1. Know about the camera:
Okay, so let me preface this by saying that not every director is a camera wizard, Kevin Smith is a good example of a director who admits to not being super camera savvy, but he none-the-less makes great movies (in my opinion). The greatening accessibility and the lowering costs of modern cameras, as they seem to be getting smaller and more efficient at a constant speed, makes me feel that it is important to understand how cameras work to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Even at the no-budget level, it will cost something, or you will have to be pulling a lot of favours (do it if you can). We are talking around $5000 CAD or less here, for the bare basics of what I needed to achieve in order to be satisfied artistically. It is possible to make a film for less, but I found that to be the choice amount if you want to acquire your own gear. If you can find people with their own gear who are willing to help out, that can save you some more money. But I personally enjoy having my own gear as a director so that I can ultimately decide to shoot anything at anytime I feel necessary, with any crew I want.
You can now get a camera for $2000 or less that has incredible capabilities when it comes to dynamic range, and utilizing these cameras can make your film stand out visually and increase the value of your image. At this point it becomes a sound investment towards the quality of your films picture, without endangering your life financially in the process. Learn about dynamic range, codecs, resolution, aspect ratio, depth of field, sensor size, etc. Apply this knowledge to which camera you decide to buy.
For example, the camera I chose was the Black Magic Cinema Camera, which comes in many different variations. I bought mine used, and saved around $300 doing so. The camera was practically like new and worked without issues. The version I chose has a Super 16MM equivalent sized sensor. Now, I needed a lens. I wasn’t sure which mount I wanted to go for, as the camera offers several different options. I knew that I wanted a lens that could open to 2.8, and I knew that I wanted it to be as versatile as possible so that it would be feasible to shoot the majority of the film using just one lens. What I settled on was the EF-Mount and a used Tamron zoom lens that has a range of 17-50mm (without the crop factor), f2.8 constant, costing $320. For a cheap lens, it is surprisingly sharp. The options and combinations of lenses and cameras seem ever abundant. But this combination gave me exactly what I wanted for around $2400 total, adding on the price of an extra battery that plugs into the camera and gave me up to 6 hours of extra life.
Find out which options work for you and fit that within your budget. It will pay off in the end, when your visuals look great. With a little saving, you won’t be completely broke in the process. Take your time, and shoot your movie, with a capable camera that you now own. It made sense to me.