As part of launching his new startup, finservMarketing, CEO
Langford had plenty of experience working on "Locapour," a video series about locally brewed beer. In converting a pretty sizable home office space into a makeshift studio, he also knew that it's not necessary to spend thousands of dollars. Except for the cost of his Canon camera and some lapel mics he splurged on, "My home studio is extremely low-cost," Langford said. "You don't have to hire a professional video crew."
Langford only spent
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For shutterbugs and videographers
With the right lighting, Langford says, even low-end digital cameras and high-end camera phones can capture nice images.
"When you take an iPhone outside with sunlight, you can get breathtaking photos because the lighting is good," Langford said. "Lighting is absolutely key even if your equipment is inexpensive."
If you want to set up a home video or photo studio, you'll want to start with the camera. If you're stepping up from a camera phone, you can look at simple point-and-shoot cameras as well as digital SLR cameras, which typically start in price around
If you already have a good camera, great! But if you don't, consider a camera that can also shoot high-quality video at 1080p resolution. Some mid-range SLR cameras sold today can shoot stunning HD video as well, though they may not offer all the options that a stand-alone video camera would.
For photo and video editing, you could invest in powerful software such as Adobe's Lightroom and Premiere or Apple's Final Cut Pro X. But for most amateur users, you can get away with free programs such as iPhoto and GIMP (for photo editing) or Windows Movie Maker and iMovie for video editing; they're much more capable than you might expect.
For budding audio engineers
One of the pleasant surprises I found when we were putting together our "Statesman Shots" podcast late last year was that the cost of audio gear has dropped so dramatically that we could have put together a three-person recording setup for less than
If you want to do something simpler, say record your own video voiceovers or broadcast a very basic radio show, you could purchase a high-quality USB microphone such as Blue Microphones' Nessie and Yeti mics (
Even pro-grade condenser mics using what's called an "XLR" connector can be found online for
Langford says that audio in a home studio can be tricky; most people aren't set up with a quiet, sound-proofed space to record and must contend with background noise and echoes. He suggests lapel mics if you can afford them. If you're recording video with a cheap camera or phone, you may want to look at external microphones (or what's called a "shotgun mic") that plug in and offer much better audio quality. You can find some for under
In terms of software to edit audio, Apple's GarageBand, which comes free with all Macs (and is even available for iPads and iPhones) is very powerful, though there's a learning curve to using it well. On the PC side, the free app Audacity is popular among podcasters and even those with complex audio editing needs. Software likely won't be able to fix terrible audio, but it can help filter out some background noise and rough edges.
Other ways to cut costs
One other suggestion Langford has to cut costs is to consider purchasing used equipment or renting it instead of spending money on expensive equipment such as cameras. Precision Camera sells used cameras, for instance, and there's a healthy market of camera enthusiasts selling and trading equipment on
For a big video or photo project requiring pro gear, it may even make more sense to rent.
Unless you need a studio right away for a big project, don't be afraid to take your time and build up your space as items you're eyeing go on sale. It's nice to plan ahead, but if you can get by with just what you need, you'll stay on budget. For instance, you may not need full-sized tripods if you're only shooting small items or doing hand-held video. You may try something smaller, such as Joby's GorillaPods, which are highly adjustable and available in a variety of sizes starting at
If your project involves shooting video outdoors and with lots of action, a GoPro Hero3 camera (about
Whatever your home studio needs may be, just know that you don't have to spend like Spielberg to get some
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