Equipment – Getting started with pics and video for your website

I’m sometimes asked what equipment is needed in order to Get Moving when it comes to creating your own videos and photos for your website, for YouTube, or for Facebook.

Here are a few ideas to help you.

If your budget is no or low (no even meaning zero),  then Take a look at links below. The short films referenced were shot entirely on an iPhone. That’s all you’ll need to get started at the ground level. You can even use a good Android phone too.

You’ll notice that some of the films don’t have any audio/dialogue, only music. If there is dialogue for some of the vids and they didn’t use an external mic then it doesn’t sound very good. This is because the iPhone microphone is attempting to capture as much sound as it can. You get everything, including lots of ambient and background noise. Poor audio is a limitation of going the cell phone route, but it shouldn’t let it stop you from getting started. As you can see, the video quality can be quite good.

If you want better audio you can search for articles like the one below on getting an external mic for your iPhone. An external or wireless mic will get close to your audio source instead of trying to capture it from across the room. Some of the mics connect directly to your iPhone, but it would be preferred to get a connector that would hook up a wireless mic. If the mic is still connected to the phone, it still has to capture audio from a distance. Remember that for TV shows and movies they use a combination of (among other things) mics on booms that are often hand held, or the subjects/performers wear lapel microphones.

As far as taking great pictures, the iPhone can do that well too. See the following for examples of amazing pics captured with and iPhone.

The Skinny – you can get started with a simple cell phone and some trips to the library. You can do a bit better if you invest in an external mic.


DSLR setup – This is a good step above the cell phone route, but it will cost a bit more. As shown in the following links, you can start with a DSLR camera for under $1000 dollars. Sometimes you can start as low as a few hundred dollars. Black Friday is coming up and it’s a great time to find a deal on a DSLR.  Of course, you can spend many thousands of dollars on a good camera if you wish.

The nice thing about a DSLR is that you can take gorgeous pictures and video. Please make sure the camera takes Video if you are going to buy one used.I have a Nikon from 2007 and it takes great digital pictures, but they didn’t add video capability until the following year.

Here’s a list of movies that were made with Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras.

One of the few drawbacks of getting a DSLR setup is that some lower end models will only shoot 25 minutes or so continuously.  This is because they can heat up. This is not a big deal unless you plan to shoot vids for long stretches. It’s notable that if you decided get a stand alone video camera instead of a DSLR you may be limited by recording time there as well. It depends on how much digital storage the camera has.

The Skinny – A DSLR setup is a few steps above the iPhone package, but you’re likely looking at investing $450 to $1200 dollars for a camera, microphone, tripod, and case.

Additional Equipment

Editing – Of course it helps to have some kind editing software. If you have an Apple/Mac computer you can do a decent job of editing with the included iMovie software. If your version of Windows still includes Movie Maker software then that’s an option too.

You should check with your local library as well. My local library lets you do a lot with media.  You can shoot videos in their studio and edit your movie on their computers. Sometimes you can check a go pro camera out for a day or two as well.

In capturing good video you may end up wanting to invest in some kind of tripod, bipod, or monopod in order to capture smooth video.

As you can see, if you start down the road of getting smoother video and clearer audio, costs can start to creep up a bit when you add a few accessories. Remember this when you are selecting where to get started with your equipment.

What about live video? – It’s true that Facebook live and Periscope are notable ways to share media with audiences worldwide. Some videos appear to be off the cuff and unrehearsed, done in the moment with only a phone and a prayer. While there may be a few people that do this and are successful, there is merit to having good equipment and a good story to tell. Advanced preparation and good video recording habits are still recommended, even if you’re just walking around with an iPhone, a wireless mic, and a selfie stick.

Good luck with your equipment search. I think that the main point to remember here is that while you can invest large amounts of money in an Audio/Video setup, the important thing is to Get Moving, even if it’s only with a cell phone. You can always add equipment or upgrade later. One of the important parts of media is learning how you want to tell your story, not the equipment that you use. The equipment is important, but not as important as the craft.