If you've come from the Video Planning page, you're ready to consider the video equipment you need. (If you haven't read that page yet, you might want to have a look.)
Below is a list of the video equipment you'll need, from the most basic videos on up to some fairly sophisticated productions.
The number of digital video devices is growing all the time. You could have a palm-sized camcorder, a Flip video camera, an iPhone or other cellphone, a pocket-sized digital camera or a DSLR, a laptop webcam, and all might be able to take digital video of some sort or another, many of them in high definition (HD). Then there are the higher-end camcorders and prosumer digital video cameras.
If you have electronic stuff, chances are you have at least one thing that can shoot digital video. But will it do what you want it or need it do?
If your main video camera is a cellphone, your pocket may be all you need. But for most camcorders, a padded case will help protect your gear. If you have serious equipment or get around a lot, a good hard-sided case might be a good investment.
When looking for a case, be sure to get one that is big enough to carry what you want to carry. That might just be extra batteries and tapes or media cards. If you're going out for "a shoot," you might want an external microphone, an AC cord, various cables (firewire, audio), and more. (Keep reading for more info.)
If you travel a lot and are concerned about attracting attention with an obvious camcorder bag, you can try something more discrete, like a plain backpack (with extra padding), or even a diaper bag. They aren't very attractive to thieves — although if you don't have small kids, it may not be very convincing. :) They are padded, waterproof, and usually have roomy compartments for your gear.
Unless you're going for that shaky, edgy hand-held look in everything you do, you'll want to include a tripod as part of your basic video equipment. A tripod will let you avoid the movement you don't want and focus on the movie you're making.
Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, and your tripod should support the kind of filming you want to do. If you have a small video camera or palmcorder, and want to travel light, a small travel tripod might do the trick — and would be better than nothing.
However, most people will want a full-size video tripod, so you have something solid and stable to support your video camera. Velbon makes some decent models that aren't terribly expensive, but you can spend as much as you're willing to pay on a tripod.
If you're using a "real" camcorder and doing more than just a casual shoot, you'll want to make sure you have extra batteries along, as well as extra tapes, media cards, or whatever your camera uses to record the video.
There are a few shoots where you can plug into AC power (in which case, bring lots of extension cords), but most of the time, battery power is the way to go. It gives you more flexibility, and with some digital video cameras, AC power can create some annoying sound effects (buzz or hum) that will be picked up by your microphone.
Nothing ends a shoot faster than running out of battery. Or filling up your recording media.
It used to be easy — just bring along a lot more tapes than you need, and you'll be fine. Tapes are cheap and easy to carry.
However, with other types of digital media, especially media cards, it can be a little more complicated. Since cards are more reusable and easily downloadable, you may not need as many of them. But, if you fill them up before you can download your movies to something else, you're still stuck.
Just try to anticipate what you'll need, and bring along extras.
Every digital video camera has a built-in microphone. Even so, just about everyone who is serious about video will tell you that you need an external microphone if you want decent sound.
Of course, there are plenty of home videos and even YouTube million-view viral video sensations that are made with the built-in microphone — so if that works for you, then that's fine.
However, if you want to take your videos beyond amateur, an external microphone should be one of your first steps. Very often, the sound quality matters even more than the video quality: You can put up with less-than-ideal footage if the sound is clear, but crystal-clear video with lousy sound is hard to sit through.
To use your camcorder, your digital video camera must have an external microphone jack, and not all do. For consumer camcorders, they are usually mini-stereo jacks, so your microphone may need a mini-stereo plug as well.
To get more control over the finished product, go to the next page for the next five video equipment items you'll want.