Shooting videos on a shoestring budget

After developing your YouTube brand and designing your episodes, it’s finally time to pick up the camera and start shooting your video!

If you’re like many online video creators, you probably had sticker shock when you bought your first camera. Some creators have invested hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars into quality lenses, sturdy cameras with built-in microphones, tripods, lighting, green screens, and so on. And the quality shows in their videos.

The good news? There are ways to cut corners when you’re shooting videos on a budget.

Bargain vendors

First, keep in mind that Fullscreen creators get an exclusive discount on cameras and equipment at B&H Photo, Video, & Pro Audio! Beyond that, you can search on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon for used models of DSLR cameras, camcorders, and hand-held point-and-shoots at good prices.

Black Friday sales (coming up on November 28) will knock down the cost on state-of-the-art DSLRs and camcorders. But older models will still likely be cheaper than any deals you’ll find that day.

Cameraphones and webcams

With the advance of technology, newer iPhone, Android, and Windows 8 cameras can shoot HD-quality video. The main drawback with these options is the lack of manual overrides: these camera phones white-balance automatically, changing mid-shot if you move from one side of the frame to the other or if lighting changes in any way. Smartphone microphones also aren’t great, and you’ll have to find or create your own smartphone tripod holder.

The webcams on most Windows and Apple laptops are also convenient, though their quality may not be as high. But with the right lighting and the right microphone (which we’ll cover in future posts) you can use your laptop webcam to shoot video worth publishing anywhere.


The cheapest way to access a camera is to borrow from a friend or school. If you know someone who has a quality DSLR or camcorder, ask if you can borrow it from time to time. Make friends with local photographers and filmmakers. If you’re at a university with a film department, or if your middle or high school has a photography department, ask what the procedure is for loaning or renting cameras.

Originality over budget

Even if you don’t yet have the budget to buy the ideal equipment you want, you can still make quality content. Producing truly original content is key to success—and knowing good editing techniques, producing good audio, manipulating lighting in the house, and using natural outdoor light effectively can make up for shortcomings in your camera setup.

Good luck with your videos, and stay tuned for more production tips coming soon!