How To Save Money On Camera Gear

Top 3 Tips For New Filmmakers

So you’re a new filmmaker or maybe you’ve just started your own YouTube channel. Either way you probably like me and absolutely addicted at looking at camera gear, be it expensive red cameras or shiny little cool accessories like little LED lights. You can’t have enough of this stuff, but the problem is it’s all crazy expensive, so what we wanted to do is share just the top 3 tips we’ve learned over the years to help you save money on some of that awesome camera gear.

Tip 1 — Step Up Rings

Step-up rings or step-up adapters as they’re sometimes called, do one really simple job and that’s to essentially change the filter thread size on the front of your lenses, allowing you to attach a larger variable ND filter to your lens. All this means and it’s really simple, is that you only have to buy the variable ND filter or polarizing filter that you want once and it will fit every single lens you own. So our advice to you here is to buy the best quality and the biggest ND filter you can afford, this should be an 82mm thread. Once you’ve got a filter that’s bigger than all of your lenses, you know that by using the step-up rings will mean it can attach to every single one of your lenses. This will potentially save you hundreds of pounds, because a good quality filter is very expensive. Now we bought some step-up rings from K&F Concept, they cost literally around fifteen pounds. You can get these from a whole host of manufacturers and they will vary in quality and price accordingly, but for fifteen pounds these work perfectly well for us and when you consider that at £15 we’re potentially saving hundreds on the back end by not having to buy a filter for every single lens, this is quite an important investment.

Tip 2 — Lens Mounts

Now inevitably in your filmmaking journey you’re gonna end up buying more than one camera. What you’ll find is when you start owning more and more bodies is that the lens mounts on those cameras will be different. So suddenly the cost of ownership for having multiple DSLR cameras goes up and up and up, because you’re having to buy maybe it’s a canon EF lens for one camera and EF m lens for another or maybe it’s a Micro Four Thirds for a different camera over here, this literally dozens of different lens out combinations out there. So once you get into the world of multiple cameras you’re starting to run into multiple thousands of pounds just to have lenses for them all.

Now what a lens mount adapter will do is allow you to use your existing glass on your new camera body. We’ve got two examples here, one will allow us to use our Canon EF glass on a Micro Four Thirds camera and the other will allow us to use our Canon EF glass on canons mirrorless range the EF-m mounts. These adapters are a fraction of the cost of new lenses around probably 10% of one single lens. So using them for us has literally saved us hundreds if not thousands of pounds in being able to use our existing canon glass on all our cameras. A word of caution when using using lens mount adapters. The cheaper ones are not what you call smart adapters, essentially all that means is they don’t communicate electronically between the camera body and the lens itself, so things like autofocus or auto aperture are disabled when using these mounted adapters. You can of course buy more expensive ‘smart’ adapters that will allow you to use autofocus and control the aperture from the body, but they are significantly more expensive than something like the K&F Concept which only costs around £15.

Tip 3 — Never Scrimp On SD Cards

Last up is memory cards, so this is definitely not very sexy or exciting but it’s an important maybe cautionary tale that we need to tell. It also will sound a little counterintuitive when I do give my tip because what I’m about to tell you actually seems like I’m telling you to spend more money.

The advice here is to buy the best quality, most expensive branded SD cards or CF cards that you can afford. For anyone that’s been making films for any length of time would have fallen foul of this at some point and that is buying cheaper, maybe non branded SD cards online. For us we did it when we were making a week-long documentary, we bought a bunch of cheap SD cards thinking it’d be okay and on the shoot they one by one failed on us. We had corrupted files, we even had cameras that wouldn’t read or write to the cards. We had to go out and quickly buy replacements but in the short that cost us a lot of time, it cost us footage and it inevitably would have cost us money than if we had just bought decent quality branded SD cards from the off.

Now the other issue that you may run into and this is what happened to us on that documentary shoot, is buying fake SD cards. We didn’t know we were doing it, we were just buying them online, from somewhere that we thought was reputable. But in the end the card turned out to be a fake labeled as a SanDisk. It is an issue that’s quite ripe online, so really just buy with a bit of caution, make sure you read the reviews if you’re buying online or even better go in store and buy them yourself. But in short always buy the best quality branded SD cards that you can afford, it will save you a huge amount of time, stress and money in the long run.

So that’s been my top three tips on how to save money as a new filmmaker, it’s far from exhaustive, but hopefully you can take something useful away from this post.

🛒 Budget Variable ND Filter 82mm:
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🛒 EOS to M4/3 Adapter:
🛒 EF – EF-M Adapter:
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