Best Gear to Make Professional Videos (2023): Mics, Lights, Tripods, Tips

Best Gear to Make Professional Videos (2023): Mics, Lights, Tripods, Tips

For moveable shoots (and even simply comfort) you may ultimately wish to take into account a cage in your digital camera, like the Smallrig VersaFrame, which WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft has examined and likes. This allows you to mount all the pieces you want, like lights, microphones, batteries, and storage units, proper to the digital camera itself. It takes some work to get all the pieces arrange proper, but it surely’s rather a lot simpler than making an attempt to wrangle 15 devices whereas working round a park. Relying in your digital camera, you may additionally be capable of discover cages that suit your mannequin particularly.

The Microphone

Apart out of your digital camera, the microphone is arguably the second most essential software in your arsenal. Good-quality audio makes a lackluster video watchable, and poor audio can wreck even probably the most fantastically shot clip. 

Prime Choose

What’s nice about Rode’s SmartLav+ is its plug-and-play nature. I’ve plugged this microphone into my mirrorless digital camera and into my iPhone, and it labored like a attraction (for skilled cameras, you may need to add this adapter). It is a lavalier mic, the sort that clips to your shirt collar to seize the sound of your voice. The standard is not superb, but it surely’s a giant step up over the built-in microphone in your cellphone. Simply know that connecting it to an Android cellphone is hard—it does not all the time work. And in case your cellphone does not have a headphone jack, you may need a dongle.

Improve Choose

Should you’re keen to spend extra, we have had an amazing expertise utilizing Røde’s wi-fi techniques over the previous few years. I used the original Wireless Mic Go for all my WIRED videos, however the firm has since added the Wi-fi Go II, which helps you to select so as to add a second transmitter if you wish to file two individuals individually. The marginally higher vary allows you to transfer away farther from the digital camera with out fear.  

Plug the receiver into your digital camera’s mic enter or your cellphone’s headphone jack (you’ll most likely want a dongle), and clip the transmitter someplace close to your collarbone. Flip each on, and they need to mechanically pair. That is it! The microphone high quality is superb, however having a tiny field in your shirt can look a bit of awkward. I attached Røde’s Lavalier Go ($79) to the transmitter, which I put in my pocket for a extra pure look. Røde not too long ago launched a less complicated, extra budget-friendly mannequin known as the Wireless ME ($149), however we’ve not examined it but. 

A Easy Shotgun Mic

If you do not need a microphone resting in your physique, then get a shotgun mic. Simply hook it as much as your digital camera or your smartphone (3.5 mm or USB-C) and flip it on. I filmed an hour-long improv present in a small classroom theater, and the audio high quality was fairly wonderful—particularly contemplating I used to be sitting greater than 15 toes from the performers. I barely needed to configure any settings, although I did make the most of the headphone port to observe sound ranges whereas recording. 

It runs on battery, however even an hour of filming did not appear to make a dent (Joby claims a 30-hour run time), and you may simply recharge it by way of the USB-C port. What I like most is how compact it’s. It barely provides a lot weight to my digital camera and is straightforward to stow in a backpack. 

For Voiceovers

Inevitably, you may must rerecord some dialog or add voiceover to your venture. Whereas the King Bee II (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is not tremendous moveable, the wealthy sound it captures makes it an ideal desktop or audio sales space companion. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft regularly makes use of this one so as to add narration to a video or for the occasional voice performing. Try our Best USB Microphones information for extra choices.

Different Nice Mics:

  • Rode VideoMicro for $42: Attempting to spend as little as doable? This shotgun mic will fulfill. It’s going to beat any cellphone’s built-in mic, and it is tremendous light-weight and compact.
  • AnkerWork M650 Wireless Lavalier Microphone for $250: I actually love Anker’s wi-fi mic system. It is available in a beautiful case that allows you to magnetically recharge the 2 transmitters in addition to the receiver. Even higher, you will have the choice to plug the system into a wide range of units. There is a Lightning adapter and USB-C adapter within the case itself, or you should utilize the Aux cable to plug it into your digital camera. The audio high quality is nice too. 

