10 Best DSLR Gear Purchases for Beginners

It’s a daunting task. Figuring out what gear you need to shoot video on a DSLR isn’t terribly simple. There is soooo much stuff out there for shooting with HDSLRs these days. We have rigs, glide cams, tripods, sliders, cages and much more. For someone getting started, it can be a nightmare trying to figure out what you REALLY need. If you are feeling a little bewildered don’t worry, I have written this list with you in mind. So take a deep breath and read on.

Great, so you’ve lightened your wallet a little and have a camera in your hands. What now? Here are 10 things every HDSLR beginner should buy first.

1. DSLR Cinema Book

If you were like me when I started shooting with HDSLRs, your background is prosumer/consumer camcorders. So you might be new to the concept of shutter angles, aperture settings, and the daunting world of interchangeable lenses. I wish this book had been available when I bought my Canon 7D and started shooting on DSLRs. The DSLR Cinema book covers not only technical info, but a ton of fantastic cinematography tricks and tools that is bound to improve your shots. Check out my review here.

2. Camera Card

S you have a beautiful new camera, now you need some media to store your footage on. Two things you want to look for in a card, speed and size. In general you are going to need a class 10 SD card or 400x CF card. I like the 16gb card size, not too big not too small.

3. 50mm Prime Lens

If you are buying your first DSLR and don’t have any lenses I recommend buying a fast 50mm prime lens for several reasons.
First off, you can get one for cheap. $100 gets you a pretty fast, sharp lens. If you have a little more to spend, look for a f/1.4 version.
Secondly, prime lenses are sharper and give you more creativity with shallow depth of field.
Finally, a prime lens (primes are lens that does not zoom) forces you to move and frame your image more carefully. Zoom lenses are great, but they can promote lazy lame shots. A 50mm prime is going to teach you A LOT about lens compression, framing and much more. When I started out all I could afford was the 7D and a 50mm lens. Looking back I am glad I couldn’t afford more gear… Camera and the lens was all I needed to get started.

4. Tripod

Probably the most important support gear in any kit is the tripod. I’ve heard over and over again “Get a good tripod, don’t bother with a cheaper one” and while I agree a good tripod is important, most can’t afford it when getting started. For the budget under $100, I recommend the Pearstone VT-2100 Video Tripod. If you have a larger budget check out the Davis & Sanford Provista Grounder.  I swear by mine.

5. Fader ND Filter

Fader ND’s are very important for shooting outdoors if you want shallow depth of field while keeping your shutter speed low. These can be found fairly cheap like the Neewer version. Or for higher a quality filter, the LightCraft Workshop Faders are great.

6. Audio Recorder

If you are going to be needing to record a lot of audio and want better quality than in-camera recording, you might consider buying a recorder. Here are three options:

7. Extra batteries

Don’t let loss of power cramp your style. Get at least one or more batteries for your camera. There are 3rd party batteries that are much cheaper than name brand. I like the Pearstone brand ones.

8. Rode Mic

The microphone built into the camera body is pretty horrible for anything more than basic basic sound. A Rode mic can give you phenomenal quality for a low price.

9. Camera Rig

If you need to go handheld, a DSLR with only a lens on it is difficult to use. Polaroid makes a very affordable little rig that packs down very well. Check it out here.

10. Camera Bag

Now that you have all this gear you need a place to put it all. My first bag was a medium sized Canon bag. I could fit everything in it. Still have and love it. I also love me some sling bags. LowPro has a beautiful one here.

Now Go Shoot…

Now you are ready to rock and roll with your new kit.

What were some of your first equipment purchases? What would you add to the list?

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