*Disclaimer: this is a transcript from a youtube video that has been tweaked for this blog post. Video linked down below!*
Budget gear has come a LONG way over the years, and it has really lowered the barrier of entry into the world of video. While budget gear can be a bit of a mixed bag at times, there are certain brands and products that do fit the bill pretty well. I’m all about getting new people into the hobby, and I love to save money… So here are a few of my favorite pieces of budget gear that I’ve gotten over the years and that have my stamp of approval.
First on the list is the Godox SL-60W. This is a really awesome and simple, no nonsense daylight balanced light. I’ve had this thing for like, two years or so at this point, and honestly, I absolutely love it. I think it’s the perfect balance between quality and price. I bought this thing for about 130 bucks, which is roughly what it still goes for. You can frequently get them for even 99 bucks, during sales like Black Friday.
Pound for pound. It really gives lights like the Aputure 120D a run for their money as far as output goes. And at the price point you do miss out on things like a metal build, the ability to power with batteries and a couple other bells and whistles here and there. But if you treat it well and don’t beat it up too bad it can serve as a great workhorse and an awesome first key light for your kit.
I use mine to light all of my YouTube videos and it has never failed me. Godox is a good brand that makes both high end and budget products that I trust, and I really don’t think you can go wrong with this one.
Second is the Neewer 660 Pro RGB panels. I bought these spur of the moment last Black Friday because they were going for $200 (down from normally $300), and even at full price I think they’re a pretty good bang for the buck, especially with that RGB capability.
I bought these purely for accent lighting and to use for things like fill and hair lighting. They have an all metal build and come with barn doors that you can actually remove. This kit also came with some generic bags and stands for both lights and while they aren’t top notch, they support the lights just fine and I’d rather have them than not.
I’m actually using them right now to act as a bit of an accent and back light for my little closet studio that I have here. They have great output, app control capability, various effects settings and can also be powered with NPF style batteries, which is a huge plus. I love gear made by Neewer and I have definitely come to trust them over the years.
They do make these in regular daylight balanced and bi-color versions, but I would definitely go all in and just opt for the RGB version because it is definitely the best bang for your buck. I’m super excited to get these on some more gigs and keep seeing what cool things I can do with them.
Number three is going to be diffusion umbrellas. While I do think softboxes have a place, they’re simply just too cumbersome. for me to justify most of the time, even the collapsible ones. I just don’t love them. I don’t think the look that they give is superior enough to justify the hassle of using them and the space constraints involved. Umbrellas are just ridiculously cheap. They collapse in seconds and they provide great diffusion. I don’t really know what more you can ask for in most situations.
I know YouTube in general and all the big dogs in the video space love the big mothership, bazooka looking softboxes, but I just don’t buy it. If I have a client that wants to go balls to the wall and get the most Hollywood cinematic look possible, then I’ll break one out. But in the real world, where I’m doing my standard bread and butter gigs and stuff like YouTube, it’s going to be umbrellas for me every time.
The only problem you do run into with these is the light that spills out. With softboxes, all of the light is contained, which is a huge plus, but umbrellas are nice and wide, so unless your shot is really crazy wide, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. They give a fantastic look and they’re simple to set up and use, and they’re like 20 bucks. It’s really that simple.
Number four is the Rode Videomicro. I think this mic is a slam dunk for the price and form factor, and we all know that Rode knows how to make a mean microphone. This thing is powered by the camera, so you never have to worry about a battery. And the sound it produces is great if you know what you’re doing.
I use this for both vlogging and as a boom. All in all, this is something you really should have in your bag, even if you already have a mic. It’s tiny, it’s awesome, and you can take it anywhere without worrying too much about if it gets stolen, lost, damaged or something like that due to that great price point. I really love this mic.
Arriving at number five, we have Meike Macro Extension Tubes. Macro is something I really like but don’t do a whole lot of. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to go out and buy a big macro lens. And for the little bit of macro that I do, this gives me great results at a great price point. The main reason I actually bought these in the first place was to scan in my 35mm film with my camera because I didn’t want to buy a scanner. I attach these to my sigma 30mm 1.4 on my Sony a6500, and I’m able to take high resolution photos of my film up close and then convert the film in Negative Lab Pro within Lightroom, which is just the coolest thing ever.
They give you autofocus control, which is really cool for how cheap they are, and if you want to dabble into macro, they’re a great choice. The main downside is that they are pretty plasticky, so I don’t know if I’d go swinging my expensive lens around on it, but generally speaking, they’re pretty solid.
Last but not least, I’ll give you one last bonus piece of gear, and that is dummy adapters for your camera. These allow you to use other manufacturers lenses on your camera’s body for like 15 or 20 bucks. They don’t have any electronics, so there’s no autofocus. But, the main reason you would typically buy something like this in the first place is to be able to use vintage lenses. I have a decent collection of vintage lenses built up from years of thrifting and buying film cameras, and I love throwing them on my camera.
They provide an awesome organic look and really give the image a lot of character and a certain softness that you can’t get with modern lenses. I actually use vintage lenses on my camera a good bit, and it’s really cool to be able to breathe new life into them. Not to mention that old lenses are a lot cheaper than modern ones and are great for experimenting and trying out new styles with. I have three of them that I use to adapt Nikon, Pentax and Minolta lenses onto my Sony, and they’re all by the brand of Fotasy.
I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read my blog! Leave me a comment and let me know anything else you may want me to cover. If you’re more into videos than reading, I linked the Youtube video that this is all from below. Always remember, you are blessed and you are loved!
As always, I’ll be back soon.
Youtube Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7lo-bO_KZ0&t=329s