Take into account a Recorder

Should you’re utilizing extra superior audio gear—and there are a lot of good reasons you should—then you definately’ll want an interface to attach any XLR microphones you will have. However in case you shoot away from house (or simply want a versatile setup), one handy choice is to get an interface that is additionally a transportable recorder. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft likes and makes use of the Zoom H6, which may join as much as 4 XLR inputs, in addition to two extra inputs by way of connected mic modules. 

The included X/Y module is nice for recording on-the-spot interviews. It could possibly additionally file audio on to the system itself, whereas it sends audio again out to your digital camera. That is the form of life-saving backup choice you will not remorse having round. Plus, it frees you to separate your mic and digital camera and sync them up later, if the state of affairs requires it.

The Tripod

Do not spend a whole lot of {dollars} on a strong camera-and-mic rig after which stability the entire thing on a stack of books. A steady tripod is a great funding. That is one space the place you may wish to spend extra, as a result of tripod will preserve your gear from crashing to the bottom. 

Prime Choose

I examined a barely completely different model of this monopod, which was discontinued and changed by this newer mannequin. This new one can prolong as much as 59 inches tall, a full foot greater than the final model, but it weighs the identical. I like how compact it’s, and you may even convert it right into a mini tripod at a second’s discover in case you do not want the additional peak. It has three little toes that stretch out on the backside, so you should utilize it hands-free, and the design is nice for tight areas. It often takes me mere seconds to set it up and begin taking pictures. Because it’s made from carbon fiber, it is a light-weight journey choice too. (It weighs lower than 3 kilos.) 

I like to recommend pairing it with the corporate’s Komodo K5 Fluid Head ($139) in case you plan on panning, tilting, and capturing numerous B-roll (extra on the Komodo under).

Telephone Tripod

The Cobra 2 above could be a bit a lot in case you’re utilizing a cellphone, so snag Lume’s cellular tripod as an alternative. It’s extremely steady, however the most effective half is that the ends of the clamp double as chilly shoe mounts, so you may hook up a microphone (just like the Rode VideoMicro or Joby Wavo Plus above) and a compact video mild for a full on-the-go studio. It is pretty snug to grip and carry if you’re shifting round as you movie. My solely gripe? You may’t modify the peak. 

There is a answer to this: the Mobile Creator Stand 2.0 ($200), which we’re at the moment within the strategy of testing. It could possibly stand up to 55 inches excessive, making it an amazing and compact tripod for stand-ups, and this one features a mild and microphone. 

Improve Choose

In case your movies aren’t restricted to your house, this is among the most compact tripods in the marketplace that may ship the peak and stability most individuals want, but can match within the bottle pouch of your backpack. It is comparatively light-weight (the pricier carbon-fiber version sheds much more weight), and there is a built-in cellphone mount. If you wish to connect a fluid head for easy pans, you may want this universal head adapter

Different Nice Tripods:

  • Joby PodZilla for $31: You can also make do with a tripod like this one from Joby in case you’re making an attempt to spend as little as doable. It does not get very tall, however you may contort the flexible legs to maintain the entire thing connected to varied surfaces. It could possibly match most telephones in its clamp, and the ballhead allows you to rotate the angle simply. There is a cold-shoe mount on one finish to connect a light-weight or mic. You probably have an iPhone with MagSafe assist, you may pair it with this mount for a hassle-free setup.
  • Benro TMA27A Series 2 Mach3 for $165: This can be a conventional tripod I’ve examined that is weighty, sturdy, steady, and all-around dependable from a well-established model. I’ve had no points with it after greater than two years.
  • SwitchPod Tripod for $99: I like utilizing the SwitchPod once I’m shifting round and speaking to the digital camera. You may maintain it selfie-stick type, and its curvy design retains the digital camera away from you and pointed at your face. You may open the magnetic legs in a single swoop to make it get up on a desk. Every leg has threads you can use to connect equipment like a video mild or a mic. I additionally advocate grabbing the ball head mount to simply transfer the digital camera round.
  • Sandmarc Tripod Pro Edition for $200: This can be a strong tripod for telephones It is made particularly for the iPhone, but it surely’ll work with Android telephones too. It is a good choice if you do not have a digital camera however need the advantages of a standard, full-size tripod. The ball head is not tremendous easy for panning in video—I want there was a fluid head choice—but it surely’s choice for stills (maybe even overkill at this worth). 

