Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment – 7+ Basic Equipment Picks For Low Budget Filmmakers

Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment – 7+ Basic Equipment Picks For Low Budget Filmmakers

Are you an independent filmmaker on a tight budget? I believe you are if you are reading this article. 

As an independent filmmaker, you will be constantly on the lookout for a crew willing to work for food, as well as trying to stock your filmmaking kit with Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment to shoot with. When it comes to filmmaking, I believe that if you have a great script, vision, and crew buy-in, you are on to the next step. 

Keep in mind that you will need to be comfortable working under tight deadlines, long hours, and surviving solely on coffee before you begin the filmmaking process. When I shot my short film “Noelle’s package” (see video below), the film was for a 48-hour film festival in which the short had to be written, shot, and edited in 48 hours. 

Because none of my actors showed up for the shoot that day, as is common for independent filmmakers, the actors served as the crew. The writers, camera crew, and director all pitched in to get the job done in time. 

All the while, the local news channel was on the set filming how filmmakers can film a film in such a short amount of time. There is no pressure, right? 

On top of that, the equipment we used was as low-budget as it could be. iPhone 7, low-cost lav mics, and anything else lying around the house that could be used as a prop.

Whatever the audience thought of the film, it was a fantastic experience that translated into a better on-set experience for projects that followed this shoot. The good news was that we won the audience favorite award out of ten films, and even the master of ceremonies for that night said it was his favorite. 

So, if I can do it, so can any other independent filmmaker. Believe me.

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Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

When it comes to a Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List, it all comes down to how much money you want to spend. Today’s independent filmmaker has more options than ever before to capture an amazing film. 

If you’re lucky, like me, and belong to an independent film society, you can get your hands on filmmaking equipment that rivals anything used by major-budget productions today. If you don’t have any filmmaking groups in your area that will rent you the Red Gemini for $125.00 per day (check out this link to see the retail cost), you’ll have to think about what else is available to you.

There is some fantastic equipment on the market today that can produce amazing results, which you can find on Amazon and B&H photo/video. Below are some suggestions for low-cost equipment that will get the job done and can be used for your next project that will be coming up in the coming months.

Cameras

Whether you are just beginning your filmmaking career or have been in the industry for years, every filmmaker wants to shoot the best footage possible at a reasonable cost. When you’re on a tight budget, your options may appear limited, but they’re not in today’s filmmaking market. 

If you have a limited budget for a filmmaking camera, you can find 4K mirrorless cameras under $1,000.00 that will capture some incredible footage. 

Here are a few items to consider for your Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List.

Best Filmmaking Cameras For Making Short Films

Sony a7 Full-Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera

There is no other full-frame, interchangeable-lens camera that is this light or portable. It has a 24.3 MP sensor with rich detail, a 2.4 million-dot OLED viewfinder, Wi-Fi sharing, and an expandable shoe system. 

It has all the full-frame performance you’ve ever wanted in a small package that will completely change your perspective.

Sony’s Exmor image sensor fully utilizes the Full-frame format while being housed in a camera body that is less than half the size and weight of a full-frame DSLR. 

The 24.3 MP effective 35 mm full-frame sensor, a normal sensor range of ISO 100 – 25600, and a sophisticated balance of high resolving power, gradation, and low noise open up a whole new world of high-quality images. 

The BIONZ X image processor supports high-speed continuous shooting at up to 5 frames per second and 14-bit RAW image data recording. With a full-frame sensor, Fast Intelligent AF provides responsiveness, accuracy, and operability. Despite the use of a full-frame sensor, the high-speed image processing engine and improved algorithms combine with optimized image sensor read-out speed to achieve ultra-high-speed AF.

I bought this after almost two years of using an a6000 (which is also fantastic). I had purchased high-quality full-frame glass to use with that camera, anticipating a future upgrade to full-frame. This camera is incredible. Don’t let “older camera” reviews or ideas steer you away from this. 

The full-frame sensor is fantastic. I’ve been using it for about a month now, and each time I use it, I appreciate it more and more. If you’re into mirrorless and want to branch out into full-frame territory, the a7 is one of the best buys you can make for the money. I only shoot stills, so I can’t comment on the video capabilities of this camera.

