The Ultimate Photography Gear Guide For The Content Creator
Content creators face some pretty fierce competition out there. However, focusing your attention on the quality of your content may be just what is needed to gain an edge over your competitors. Curating strong quality content requires gear that is reliable and capable of good quality results. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional, a little bit of research will help you make the right purchase decisions - take a look at the following list of the top 10 things you will need for creating high-quality content.
1. The CameraWhile most content creators start out making videos and taking photos on their iPhones or Android smartphones, if you are serious about producing better quality content, at some point, you are going to want to invest in a good quality camera. There are two main types of cameras professional content creators use; Mirrorless and DSLR. Mirrorless cameras have overtaken DLSR's in popularity for both video creators and photographers due to their significantly lighter and smaller bodies while still retaining the ability to shoot like a DSLR. Under the mirrorless framework, there are four types of formats on offer; Full Frame, Medium Format, Micro Four Thirds and APSC Cameras. The smaller-sensor cameras (Micro Four Thirds and APSC) offer a lighter, more portable option, while larger-sensor cameras (Full Frame and Medium Format) produce much higher quality images. While all of these formats have their advantages, Full Frame cameras have taken centre stage of late, offering a more professional finish. The good news is Full Frame mirrorless cameras are currently at much more affordable pricing levels than in the past. Brands like Sony, Canon, Nikon and Fuji are the front runners when it comes to these cameras. Some things to look out for when choosing a camera for content creations are:
- Auto Focus Capabilities. This one is particularly important if you are recording by yourself.
- Flip Out Front Facing Screens. These are very handy when filming yourself as you can see what is happening on the screen.
- Maximum Continuous Shooting Rates. How long you are able to fire away without overloading the camera.
- Video Resolution. 4k video is where it is at these days. The resolution affects the quality of the video, but remember, it also has some storage and file size implications.
- Storage Slots. SDXC, CFexpress, SD, SDHC, Compact Flash, etc. and how many of them there are.
- Stabilisation. Useful for static handheld shooting, a gimbal compensates for unintentional movements, allowing you to create shots with smooth, professional-looking movement.
- Fujifilm X-S10 ($999 USD)
- Nikon Z5 ($1,399 USD)
- Sony A7R Mark IV ($3,499 USD)
- Canon EOS R5 ($3,899 USD)
2. Memory Cards
Memory cards are the backbone of the content creation industry, yet their importance is often overlooked. There is no point in taking the perfect shot or spending that entire time recording only to have your memory card fail, and you lose it all, or to run out of space just as the perfect shot comes into frame or to have lag affect the quality of your content.
It is likely the most commonly encountered memory card is the standard SD Card format. However, there are other options depending on your camera, such as the XQD card, Compact Flash, MicroSDXC , CFexpress and CFast cards.
Selecting the best memory card always comes down to finding a balance between these three things; capacity, speed, and price. However, taking the brand into account is also a good idea for reliability purposes and don't forget to get a memory card case to keep them safe!
- Capacity. The most common thing people will gravitate to when choosing memory cards is their capacity (measured in Gigabytes). You will find anything from 16Gb through to 512Gb as pretty standard options, there are even 1T capacity memory cards on the market.
- Read/Write Speeds. While capacity is a good place to start, it's the read/write speeds that are going to best support what you are trying to achieve on the daily. This is because read/write speeds affect how quickly you can transfer images from the memory card to your computer/portable hard drive and the amount of lag experienced when handling rapid-fire sequential shooting or video recording. A professional content creator should be looking at read speeds of 150 MB/s or higher and write speeds of 90 MB/s or higher. The Sandisk ExtremePro MicroSD cards are a good example of this.
- Price. There is always a trade-off between the most expensive item and its capabilities for any camera gear. However, this is definitely one of those times you don't want to go with the cheapest one. Low quality memory cards tend to get damaged easily, destroy your data, or cause technical issues such as the lag mentioned above. Stick with reputable brands and buy the best memory card you can afford. Some reliable memory card brands in NZ are Sandisk, the Lexar Professional series, Sony memory cards and Samsung.
3. The Tripod
Whether you take videos or photographs of food, travel, or pretty much anything, you will need some kind of tripod. Tripods aid in reducing any vibration, keep camera shake to a minimum, allow you to adjust the camera angle – and most importantly, allow you to be in the shot!
Avoid blurry pictures and costly filming mistakes by choosing the right tripod for the situation. What you need will depend on where you are when filming or shooting and how mobile you intend to be. Some tripods offer crossover capabilities, such as the Joby Gorillapod, which has movable legs that can attach to a wide variety of objects and the added benefit of a manoeuvrable ball head attachment to get exactly the right positioning.
While you can get away with cheaper versions, if you are serious about recording long term, it's a good idea to investing in a proper video tripod with a fluid head for smooth panning movements for a sturdier, more reliable tripod that can safely support your camera equipment. Breakages to expensive camera equipment can often be avoided with a good quality tripod. Two things to pay attention to when selecting a tripod are height and weight. Height is important as unnatural angles do not create professional-looking photos or film and weight because you have to carry it around.
