Equipment Recommendations

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    • #44618

      I have been tasked with creating videos for my organization. The videos will be primarily tutorials, CEO messages and recordings of various community events as well as the occassional video podcast. My video production experience would be best classified as “Beginner”.

      As I’ve been putting together my list of hardware and software needs, I want to make sure I don’t buy equipment that’s well beyond our needs, but also will not give us buyer’s remorse in the near future. I also want to be considerate of cost; especially since this is a new function for the organization.

      I’m interested to get the community’s feedback and recommendations. Any help is greatly appreciated.

      Below is my equipment list right now:

      I’m aware that that are rumors that Apple might be introducing new iMac and Mac Pro models in late 2012 / early 2013. I don’t know if I can wait until then…

      Apple 27″ iMac – 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB Serial ATA Drive + 256GB Solid State Drive, AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5


      Apple Mac Pro – One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB solid-state drive + 2TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB

      Monitor for Mac Pro: I would be interested in a recommendation for this besides Apple Cinema display.

      Camera – Canon XA10 (

      Davis & Sanford PROVISTA18 ProVista Tripod with FM18 Head (

      Microphone – Looking for recommendations. The Canon XA10 has 2 XLR inputs and shotgun mic mount.

      I plan to use iMovie and Garageband, but will eventually move up to either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. I also hope to eventually do work in After Effects.

      Anything else that I’m missing? Sorry for the long message.


    • #186832

      A couple of comments – buy a REAL tripod and head. The one you linked to is not up to the job – I’d expect to budget at least $700ish to get something that is strong and smooth. You need a solid support, and flimsy cheap tripods rarely offer anything other than a method of keeping a camera static. Once you move , you’ll realise how important tripods and heads really are.

      Edit software – buy what you need to do the job. Learning a basic bit of software then unlearning to use the one that does what you need is a waste of time and resources. iMovie is fine for cutting together your holiday or baby pics but very limited for producing professional looking products. Edit wise for your Mac approach, look at Adobe Premiere or Final Cut. Both have full versions and slighty cut down ones – and then upgrade paths to full versions are available. I like Adobe because their CS range has all the programmes you need – one for editing, one for graphics, one for audio and one for FX – and the last one to produce the DVD. Each program talks to the others meaning it’s a kind of one stop shop for producing projects like yours. For your use, you will need captions, graphics, sound and maybe special effects. iMovie can’t do all this stuff.


      If you are on location then shotguns may be useful, but if you have talking heads, then clip on lavaliere types will be more suitable. You might need green screen backgrounds and lighting too?

      Probably the best thing would be to detail a typical ‘episode’ you need to make, and use that to form the shopping list. Whatever you do, don’t forget any suitable spaces need to be sound treated so they don’t sound like the small, boxy room they probably are.

      On the computer front – twin screens are pretty important – the edit software really needs work area on one and video on the other to be useful.

    • #186833

      Thank you for the response. Sorry for my delay in writing back.I’ve been doing a ton of researchandthink I’ve settled on some equipment. This is what I’ve got so far…

      • NEX-VG20 HD Handycam camcorder with 18-200mm Lens
      • Manfrotto 502HD Pro Video Head & 028B Studio Pro Triman Tripod Kit
      • Sony SEL24F18Z 24mm f/1.8 E-Mount Carl Zeiss Sonnar Lens (debating between using the 18-200mm lens or going with this one. I’m concerned about low-light environments.)
      • Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone
      • 310LT UHF On-Camera Lavalier System

      Also, I was originally going to go with a maxed out 27″ iMac; however, I’ve been having “issues” with my personal iMac. I’m wondering if I should go the PC route? Any thoughts and/or recommendations on what I’ve selected so farwould be greatlyappreciated.


    • #186834

      recent string of bad luck saw me survive a fire, lose nearly everything, even my family fell apart, so the divorce situation saw me jacked up for gear, and software…
      needed to get back up and running…. fast…and cheap..

      lav mic from radio shack, $8.00 on clearance x 2..
      Zoom h1 recorder… $109.00
      2 flip hd camcorder on clearance from Staples $25.00 x 2
      home depot lights… under $50.00

      macbook pro, Imovie, and free trial of fcpx

      my old sony hdr hc1…. and manfrotto tripod.

      still got the job done…

      buy what you can afford, learn to use it to the best of it’s capabilities do the job, and then take your paycheck and buy what ever you need to improve the next job.

      end result of that shoot with the above gear right here:

    • #186835

      Is the prime lens actually essential? What delivery format will you be working to?

      The PC v Mac question is rarely posed this way around. Usually it’s PC users migrating to Mac, very rarely the other way around. Did you have a major problem with the Mac?

    • #186836

      I would consider a prime lens to be essential.
      if you are going with the sony, you can look for used minolta manual lenses.. you will lose all auto funnctions, and definately research your purchase for compatibility (one of the reasons I shoot Pentax is backward compatibility with old lenses) before you attach it to your camera. but a used M prime lens should be an easy and affordable score…
      the fireside shot at the end of this clip was shot with a pentax d-slr (same sony aps-c chip as many of the sony ‘s including the vg20, i believe) and a prime lens.

    • #186837

      Most of the work I’ll be doing will be tutorials and events. I suppose the 18-200mm lens would be a nice all around lens. Perhaps a prime lens is something I should keep in the back of my mind for a later time (if the need presents itself)? If I were doing only how-to videos or shooting situations that I could control, I could see going with a prime lens. However, since I’ll be shooting live events, a zoom will be essential.

      I have a love/hate relationship with my personal iMac…I love the OS and interface compared to Windows, but I’ve had nothing but technicalissues with it (hoping they will replace it later today due to the number of times I’ve hadto bring it in for repairs – it won’t even boot up now)and don’t want to make a bad decision for my company.

    • #186838

      That’s sad about the Mac. I went to Mac from PC and have had a really good time, and love it! I guess they have rogues – and that’s what you have. I note you do events. This for me is a key point. Primes and all the cinematic type stuff just doesn’t work for me, as very often camera positions are limited, there’s no possibility of going in closer, and a decent zoom for me, despite all the optical compromises is so much more use. Maybe a prime one day will be useful to you? I can’t say. For training stuff, a zoom, in my opinion, is indispensable. For my own lighting needs I must have good quality light – very smooth edges, that blend well. Home Depot work lights are bright, low off the ground at their highest, and have horrible bright splodges in the beams. Yuk. The provide illumination, not lighting. Keep in mind I’m a pro lighting designer, so for me beam quality is really important. Other people seem to really love them. I bought some and found them great for working on the car – video? No – far too crude. Some softlights and Fresnels are always in my kit. The bigger newer LED panels are getting better by the month, but they’re still not as soft as a proper soft light – once they are, I’ll buy some. For now, my LED experiments have been a bit mixed.

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