This is the best camera for filmmaking on a budget in my opinion.

For reviews and prices, you can check out Amazon.com or B&H photo video.com for more information.

vlogging Camera

Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

In its compact, lightweight and robust body, the Fujifilm X-T2 delivers everything you need. A large, high definition EVF, easy to use dials, high-speed AF, compatibility with an extensive range of high-performance interchangeable lenses.

Film Simulation modes that inherit the legacy of Fujifilm colors, unparalleled image quality, and outstanding 4K movie recording, made possible by the latest sensor and processing engine, It is the X series perfected.

This is one of the most affordable 4k cameras for filmmaking, producing stunning video footage and boasting a 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor for exceptional image quality. 

Without the use of an optical low-pass filter, its highly random pixel array effectively reduces moiré and false colors. When used in conjunction with an XF lens, the sensor produces images with a perceived resolution that is far greater than the number of pixels used. 

Other highlights include an exceptional read speed, high-speed continuous shooting, high-precision AF tracking, a significantly faster live view refresh rate, and excellent video recording.

The sensor readout speed is now roughly twice as fast, allowing for faster continuous shooting, more precise AF tracking, faster playback, and higher-quality movies. 

This camera is fantastic! I’ve used Canon, Panasonic, and Sony cameras. This is my personal favorite next to the Sony A7! It more than lives up to the hype! The colors produced by this camera are stunning! It’s small, lightweight, and extremely fast! It’s a real joy to use! Purchase it right now!

For reviews and prices, you can check out Amazon.com or B&H photo video.com for more information.

Monitor

If you are the DOP on the shoot, you can rely on your camera’s monitor, but having an external monitor is a godsend if you have a camera ops team. When you’re directing a scene, you’ll be so focused on the performance that you’ll often overlook minor details that a good assistant director can pick up on.

With a portable monitor, your assistant director can keep an eye on the footage being shot from a safe distance in case a boom mic drops into the frame at any time.

Here are two external monitors that I recommend as part of a Budget-Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List because they can save shots on fast-paced shoots.

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free

The Fire HD 10 has a brilliant 10.1″ 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1200) display with over 2 million pixels (224 PPI). Thanks to a stunning IPS (in-plane-switching) LCD, you can enjoy widescreen movies, videos, and games with wider viewing angles, less glare, and more brightness. 

The Fire HD 10 is 30% faster than the previous generation, thanks to twice the RAM and a more powerful quad-core processor. Two 1.8 GHz cores and two 1.4 GHz cores work in tandem to provide quick app launches, smooth games and videos, and excellent overall performance. 

Don’t be tied to an outlet—with up to 10 hours of mixed-use battery life, the Fire HD 10 gives you the freedom to go wherever the day takes you. The ideal tools for the independent filmmaker on a shoestring budget!

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

Apple iPad mini

With iPad, you get everything you need from a computer, plus many incredible features you wouldn’t expect from one. 

Here are a few reasons why an iPad could be your next computer. 

The iPad Pro includes advanced Apple-designed chips such as the A12X Bionic with Neural Engine. These chips alter the way you view photos, play games, and interact with augmented reality. 

They also make the iPad powerful enough to handle the apps you use on a daily basis. And even professional applications such as Adobe Photoshop CC. And all of that power spreads. The iPad is so thin and light that you can take it everywhere with you.

And it has up to 10 hours of battery life to keep you going all day.

I recently used the Apple iPad mini on a recent shoot and it worked like a charm with my Sony A7.

We were shooting an overhead shot in which the DOP was holding the Sony A7 above the main characters on a bed. From the angle I wanted, the DOP couldn’t access the record button on the camera. With the Apple iPad mini wirelessly connected to the Sony A7, I was able to press the record to start filming. From there I can sit outside a tight space and direct the scene from anywhere.

Sound

Guerrilla Style filmmaking

It can be difficult to ensure that you have all of the necessary equipment to create a feature film. 

It is never easy to ensure that everything works together to create the perfect film that you envision, but taking the time to ensure that everything is correct before you begin recording your film is critical. 

You are likely to lose a large number of people who would make up your potential audience if you do not have good sound. This can frequently result in a great film being largely ignored and a filmmaker becoming extremely frustrated.

Audio Recorder

There are three things that I believe are the most important when it comes to filmmaking, and sound design is one of them. 

Even if you are on a tight budget, you should never rely on your camera to record sound. The camera you’ll be using on the set was designed to capture images, not sound. 

Your first piece of gear will be an audio recorder. This is something that should be considered well in advance of shooting any of the scenes to ensure that you get the best sound possible. 

I recommend including a field recorder on your Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List because it isolates sound on the set far better than the camera ever will. 

Furthermore, the ability to attach multiple amount of accessories to the field recorder can make filmmaking easier.

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

The Zoom H4N PRO Handy Recorder

Zoom is constantly coming up with new ways to improve the performance and functionality of its Handy Recorders. They’ve taken everything creators love about the H4n and taken it to the next level with the new H4n Pro. The H4n Pro isn’t just better; it’s better in every way. 

With advanced X/Y microphones, incredibly natural-sounding preamps, and a super-low noise floor, you can record everything from the Indy 500 to a hummingbird’s fluttering with extraordinary realism. 

I recommend including a field recorder on your Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List because it isolates sound on the set far better than the camera ever will. 

DSLRs & Mirrorless Cameras are great filmmaking cameras that can deliver excellent quality video but limited audio capability. The H4n fills that gap. 

What else can I say, it’s a Zoom! I purchased the H4N for a recent short film I directed for my sound team to use to record audio and they loved it! We used a standard XLR cable to connect a boom mic (which was mounted on a pole) to my Zoom H4N, and the final product was good enough to be used in a theater-released film.

The price is out of this world! I’ve used recorders on a set worth thousands of dollars, and the sound quality was no better than the Zoom H4N. It’s a fantastic product that every audiophile should have!

Microphone

Your second piece of equipment for your Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List is going to be a microphone. 

This is something that should be considered well in advance of shooting any of the scenes to ensure that you get the best sound possible. Each microphone has a different frequency range in which it works best. The key to getting good sound from each is to understand the proper range for the microphone you’re using. 

If you need a close-up microphone, make sure you have proper placement without getting so close that it interferes with the filming of the scene. A microphone that falls into the scene while recording can ruin the footage and cause additional problems in the future. 

When it comes to setting up a microphone for your film shoot, you have two options. 

The first is a microphone that can be attached to your camera and used to record sound directly into the audio input jack. The second is a shotgun microphone or remote microphone that will connect to your field recorder for better sound isolation and post-production sound design.

looking for improved audio for internet videos the VideoMic GO will not disappoint you.

Rode VideoMic Pro+ Compact Directional On-Camera Shotgun Condenser Microphone

The RODE VideoMic Pro+ is a new addition to the market’s best on-camera category. It is a true shotgun microphone designed for use as a primary and reference audio source with camcorders, DSLR cameras, and portable audio recorders. 

Nonetheless, with the best-in-class Rycote Lyre suspension system onboard, the VideoMic Pro+ improves on the existing VideoMic Pro capsule/line tube and windshield, as well as offering a slew of new features.

  • Automatic Power Function with plug-in power
  • Power via LB-1, 2 x AA Batteries, Micro USB
  • Built-in Battery Door
  • Optimized Windshield Shape
  • Digital Switching

This mic has a great sound and is extremely well-made. You don’t even need to connect it to a separate recorder. Simply plug this microphone directly into your camera if it has its own mic input. 

Just one piece of advice. When using the camera’s preamp system with the microphone, turn the volume all the way down and then select the 20+ on the rode mic. 

As a result, the sound is routed directly through the microphone rather than the camera, resulting in cleaner audio with no hiss.

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

BOYA WM8 Pro-K2 Dual-Channel Wireless Lavalier Microphone System

The BOYA BY-WM8 Pro-K2 is an upgraded UHF Dual-Channel Wireless Microphone System with an easy-to-read LCD display, a wide switching RF bandwidth, PLL-synthesized tuning, and digital companding circuitry for capturing audio with dual subjects. 

The package is appropriate for a variety of wireless applications, including interviews, electronic newsgathering (ENG), electronic field productions (EFP), film production, business, and educational applications, and others.

Two bodypack transmitters, a camera-mount receiver, and two omnidirectional lavalier microphones comprise the BY-WM8 Pro-K2 system.

This system also includes a shoe-mount adapter, a single 1/8′′ to XLR output cable, a single 1/8′′ to 1/8′′ output cable, and a carrying case. The receiver has a mic and headphone output jacks. The bodypack transmitter has a MIC jack as well as a LINE IN jack.

It works perfectly, and the sound is crystal clear at a price a low-budget filmmaker can afford. It was tested with a Sony a7 and a Samsung Note8.

Media Management

When it comes to filmmaking, having a well-organized workflow for your post-production is a priority.

That’s why having a media management system is a must on the set.

Why do you need a media management system, so you can organize your media all in one place to avoid disaster. 

Having a great media management practice is a top priority in case your hard drive fails, or a computer virus wipes out all your data just before completion of your project.

A media management workflow should include a data backup plan. By transferring to an external hard drive where you store all your related project data as often as necessary.

A backup of your project files and media is a safety net in case something happens on the set. A media management system is a must for your Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List.

travel Blogging equipment

LaCie Rugged Mini 4TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD

With up to 4TB of space, Rugged Mini is ideal for moving footage from on-set to post-production, or for storing massive content library.

With speeds of up to 130MB/s, Rugged Mini enables seamless transfers and backups.LaCie Toolkit offers on-demand, one-click back-up, scheduled automatic backups, and folder syncing across multiple devices.

I bought the LaCie hard drive because my MacBook couldn’t handle the massive raw files I shot with my Sony A7. I rely heavily on my computer while on set, and I was sick of erasing files on my MacBook to make room for my footage. 

Why I like the LaCie rugged is that it’s a tough hard drive that I won’t have to worry about when my digital transfer crew is offloading the footage. 

Also, the hard drive’s transfer speed is a big plus for me because it allows me to swap files quickly without having to wait. This hard drive is a clear winner in my book.

Additional Accessories

Now on to the equipment that a filmmaker often forgets during pre-productions. 

There are certain additional accessories that a filmmaker might want in his/her filmmaking kit to ensure that the footage that is being captured is the best that it can be.

Below are some accessories that I have in my Budget Friendly Filmmaking Equipment List that have made a world of difference in the quality of footage for all of my projects.

Neewer Film Movie Video Making System Kit

Neewer Film Movie Video Making System Kit

    • PACKAGE INCLUDES (1)C-shape bracket, (1)Top Handle Grip, (2)15mm Rod, (1)Matte Box, (1)Follow Focus, (1)Shoulder Rig, (1)2.5 pounds/1.1 kilograms Counter Weight; This film movie system kit plays supporting and helpful role in assisting moving shooting, which can achieve better movie effect
    • C-SHAPE BRACKET WITH HAND GRIP: This C-shape bracket with a top handle grip can easily transform your rig into a handheld rig, greatly boost the portability of your devices; Counter Weight specially designed for balancing your shoulder mount rig
    • MATTE BOX: Adjustable height (up to 45mm) according to the lens of the camera on the rail rod system; Also works with standard 15mm rails, center-to-center rails distance 60mm
    • FOLLOW FOCUS: Shoot with a variety of options, such as shooting with DSLR camera, video, camcorder, and so on. It provides repeatable and accurate focusing, which makes you shoot precisely, focus precisely and operate smoothly
    • SHOULDER RIG: It includes 15mm rod, shoulder mount, soft rubber shoulder pad, and dual-hand handgrip for all DSLR cameras video camcorders; Soft rubber pad makes it possible to deliver excellent shooting effects without any jerk or motion problems.

Initially, I was looking for a simple cage to hold my Zoom recorder and some microphones in order to simplify my field setup and reduce it to a single tripod. Cages were almost as expensive as this setup, but the cages lacked the bottom grips, follow focus, matte box, shoulder mount, and a few other features, so I decided to give it a shot.

Setup is simple and quick. The follow focus mount is quite tight. After assembling and tightening the other mounts, it is nearly impossible to move the follow focus mount without tapping it with an implement. It went on easily when everything was still loose, but subtle frame adjustments from everything else being tightened appear to have made the follow focus mount too tight to move even when the tightening screw is completely removed. To be sure, once you’ve found it, there’s little reason to move it all the time.

The follow focus is a good solution in and of itself. I shoot with a Nikon D5300 and a DX VR 18-55 lens. My main concern was that the focus ring on my lens moves in and out with the zoom. The follow focus comes with a gear strap that is wide enough to absorb that travel, ensuring that moving the focus ring forward or backward does not cause the gears to slip off the cog. It takes some getting used to, but the action is smooth and free of slop. When you turn it, there may be some movement depending on how you mount your camera, the length of the barrel, and how stiff your focus ring is.

The Z-bar has a lot of flex, which allows the frame to easily tweak between the shoulder extension and the front/lower grips. I ordered a second Z-bar to stiffen it up a little more. 

If you’re like me, you might have thought, “I can just machine this myself,” but not for the price, especially when time is taken into account. It is highly configurable and includes a number of pre-drilled and threaded 1/4 and 3/8 holes. And there’s plenty of room for you to add more without jeopardizing the structural integrity. 

If you’re on a tight budget, this is an excellent option. Any flaws are completely compensated for by the price.

Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod

Quite possibly the most flexible tripod in the world Alta Pro is everything you need for out-of-this-world photography. 
Alta Pro tripods have unmatched versatility and stability, enabling more shooting angle than ever before.

  • Hexagon-shaped central column moves from 0 to 180 degrees
  • Premium magnesium die-cast canopy and anti-shock ring
  • The legs have settings for 25°, 50°, and 80° with easy-release buttons for quick set-up.
  • Outstanding stability and loading capacity
  • Available in Carbon Fiber or Aluminum
  • Carrying Case Included

The Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) system allows you to move the central column from zero to 180° angles in various vertical and horizontal positions, making macro-photography and special wide-angle shots a breeze.

The aluminum alloy and carbon fiber legs have settings for 25°, 50°, and 80° with easy-release buttons for quick set-up. Flip and twist locks are available.

A magnesium die-cast canopy, quick-flip leg locks, non-slip, spiked rubber feet and a removable hook for hanging camera accessories make this tripod a great addition to your kit bag.

The Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) System securely repositions the central column in one simple movement, in just a few seconds, while maintaining the tripod’s stability.

PROS

  •  Multi-angle head is the best one in the industry (in my opinion)
  • Leg Angle adjusting buttons are best in the industry (in my opinion)
  • Lightweight but feels solid
  • Goes super low and quite high
  • Came with a free bag which is good enough for me
  • Price is BETTER than the name brand rivals which aren’t as good as this one

CONS

  • Haven’t found any yet. Seriously.
Can You Really Find BUDGET FRIENDLY FILMMAKING EQUIPMENT (on the Web)?

Neewer 3 Packs Advanced 2.4G 660 LED Video Light Photography Lighting Kit

Description Bi-color LED Video Light:

  • With its lightweight and durable construction, you can carry this light around with you wherever you go.
  • Features a color temperature knob, can adjust the color temperature from 3200K to 5600K.
  • A white diffuser can make soften the light source and enhance skin tone in portraits photography.
  • An adjustable U mount bracket makes the light toward different angles for the best shooting.

These are really useful for most of my indoor shots.

These lights are great for filming in smaller areas as they produce a great spectrum of light and white/yellow color and are affordable.

Which is something that a low-budget filmmaker needs.

Summary

As you can see that when it comes to building a Budget-Friendly Filmmaking Equipment list, there are many kinds of equipment out there and many ways of making a film. 

These excellent tools have worked for me in my filmmaking process, and I hope you find this list helpful as you set out to produce your films. 

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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