Best Gear to Make Professional Videos (2022): Mics, Lights, Tripods, Tips

For transportable shoots (and even simply comfort) you would possibly ultimately need to think about a cage on your digital camera, like the Smallrig VersaFrame, which WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft has examined and likes. This helps you to mount every part you want, like lights, microphones, batteries, and storage units, proper to the digital camera itself. It takes some work to get every part arrange proper, but it surely’s lots simpler than making an attempt to wrangle fifteen devices whereas operating round a park. Depending in your digital camera, you may additionally have the ability to discover cages that suit your mannequin particularly.

The Microphone

Aside out of your digital camera, the microphone is arguably the second most essential instrument in your arsenal. Good-quality audio makes a lackluster video watchable, and poor audio can damage even essentially the most superbly shot clip. 

Top Pick

What’s nice about Rode’s SmartLav+ is its plug-and-play nature. I’ve plugged this microphone into my mirrorless digital camera and into my iPhone, and it labored like a allure (for skilled cameras, you will need to add this adapter). It’s a lavalier mic, the sort that clips to your shirt collar to seize the sound of your voice. The high quality is not wonderful, but it surely’s an enormous step up over the built-in microphone in your cellphone. Just know that connecting it to an Android cellphone is difficult—it does not all the time work. And in case your cellphone does not have a headphone jack, you will need a dongle.

Upgrade Pick

If you are keen to spend extra, this wi-fi system is incredible. I’ve been utilizing it for all my WIRED videos. Plug the receiver into your digital camera’s mic enter or your cellphone’s headphone jack (you’ll in all probability want a dongle), and clip the transmitter someplace close to your collarbone. Turn each on, and they need to mechanically pair. That’s it! You can begin recording with no pesky cable operating between you and your recording system.

The microphone high quality is superb, however having a tiny field in your shirt can look somewhat awkward. I attached Rode’s Lavalier Go ($57) to the transmitter, which I put in my pocket for a extra pure look. Rode has a more moderen model, the Wireless Go II ($247), which incorporates an additional transmitter in case you’re making movies with a buddy. 

Other Great Mics:

  • Deity V-Mic D3 Pro Shotgun Mic ($139): Standing instantly in entrance of your digital camera? Consider a shotgun mic. I like this one from Deity. You can pop it onto the shoe mount on the highest of a digital camera, plug it in, and also you’re prepared to go. (Yes, it plugs into telephones too.) It picks up audio really well and recharges by way of USB-C.
  • Rode VideoMicro ($47): Trying to spend as little as doable? This shotgun mic will fulfill. It’ll beat any cellphone’s built-in mic, and it is tremendous light-weight and compact.

Consider a Recorder

If you are utilizing extra superior audio gear—and there are a lot of good reasons you should—you then’ll want an interface to join any XLR microphones you’ve got. But in case you shoot away from house (or simply want a versatile setup), one handy possibility is to get an interface that is additionally a conveyable recorder. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft likes and makes use of the Zoom H6, which might join up to 4 XLR inputs, in addition to two extra inputs by means of connected mic modules. 

The included X/Y module is nice for recording on-the-spot interviews. It also can document audio instantly to the system itself, whereas it sends audio again out to your digital camera. This is the sort of life-saving backup possibility that you just will not remorse having round. Plus, it frees you to separate your mic and digital camera and sync them up later, if the scenario requires it.

The Tripod

Don’t spend lots of of {dollars} on a stable camera-and-mic rig after which steadiness the entire thing on a stack of books. A steady tripod is a brilliant funding. This is one space the place you may want to spend extra as a result of an excellent tripod will hold your tools from crashing to the bottom. 

Top Pick

I examined a barely totally different model of this monopod, which was discontinued and changed by this newer mannequin. This new one can lengthen up to 59 inches tall, a full foot greater than the final model, but it weighs the identical quantity. I really like how compact it’s, and you’ll even convert it right into a mini tripod at a second’s discover in case you do not want the additional top. It has three little toes that stretch out on the backside so you should utilize it hands-free, and the design is nice for tight areas. It often takes me mere seconds to set it up and begin taking pictures. Since it is made from carbon fiber, it is a light-weight journey possibility too. (It weighs lower than 3 kilos.) 

I like to recommend pairing it with the corporate’s Komodo K5 Fluid Head ($119) in case you plan on panning, tilting, and capturing numerous B-roll (extra on the Komodo beneath).

