Often I get asked about what type of camera or what type of computer to buy.I figured I should write a post about what I really want to say and what people don't always like to hear. To be perfectly honest I don't like being asked what type of gear someone should buy. I feel like I'm somehow going to be held responsible for their decisions, even though I had nothing to do with what they bought, other than an honest opinion. So here goes what I think you should buy the next time you're looking for a new camera, new camera accessories, computer, software etc. Most people won't like my opinions here because you have to go out and do some of your own work... that sucks doesn't it? Having to figure things out for yourself? Anyways...
General Tips - Try before you buy. All of this stuff you can try it out for a certain period of time: software 30 days, camera gear (pay up front + return safely = free rental), computers (unsure...) - Read reviews online. Lots of them. Amazon is awesome for reading reviews (.com not .ca) and has a lot of the equipment and software you may want to buy. Find out what the Interwebs are saying. - Buy what works for you. The most expensive isn't always the best. I started out on a basic camera and Windows Movie Maker. I learned and worked my way up. Just because you go out and buy all the latest, greatest and most expensive doesn't mean you'll enjoy it. Make what you have work and if you like it go from there. - Watch tutorials on all things. There are so many video tuts out there it's not even funny. If you can't GOOGLE for them, you're lazy and should stay on the couch.
1. Cameras I'm a Canon guy. The first digital camera I bought was a Canon. My first digital camcorder was a Canon. My first pro-level camcorder was a Canon. My current camera is a Canon. I've found I really like the Canon brand and warranty. Personally I have never had a problem with any of my Canon's. I know people who have had problems, but for me it's Canon. You need to find what you like. Some people swear by Sony. Some people swear by Nikon. Find which camera does what you want it to and stick with that.
2. Computers I hate being asked what computers people should buy. People automatically think that because I work with computers a lot, that I know a lot about computers. I know a little. Enough to keep me from having to see a computer guy all the time. I buy the warranty so I can send things back if I need to. I GOOGLE things to learn how to fix stuff. Other than that I'm just a hack with a decent computer. Basically it comes down to Mac vs PC. It's age old and tiring. I've worked off both. I had way more headaches, frustrations and issues with PCs then I have ever had with my Macs. Personally I would never go back to PCs, I think they are horrible machines unless you buck up and put a lot of time and money into one. There are some PCs out there that just fly for video and photo editing but I know they spent a small fortune on their machines to get them like that, plus they knew exactly what they needed to put into them (not what some low budget computer shop or London Drugs rep told them to buy). With Macs right out of the box on a basic Mac you can be flying with some basic video editing. Yes you pay a little more for the fancy Apple, but you get a great machine to do a little bit of everything with right away.
If you want me to tell you what kind of computer to buy, here it is. An Apple. Don't like my answer or want to argue it? I don't care. I think it should be an Apple.
3. Camera Accessories If you get into the DSLR world of filming this area could go on forever. There are so many accessories out there. It almost feels endless at times. For me, and this is just my opinion, you need a good tripod to start off (I'm not going to list brands) but something with an adjustable tilt head is great and something very smooth (again work your way up from what you can afford). Next a mic, video sucks if the sound sucks. You can pick up some decent shotgun mics that are 10x better then an on-board mic and again work your way up. Next up, lighting. There are so many lighting options out there but some DIY lighting kits are great ways to start. My first lighting kit was a cheap one on eBay and it's proved to be more than worth it. Good lighting, good sound and steady shots (you can add camera shake after if you want!) are key to a good video.
4. Software This one basically comes down to Final Cut or Adobe (and there's options within those). Try before you buy. They usually offer 30 day trail periods. Some people love Final Cut, I've actually met people I think were sleeping with the program that they are so in love with it. Adobe seems to have a lot more direct plug-ins, filters, add-ons you can buy compared to what FCP does, but I use Adobe and love it so you'll just have to figure that out for yourself. If you love Final Cut, well I'm sorry your program sucks and Apple is asking you to pay too much for an updated copy. I should also mention some people like Sony Vegas too. I don't know anything about Vegas, but I hear it works sometimes.
There you have it my useful but not so useful take on buying new gear. Just my honest opinion on everything 'new gear' related. It comes down to you putting the work into it. If you want to get into this hobby or line of work, you need to invest some time into it. There are a myriad of options out there and you need to find what works for you and your budget.
Cheers, Matthew A. Hawkins