The Gentle

Gentle is an important ingredient for making your movies look skilled. Professional tip: Should you suppose your present ambient lighting is sufficient, there is a good probability it is not. Except you are filming in your yard in the course of the day, your cameras will want a supplemental mild supply. For extra suggestions, learn our Best Studio Lighting Gear for Photos and Videos information. We even have recommendation on how to light your photos and videos like a professional.

Prime Choose

The Amaran P60X could be all you want. It comes with a softbox and may illuminate as much as 5,070 lux at 1 meter. You may modify the colour temperature between 3,200 and 6,500K, and use a knob to regulate the brightness. I’ve used it to mild up a number of unboxings and product movies to nice results. I’ve paired it with this excellent desk clamp, however you should utilize it with any mild stand. 

It comes with a neat carrying case, so you may all the time pack it as much as go for out of doors shoots. I solely examined it on to my wall outlet, but it surely helps as much as two Sony NP-F batteries, which you may want to purchase to energy it while you’re away from an outlet. 


I movie most of my WIRED movies in a tiny, darkish room. This 60-watt Godox LED has been a godsend. There is a knob on the again to tweak how shiny it will get. It’s also possible to use the included distant to alter the sunshine’s shade temperature, making it seem extra orange (heat) or blue (chilly). I paired it with this light stand ($55), which labored nicely for me.

You may additionally wish to use it with a softbox to diffuse and direct the sunshine. You will get one thing as reasonably priced as this one from Godox ($40), but it surely takes endlessly to arrange and put away. I a lot choose utilizing this 48-incher from Angler ($259), which intuitively collapses like an umbrella. It takes solely a minute to hook it as much as the sunshine, and once I’m carried out I take it off in seconds and stow it within the included bag.

Moveable Gentle Panel

This mild will get remarkably shiny regardless of the compact dimension (1,480 lux at 0.5 meters), has a number of shade choices and results (like a enjoyable impact that mimics a lightning strike), and you may match the colour temperature to your lighting circumstances. It comes with a chilly shoe mount so you may connect it to the highest of your digital camera or different appropriate gear. It has been my go-to cellular mild for a number of years and has held up nicely. Even higher, it recharges by way of USB-C. Simply know that battery life on a cellular mild like this (or the others under) is not going to final for a number of hours at a time. 

A Ring Gentle

I’m sometimes not a fan of ring lights due to the cruel mild they put in your face. However I am unable to deny they’re tremendous easy, particularly for mobile-only setups. The 12-inch Lume Dice Ring Gentle Mini shouldn’t be battery-powered, however you should utilize the included USB-C cable and adapter to mild it up. It places out 960 lux at 0.5 meters, and you may modify the colour temperature from 2,700 to 7,500K; the sunshine it produces is fairly good. There is a common smartphone mount within the middle in your cellphone, and you may twist it horizontally or vertically. It comes with a desk clamp, which is what I am utilizing it with, however you can even use the included tripod. You may tilt the sunshine 180 levels. 

I choose placing my lights off to the facet to create dynamic shadows, and you may actually do this with this mild, however I believe the above picks are higher choices if you’re going that route. 

Different Nice Lights: 

  • Aputure MC-4 RGBWW for $90: Aputure makes numerous improbable lights, however the MC is a flexible baby. It places out round 400 lux at 0.5 meters, which is not rather a lot, however with numerous them, you are able to do some artistic stuff. That is why we advocate this journey equipment with four lights. On high of coming with 4 MCs, the case itself comprises 4 areas to wirelessly cost the lights, in addition to two USB shops that may cost different units as nicely. Every MC has adjustable white mild shade temperatures from 3,200 to six,500K, in addition to an RGB mode. There are additionally just a few built-in results for lightning, fire, and different fundamental lighting staples, or you may join the lights to a cell phone app for much more management. 
  • Lume Cube Panel Pro 2.0 for $180: This can be a solid light with an app you may pair it with by way of Bluetooth to regulate it remotely. It recharges by way of USB-C, has a number of shade choices, and places out 835 lux at 0.5 meters. However it’s almost double the worth of the Aputure MC-4. 
  • Lume Cube Tube Light Mini for $150: The Tube Gentle Mini is not the one mild supply I might ever use in any shoot, but it surely’s nice for accent lighting. It is RGB, so you may change the colours by way of the show and controls on the again of the tube (or the app). The ends are magnetic, so you may mount it simply on completely different surfaces, or use the ¼-inch 20 threads to screw it to a tripod. It places out 920 lux at 0.5 meters.
  • Canvas Lamp for $184: If you need to do numerous top-down shoots, then the Canvas Lamp is a no-frills choice. It is considerably like a hoop mild combined with a lamp—you may mount your cellphone within the middle to get a pleasant even mild in your floor, no must arrange one other tripod. You may snag a desk clamp in case you do not wish to use the wooden base. Simply know that it does not work nice with topics which are reflective, like cellphone screens. 
  • Viltrox RGB Portable LED Panel for $49: These aren’t the most effective or brightest lights round, however they’re low-cost, whereas nonetheless offering full RGB and shade temperature management, so you should purchase fairly just a few for a similar worth as one of many different lights we have featured. It additionally makes use of standard NP-F550 batteries and chargers that many different digital camera equipment share.

Different Useful Gear

There are such a lot of different instruments I take advantage of when making movies, from exterior screens to fluid heads. Listed here are extra objects you may wish to take a look at. And in case you want a strategy to tote your gear round city, learn our Best Camera Bags information.

An Exterior Monitor

I movie with my Nikon Z 6, which does not have a show that tilts out towards the entrance. That makes it tougher to movie once I’m in entrance of the lens, as I consistently should go behind the digital camera to see if the framing is right. You probably have a totally articulating display, then you may skip this choose, but when not, get an exterior monitor like this one. (You may must seize batteries.) I mounted it to the highest of my digital camera and linked it by way of HDMI, which permits me to see my framing and whether or not the main focus is correct.

A Variable Filter

When filming with knowledgeable digital camera, you may need your digital camera’s shutter velocity to remain at double the body charge for the most natural-looking clips. So at 30 frames per second, your shutter velocity needs to be 1/60. However what occurs in case you’re taking pictures exterior and the digital camera is receiving a lot of mild? Get a neutral-density filter! It screws over your lens so you may higher management the quantity of sunshine your digital camera takes in with out forcing you to alter settings. I like these variable ones from Second; rotating the filter in several instructions adjusts how a lot mild is let in.  

Tip: Ensure you examine the thread dimension in your lens when shopping for a filter. You will discover this data on the entrance of a lens or on the lens cap. (If you cannot discover it, simply lookup the lens mannequin on the internet.)

A Fluid Head

I make movies about merchandise, so I must take numerous supplementary footage of the merchandise themselves. However simply taking pictures an object head-on with none motion could be very boring. Chances are you’ll as nicely simply present a nonetheless picture. Fluid heads allow you to easily pan and tilt your digital camera so you may add some movement to your B-roll footage. The Komodo K5 fluid head does this rather well. 

