This page is being currently updated. I should be able to finish it by January 31st, 2019.
Disclaimer: This list comes from personal experience, fans, hearsay, research and/or educated guesses. You are responsible for the purchases you make, and this list is only for reference, to be used as a starting point. Not all information is complete or up to date.
This page is huge! Get what you want quickly:
- Lenses and Lens Accessories
- Lighting Equipment
- Microphones and Accessories
- Audio Recorders and Mixers
- On-Camera Monitors
- Production Monitors
- Cables, Signal and Genlock Devices
- Electronic Viewfinders
- Wireless Transmission
Rigs and Support
- Tripods and Heads
- Matte Boxes
- Follow Focus Systems
- Dollies and Sliders
- Jibs and Cranes
- Shoulder Rigs
- Color Grading Software
- Color Grading Monitors
- Post Production Software
- Hard Drives and Storage
- Books and Magazines
- Film School
- Courses and Guides
- Photography Cameras
- Bags and Cases
- Live Streaming
If you’re a newcomer the best advice I can give you is in these two videos. Watch them first:
Still interesting in buying? Then here we go.
For the First-time Student and Beginner
- Extremely Limited Budget: Canon EOS T6i/800D Body (Amazon, B&H) with the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Lens (Amazon, B&H)
- Moderate Budget, need good quality: Panasonic GH4 (Amazon, B&H)
Low-end “Zero Budget” Production Work
- For cinema-quality (as much as possible in this budget), run-and-gun work – the Panasonic GH5
(Amazon, B&H). Here’s my comprehensive guide that shows you how to get cinematic images.
Corporate Videos and Documentaries
- Low End – Sony FS7 (Amazon, B&H)
- High End – Canon C300 Mark II (Amazon, B&H)
- Super High-End – Arri Amira
- <$20,000 – Panasonic GH5 (Amazon, B&H)
- <$100,000 – Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K (Amazon, B&H).
- <$250,000 – Panasonic Varicam LT (Amazon, B&H) or Red Dragon
- >$500,000 – Arri Alexa SXT or Red Monstro or Gemini
- 65mm digital – Arri Alexa 65, Panavision DXL2 (both are rental only)
How do you decide whether to pick an Arri Alexa or a Red camera? Here’s a guide I made for you:
- Low Budget – Panasonic GH5 (Amazon, B&H)
- Cinema-quality – Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K (Amazon, B&H) or the Canon C200 (Amazon, B&H)
Check out my short film, Fight Night, made on the Panasonic GH5:
High-speed Filmmaking in 4K
- Up to 120 fps – Pick a Red camera. Check out my short film below shot at 100 fps on a Red Dragon.
- Low budget: Red Raven (4.5K in 120 fps)
- Up to 940 fps – Phantom Flex 4K
Check out my short film:
Drones with Cameras
High-end cinema work: None, it is advisable to use a professional camera and a drone built for it. Hire a professional.
Internet Video and VLogs
- Low budget: Sony DSC-RX100 IV (Amazon, B&H)
- Probably the best bang for your buck: Sony DSC-RX100 VI (Amazon, B&H)
- Professional quality – Canon 80D (Amazon, B&H) with the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens (Amazon, B&H)
- The best you can buy – Canon 6D Mark II (Amazon, B&H) with the Canon 11-24mm f/4 L USM (Amazon, B&H)
- About External Recorders
- Most versatile recorder: Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ recorder (Amazon, B&H)
- Cheap and does the job: Atomos Ninja (Amazon, B&H)
- About Production Monitors
- Tough production monitor and best bang for your buck: SmallHD 702 (Amazon, B&H)
- Professional monitors with most accurate color: FSI (D series and better) and Sony (Amazon, B&H).
- Top of the line monitors: Sony OLED series (Amazon, B&H)
- About Base plates
- My favorite baseplate: OConnor Universal Baseplate
Tripods and Heads
- About Tripods
- 11 Fluid Head Options for Every Budget – from $80 to $5000+
- The 6 Best Lightweight Carbon Fiber Camera Tripods for Fluid Heads
- Best Video tripods: Sachtler (Amazon, B&H)
- Best table-top tripod: Pedco Ultrapod II (Amazon, B&H)
Dollies and Sliders
- About Dollies and Sliders
- How is a dolly different from a slider?
