Why you shouldn't buy new gear yet

Published on July 7, 2010

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

This article was last updated on July 11, 2016


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