cameras

Get Started in Making Videos for Social Media

Video is king in today’s world of social media. Engagement is better with video content (hootsuite), so this should be a top priority when it comes to content creation. But whether you are in a startup, small business or even a multinational, budgets still exist. And if you are trying to fill your social media calendar with video content, external video production companies aren’t always feasible to use all the time as the costs will get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, for certain productions you need a proper crew, especially for content such as national campaigns and TV spots. However if we want to fill our social media calendar up with those 30 second shorts, why not shoot it yourself?

If you are looking to get started, I’ve put together a list of what you will need to start shooting fast. The gear listed is intended to be for quick and easy shooting without requiring a crew to help set up, or a lot of time in post production.

1. Camera and Lens 

This is going to be your starting point and where most of the budget is going to go to. First I just want to say, don’t even consider a DSLR. Their time has passed. If you are just starting out, you have a clean slate to get in to a good mirrorless ecosystem. 

For cameras and lens, I would recommend the Fujifilm X-T3 with the 18-55 lens. This would be my first choice and a big reason for this is it can shoot 4K 60fps. 4K resolution is great because if you are exporting to just regular HD, you can zoom, or punch in a little bit in your footage without much losing image quality. 60fps is great because most of the time you will be exporting video to 24/25 frames , so this allows you to get those cinematic, slow motion type of shots. The X-T3 will also save you time in post productions because the colour profiles are good straight out of the camera. Less time tweaking colours will really speed up your workflow.


Another great camera would be the Sony A7III. This camera gives you that super cinematic full frame look, and more depth of field. You only get 4K 30fps, but you can shoot in HD at 60fps. Keep in mind that lenses will be more expensive and bigger than the XT3 which is a APS-C sensor. You can pick up the 24-70mm f4 lens to go with the camera if you don’t want to break the bank.

Both of these cameras are great not only for video, but also for stills photography as well, and that’s why they are my main recommendations. The lenses I’ve recommend have a very versatile focal length so they will capture anything from wider interior shots, to close up portraits. Video eats up battery life, so don’t forget to pick up a few spares for the camera you choose. 

XT3 with Lens Kit: https://amzn.to/2Va0SD8

Sony A7III: https://amzn.to/2TaZkfQ

24-70mm f4 for Sony: https://amzn.to/2Nww0dH

2. Sound 

Sound is the most important thing on this list. I know it sounds crazy, but if you watch a video with bad image quality and great sound, you can still get your message across. Put it the other way around, and your message might get lost. I would recommend the Sennheiser wireless lapel system and this easily plugs right into the camera. Wireless lapel mics are great because you can get good quality sound without being anchored to your subject. I would also recommend the Rhode Video Micro if you are recording sound where a lapel isn’t practical. You can mount this to the hot shoe on top of your camera.  For the ultra cheap option, you can use your iPhone and plug a mic straight into it. You will need to sync audio later as your phone and camera aren’t speaking to each other.

Speaking of syncing audio, external sound recorders are good, but this will require extra set up time, configuration, and of course, audio syncing. The benefits of an external sound recorder is that it gives you more flexibility and will allow you to plug in multiple microphones. I’ve used a Zoom H6 and can highly recommend it.

Sennheiser wireless lapel system: https://amzn.to/2NHL7Ry

Rhode Video Micro: https://amzn.to/2SzLGh3

Zoom H6: https://amzn.to/2IMBMZC

3. SD cards 

When recording in 4K 60fps, just any SD card won’t do. Don’t buy the cheapest with biggest capacities, you will need something that can handle the high bitrates from 4k video. I would recommend SanDisk cards like the Extreme Pro. Remember to buy these from reputable sources. If they are extremely cheap, be wary as they might be fakes.

SanDisk Extreme Pro: https://amzn.to/2EIZ3I0


3. Lighting 

If you are just starting out, I would get a lighting kit so you can get everything you need in one go. Aputure make some great quality lights and you can get up to 3 of them in a kit. You will also need with light stands to mount them, and some diffusers to soften the light. Having portable lighting will allow you to get good looking shots in situations that would otherwise be difficult to do so. This could include things like shooting with a window behind you, a dark room in an office, or around fluorescents.