If it is too expensive, the Magnus VPH-10P Pan and Tilt Head ($45) is a good cheaper different. Your footage will not look as easy, but it surely’s higher than going hands-free or utilizing the ball head mount on a tripod.

A Digital camera Slider

When you nail down panning and tilting, you may wish to department out. Enter the slider. It basically strikes your digital camera from one finish of a stationary monitor to the opposite, however high quality sliders ensure that this occurs very, very easily. This one from Axler has spruced up the clips in my movies, and it is easy to make use of.

A Teleprompter

If making up phrases as you sit in entrance of the digital camera is not working for you, then attempt writing a script. You need to use your cellphone or pill and a teleprompter app (I like this one for iPhones and iPads) to learn it whereas your digital camera’s rolling. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft has good issues to say about PromptSmart Pro too, which works on a number of platforms and may import scripts from providers like Google Docs. Its distinctive VoiceTrack characteristic can scroll as you converse and pause while you cease. You may management it with a remote control app (though this solely works if each the app and prompter are on the identical platform.)

Studying from a prompter appears apparent in case you’re not trying instantly on the display although, so it is value getting a tool just like the Glide Gear TMP100. It mirrors the textual content from a pill or smartphone and shows it on a bit of glass that sits in entrance of your lens. This allows you to learn and stare on the lens on the identical time, all whereas conserving the scrolling textual content from showing within the picture. The Glide Gear TMP75 ($149) can be a useful choice that we like; it could actually connect to a laptop computer so you should utilize your pc’s webcam. although this smaller one solely suits telephones.

A Gimbal

Irrespective of how regular you suppose you’re, your puny human fingers are shaky and unstable. Tripods are nice for stabilizing locked-off photographs, however in case you nonetheless wish to preserve some digital camera motion, a gimbal is what you want. These units use motors to counter the minor actions in your physique to maintain photographs regular at the same time as you progress round or observe topics.

WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft examined the Zhiyun Weebill 3 gimbal and says it was simpler to make use of than his outdated Crane 2. The wrist relaxation and sling grip make it straightforward to regulate the entire rig. Its inner battery can run for greater than 20 hours, so your digital camera is extra prone to die lengthy earlier than the gimbal does. Should you’re taking pictures in your cellphone, see our Zhiyun choose under, which additionally works nice with smaller cameras. It’s also possible to discover cheap gimbals like this model from Hohem ($99), which Ravenscraft has used to shoot movies for WIRED.

Zhiyun Crane M3

{Photograph}: Zhiyun

WIRED senior author Scott Gilbertson says he had a tough time believing that one thing as small and light-weight because the Crane M3 gimbal could be able to replicating 95 p.c of what huge, professional-level gimbals do, but it surely labored surprisingly nicely in his exams. The caveat? That is finest with smaller cameras or perhaps a smartphone. It will assist a full-frame digital camera—it labored together with his Sony A7R II—however solely with shorter, lighter lenses. 

For vloggers who wish to step up their sport, and anybody who desires the power to shoot regular movement video with out (utterly) breaking the financial institution, the M3 will do the job. The contact show provides entry to regularly used settings. Zhiyun claims eight hours of battery life and says it recharges in two hours. In our testing, the recharge time is correct, however the heavier the system, the more serious your battery life will probably be. With the full-frame Sony, Gilbertson says he received about 5.5 hours out of it.

A Fast-Launch Mounting System

I regularly am attaching a slider, teleprompter, and fluid head to my tripod, which implies I am consistently screwing issues on and off—all of this takes up beneficial time and is simply plain annoying. That is once I found the Manfrotto Transfer quick-release mounting system. I connected the bottom to my tripod and the plate to my fluid head, teleprompter, and slider, and it now mainly takes me two seconds to mount these objects to my tripod. They nonetheless keep safe, thoughts you, however to launch them, simply rotate the highest of the bottom and the plate will pop up. It is an ingenious system that I now cannot reside with out. 

You doubtless simply want a single Transfer system, which features a base and plate, after which you may purchase additional plates for all the opposite objects you’d wish to rapidly mount.

An Modifying Companion

Nothing helps a video editor be higher at their job than velocity. The faster you can also make a minimize, modify clips, or add results, the simpler it’s to remain within the stream and get the venture carried out. The Loupedeck CT can take your workflow to the subsequent degree. It packs a bunch of programmable buttons, together with 12 keys and two facet panels with built-in LED shows. You may tweak these to offer you fast entry to your most-used instruments.

It additionally has one big dial, additionally with an LED show, and 6 smaller dials alongside the edges. These are helpful for adjusting shade and audio instruments like distinction or achieve extra intuitively than you may with a mouse. The system comes with a number of premade profiles for a number of Adobe apps, however you may (and in my expertise most likely ought to) customise these profiles to your particular use case.

A Full Modifying Keyboard (for Davinci Resolve)

Should you use Davinci’s unbelievable (and principally free) modifying suite, Resolve, then it is arduous to beat the corporate’s personal modifying keyboards. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft beloved the Resolve Speed Editor (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It makes fast work of assembling tough cuts, selecting photographs from multi-cam shoots, and including fundamental transitions.

Nevertheless, in case you’re keen to spend some further money, the full-size editor keyboard is ideal. Along with having a lot of the identical instruments because the Velocity Editor, it has a full common keyboard (together with a numpad, useful for coming into time codes and whatnot), with keycaps labeled for the Resolve instruments they correspond to. Each editors additionally include a free improve to the Studio model of Resolve, which provides options like the new Relight tool that may create depth maps from video to change the lighting of the scene in a bodily correct method.

Useful Ideas

I discovered how you can make movies by trial and error, by amassing suggestions, and (principally) by YouTube movies at the hours of darkness. Significantly, there is a wealth of free tutorials and suggestions you’ll find on YouTube for nearly any query you will have about bettering your video output. Search away. That stated, listed below are just a few parting suggestions I attempt to adhere to (and generally battle with) as I movie.

  • Place your key mild correctly: You often don’t need your key mild (the principle mild supply) to face your topic instantly. Put it off-center, which implies part of your topic will probably be in shadow. You need to use different lights to “fill” in these shadows in case you like. We’ve got more guidance here.
  • Regulate reflections: I put on glasses, and it is easy for the important thing mild to replicate off of them, which creates a distracting impact within the completed video. The way in which to deal with that is by heeding the recommendation above, and by tweaking your mild’s peak and angle. Run just a few exams to see what place nails the fewest glares.
  • Monitor your focus: The very last thing you wish to do is movie a complete video and notice your focus was utterly off. Exterior screens or cameras with flip-out screens have options like focus peaking, which helps you to simply see the place your lens is focusing. Should you’re utilizing autofocus, you need to run just a few exams to see how nicely it really works earlier than you employ it for the primary time. Your digital camera may need face detection or eye detection to assist with autofocus too.
  • Take heed to your audio ranges: I often preserve a pair of earbuds plugged into my digital camera whereas filming so I can hear again to my clips immediately and ensure the microphone is working and I do not sound too loud or too gentle.
  • Get the best framing: Reviewing your footage and realizing half your head is chopped from the body is a horrible feeling. Don’t fret, it occurs to the most effective of us! Simply ensure that to take a look at your framing earlier than you hit file.
  • Shoot extra pixels than you want. In case your digital camera and modifying gear can deal with it, taking pictures in a better decision than you want provides you flexibility within the edit. You may reframe photographs and even zoom in, with out shedding image high quality. This can be a useful strategy to alternate between medium and close-up photographs with out having to reposition the digital camera between takes.
  • Make the minimize: Should you’re modifying your video on a desktop PC, ensure that your pc has sufficient brawn for the job. We’ve got some steerage on how to upgrade your PC for video editing, even in case you’re on a finances.