Phone Tripod

The Cobra 2 above is perhaps a bit a lot in case you’re utilizing a cellphone, so snag Lume’s cellular tripod as an alternative. It’s very steady, however the perfect half is that the ends of the clamp double as chilly shoe mounts, so you possibly can hook up a microphone (just like the Rode VideoMicro or Deity above) and a compact video gentle for a full on-the-go studio. My solely gripe? You cannot alter the peak. But there is a answer to this: the Mobile Creator Stand XL. It can rise up to 60 inches excessive, making it an excellent and compact tripod for stand-ups. Both these tripods are pretty comfy to grip and carry if you’re transferring round as you movie. 

Upgrade Pick

If your movies aren’t restricted to your house, this is without doubt one of the most compact tripods in the marketplace that may ship the peak and stability most individuals want, but can match within the bottle pouch of your backpack. It’s comparatively light-weight (the pricier carbon fiber version sheds much more weight), and there is a built-in cellphone mount. If you need to connect a fluid head for easy pans, you will want this universal head adapter

Other Great Tripods:

  • Joby GorillaPod 1K ($27): You could make do with a tripod like this one from Joby in case you’re making an attempt to spend as little as doable. It does not get very tall, however you possibly can contort the flexible legs to hold the entire thing connected to numerous surfaces. If you’ve got an iPhone with MagSafe help, then you possibly can pair it with this Joby tripod for a hassle-free setup.
  • Benro TMA27A Series 2 Mach3 ($165): This is a standard tripod I’ve examined that is weighty, sturdy, steady, and all-around dependable from a well-established model. I’ve had no points with it after greater than two years.
  • SwitchPod Tripod ($99): I like utilizing the SwitchPod when I’m transferring round and speaking to the digital camera. You can maintain it selfie-stick fashion, and its curvy design retains the digital camera away from you and pointed at your face. You can open the magnetic legs in a single swoop to make it rise up on a desk. Each leg has threads you can use to connect equipment like a video gentle or a mic. I additionally advocate grabbing the ball head mount to simply transfer the digital camera round.

The Light

Light is a vital ingredient for making your movies look skilled. Pro tip: If you suppose your present ambient lighting is sufficient, there is a good likelihood it is not. Unless you are filming in your yard in the midst of the day, your cameras will want a supplemental gentle supply. For extra suggestions, learn our Best Studio Lighting Gear for Photos and Videos information. We even have recommendation on how to light your photos and videos like a professional here.

Top Pick

I movie most of my WIRED movies in a tiny, darkish room. This 60-watt Godox LED has been a godsend. There’s a knob on the again to tweak how vibrant it will get. You also can use the included distant to change the sunshine’s coloration temperature, making it seem extra orange (heat) or blue (chilly). I paired it with this light stand ($55), which labored properly for me.

You’ll additionally need to use it with a softbox to diffuse and direct the sunshine. You can get one thing as reasonably priced as this one from Godox ($40), but it surely takes without end to arrange and put away. I a lot favor utilizing this 48-incher from Angler ($124), which intuitively collapses like an umbrella. It takes solely a minute to hook it up to the sunshine, and when I’m performed I take it off in seconds and stow it within the included bag.

A More Compact Light

The Godox lighting system above will be difficult to transfer across the house and is extra suited to a hard and fast taking pictures location. If you are extra usually filming on the go, you possibly can do that video gentle from Boling. It will get remarkably vibrant regardless of the compact measurement, has a number of coloration choices and results (like a enjoyable impact that mimics a lightning strike), and you’ll match the colour temperature to your lighting circumstances. It comes with a chilly shoe mount so you possibly can connect it to the highest of your digital camera or different suitable gear. 

It’s been my go-to cellular gentle for a number of years and has held up properly. Even higher, it recharges by way of USB-C. Just know that battery life on a cellular gentle like this (or the others beneath) is not going to final for a number of hours at a time. 

A Collection of Lights

Aputure makes numerous incredible lights, however the MC is a flexible toddler. It places out round 400 lux at 0.5 meters, which is not lots, however with numerous them, you are able to do some inventive stuff. That’s why we advocate this journey package with 4 lights. On prime of coming with 4 MCs, the case itself comprises 4 areas to wirelessly cost the lights, in addition to two USB retailers that may cost different units as properly.

Each MC has adjustable white gentle coloration temperatures from 3,200K to 6,500K, in addition to an RGB mode. There are additionally a number of built-in results for lightning, hearth, and different primary lighting staples, or you possibly can join the lights to a cell phone app for much more management. Best of all, every gentle has a pair of magnets on the again, making them simple to mount with out stands. They is probably not essentially the most highly effective lights round, but it surely’s onerous to overstate how helpful they’re on a shoot if you want an additional fill or some additional coloration on a scene.

