Put together a video kit that can help you showcase your skill with a grill, your chopping chops, and your plating proficiency. This mid-tier kit can compete with much of what you’ll find on the better blogging sites and YouTube channels, but it still leaves room to grow with your production needs. We’re not going to lie: building a good video kit is an investment, but we tried to showcase equipment that saves money without skimping on quality. And finally, remember that producing great videos is like mastering a new recipe—it takes time, practice, and patience to learn how to do it right.
With all that in mind, what are the basics you’ll need in your kit? Obviously, you won’t get anywhere without a high-quality, but compact, camera. You’ll need a versatile tripod to hold it when shooting yourself and your food. Don’t forget lighting, because you can’t shoot what you can’t see. And if you plan on doing any narration, a good, external clip-on microphone is always recommended.
What’s more, this kit can be used for more than cooking shows—it works equally well for product videos or photography, for unboxing videos, or for shooting a book while remotely reading to kids at a library. Fast, flexible, and ready to go, with some practice you’ll have everything you need to deliver content that’s good enough to eat.
The Super35 sensor captures everything. Amazon
The Canon 90D is a high-quality DSLR that shoots professional photos and videos using an APS-C—or Super35—sensor. It outputs footage in 4K at 23.98p, 25p, and 29.97p, or at full HD at those frame rates as well as 50p, 59.94p, 100p, and 119.88p for some nice slow-motion shots. Some people might call 4K overkill for a food-prep video, but the oversized resolution gives you the option of punching in for extreme close-ups during editing without losing image clarity. At only a little more than a pound, the D90 is compact enough that it won’t get in the way of your culinary efforts, and with its rotating 3-inch touch-screen, you can keep your eye on the shot while you’re chopping veggies. The 90D includes in-camera audio, but more importantly, it has a microphone input for improved sound if you want to use an external lavalier mic. The EF-S mount accommodates a variety of Canon or third-party lenses, making it your newest, most flexible kitchen tool.
Covers both wide and tight shots. Amazon
A camera’s no good without decent glass, and Canon’s 18-135mm zoom is both flexible and affordable. On an APS-C format camera like the D90, which uses a sensor with a crop factor of 1.6, the 18-135 still provides a wide-enough field of view to take in all the action, while being able to zoom in tight to get all the delectable details on your food. A variable aperture of 3.5-5.6 means this lens isn’t the fastest on the market, but this shouldn’t be a problem in a kitchen environment where you’ve got control over lighting. Most of the shooting will be done using a tripod, but in case you do want to go hand-held for quick tour through the kitchen, the 18-135 includes image stabilization to help reduce shakiness.
Position the arm vertically or horizontally. Amazon
When shooting cooking videos, you need to think about two shots: Overhead, to see the food, and horizontal, to see you working in your kitchen. Unless you have a cameraperson to help you out, this means sticking the camera on a tripod. A pair of Manfrotto 055 tripods can handle both tasks with ease. (Alternately, pair the 055 with the Glide Gear OH100 for overhead shots. See below.) The 055 features a center bar that can be positioned either vertically or horizontally, allowing you to position the camera exactly where it’s needed. The ball head is perfect for more careful, minute adjustments to framing. The aluminum legs extend a full 185cm, and the quick-lock mechanism makes adjustment fast and easy.
Rugged construction. Amazon
Sometimes a tripod’s legs get in the way, especially when shooting overhead video. In those situations, the Glide Gear OH100 might make more sense. This sturdy aluminum H-style frame features mounting points along the center bar for a downward-facing camera, lights, or any other accessories you might need, and it’s easy enough to use clamps for anything else you might require. The frame holds the camera up to 27 inches above your work surface, and the wide, 34-inch design keeps the legs out of your shot. It only weighs eight pounds, and breaks down for easy storage.
Includes two of everything. Amazon
Whenever possible, natural light is a fantastic option for shooting video. For one thing, it’s free! It’s also soft and evenly balanced. But natural light isn’t always an option. Neewer Bi-Color 660 LED panels deliver bright light with color temperature that’s adjustable from 3200K (incandescent) to 5600K (daylight), making them easy to match with any existing lights in your kitchen. The lights are dimmable, and they can be plugged into a standard outlet or run using NPF-style batteries from Sony or third parties. LEDs run at lower temperatures than traditional bulbs, so these won’t add to the heat of the kitchen.
Omnidirectional with a locking input. Amazon
A clip-on lavalier microphone is essential if you plan on recording yourself while moving around the kitchen. While these often require both a transmitter and a receiver—which plugs into the camera or an external recording device—the mic on the DR-10L plugs directly into a small recorder that clips to your belt or slips into a pocket. It’s a convenient, all-in-one, budget-minded solution by a company that’s been making professional microphones for decades. By recording audio separately, you also also free up your camera to record ambient sound—like the pop and sizzle of your sautéing food. The kit includes an omnidirectional mic that picks up audio from all directions, reducing inconsistencies when moving your head around while talking. A built-in limiter and auto-level functions help prevent clipping and noise issues, and a dual-recording function captures two files, one at a lower volume, to a micro-SD card just in case. The system runs for 10 hours on a single charge, and it takes in external power via USB for longer record times. The only catch to recording on the DR-10L is you’ll need to sync the audio when you’re editing, but this isn’t difficult if your camera is capturing a reference track. We think the DR-10L’s ease of use and reduced equipment make up for the minor inconvenience.
Small and lightweight transmitter. Amazon
If you’d prefer to run your audio directly into the camera, a batter-powered, wireless lavalier microphone, with a transmitter and separate receiver, is the way to go. The ATW-1710 can switch between multiple channels to avoid interference with other wireless devices, and features 24-bit/48kHz wireless operation for clear sound quality. The LCD display provides battery status, signal level, mute status, and channel selection for both the transmitter and receiver, and an additional 3.5mm output jack on the receiver allows you to plug in headphones to monitor your signal. The transmitters and receivers use convenient AA batteries, so you never have to run out of power on-set.