First, let me say one thing about quality and gear. The #1 thing that matters when creating content is the story. Cameras are just tools to do that.
When I first started shooting these street food videos in 2013, I came to China with the best DSLR I could afford, a Canon 5d Mark ii. Now, after shooting these videos for 4 years, I realize that was overkill. I could have come with a point and shoot or a cheaper DSLR camera. But I had made the mistake so many make, spending long hours planning and researching gear and looking at camera specs online dreaming about creating amazing videos that would wow people because of the gear I owned. I did all of this instead of just going outside and shooting!
One thing I learned, you need a story, good audio, and interesting content. These are much much more important than quality. Think to yourself, why do crappy quality videos always get shared millions of times on Facebook, while crisp and beautiful cinematic videos don’t? There’s a connection with the audience.
That being said, I’m loving the quality that we can afford now, and if you’re looking for an amazing camera, and interested in the gear we are using and have used. Check out the links below. If you purchase using the links I’ve provided, I will earn a small percentage, at no extra cost to you.
I just upgraded from the Canon 80D to the Panasonic GH5. This was a huge upgrade that was well worth the investment. The best features of the GH5 for me are the ability to shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second and also the incredible image stabilization. This is a huge help as it’s not always so easy to hold the camera still while shooting, especially when you’re shooting for long periods of time. The in body image stabilization works so well when shooting video. And when paired with one of Panasonic’s stabilized lenses, it’s amazing. One thing I love about the GH5 is the colours and vibrancy of the image. It really helps make every video you shoot on the street look like you’re in a dream. One thing I do not love about the GH5 is the autofocus. The autofocus while shooting video is a little slow and takes some time to get used to. To solve this, we are currently using manual focus with the added help of the “Peaking” feature provided with the camera. This allows you to see very clearly what is in focus and what is not by highlighting the in focus areas in red. It’s a huge help.
If I wasn’t so obsessed with having 4K, I would probably use the Canon 80D forever. The BEST thing about it hands down is the amazing autofocus. You don’t have to worry about focus while you’re shooting. You can literally just shoot and go. If you put the camera close to something, it will focus on it really quick. It’s also really good at focusing on people and it usually guesses correctly where to focus on. You can also touch any point on the screen and it will focus on that point really quickly, which both Ting and I found super useful when creating our videos. And using this camera body lets you use any of Canon’s EF-S or EF lenses. It’s also quite light for a DSLR which is a huge benefit when you’re shooting outside all day.
The Canon G7X mark II is our backup point and shoot camera. It’s awesome for taking photos when you need something quick and easy yet something high quality at the same time. It shoots great quality RAW photographs and it takes excellent 1080P video at 60 frames per second as a bonus feature. It’s also the best vlogging camera I would recommend if you are on a budget because the flip screen goes rotates up so you can see yourself if you’re shooting selfie style vlogging.
PANASONIC LENSES (Micro Four Thirds)
The Olympus 7-14 2.8 PRO is my current main lens. The best part about it is the image quality and the strength of the lens. The focus ring is sturdy and it’s quite easy to focus with, especially with focus peaking. It is an ultra wide lens with a wide 2.8 aperture letting us go into dark areas and still get usable videos. At the wide end, it’s slightly too wide but we still use that sometimes, and when fully zoomed in I find it’s perfect for food closeups. It’s a workhorse lens and although pricy, it’s well worth it! Panasonic also makes a Panasonic 7-14 4.0 lens which will match perfectly with the Panasonic GH5, giving you stabilization as well for slightly cheaper. I chose to go with the Olympus solely because of the wider aperture and gave up the stabilization. At this wide, I find that stabilization isn’t super helpful.
The Panasonic 35-100 2.8 is my current main telephoto lens. This lens allows me to get super tight shots of people walking on the street, busy alleyways, and of busy restaurant scenes with people eating and all the high energy that comes with them. I only use these 2 lenses with my GH5 and they serve me very well!
The Canon EF-S 10-22 is my go to lens with the Canon 80D. It is super wide and pairs perfectly with the body. The images it captures are sharp and crisp and the build quality of this lens is really quite excellent. It’s only compatible with APSC style DSLR bodies. Some have said that the build quality and images are quite similar to the more expensive Canon 17-40 4.0 L series lens, which I own and rarely use since I prefer the 80D’s autofocus, and the 80D is better paired with the 10-22.
The Canon 70-200 2.8 ii is to me the BEST lens ever made. It’s the telephoto I use for all of the street shots of people walking in busy alleyways and super busy restaurant scenes. When you open up the aperture to 2.8, WOW, the background blur is amazing and there is such a beauty to the images it creates. The images are incredibly detailed, sharp, and vibrant. Build quality is amazing and you will never want to put it down. It is an expensive lens that I bought when I first started my Foodrangin’ journey in 2013 that will be with me for my whole life. With the 10-22 and this monster lens, it’s all I’ll ever need for shooting video.
I’m currently using the Rodelink Wireless Filmmaker Kit as my on-body lapel microphone. Audio is just as important as video and I’ve always used a lapel mic to capture the interactions with local people and to make sure that the background noise is not too loud when compared with my voice. To me this is super important, but it depends on your style. A lot of vloggers prefer the Shure Lenshopper or the Rode VideoMic Pro. All of these solutions will provide high quality audio.
The Shure Lenshopper is my second mic that I will use sometimes to capture street scenes or chopping sounds. It can really capture the details of the sound. Think of the succulent Beijing duck skin that makes that crisp noise when being cut. This lens would capture that noise perfectly .It could be used as your full-time mic depending on your preferences, but I prefer my lapel mic.