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Gear To Get You Filming Fast

5 Best Buys By JG Harding
Published January 2011

New to the world of video production and unsure what gear to buy? Our guide to the five best options in three categories will get you started.

Entry‑level Non‑linear Editors

These NLEs have certain features limited, but still provide a great solution for the aspiring videographer. They're good for those on a budget or keen to edit quickly, but be sure to check compatibility with your camera's shooting format.

  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. Adobe Premiere Elements 9 (£78$99): Windows only. Easy entry into video editing with simplified, clean workflow. No window for trimming footage; no 24P support; less native codec support than Premiere Pro; no batch capturing.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. Apple Final Cut Express 4 (£99$199): Supports DV, HDV and AVCHD; interface similar to Final Cut Pro. AVCHD must be transcoded; no timecode or batch capture; shorter Undo list.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. Avid Pinnacle Studio 14 HD (from £40$49): Consumer software. Supports HDV, DV and AVCHD editing. Editing layout is simplified when compared to Media Composer, but can create a decent edit.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. Edius Neo 3 (from £182$199): Similar to full version; handles many formats including AVCHD. Most omissions, such as 2K and 4K editing, relate to pro-level production.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10 (from £43$39): Provides an editing environment close to that of a professional NLE, yet feels very DAW‑like in operation. Limitations include only four video tracks and two audio tracks.


Although some camcorders have built‑in microphones, you're usually better off recording to a dedicated audio device. All of these models have XLR inputs with phantom power, so you can use your favourite mics for location sound.

  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. Edirol R44 (£699$995): This four‑track unit is solidly built and full featured, including built‑in effects on each channel and a pair of mics, as well as four XLR inputs and 24‑bit/192kHz operation.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. Fostex FR 2LE (£439$599): A two‑track portable recorder that records to Compact Flash media, this is well‑priced for its build quality and features.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. Marantz PMD661 (£519$529): A two‑track recorder with simple operation and rugged construction, recording to SDHC media.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. Tascam DR100 (£319$299): A two‑track SDHC‑card recorder with built‑in stereo mics, recording up to 24‑bit, 96kHz. Solid and simple to use, with Li‑Ion, AA and DC power options.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. Zoom H4N (£279$299): Zoom's recorder can record from stereo built‑in mics and two XLRs at the same time. Records to SDHC card and is rubberised and durable.


Camcorders and DSLRs aren't the only way to capture digital video. Here are five portable video devices that will slip into your pocket and let you capture footage out and about. These are ideal for those wanting an easy way to shoot with no need to learn menus and settings.

  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. Aiptek ActionHD GVS (£169$249): Mini camcorder from the US with flip‑out screen and 5X optical zoom, shooting 1440 x 1080p and 720p to SDHC card. Records 30fps only, but a low price for the features.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. Flip Mino HD (£89$229): Popular pocket‑sized 720p video recorder, runs for around two hours on a fixed internal battery. Recording at 30fps, shooting to 8GB internal memory only. There's a handy USB connector built in.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. GoPro HD Hero (from £199$269): Unique action camera shooting at up to 1080p, 30fps. Comes in kits to attach it to helmets, cars and surfboards! Waterproof casing and wide‑angle view make it a versatile piece of gear, shooting to SDHC card.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. Kodak Zi6 (£99$159): Kodak's portable recorder shoots 720p footage and sports a large 2.5‑inch screen. Shoots at up to 60 frames per second to SDHC, allowing for sharp slow‑motion video.
  • Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. Zoom Q3 HD (from £199$199): The only portable video recorder with a clear focus on audio quality, offering stereo 24‑bit WAV recording at 48kHz, at SPLs up to 130dB. HD version offers 1080p/30 video.