What is the perfect camera kit for Guerilla Film Makers?

One of the Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass delegates has been in touch about the ideal kit to buy in 2012. In the wake of the Kodak news, I though I would run a short project….

So I thought I would create a short project to come up with the ideal kit for £1,000.

I have taken the plunge with the assumption of a 550D for the body, and of course a spare battery and some memory cards. But what else would you suggest? What lens or lenses? Filters? Camera support? What EXACTLY should a Guerilla Film Maker spend £1,000 on?

Please tweet me at @livingspiritpix or post this blog and I will update the list throughout the day. At the end I will analyse the results and produce a master list to share.

Finally, if you have any further advice to offer on kit, or ideas on upgrade paths for the future (if you had an extra grand, what lens would you buy for instance) please feel free to comment on the blog.

Current List

  • Camera Body – Canon 550D
  • Spare battery (don’t get cheap clones as they don’t hold power, about £30 on Amazon)
  • 3 x 8GB memory cards (SD cards around a tenner each on Amazon)
  • Zoom H1 audio recorder (£80 on Amazon) (suggested by @dd_opco)
  • Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II Lens (£80 on Amazon) (suggested by @JonMillsWriter)
  • Magic Lantern firmware (FREE!) (suggested by @nomoneyforbeer) LINK HERE
  • Large fold up 5 in 1 reflector, cheap, quick lighting problem solver and no batteries required £40 on eBay (suggested by @rhubarbfilms)
  • LCDVF viewfinder. Essential for a stable handheld shots (Suggested by Chris Wickett) (link here – £80)
  • Timer Remote Control RS-60E3 For Canon £15 on Amazon from @tomfranz
  • 560b monopod is a good budget guerilla option (£85 on Amazon) (from @endeavouruk)
  • Manfrotto 701HDV Fluid Head via @KirkGaydon, £95 on Amazon
  • Monfrotto 055xProB Tripod via @KirkGaydon, £109 on Amazon
  • Lots of poeple also recomending the Panasonic GH2 camera too.

@The MissingReel also added ‘1000 is too skinny of a budget so Id shoot HDV and do a Dogme95 film. Invest in story’. Great thought.

@FederalTV also added ‘I also highly rate the Nikon D7000 as an alternative to the over hyped Canon 5d mk2’

@Veronicalbarra added ‘The Canon 600D is better than the 550D for filmmakers because the it has an articulated LCD screen’

Looking forward to more of your expert advice.

Onwards and upwards

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

e: mail@livingspirit.com

PS – Remember tickets for the Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass are still on sale for Feb 18th / 19th – get £50 off with discount code CHRISJONES – get your pass here… http://www.guerillamasterclass.com

11 Responses to What is the perfect camera kit for Guerilla Film Makers?

  1. Chris Wickett January 20, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    I’ve got the LCDVF viewfinder. Essential for a stable handheld shot, and makes focus on the fly at least possible (if you’re very lucky). £80.


  2. Robert Grant January 20, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Personally I’d buy a Panasonic GH2 rather than a Canon 550D, it’s a great camera for video anyway but once hacked, and assuming a modicum of talent, the quality can be breathtaking. You can also use just about any lens ever made (with an adapter) which means old c-mount film and TV lenses that can be bought on eBay starting at $50 are an option. If you want to see the kind of quality that’s possible have a look at the trailer for Musgo on Vimeo:

    • Chris January 20, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      That’s a really great point Robert – lots of people have been saying GH2.

  3. @DanielKenyon1 January 20, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    I couldn’t be without my £29.99 Polaroid shoulder mount, an absolute must!

  4. Reza-John Vedadi January 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I been making several shorts films and promos. This is the kit I managed to put together which I have found has got me through a lot of what I need to shoot.

    Canon 550D
    Tamron 17-50mm lens (£320 Jessop)
    Canon 35mm lens (£215 Jessop)
    DSLR Rig £50 (foldable and easy to use) Amazon
    Opteka Slider 120cm £140, Amazon
    Portable 160LED light £50, with three colour filters, and strong 1meter 1480 Lum power. eBay
    Two batteries with a charger for the LED light £25 on eBay
    Reflector 5 in 1 110cm for £9 on eBay and Amazon
    Camera Tripod Pan head for £18, eBay. you will need this for the Slider because you can do different angle shoots with it.
    Rode Videomic Pro £140 on Amazon. You should always have a backup sound recorder and the Rode is amazing, it will save you on countless times, in case you can’t use the separate sound for some reason or another. This is the best investment you will be happy to make.
    Samson Airline Micro Wireless Mic system £255. I bought this cause I couldn’t afford the expensive Sannheiser Wireless Mic System around £500-600. But this is a good make as its by the same company that makes Zoom sound recorders. It’s good for interviews, studio, documentary set up and films. from TheMicStore there was a special offer.
    Zoom H4n, Zoom are one of the best in sound recording and Zoom H4n is an amazing investment and you won’t be disappointed as the quality of sound recording and options are great, £220 from woodbrass.com based in France but they cheaper than UK and I received the item within 3 days by UPS, and they give you 3 years warranty.

    hope that helps

    here is a link to one of the pieces i made with this equipment.

    feel free to email with any questions


  5. David Allen January 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    What about the sound on the GH2 – is there an audio input socket?

    I like the look of the Sony NEX 5 too and then there is the NEX 7 when it appears will have an audio input.

    • Phil Peel January 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      Yup.. It has a audio input socket and metering. I have been using one for the last year for all my paid shoots.

  6. Owen Johnson January 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Great article. I agree with Chris Wickett, LCDVF for outdoor and indoor adds a substantial amount to stability. I’d also consider a HQRP AC power adaptor. Just got this one for £25 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004OE1TFI). £90 for official Canon version… Best wishes, Owen

  7. Jon Mills January 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    I understand the point re: doing Dogme-style work for much less money, but that restricts content a little. The wonder of DSLR is that new filmmakers are learning about lenses, exposure etc rather than just leaving it all on auto and saying ‘It’s okay, it’s a Dogme film.’

  8. David Allen January 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    I had a look at the specifications for the Panasonic GH 2 and I see that it does have an audio input socket that is 2. 5 mm so you just have to get an adapter to be able to connect your 3. 5 millimetre connectors.

    With regards the price of setting up a guerrilla filmmaker kit if you go with the Panasonic then you will probably find you will go over the suggested budget of £1000 or have to do without a number of things that are on the list within this post.

    At the moment I am thinking that I will opt for the 600D because I need the swivel viewer that you don’t get on the 550D.

  9. Roberto January 24, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    I just shot my first short-comedy using:

    – Nikon D5100 + Nikkor 18-105 VR 800 $
    – extra battery Nikon 50 $
    – 1 16gb SD card
    – Rode Video Mic Pro 200 $
    – 3.1 set of lights on Amazon 129 $
    – Sony Tripod VCT R100 29 $

    and I am so happy with the result, looks so professional expecially the Rode Video Mic Pro Set up at volume 1 on camera and on +20db on mic was simply amazing. The Nikon despite the Canon doesn’t have the manual exposure control, but with the block/unblocking of automatic exosure it is possibile to have great results. Like the Canon d600, the Nikon d5100 has the mobile LCD screen which allows a lot of freedom during the shots. None the less Nikon battery last longer and 2 would beee enough to keep on filming for weeks.

    The project I just shot it’s called “the Golden Glans”, please check out the fan page on Facebook.

    Guerilla filmmaking rulez!!!

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