- Which is the best Camera Slider? A Comparison of 18 Camera Sliders for Travel and Timelapses
- About Batteries
- My favorite battery manufacturer: Anton Bauer (Amazon, B&H)
- Data Management and Wrangling
- Handy Tools
It’s impossible to recommend lenses, because there’s no such thing as the best lens. Lenses are like paintbrushes and color – you choose the one that you like.
- For great autofocus performance, use the lenses from the manufacturer itself. There isn’t a case where a third-party lens focuses faster and more accurately than a manufacturer’s lenses.
- For Sony cameras with adapters, I prefer Nikon D lenses (Amazon, B&H)
- For low budget pseudo-cine lenses, the Rokinon DS (Amazon, B&H) line should be fine.
- For cine lenses that are tough and professional enough for regular shoots, I prefer Zeiss CP.3 (non-XD) (Amazon, B&H) and Zeiss CZ.2 zooms (Amazon, B&H)
- For high-end cine lenses within budget, I think both Arri Ultra Primes and Cooke S4s are hard to beat.
- For the best, I don’t think there’s anything better than Arri Master Primes.
- For cine zooms, the best is Angenieux Optimo, and the most popular lens, especially for commercials, is the 24-290mm T2.8 Optimo.
Read the following articles to get the whole list with details:
To know the cheap lighting equipment and DIY hacks I use for my videos, click here. Here are my preferences:
- Single: Arrilite 750 Plus with a Chimera softbox and grid (Amazon, B&H)
- Kit: Arri Softbank II Fresnel Kit (Amazon, B&H)
- For extreme spot lights and precision: ETC Source 4 750W Spotlight (Amazon, B&H)
- Low budget lighting that gets the job done: Lowel DV Creator Kit (Amazon, B&H)
- Low Budget Panel – Yongnuo YN900 (Amazon)
- Low Budget Fresnel – NanGuang CN-60F
- Medium budget but high quality panel – Aputure Tri-8c (Amazon, B&H)
- Spotlight – Dedolight DLED 4.1 (Amazon, B&H)
- Top of the line LED fresnel – Arri L7-C LE2 fresnel (Amazon, B&H)
- Top of the line LED panel – Arri Skypanel (B&H)
- Small high-quality on-camera light: Cineo Matchbox (Amazon, B&H)
- Arri (Amazon, B&H)
- For documentary and smaller work: Joker 400 W and 800W fixtures (B&H)
- For tough exterior work: Bron Kobold (Amazon, B&H)
- For fashion work – Briese HMI lights with parabolic reflectors (These have loud ballasts, so beware)
Color Grading Monitors and Gear
Here’s a list of monitors for every budget and type (HDR in brackets when available):
- $30,000 – Dolby PRM-4200 Reference Monitor
- $20,000 – Sony BVM-E250 Trimaster
- $15,000 – Sony BVM-E170
- $13,000 – Sony BVM-F250 OLED
- $5,500 – Sony PVM2541 OLED
- $5,000 – Flanders Scientific Inc. (FSI) DM250 OLED
- $4,500 – Panasonic TH-50BT300U
- $3,500 – Sony PVM1741 OLED
- <200? – Use a monitor that is closest to what your average end-user is going to watch your finished video on. In many ways this is better than the most expensive option.
Color Grading Panels
- Ultra low-budget: Tangent Ripple (Please check software for compatibility)
- Medium budget for full versatility: Tangent Elements Panel Kit (Please check software for compatibility) or Blackmagic Design Mini Panel
- Top of the line: Each high-end finishing system has their recommended panel, so purchase accordingly. E.g., Blackmagic Design Advanced Panel for Davinci Resolve.
For color grading software see the next section.
Post Production Software
- Basic and free: DaVinci Resolve 15.1 (This is what I use)
- Professional Grade – Adobe Premiere Pro CC (This is what I used for a long time)
- Layer-based – Adobe After Effects CC
- Node-based – Nuke by The Foundry
- Adobe After Effects CC
Rotoscoping and Tracking
- Mocha, by Imagineer Systems
- Free – Blender
- Industry Standard – Autodesk Maya
Ingest and Logging
- Adobe Premiere Pro CC – Read this for details.
