The mirrorless camera wars are heating up with the announcements of the Nikon Z7, Canon EOS R, and Panasonic full-frame. If you’re entering the world of mirrorless with the idea of making videos, you’ll need to consider a host of accessories to add to your camera kit. Here are some essential videography tools to add to your kit to help you make stellar videos on your mirrorless camera.
This article won’t deep dive into recommended cameras and lenses for filmmaking, since there’s a wide range of options out there. These days, you can even use a smartphone to shoot quality video. Also, the exact video specs needed will vary from person to person. But generally speaking, you’ll want to consider cameras that have these features:
- Some form of in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS) to help reduce shake
- The ability to shoot in at least 1080p, or ideally 4K resolution
- The option to shoot in log (the video equivalent of RAW files), which give you more color grading options
Currently, the most popular mirrorless cameras for video are the Panasonic GH-5, Fujifilm X-H1, Sony A7sII, and A7III. The new Nikon Z6 and Z7 also look like promising full-frame mirrorless video camera alternatives.
As for ideal filmmaking lenses, this is also a highly debatable topic. However, it’s best to use lenses that have some form of stabilization. The exact terminology depends on the lens brand, but examples include Sony’s Optical Steady Shot (OSS), Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR), and Canon’s Image Stabilization (IS). Also, size matters when it comes to filmmaking lenses, so smaller tends to be better, especially if you plan on doing a lot of run-and-gun shooting. Personally, I’m able to pull off a majority of my video shoots with the Sony 24-70mm f/4, a moderately fast mid-range zoom with OSS that doesn’t break the bank.
Camera and Lens Cleaning Kit
Compared to still photos, it is significantly harder to remove dirt and dust spots from videos in post-production. As a result, it’s essential to carry a camera and lens cleaning kit when shooting video. At the very least, have a lens cloth and rocket blower with you.
Recording video takes much more power from your camera, so you’ll want to carry multiple batteries with you. Or consider investing in a battery grip to enhance your camera’s video recording life. Some cameras such as the Fujifilm X-H1 even offer more features (an extra audio socket) when using the optional vertical battery grip. If your camera has the ability to charge via USB (ie. Sony cameras), carry an external battery pack such as the Anker PowerCore 10000.
While mirrorless cameras have decent built-in microphones, it’s always best to bring your own sound equipment to capture the best audio. Shotgun microphones such as the Rode VideoMicro are the most straightforward option. This ultra-compact mic is powered by your camera battery, so all you need is the included microphone, windscreen, and connection cable. Simply plug them in, and you’re ready to go! If your camera has an audio jack, also consider using headphones to monitor the audio while you’re shooting.
As you advance in video making, you may also need to add the following sound equipment to your gear kit:
- a lavalier microphone
- sound recorder (your iPhone may also work)
- wireless lavalier mic system
It used to be essential to use a stabilizer of some sort when shooting videos with older camera models. Thankfully, most mirrorless cameras are shipping with some form of in-camera stability. Some cameras (Fujifilm X-H1, Sony a7III) have in-body stabilization (IBIS), and many camera brands offer stabilized lenses. When using a camera with IBIS and/or stabilized lenses, you may be able to get away with shooting video without any extra stabilization. However, if your camera doesn’t have IBIS or you need absolutely smooth footage, you may want to invest in a couple of stabilization accessories.
The cheapest and most straightforward option is to use a tripod or monopod with a video head. This is great if you plan on remaining relatively still while shooting video. However, if you plan on walking or moving while capturing footage, a gimbal is an essential tool. The Zhiyun Crane V2 is a great option, as is the DJI Ronin S. Gimbals can be fussy and difficult to set up. If you’re on the market for a gimbal, be sure to do your research to understand how gimbals work and make sure it’s a good choice for you.
High Capacity Memory Cards
Modern mirrorless cameras are currently letting you record up to 4K video resolution. This is fantastic for getting crisp, details footage, but it can put a strain on your wallet. If you choose to shoot video in 4K, you’ll need memory cards with a fast enough write speed to ensure smooth video recording without dropped frames.
Additionally, it’s best to invest in large capacity memory cards since video takes up a lot of space. Personally, I never shoot with an SD card with less than 64GB, ultimately preferring 125 GB when possible.
External Hard Drives
Speaking of storage, fast hard drives are also essential to edit and store your video footage. You’ll run out of external hard drive space quickly as you shoot video (especially in 4K resolution). Thus, it’s a good idea to stock up on the largest capacity hard drives you can find. Per the 3-2-1 backup strategy, it’s best to have 2 but ideally 3 copies of your data, so multiple hard drives are always a good idea.
Thankfully, hard drives have dropped in price and are relatively inexpensive. I use these Samsung SSD hard drives for editing on the go. I also carry a couple of Lacie Rugged hard drives as secondary and tertiary backups. When editing at home, I back everything up on Western Digital MyBook desktop external hard drives.
Video Editing Software
The professionals’ choices for video editing are Adobe Premiere, Final Cut X or Avid Media Composer. However, another option worth investigating is DaVinci Resolve. There’s a free version of Resolve that offers enough tools to pull off a majority of the video editing techniques you’ll need, and the paid version unlocks even more features. Like Final Cut, Resolve is a one-time fee, unlike Adobe’s monthly or annual subscription model. Video editing software can be expensive, but it’s absolutely worth the investment for serious filmmaking.
If this sounds like a lot of gear to invest in for making videos, don’t be overwhelmed! The good news is that modern mirrorless cameras make it easy to start making videos without too many extra gadgets. All of these accessories can definitely be acquired over time as your interest in video grows.
Do you have any other tools to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!