Other Great Lights: 

  • Lume Cube Panel Pro ($160): This is a solid light that is comparable to the Boling P1, however there’s an app you possibly can pair it with by way of Bluetooth to management it remotely.
  • 12-Inch Ring Light With Tripod Stand ($31): Several members of WIRED’s Gear staff use these ring lights to illuminate themselves on movies. You can connect your cellphone in the midst of the sunshine, which makes for an excellent all-in-one and reasonably priced answer.
  • Viltrox RGB Portable LED Panel ($49): These aren’t the perfect or brightest lights round, however they’re low cost, whereas nonetheless offering full RGB and coloration temperature management, so you should buy fairly a number of for a similar worth as certainly one of among the different lights we have featured. It additionally makes use of standard NP-F550 batteries and chargers that many different digital camera equipment share.

Other Helpful Gear

There are so many different instruments I exploit when making movies, from exterior screens to fluid heads. Here are extra gadgets you may want to take a look at. And in case you want a manner to tote your tools round city, learn our Best Camera Bags guide.

An External Monitor

I movie with my Nikon Z 6, which does not have a show that tilts out towards the entrance. That makes it more durable to movie when I’m in entrance of the lens, as I continuously have to go behind the digital camera to see if the framing is appropriate. If you’ve got a totally articulating display screen then you possibly can skip this choose, but when not, get an exterior monitor like this one. (You’ll want to seize batteries.) I mounted it to the highest of my digital camera and related it by way of HDMI, which permits me to see my framing and whether or not the main target is correct.

A Variable Filter

When filming with an expert digital camera, you will need your digital camera’s shutter velocity to keep at double the body fee for the most natural-looking clips. So at 30 frames per second, your shutter velocity needs to be 1/60. But what occurs in case you’re taking pictures exterior and the digital camera is receiving a lot of gentle? Get a neutral-density filter! It screws over your lens so you possibly can higher management the quantity of sunshine your digital camera takes in with out forcing you to change settings. I like these variable ones from Moment; rotating the filter in several instructions adjusts how a lot gentle is let in.  

Tip: Make certain you examine the thread measurement on your lens when shopping for a filter. You can discover this data on the entrance of a lens or on the lens cap. (If you possibly can’t discover it, simply lookup the lens mannequin on the net.)

A Fluid Head

I make movies about merchandise, so I would like to take numerous supplementary footage of the merchandise themselves. But simply taking pictures an object head-on with none motion could be very uninteresting. You could as properly simply present a nonetheless picture! Fluid heads allow you to easily pan and tilt your digital camera so you possibly can add some movement to your B-roll footage. The Komodo K5 fluid head does this very well. 

If it is too dear, the Magnus VPH-10P Pan and Tilt Head ($45) is a good cheaper various. Your footage will not look as easy, but it surely’s higher than going hands-free or utilizing the ball head mount on a tripod.

A Camera Slider

Once you nail down panning and tilting, you will need to department out. Enter the slider. It basically strikes your digital camera from one finish of a stationary monitor to the opposite, however high quality sliders be certain that this occurs very, very easily. This one from Axler has spruced up the clips in my movies, and it is simple to use.

A Teleprompter

If making up phrases as you sit in entrance of the digital camera is not working for you, then strive writing a script. You can use your cellphone or pill and a teleprompter app (I like this one for iPhones and iPads) to learn it whereas your digital camera’s rolling. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft has good issues to say about PromptSmart Pro too, which works on a number of platforms, and may import scripts from companies like Google Docs. Its distinctive VoiceTrack characteristic can scroll as you converse and pause if you cease. You can management it with a remote control app (though this solely works if each the app and prompter are on the identical platform.)

Reading from a prompter appears to be like apparent in case you’re not trying instantly on the display screen although, so it is price getting a tool just like the Glide Gear TMP100. It mirrors the textual content from a pill or smartphone and shows it on a bit of glass that sits in entrance of your lens. This helps you to learn and stare on the lens on the identical time, all whereas protecting the scrolling textual content from showing within the picture. The Glide Gear TMP75 ($149) can be a helpful possibility that we like; it may connect to a laptop computer so you should utilize your laptop’s webcam. although this smaller one solely matches telephones.

A Gimbal

No matter how regular you suppose you might be, your puny human fingers are shaky and unstable. Tripods are nice for stabilizing locked-off pictures, however in case you nonetheless need to hold some digital camera motion, a gimbal is what you want. These units use motors to counter the minor actions in your physique to hold pictures regular whilst you progress round or comply with topics.

WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft examined the Zhiyun Weebill 3 gimbal and says it was simpler to use than his outdated Crane 2. The wrist relaxation and sling grip make it simple to management the entire rig. Its inner battery can run for greater than 20 hours, so your digital camera is extra doubtless to die lengthy earlier than the gimbal does. If you are taking pictures in your cellphone, see our Zhiyun choose beneath, which additionally works nice with smaller cameras. You also can discover cheap gimbals like this model from Hohem ($99), which Ravenscraft has used to shoot movies for WIRED.

Zhiyun Crane M3

Photograph: Zhiyun

WIRED senior author Scott Gilbertson says he had a tough time believing that one thing as small and light-weight because the Crane M3 gimbal could be able to replicating 95 p.c of what large, professional-level gimbals do, but it surely labored surprisingly properly in his assessments. The caveat? This is greatest with smaller cameras or perhaps a smartphone. It will help a full-frame digital camera—it labored together with his Sony A7R II—however solely with shorter, lighter lenses. 

For vloggers who need to step up their sport, and anybody who needs the power to shoot regular movement video with out (utterly) breaking the financial institution, the M3 will do the job. The contact show provides entry to ceaselessly used settings. Zhiyun claims eight hours of battery life and says it recharges in two hours. In our testing, the recharge time is correct, however the heavier the system, the more serious your battery life can be. With the full-frame Sony, Gilbertson says he obtained about 5.5 hours out of it.

A Quick-Release Mounting System

I ceaselessly am attaching a slider, teleprompter, and fluid head to my tripod, which suggests I’m continuously screwing issues on and off—all of this takes up priceless time and is simply plain annoying. That’s once I found the Manfrotto Move quick-release mounting system. I connected the bottom to my tripod and the plate to my fluid head, teleprompter, and slider, and it now mainly takes me two seconds to mount these gadgets to my tripod. They nonetheless keep safe, thoughts you, however to launch them, simply rotate the highest of the bottom and the plate will pop up. It’s an ingenious system that I now cannot reside with out. 

You doubtless simply want a single Move system, which features a base and plate, after which you possibly can purchase additional plates for all the opposite gadgets you need to rapidly mount.

Handy Tips

I realized how to make movies by trial and error, by accumulating suggestions, and (principally) by YouTube movies in the dark. Seriously, there is a wealth of free tutorials and suggestions you will discover on YouTube for nearly any query you’ve got about enhancing your video output. Search away. That stated, listed below are a number of parting suggestions I strive to adhere to (and generally battle with) as I movie.

  • Position your key gentle correctly: You often don’t need your key gentle (the principle gentle supply) to face your topic instantly. Put it off-center, which suggests part of your topic can be in shadow. You can use different lights to “fill” in these shadows in case you like. We have more guidance here.
  • Keep an eye fixed on reflections: I put on glasses, and it is simple for the important thing gentle to replicate off of them, which creates a distracting impact within the completed video. The manner to deal with that is by heeding the recommendation above, and by tweaking your gentle’s top and angle. Run a number of assessments to see what place nails the fewest glares.
  • Monitor your focus: The very last thing you need to do is movie a complete video and understand your focus was utterly off. External screens or cameras with flip-out screens have options like focus peaking, which helps you to simply see the place your lens is focusing. If you are utilizing autofocus, you need to run a number of assessments to see how properly it really works earlier than you employ it for the primary time. Your digital camera might need face detection or eye detection to assist with autofocus too.
  • Listen to your audio ranges: I often hold a pair of earbuds plugged into my digital camera whereas filming so I can pay attention again to my clips immediately and ensure the microphone is operating and I do not sound too loud or too delicate.
  • Get the appropriate framing: Reviewing your footage and realizing half your head is chopped from the body is a horrible feeling. Don’t fear, it occurs to the perfect of us! Just be certain that to take a look at your framing earlier than you hit document.
  • Shoot extra pixels than you want. If your digital camera and enhancing gear can deal with it, taking pictures in a better decision than you want provides you flexibility within the edit. You can reframe pictures and even zoom in, with out dropping image high quality. This is a helpful manner to alternate between medium and close-up pictures with out having to reposition the digital camera between takes.
  • Make the lower: If you are enhancing your video on a desktop PC, be certain that your laptop has sufficient brawn for the job. We have some steering on how to upgrade your PC for video editing, even in case you’re on a finances.

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