Aputure Light Kit: https://amzn.to/2J14TsD

Light Stands: https://amzn.to/2J14TsD

Light Diffusers: https://amzn.to/2XBZCLl

4. Video editing software

The thing to consider when picking software, is knowing if you want to get better at video editing and have this as a skill you can keep building on in the future. I’ve split up this list as free programs, and pro programs. There are in-between programs, but I can’t think of any I would recommend.

Free Programs

If you are getting into video and want to invest as little as possible to get started, try out either of these programs. They will let you put together simple videos, and if you don’t need anything super demanding or technical, they will get the job done.

  1. Windows Movie Maker

This program will get you started and you can get it for free if you are on Windows. It will allow you to cut and edit clips together with very basic functionality. Super easy to use, but also super limited.

  1. iMovie

The free equivalent if you are using a Mac. Same story as the above.

Pro Programs

If you really want to build on video as a skill, jump in the deep end and start with one of these programs. This will save you putting hours and hours into iMovie for example, and having to relearn as soon as you are ready for something more advanced. You will save a lot of time by just starting here and sticking with one of them. These programs have a lot going on, so the more time you put into them, the easier they will be to use.

  1. Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is what I use and what I would recommend. You can do everything you need with this program, and if you are already in the creative industry, chances are you already have the program as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud software package.

  1. Final Cut Pro

If you are using a Mac, you can consider Final Cut Pro. In my opinion it is a bit better optimised than what Adobe Offers, but you are restricted to using a Mac and the hardware that comes with it. If you really like the Mac ecosystem and plan to continue on using a Mac, definitely consider it.

5. Tutorials 


Once you get all the gear and software, you will need to learn how to use it. The best way to do it, is whenever you have a question, put it into YouTube and find a video that walks you through it. This is how I taught myself to make videos, and you can do the same. Unless you are looking for something incredibly specific or advanced that you can’t find anywhere else, avoid paying for any guides. Questions like, how do I set up my lighting, or how do I use Premiere Pro can all be answered through videos on YouTube. Of course, you can also contact me if you have any questions. You won’t be able to learn how to do this all in a day, but once you pick up the skills, you’ll be an invaluable asset to your team.  

Summary

Remember, we aren’t trying to make huge budget productions here. If you are a smaller marketing agency, this is enough for you to visit your clients new cafe, film the coffee machines and interview the baristas for that 30 second targeted Facebook ad. If you are a large corporate looking to fill out your social media calendar, this will do the job of filming some of the managers for a few career profiles on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that all the gear here is expandable as well. You won’t need to replace anything, you can just add things to your kit if the need arises. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

I’ve added Amazon links to make it easier to learn more or even purchase the products I am recommending. I am an Amazon Affiliate and I do receive payment for any products bought through referral links.







The Rangefinder Experience, Getting Started

Through the R3A's 40mm framelines

Through the R3A's 40mm framelines

Shooting with a rangefinder is truly a unique experience. From the way you directly control your aperture, to the way you nudge the manual focusing tab on your lens, operating and shooting with a rangefinder requires you to take a very different approach when compared to an SLR or a modern digital mirrorless camera. 

The difference is in the way we use it to compose and frame. Since we aren't looking directly through the lens with a rangefinder, what we see is not what we get. There is no depth of field or exposure preview (the Leica M 240 being the only exception) since we are looking through an optical viewfinder that is separate from the lens, and of course this can give us noticeable parallax errors when shooting very close subjects. Furthermore, the frame lines in the camera are limited to usually only a few choices. With a Leica M3 for example, you are limited to 50, 90, or 135mm frame lines, so if you want to compose accurately, you will need a lens in those particular focal lengths or an external viewfinder. Also, forget about zoom lenses and long telephotos, they don't really exist for rangefinder systems. Lastly, rangefinders are manual focus only. 

Bessa R3A with Nokton 40mm 1.4. The Bessa has frame lines for 40, 50, 75, and 90mm focal lengths.