4. Portable Chargers/Power Banks
Ever been right in the middle of a recording video or a shoot and seen the dreaded low battery warning pop up? It's a content creator's worst nightmare. No battery, no content!
Portable chargers or power banks (basically rechargeable batteries) are a must for all content creators, no matter what kind of work you are doing. They have been around for years, and the good news is they are getting smaller and smaller all the time. Their capacity has also improved greatly. However, beware of simply buying the highest capacity chargers as they are also the heaviest. Remember, you have to be able to fit it into a camera bag and carry it around.
The key to choosing a portable charger lays in the mAh or milliamp hours. This tells you how much charge it can hold. For example, generally speaking, a 10,000 mAh battery is equal to two full charges of a smartphone or about six charges for a small camera. It will take around 3 hours to fully recharge a power bank of this size.
Speaking of recharge time, it pays to bear in mind that the larger the capacity the longer it takes to charge up. If this is a problem, keep an eye out for portable chargers with a USB C PD port - the USB C PD Wall charger is a good way to go for rapid charging (reduces charge time by half).
It is important to note that not all interchangeable lens cameras are able to be charged by a power bank. If your camera doesn't support USB charging, you are out of luck on this one. The good news is most modern mirrorless cameras do support this. However, very few DSLRs can be charged via USB.
Lighting is everything in visual content creation. It is a good idea to put some thought into the types of lighting aids you will need. Here are just a few examples to get you started.
- External Flash. Very important if you shoot stills in low light. Look for external flash's with high GN values and low recycling rates (how soon you can take another shot with the flash)
- Lightbox. These are great for product shots and make for an ideal background to highlight the product in a favourable light.
- Ring Light. A ring light has become the go-to tool for many content creators as it lights up the face evenly when recording videos or taking selfies. Ring lights often come with their own tripod set-up and are vital when you need to be hands free.
- Photography Reflector. While not technically a light, a reflector helps create better lighting of a situation whether it be indoors or out, helping to make use of the natural light available.
Another vital piece of equipment for content creators is a good quality microphone. Having a dedicated microphone creates crisper, better quality audio when recording and for doing voiceovers on your videos.
Microphones come in all different shapes and sizes. Your selection will depend on your circumstances; whether you are on the go when filming, mostly stationary inside a dedicated studio or just at home in your bedroom.
Dynamic microphones are best when your room is not soundproof, and you want to block out excess noise. Condenser microphones are great if you are in a dedicated sound studio or soundproof room as they offer a more precise sound result, and mini mics (often clip to your shirt) are more discreet and smaller if you are on the go.
7. Camera Lenses And Filters
You can usually use many different lenses with your camera (although this will depend on the brand and type of camera). You will probably find you build up a bit of a collection of them over time, but always have your favourites that you don't leave home without.
Different lenses can be used to photograph more creatively, capture more of those beautiful landscapes, and provide different viewpoints on the shots you are taking. Your lens choice will largely depend on your subject matter, its location and the type of camera you have.
Lens filters offer an added bonus of allowing you to protect your camera from moisture, dust, and other environmental effects as well as adding the ability to alter the tones and colours of the shot. Polarising filters add depth to images by saturation colours and reducing reflections and are essential for those shooting outdoors.
Okko lens filters are a good choice for all aspects of photography.
8. External Hard Drives
As a content creator, you take dozens of photos and hours of videos every day. As a result, you will quickly fill your memory cards and likely need more space than your laptop can provide. So, for this reason, investing in an external hard drive is a good idea.
The good news is these days external hard drives have gotten pretty big with some reaching storage capacities from 1T up to 16 terabytes or more - that's a lot of photos! The good thing about external hard drives is they can also be used to back up any files, images or video you normally store on your laptop too. The last thing you would want to happen is to lose the content you have spent so much time working on.
Hard drive costs directly relate to storage capabilities, so it is definitely a case of you get what you pay for on this one. Deciding your best option will largely depend on the amount of content you wish to store and your portability and access requirements.
9. Camera Cleaning Kit
After investing in all of this content creator gear, it's important to have the right equipment to keep it in perfect condition. It is highly recommended you use a specially designed camera cleaning kit to avoid damaging the lens.
These kits are reasonably priced and can be found at any tech or photography store. Look for a professional quality product that includes a cleaning solution, microfiber cloths, a blower or vacuum tool, brushes, and a scope. Keeping your camera dust-free is vital to its longevity.
10. Camera Bag
Wondering how you are going to carry all of this camera gear around safely? Investing in a good quality camera bag is going to be a priority, especially if you are constantly on the move. Purchasing a dedicated camera bag is always best as they provide better design features such as extra padding, easier access and more flexible storage options.
There are several types of camera bags on the market that offer varying degrees of storage and versatility - how you intend to use your bag will determine which one you buy. Some of the different types of camera bags are; backpacks, cross body sling bags, should bags, holster bags and roller bags. See here for more information on what to look for in a camera bag and how to choose the right one for you.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful tips for putting together the ultimate gear selection for creating engaging content!
Need some content inspiration? Take a look at the Langly Travel blog here!