Recommended Gear

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.

Recommended Gear

Items

Camera Accessories

  • On-Camera Monitors
  • Recorders
  • Production Monitors
  • Cables, Signal and Genlock Devices
  • Electronic Viewfinders
  • Batteries
  • Wireless Transmission

Rigs and Support

  • Tripods and Heads
  • Matte Boxes
  • Follow Focus Systems
  • Dollies and Sliders
  • Jibs and Cranes
  • Baseplates
  • Cages
  • Shoulder Rigs
  • Carts

Post Production

  • Color Grading Software
  • Color Grading Monitors
  • Post Production Software
  • Hard Drives and Storage

Learning

  • Books and Magazines
  • Film School
  • Courses and Guides

Miscellaneous Gear

  • Photography Cameras
  • Bags and Cases
  • Live Streaming

Cameras

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 (AmazonB&H) with the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Lens (AmazonB&H)
  • Moderate Budget, need good quality: Panasonic GH4 (AmazonB&H)

Low-end “Zero Budget” Production Work

Corporate Videos and Documentaries

Feature Films

How do you decide whether to pick an Arri Alexa or a Red camera? Here’s a guide I made for you:

Short Films

  • 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:

Action Cameras

Drones with Cameras

Basic professional grade: DJI Phantom Pro (Amazon, B&H)

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)

External Recorders

Production Monitors

Electronic Viewfinders

Signal Devices

Rigs

Baseplates

Cages

About Shoulder Rigs

Support

Tripods and Heads

Dollies and Sliders

About Jibs and Cranes

Others

Lenses

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.

Lens Accessories

Read the following articles to get the whole list with details:

Lighting Equipment

To know the cheap lighting equipment and DIY hacks I use for my videos, click here. Here are my preferences:

Tungsten/Halogen

  • 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)

LED

  • 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)

Fluorescent: Kino Flo Diva (Amazon, B&H) – Important: I no longer recommend fluorescent fixtures.

Plasma – Hive Lighting Hornet Fresnel (limited options right now) (Amazon, B&H)

HMI

Color Grading Monitors and Gear

Here’s a list of monitors for every budget and type (HDR in brackets when available):

4K

2K

1080p

  • <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.

Calibration Systems

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

Editing

  • 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)

Compositing

  • Layer-based – Adobe After Effects CC
  • Node-based – Nuke by The Foundry

Motion Graphics

  • Adobe After Effects CC

Rotoscoping and Tracking

  • Mocha, by Imagineer Systems

3D CGI

  • Free – Blender
  • Industry Standard – Autodesk Maya

Ingest and Logging

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC – Read this for details.
  • Hollywood standard: On Set Dailies

Color Grading

  • Free – Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve
  • Better – Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Top of the line: Baselight

Noise-reduction Plugins

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.

Streaming

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
  • SAN:
  • 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

Cameras

For the First-time Student

  • Low budget: Canon EOS T5i/700D or T6i/800D Body

     (Amazon, B&H) with the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Lens (Amazon, B&H)

  • Serious about photography: Sony a7III with kit lens

     (Amazon, B&H)

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

     (Amazon, B&H)

  • Interchangeable Lens – Olympus EM-1 Mark II (Amazon, B&H)
  • Super Compact – Sony DSC-RX100 VI (Amazon, B&H)

Lighting

Strobes and Kits

Bags and Cases

Audio

Long Shotgun Microphones

Further Reference: Five budget boom microphones that won’t let you down.

Compact Shotgun Microphones

Lavalier Microphones

I prefer wired over wireless. Always reliable and legal.

Production Mixers

Production Recorders

Production Audio Rigging: For a full list with details on rigging audio for production, read Parts OneTwo and Three.

Headphones

Post Software

  • Free: Audacity
  • General all-purpose – Adobe Audition CC
  • Industry standard – Avid Pro Tools

Studio Mixers

Studio Reference Monitors

Sound Cards and Interfaces: M-Audio

Books and Magazines

Books

Magazines

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: