The $500 Video Kit (2021)Last updated
Sometimes you need to get it done on a tight budget.
I've been there.
So here is everything you need to live stream, record, and edit videos on a $500 budget.
In this list you'll find:
Let's get started...
Apple iPad (8th Generation)
Fast, great screen, good cameras, excellent ecosystem - an amazing deal.
Cellular Data: No
Video Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps (main camera) or 1280 x 720 at 30 fps (front-facing camera)
My Favorite Feature: Fast - a device that can handle quite a bit and last you a few yearsView on Amazon
Camera support and placement is important.
A proper mount will provide ways to securely attach the device to tripods, stands, grips, and other types of support.
Aluminum iPad Tripod Mount
Made from aluminum, this is a solid iPad mount that doesn't interfere with ports or buttons.
It comes with a built-in Arca-Swiss quick release plate base, but also has a 1/4"-20 mounting hole on the bottom for mounting to other plates or stands.
My Favorite Feature: Cold shoe mount on top - a great place to mount accessories like a light or microphone.View on Amazon
Endurax 66" Tripod
A simple and budget-friendly tripod.
Maximum height of 66" gives you enough to get the iPad camera around 72" high.
Maximum load capacity of 11 pounds gives you plenty of room to add other accessories.View on Amazon
Aside from your content, audio is the most important part of your video.
Viewers are much more sensitive to sound than they are to visuals, so audio clarity and consistency should be a top priority.
The solutions listed below will help you achieve that, with 2 options to accommodate different situations and needs:
This solution works well for personal recording or streaming, where one or two people are within a few feet of the camera.
It can also work well to pick up general ambiance in front of the camera.
It will not work well for picking up voices or sounds clearly from further away or in noisier environments.
Saramonic Vmic Mini
A great budget-friendly on-camera mini shotgun microphone.
Comes with a TRS to TRRS cable that works directly into the iPad's 3.5mm headphone port.
My Favorite Feature: Female TRS connector on the mic gives you freedom to use different connectors and cable lengths.View on Amazon
This solution provides more versatility and options when it comes to microphone choices and audio signals.
You can use this interface to receive signals from another audio console, plug in various XLR microphones, or plug in musical instruments.
Saramonic Smartrig II
Single channel XLR or 1/4" preamp with 48v phantom power and headphone jack.
Use any mic level input.
My Favorite Feature: 3.5mm output frees up the iPad's Lightning port for power or other tasksView on Amazon
Remember, lighting is more important to your video quality than the camera you use.
Cameras like light and need plenty of it to get good results.
This simple and budget-friendly lighting setup will give you good light output and a pleasing light quality that will work well for many situations.
16" Paper China Ball Lantern
China ball lanterns have been an industry standard in film and television lighting for nearly a century.
They are versatile and provide natural, flattering, soft light that works great for lighting people and large areas without breaking the bank.
They are lightweight and can be hung from ceilings, doorways, ceiling fans, shower curtain rods, and many other types of lighting stands.View on Amazon
Hanging Lantern Socket & Cord
Use this cord and socket to hang the China ball lantern and light bulb.
This is a 2-pack, but they accept a higher wattage than most (375 watts) and are from one of the only brands I trust.View on Amazon
Clear Incandescent Light Bulb (200 Watts)
Incandescent light bulbs are becoming harder to find, but they still provide the best brightness and color accuracy for the price.
IMPORTANT: Be cautious and careful when using incandescent bulbs in paper lanterns. Make sure the bulb is hung directly in the center of the lantern and does not touch any part of the paper to prevent fires.View on Amazon
Now that you have the gear, here are great apps to help you record or stream the best quality video possible.
Easily one of the most popular and feature-packed video recording apps available.
Filmic Pro gives you professional features and controls unavailable in the default Apple camera app.
Gain manual control of camera settings like aperture, shutter speed, white balance, and gain.
Includes tools and features like manual focus, more recording formats and data rates, false color, contrast peaking, and color profiles.View on Apple App Store
Amazing, powerful, intuitive video editing right in iOS.
Not cheap by mobile app standards, but well worth every penny if you need a powerful video editing app.
I use this app and love it.View on Apple App Store
Facebook Live is my current top pick for free streaming platforms.
With 2.5 billion monthly active users and live videos receiving some of the best engagement on the platform, Facebook Live is a natural choice to send your live stream.Learn More
About the best live streaming app on iOS, giving you tons of features and a great ecosystem to support many different situations.
Stream to most social platforms or any generic RTMP destination.
*Requires monthly subscription to Streamlabs Prime to remove watermark from mobile streamsView on Apple App Store
Apple iPad 128GB
If you plan on recording video, then the extra storage for the 128GB model is well worth the investment.View on Amazon
Manfrotto 755XB MDeVe Tripod
My budget-friendly tripod pick.
Better build quality and reliability will give you a tripod that lasts much longer.
*Requires an additional fluid head for mounting a camera or device
Head Mount Type: Flat (3/8"-16 male threaded center post)
Maximum Height: 64.9"
Minimum Height: 16.4"
Folded Length: 25"
Weight: 5.25 lbs
Payload Capacity: 15.4 lbsView on Amazon
Manfrotto MHXPRO Fluid Head
My budget-friendly fluid head pick.
A reliable fluid head will give you smooth pans and tilts if you need to do any camera moves.
Base Mount: Flat Base with 3/8"-16 Mounting Hole
Camera Plate: RC2 Quick Release
Load Capacity: 8.8 lbs
My Favorite Feature: Standard RC2 quick release plates are super fastView on Amazon
Rode VideoMic NTG
Combining the quality of their NTG shotgun microphones and the versatility of their VideoMic on-camera microphones, Rode has merged the best of both worlds to create the VideoMic NTG.View on Amazon
Rode Wireless Go
If you want a wireless mic solution, this is a great bang for the buck.View on Amazon
A dual channel upgrade to the Smartrig II.View on Amazon
The links below will open a pre-filled Amazon list.
Simply add the list to your Amazon cart and add/remove items as needed.View Package on Amazon (w/ On-Camera Microphone) View Package on Amazon (w/ Audio Interface)
If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to send me a message.
Need help? Have suggestions? Let's chat.
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