- Hollywood standard: On Set Dailies
- Free – Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve
- Better – Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
- Top of the line: Baselight
Best value for money: Neatvideo
Top of the line: Nucoda Tools (extra purchase AFAIK)
Image Creation and Editing
- Adobe Photoshop CC
- Free: GIMP, what I’m using right now.
Desktop Screen Capture
- For Mac – Camtasia, but I use Quicktime
- For Windows – OBS (what I use)
Video Player for Desktop
Mobile/Online Video Platform
- For small streaming to a large group – Livestream
- The best streaming service for a startup or corporation – Amazon EC2 (Must be custom designed, it’s not an out-of-the-box solution)
- Biggest CDN: Akamai
- Best CDN for the budget-conscious: Amazon Cloudfront
Hard Drives, Memory Cards and Storage
I own all kinds of drives (minimum recommended connection is USB 3.0):
- Low budget cheap 1 TB 7,200 rpm drive with USB 3.0: HGST Touro S 1 TB (Amazon, B&H) (Unfortunately the 2TB and 3TB models don’t support 7,200 rpm)
- Faster single SSDs – Internal (SATA III): Samsung 850 EVO (Amazon, B&H)
- External SSD: Samsung T5 (Amazon, B&H)
- RAID Array DAS: Areca 4 or 8-bay in RAID 0 or 10 (Amazon, B&H)
- NAS: Synology 1817+ (Amazon, B&H), what I use – with Seagate and WD 10TB Enterprise drives
- Broadcast standard: Avid Nexis (Amazon, B&H) (When you’re a huge facility you use a mixture of brands, and custom hardware too)
Photography Cameras and Gear
For the First-time Student
- Low budget: Canon EOS T5i/700D or T6i/800D Body
- Serious about photography: Sony a7III with kit lens
35mm Full Frame Cameras
- DSLR –Nikon D850 (Amazon, B&H)
- Rangefinder – Leica M (Amazon, B&H)
- Mirrorless – Sony a7R III (Amazon, B&H)
Medium Format Cameras
- General purpose low budget – Fuji GFX 50S (Amazon, B&H)
- My preferred system for 100 MP: Hasselblad H6D-100c (Amazon, B&H)
- My preferred system for 50 MP: Hasselblad H6D-50c (Amazon, B&H)
- For High-end Fashion and Portrait Photography: Hasselblad H6D-50c (Amazon, B&H)
- Architecture/Technical Photography – Linhof (Amazon, B&H) with Phase One Digital Backs
- Landscape – Alpa cameras with Phase One Backs
- Art Reproduction – Phase One System
Best Compact Cameras for Travel
- Fixed Prime Lens – Fuji X100F
- Interchangeable Lens – Olympus EM-1 Mark II (Amazon, B&H)
- Super Compact – Sony DSC-RX100 VI (Amazon, B&H)
Strobes and Kits
- Camera Flash – Nikon Strobes
- Beginner level strobes – Elinchrom
- Travel and fashion/portrait strobes: Profoto (Amazon, B&H)
- Freeze motion strobes: Broncolor (Amazon, B&H)
Bags and Cases
Long Shotgun Microphones
- Low budget – Sennheiser ME66/K6
- Industry standard – Sennheiser MKH-416/418
Further Reference: Five budget boom microphones that won’t let you down.
Compact Shotgun Microphones
I prefer wired over wireless. Always reliable and legal.
- Free: Audacity
- General all-purpose – Adobe Audition CC
- Industry standard – Avid Pro Tools
- Only for basic editing stations – Mackie 1402-VLZ3. If the Mackie isn’t available, then the Yamaha MG166CX
Studio Reference Monitors
- Cash-starved – Yamaha MSP3
- Basic for small spaces – Yamaha MSP5
- Top of the line – Genelec 8xxx series
Sound Cards and Interfaces: M-Audio
Books and Magazines
- Books for Scriptwriting
- Books for Directing
- Books for Cinematography and Lighting
- Books for Photography
If you subscribe to only one magazine, let it be American Cinematographer. I subscribe to the digital version.
In this day and age, I don’t think there are any other magazines worth the trouble.
Courses and Guides
For the best and most comprehensive camera and cinematography guides, check out our store!
Which film school to go to?
Great question. Here’s my answer: