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Why you shouldn’t buy new gear yet

Badass

If all you have is an old video camera that barely shoots a decent image, congratulations — that’s the perfect place to start!

Practice the fundamentals of image making with your current gear. If you have an old video camera, learn to use it well before spending money on an upgrade.

What can you do with your current gear? I think you might be surprised…

Learn how to compose an image.

Practice choosing wide shots, versus medium shots, versus close-ups.

Play with contrast in shadow versus light, and contrast in colors.

Learn to work with available light. Sure, you might benefit from additional tools eventually, but for now, use the available light and see what you can do with it.

If you have a fluid head tripod, learn to pan and tilt smoothly, keeping your subject in different parts of the frame.

If you don’t have a fluid head tripod, learn to handhold the camera properly to maximize the level of image you get from this method of support.

While editing, practice organizing the footage to tell a story in a way that holds a viewer’s interest.

Learn timing, and rhythm, and movement.

In short, become excellent with what you DO have, and then you’ll be ready to start investing in gear. Even if you have the money to spend now, wait.

When I hear about a new video shooter shopping for a high-end camera, it worries me. Chances are they already have a camera that they should be mastering first.

You don’t need new gear yet. You need skills and an eye.

Once you have those, then you can start looking at gear. Great gear definitely helps, but when it comes to video, acquire things in this order:

Skills first, then gear.

* Photo by El Mariachi 94

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7 Responses to “Why you shouldn’t buy new gear yet”

  1. Ivan says on :

    Hi Izzy
    Many thanks for all the useful tips and hints you have given freely on your site. I have used your free videos on FCE and found them amazingly helpful – so thanks. Unfortunately I am not in a position to pay for membership (I cannot raise the money even with your occasional generous discounts – also I have the impression membership is for folk in the USA anyway and I live in the UK?) which frustrates me as you obviously have many more videos I would benefit from. Anyway, I thought I would write to thank you for the free help you have given – I understand you make a living from this site so am not asking for further discounts. All best wishes. There must be many videographers who owe you a debt of gratitude for your help. Please keep it up.
    Ivan Andrews Exeter, UK

  2. John Takami Morita says on :

    Hi lzzy, Your advice is the best ever! Many people are going through their old family 8 mm, mini DV, and family photo albums looking for images to put together into one memorable video that will be cherished for ages! The best look is the vintage shot from that old video cameral, which will be priceless in a few years when your technique enables you to combine them with your updated equipment! For the past five years I have been combining photographs, etchings, photoetchings, old telephone conversations, 8mm, miniDV, scanned images, old photo albums, and images from my website to make a video. Unfortunately, this is my first video, so I had to create two practice videos in order to learn the basic techniques so that I could go back and work on my life time project of “A San Francisco Family.” Much Aloha, John

  3. Jonathan says on :

    Great advice! Don’t be an equipment whore! Better equipment will not make you a better shooter.

  4. Titus Nixon says on :

    Hey Izzy, I also have been shooting with the same gears now for over five years. Although I get pretty good Pichure with it, I would like to upgrade. But like a lots of videographer the economy is not that great and upgrading isn’t practical. So thanks for the advice.

  5. Alan Williams says on :

    Sound advice in there regarding developing an eye for composition and trying different focal lengths. But I reckon if you are a hobbyist andyour camera really is getting on and its a 4:3 ratio whilst your TV is 16:9, then go out and get a 16:9 camcorder. Standard definition models are ridiculously cheap and I got my Canon HD for under £300 but I was lucky to find a fire sale going on.

    Modern lenses are far sharper and clearer and the autofocus is much more accurate and responsive on modern camcorders.

    Alan Williams
    UK

  6. Christian Jones says on :

    Great stuff izzy,…. I bought your membership because I get it,…. it’s all about working with what you’ve got,…. the fancy toys are good, but where’s the fun in that. And for the UK member, I’m from Oz, membership no worries ! it all works fine, I think the point is to actually turn off the autofocus tho Alan. Cheers Izzy, great stuff, look forward to seeing more on animation. Check out my videos from the last coupla months since my membership to Izzy here… http://www.youtube.com/user/CAviSUALmEDia, I normally work with audio but now moving into video. Later

  7. Mark says on :

    Thanks fo rthe tips I was almost that guy looking to buy hi end camera when I really still dont know much…lol good video samples