Documentary Film
Camera Kits

Ideas for your perfect filmmaking gear kit

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Are you looking for a documentary film camera kit and not sure what to get? Sometimes it can be difficult knowing what gear to match up for the ideal set-up.

Below are a few suggestions to help make the decision-making process a bit easier and get you started on your way to making your documentary! 

Below are two high-end professional documentary gear kits. 

For a low-budget documentary kit ($1,000), start here.

Canon C100 Documentary Gear Package

The Canon C100 Documentary Gear Package is designed by the team at Borrow Lenses. It includes all the basics needed to get started shooting your documentary.

This Kit Is Ideal For: Journalism Work, Corporate Events, Interviews, and Documentary Filmmaking.

Canon EOS C100 Mark II Cinema EOS Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF

The C100 Mark II is optimized for run-and-gun style shooting, especially when mounted on a rig such as the Zacuto Canon Cinema Shoulder Mount Rig. Up to 3 hours of HD video can be recorded on a single 32 GB card. The 12 steps of dynamic range is great for shooting in stealth, low-light conditions. In addition, get continuous AF which is compatible with the autofocusing on the 24-70 II lens (below). 

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

Lightweight and easy to handle, this lens is a great choice for the Canon C100 Mark II. A high-speed CPU with optimized AF algorithms ensures a fast and silent auto focus, making this well suited for events. The one downside is lack of image stabilization. If that's important, go for the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM.

Sachtler Ace M Fluid Head Tripod System

This high-end tripod comes with damping technology for increased levels of control and smoothness in tilting and panning. 

Sennheiser ME66 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Condenser Microphone

The ME66 microphone is a popular choice among documentary and ENG/EFP professionals. The mic maximizes pick-up at the front, which works well for interviews. Suggested accessories for the mic: shockmount and right-angle XLR cable.

BP-950 Rechargeable Battery for Canon

For back-up, this is an extra battery designed for the Canon C100 Mark II, Canon C300, Canon C500 and numerous other cameras. 

Run and Gun Sony Package

This is another documentary gear package recommended by Borrow Lenses. Ideal for on-the-go, run-and-gun style shooting. Great for general purpose, high-end, broadcast commercial shooting projects.

This kit is ideal for: Journalism work, commercials, large events, documentary filmmaking, and everyday video shooting.

Sony PXW-FS7 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System

Recommended for a variety of run and gun shooting situations including commercial work, electronic news gathering (ENG) and documentaries. The Sony ES7 is a flexible 4K system that can capture on-board UHD at 60 FPS and HD up to 180 FPS. Included are two XQD memory card slots for extra long shooting.

Sony 128GB XQD Memory Card

Two of these will fit nicely into the dual XQD slots of the Sony FS7. The Sony 128GB G Series XQD Format is designed specifically for those working in 4K and RAW images.

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS Lens

The Sony PXW-FS7 is specifically designed for HD and 4K shooting. The Super Sonic Wave Motor ensures fast, silent performance and there are independent control rings for zoom, focus, and aperture.

Sennheiser ME66 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Condenser Microphone

A popular choice among documentary and ENG/EFP professionals, the ME66 mic maximizes pick-up at the front, which works well for interviews. Suggested accessories for the mic: shockmount and right-angle XLR cable.

Sony BP-U60 Battery

Always make sure to take along an extra battery or two (or three). One battery should last about an hour.

Renting vs Buying

There is no right answer for everyone.

Renting can be convenient when you need high-end expensive gear for a short amount of time. Renting is also a great option when you want to "test out" some gear you are considering purchasing.

However, if you will be shooting long-term over a period of months or years (typical for most documentaries), purchasing probably makes more sense.

Another benefit of purchasing gear is that you can always sell your equipment when you're finished to recoup some of your expenses.

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