Because of these limitations, it really makes photography a hands on experience. Framing and focusing feel more like an acquired skill, and because it feels like something that takes time to learn effectively, it is such a huge feeling of accomplishment to for example, nail the focus on a moving target at f2.  Since you can see outside the frame lines, it feels great to capture a subject at the perfect time they entered the frame as you time their walking, waiting for the right moment to press the shutter. There are also a few benefits to not having a mirror in the camera, mainly size and sound. When you press the shutter, there is no mirror slap, just the shutter curtain mechanism. And since the flange distance is so small on these cameras, lenses and body sizes are generally much smaller compared to SLRs. The lack of autofocus motor further lessens the size and weight of the lenses. 

The lady on the far left was outside the frame lines when I was composing. I saw her walking towards the right and pressed the shutter as soon as she was within the lines.

If this suits you and you want to get started shooting rangefinders, you need to ask yourself two questions. The first is 'Film or digital?', and the second, 'How much can I spend?'. When deciding that I wanted to shoot rangefinders, I only asked myself the first question. I wasn't too keen on the hassle of buying 35mm film, getting it developed, scanned or printed and paying all the costs associated with it. So I thought to myself 'Let's go digital', but then was confronted with the biggest limitation of digital rangefinders: the price. For the cheapest possible digital rangefinder, there is the Epson RD-1, but they aren't the easiest to find for reasonable prices, plus they are over twelve years old, almost ancient in terms of technology. Second cheapest would be the Leica M8, which would run you at least AUD$1500 on the used market. That amount for an almost 10 year old camera with a 1.33x crop, the need for a UV filter when shooting colour, and no replacement parts make this a hard decision. Of course you can always go for the M9 if you want something a bit more modern, but then you are looking at around AUD$3000 body only for a 7 year old camera. If you are looking for brand new still in production, this is when prices escalate to the very, very high end of the spectrum. In Australia, a brand new Leica M 240 will run you over AUD$10,000 for just the body alone. 

Remember, you'll also need a lens. With the cheapest M mount Voigtlanders around AUD$300, you are looking at close to AUD$2000 for just a cheap option! Not the most friendly way to get into rangefinder shooting. For many people, myself included, the prices are a little bit too prohibitive. 

Enter the world of film rangefinders. 

Yashica Lynx 14

Film rangefinders are everywhere on the used market. Prices range from pocket change to thousands upon thousands. The choice of how much to spend is completely up to you. I've picked up a perfectly functional Ricoh 500GX for AUD$40. I've seen fully functioning CanonetsYashica Electros and other fixed lens rangefinders go for a couple $10 notes. However if you go the cheap route, there are some mechanical aspects you will need to consider. Although initially dirt cheap, my Yashica Lynx 14 needed a good CLA to make the rangefinder patch more visible and to get the light meter working again. The light meter also required some special batteries I had to order online, and the shutter has gotten stuck again for the second time. If you are willing to put up with these flaws and perhaps have a little mechanical know-how, old cheap rangefinders might be worth it for you.

Yashica Lynx 14 + Delta 100

If you are looking for more reliability, be prepared to spend more. Do you want to shoot a 35mm focal length on a fully manual body? Maybe go for a Leica M2. Or perhaps you'd like a rangefinder with aperture priority and the ability to shoot wide angle lenses without an external viewfinder? Try the Bessa R4A. There are so many combinations of price and different features when looking for film rangefinders. I decided a grand would be reasonable for something reliable and modern, so I went for the Bessa R3A with a Nokton 40mm f1.4. Film bodies make no difference on image quality so go with what feels best in your hand and has the features you want. In terms of lenses, pick your preferred focal length and buy used. With film I really don't feel the need to pixel peep, because of this you can get some great lenses albeit with a few optical shortcomings for reasonable prices. 

When it comes to having the latest and greatest in tech or features, rangefinders are never going to give this to you. With rangefinders, it's not only about image quality, it's about the satisfaction of taking photos and seeing yourself develop as a photographer. It's not about the benefits you get over an SLR, but the difference in operation. Pick one up, get shooting, and see for yourself. 

Yashica Lynx 14 + Delta 100

Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f1.4 + Portra 400

Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f1.4 + Delta 3200

Ricoh 500GX + No brand ISO400 colour film

Yashica Lynx 14 + Delta 100

Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f1.4 + Portra 400