the handle you will find an XLR jack for connection to an XLR cable. The microphone has no need for a battery or requires phantom power.
Price $49.95 £40.00 €45.00
Saramonic Blink 500 TX
The Saramonic Blink 500 TX is compact lightweight wireless microphone system that will give you quality broadcast audio for your videos. The transmitter is similar to the Rode Wireless Go. It is a small and compact microphone that you can clip to your subject’s clothing for interviews or mobile reporting.
If you don’t like to use the built-in microphone on the transmitter, you can plug in the provided SR-M1 Lavalier microphone instead. This can be less intrusive than the transmitter microphone and not as noticeable on clothing. You simply hide the transmitter in another location on your subject’s body.
The Blink 500 RX receiver plugs into your video camera. It is lightweight and takes up little space when connected to your camera. The whole system runs on the 2.4Ghz frequency, which seems to be the popular choice for this type of wireless microphone system. You shouldn’t have too many problems using it but you should be aware that this is a line of sight microphone. Don’t expect it to work miracles if your subject walks into another room without you.
If you need two microphones you can add another Blink 500 transmitter and both microphones will connect to the RX receiver. Saramonic sell a double microphone and one receiver pack just for this purpose. Alternatively, you can buy a second transmitter separately.
Price: $179.00 £145.00 €160.00
If you are looking for a light with the most brightness you cannot go far wrong with the Neewer CN-216. It gives off tons of light, which should be more than enough for your filming needs. It can do this with a special LED bulb layout to give it a brighter and wider lighting range. You can also adjust this brightness with the built in dimmer. The LED lights should have a lifespan of up to 50000 hours. So they are not going to go wrong any time soon. It has a colour temperature between 3200K and 5600K so it will balance between daylight and indoor lighting. You can also affect the colour balance by adding the two filters that come with it in front of the LED panel.
There are extension slots on the side of the CN-216 and these allow you to combine several of the lights together. This means you can have a bigger lighting panel if you need it. It is good on energy consumption and gets its power from 6 AA batteries or a rechargeable NP-F lithium battery. There is also a battery indicator to let you know how much power the light has before it turns off. At the bottom of the light is a cold shoe mount so you can add it to your camera or put it on a rig or tripod.
Price $39.00 £32.00 €35.00
Magnus VT-400 Aluminium Tripod System
The Magnus VT-400 is a great mid-level tripod and head for shooting video. It has a 2-way fluid pan and tilt mechanism head, which will give smooth pans for general video production. This head has two independent locks so you can secure it in both the up and down and left to right positions, so your video camera won’t move an inch.
You can also remove your camera with the quick release plate at the top of the tripod. This tripod can support a maximum weight of 15lbs, this should be fine for most small cameras but maybe not ideal for larger shoulder mount cameras. The maximum height of the legs is 64 inches and these are built of tough anodised aluminium.
Price $129.00 £104.00 €117.00
Zhiyun WEEBILL-S Gimbal
The Zhiyun WEEBILL-S is great DSLR gimbal for many different filmmaking tasks. It has a miniature 3-axis gimbal that weighs only 2lbs, which makes this gimbal light to carry. This gimbal maybe light but it is still able to carry a camera with a weight of up to 4.5lbs. It also has good battery life and should give you an operational use of up to 14 hours. Just like the Ronin-SC, it has Subject Tracking that you control with a Smartphone app from Zhiyun. So it won’t let you down when you are on the move.
This gimbal can stabilise your DSLR camera in the most compact ways. In the standard set-up, the handle will face down but if you need to do low tracking shots you can also have the handle point up at an angle. This lessens the overall height of the gimbal so you can easily film in tight places.
Price $399.00 £325.00 €361.00
Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-50
The Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-50 has plenty of space to carry all of your camera equipment. It has four main storage areas that have flexi dividers and interchangeable dividers that you can set up as you like to fit your DSLR or Mirrorless camera. The main internal space has an innovative proactive pouch to hold you camera with the lens attached, so there is plenty of protection. You can also move this pouch if you need more space. You get access to this area from the back of the backpack.
You can use the top compartment to hold another camera with a lens or even a drone. The two other compartments are useful for holding a 15 inch laptop and a 10 inch tablet. On the side of the bag is a pocket for holding a tripod or you can use this to carry a water bottle. This backpack has a pre-treated fabric that is water repellent and there is an extra waterproof cover to protect your camera gear if you should happen to get caught in the rain.
Price $125.00 £100.00 €110.00