Investing Wisely in Film Gear

Since I get asked a lot by filmmakers, especially those starting out, what equipment I recommend, I’ve created these pages. The gear is ordered by priority – i.e. I start with the essentials: the camera, the lenses, the tripod and so on. For each category, I list a few options – from the most affordable to the top of the line. I only list equipment that I am familiar with and that represents good value – i.e. you will get your money’s worth regardless whether it’s the most or least expensive option available on the market.

If you are starting out, don’t worry about acquiring all of this equipment. Don’t create extra barriers for yourself. Just start shooting with whatever you have available, so you can develop your skills. Great filmmaking skills will make your work look great even when you are limited to mediocre equipment.

As you progress and start making money as a filmmaker, you will want to acquire all this additional gear that appears on later pages. A lot of it serves not so much to make your work look better, but to make your productions run faster and smoother. Eventually, your time will become your most precious resource, and that’s when it makes sense to spend money on the non-essentials. Still, you want to be smart with your investments.

My Gear Recommendations



Film and Video Lights

Audio Gear


Camera Support Gear: Shoulder Rigs and Tripods

Camera Stabilizers

Camera Sliders

Camera Dollies

Camera Accessories

Video Editing Hardware

If you have used gear that you can strongly recommend, please share in the comments section below, or send me a message. Thanks!

36 thoughts on “Investing Wisely in Film Gear”

  1. Hi Tom,
    I go through all your tutorials and reviews” AWSOME”
    Can you kindly let me know if i can order for the arial photography equipment(cine drone} kindly let me know aldo would like to order for school dvd

  2. Hi Tom!

    What about the Canon 60D?
    I use 60D, it has the same sensor of the 7D, and is the more hackable of the market, I think (talking about ML)

    1. Yes 60D is also a great camera. There are a lot of amazing cameras on the market today, I can’t list them all so I had to choose and mention the few that Ive got the most experience with.

  3. Hi Tom,
    Thank you so much for your tutorials they are really a great help. I’m a Post Production Manager and Quality Check in a community television station in South Africa, and I’m using your videos to train my staff. The feedback I’m getting from them is really positive.

    1. Thank you Lizo for the nice message! I am happy to hear that my tutorials are helping people even in South Africa. Say hi to everyone there! And remember that in filmmaking there are no rules, just good suggestions, if you can do something different that still makes your final work look good then do it! Experiment! Have fun! 🙂

      1. You should be happier because I am in China. Thanks a lot. “There are no rules in filmmaking, just good suggestions.” I will keep remembering it.

  4. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless
    I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
    writing a blog post or vice-versa? My site discusses a lot of the
    same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Excellent blog by the way!

  5. Recommend as a step-in for + 500,00 $ cameras category|If you’re new to dslr this would be your start up camera. I think it’s priced right, but I’d go for camera body only and invest in a good lens then what comes in the kit. If you want to take it up a notch on the rebel series , then go with t5i. I think it has a better auto focus than the t3i and has touch LCD screen. But either way it’s a good camera|I’ve been pretty happy with this camera 6 months after buying it. Its easy to handle and manage, especially if you’re a DSLR noob. It has a self-cleaning sensor so you barely ever have to clean it from the inside. The body is not super-heavy and gripping it is easy with the strategically placed rubber grips.

  6. Hi Tom, Thanks for all your informed help.
    What do you think about a second hand Sony NEX-5 14.2 MP as a starting out camera for making short films?

    1. In terms of vide quality theyre the same as the NEX-5R so I recommend it as a great starter or back up camera!

  7. hi Tom,thx alot for tutorials are very helpful,im in burundi keep being so kind God bless u man and im ganna try the one of shooting with one light,thx again

  8. TOM,im blessed with your tutorial,infact it gives me a lot of encouragement in productions,i have with me the shoulder rig you use for a musical video,but i still want to advance in my can i down load some of your tutorial in film making.all the way from Nigeria west Africa.thank you.

  9. Hey, Tom! Thank you for these useful information.
    I’m making a choice from T3I and T5I. The difference are that T5I has DIGIC 5 and STM lens, I really want to know whether the two upgrade are important or not for filmmaking.
    And as a beginner, I should choose the 18-55mm lens or 18-135mm as kit?

    1. I second what Tom has said. You can also check out our post where we compare these two and other Canon DSLR models

      Having the STM is not important because you want to control focus manually when doing professional video or film. You can read a little bit more about it here

      But the 18-135mm is a nice stock lens, so if you can get a good deal on the T5i (ie only pay a small premium over the T3i), then it’s a good buy too.

  10. Hi i was reading this article and also looking up prices online.
    First off i am an amateur filmmaker and also on a tight budget. I have a sony nex-7 as my main camera, as of now i have the kit lens on there. I want to get another lens, i saw you recommend a fixed focal 50mm lens. I looked up prices on b&h photo, in the sale and regular departments. I found photography 50mm lenses for about 200 and cine 50mm lenses for twice that and much more.
    What is the difference between a photography lens and a cine lens?

  11. Hi Tom,

    Am willing to buy Lumix FZ1000 camera, what can you say about it as am starting as a new filmmaker in country.

  12. can you please make tutorial on shoot in night/ low light to get grungy look or character sitting in front of light and only have fire as light source

  13. I’ve used the Luxli Viola after renting it from B&H. It really is a great replacement for the cumbersome process of using gels. I really hope to own the Cello one day.

  14. I used following gears and here’s why.

    Camera: A7S with Atomos Ninja Flame (because combined it’s equivalent price to A7S2 with amazing 1500nits field monitor/recorder which offers 4:2:2)

    Lens: Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 (because it has IS which A7S lacks and is multiple purpose for wide to telephoto with nice bokeh at 70mm)

    Gimbal: DJI Ronin M (It’s not as compact as Beholder DS1 but I can use it with any lens of camera setup I want with similar price range an added benifit of using it on a jib using remote control)

    Microphone: Rode NTG3 (Because this is something I may never need to upgrade as it offers 10 years warranty and it’s industry standard)

  15. “Great filmmaking skills will make your work look great even when you are limited to mediocre equipment… A lot of it serves not so much to make your work look better, but to make your productions run faster and smoother.”
    Thanks a lot Tom

  16. Hi, I appreciate al your effort to create these pages. The lens recommendations help. Others stuff is out of date for 2021, or items you recommended are unavailable. Thank you for this and all your tutorial videos tho. i have a strong interest in the BMP 4k – I’m a total amateur / hobbyist 🙂

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