Recommended Multimedia Equipment List

By D J Clark & Sharron Lovell

A Syrian refugee in Iraqi Kurdistan, 2012, Sharron Lovell

The following guide offers advice to people new to Multimedia Journalism and is designed as a guide rather than an in depth review. Before buying any new equipment I strongly suggest researching potential products online and checking there are no new releases since this was written.

Please note, equipment particularly cameras become increasingly difficult to recommend as there is so much choice and new models coming regularly onto the market. You’ll need to spend some time researching various models online to see which ones suit you and your budget. Once you have some ideas of your budget and the model you might choose, it’s a good idea to go to an actual store to try out a couple of options before purchase.

An important piece of advice, is that you don’t need to buy the most expensive equipment, Multimedia journalism is about telling stories not your equipment you use and we’ve seen amazing work from the most basic equipment. Our second piece of advice is not to blow your entire budget on a camera, cameras lose value quickly while lenses do not, and you’ll want to leave a good portion of your budget for one or two good lenses.

I strongly recommend listening to this podcast to give you an overview on buying equipment:

The guide is divided into two sections, essential equipment and extras. In the essential section I list 10 items I regard as necessary for any journalist who wants to have the option of shooting pictures, video and recording audio as well as writing a story while on an assignment. They are:

  1. A camera capable of shooting video and still pictures. (Alternately you may have two cameras one for video and one for stills).
  2. A computer capable of editing images, video and audio (With Adboe CC software installed — you can use the free 30 day trial for the first month).
  3. Memory Cards
  4. A sound recorder
  5. A shotgun microphone for recording ambient sound, street interviews and voice overs (*You may buy this item around week 4 or 5)
  6. A lavalier (or tie clip) microphone for recording interviews
  7. A tripod for shooting video, time-lapses and long expose pictures
  8. Headphones
  9. An external hard drive from backing up your assets
  10. A bag

See the video below for an overview of a basic equipment list:

As an #IMMJMA student You are required to have a basic set up by your first week of study. You may consider extras from the advanced section such as LED lights and a viewfinder later. We understand that everyone has different budgets and ways of working, therefore there are a range of budget options in each category, even the cheapest options will work well for a beginner.

In the extras section I list other equipment, mainly for video, that will enhance your creative opportunities and in some cases make your job a little easier to perform.

Basic Multimedia Journalist Kit: (Full set at a minimum of around £1000 pounds / 9,000 RMB excluding laptop).


You’ll need a camera capable of shooting video and still pictures. For students who are already shooting stills and or video you may prefer a set up with two separate cameras. For begginers we recommend a video enabled stills camera.

  • Sony Alpha a6000 The a6000 has a high-resolution APS sensor and EVF, the Sony A600 is a great choice for students. It can be easily set to manual everything. At a top ISO of 25,000, it performs well in low light and theres a growing line of E-mount lenses. Even if you upgrade this will be a wonderful b camera.
  • Sony Alpha a7 The A7 is an affordable full-frame digital camera the included 28–70mm kit lens is reasonable. The sensor delivers outstanding image quality, and its autofocus system is fast. It has a ultra-high-resolution electronic viewfinder.
  • The Sony A7s and A7r series are excellent cameras, though require a slightly bigger budget. If you are considering these cameras please speak with tutors.
  • Canon EOS Rebel T5i or T6i DSLR Camera with the 18–135mm or 18–55mm kit Lens. The latest budget-priced Canon DSLRs, the T5i offers great image quality, low noise in low light, a tilt-able touchscreen LCD. The versatile long-range zoom lens — a great tool for learning. *Note Nikon also offer alternatives in similar price and specs range.


You may already have a stills camera and want to upgrade to a dedicated video camera. These are some good options.


A computer capable of editing images, video and audio (With Adobe CC software installed — you can use the free 30 day trial for the first month).

  • Macbook Pro 13-inch retina display (i5, 2.7GHz and 16GB RAM and 128GB built in memory) (student discount at the BFSU Mac store)
  • Lenovo Y50 (i7, 2.4GHz processor, up to 16GB RAM and 256GB built in memory)
  • DELL XPS 15 (i7, 3.3GHz processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB memory).
  • ASUS ZenBook Pro UHD Laptop


Be careful when buying memory cards, some of the cheaper cards may not be fast enough to cope with the speed at which the camera needs to write video data. In just about every workshop I run someone asks me why their camera only records 30 seconds of video then stops, and 99% of the time is is because the card they have in the camera is not fast enough. For safety opt for read and write speeds of 95 MB/sec + 90 MB/sec. New cameras which have capabilities like 4K video or very fast frame rates — will need the fasted possible cards to keep up. It’s also important to note that in some countries, where fakes abound, you need to be careful where you buy the card or you may end up with a card that is slower and has less capacity than is stated on the label. You don’t want your card to fail on you just as you complete a day of shooting so don’t go cheap on this one.

  • SanDisk 32 / 64GB SDHC Memory Card Extreme Pro
  • SanDisk 32 / 64GB SDHC Memory Card Extreme
  • There are plenty more on the market Lexar, Transcend, Sony are all good options.


  • Zoom H1 audio recorder - Cheap and fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about this little recorder. I have been using it the last year almost on every assignment. It’s small, great for ambient recordings and can act as a second mic input with a tie clip mic attached if you are doing two people interviews. No XLR though(500 RMB on
  • Zoom H5 audio recorder - more expensive, if it’s your first audio recorder you might be better with the cheaper H1. This recorder has XLR inputs and additional modules that can turn it into a whole array of recording devices. It’s great for important interviews and could double as a mini mixer if you did not want to carry the extra equipment
  • Tascam also make a good range of audio recorders


  • Tie clip mic no brand (30 RMB in Zhongguancun). These mics are cheap as chips and will serve you well for the first term. After that you’ll probably want to upgrade to a 2–300 RMB mic.
  • Audio-Technica ATR3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier If you want a budget upgrade this is a very cheap but remarkably solid option. It comes with a good length cable and extra power too.
  • Tie clip mic Sony ECM-77B — Miniature Omni-Directional Lavalier Condenser Microphone If you want a serious upgrade, this is a standard professional lav mic but it needs to be used with professional kit. For DSLR work you will need a mixer as it is XLR and not powerful enough to use with the Tascam or the Zoom H4N.
  • I also like the Giant Squid mics which I have a few of as backups. They are robust and good value.
  • The Rode smartLav is also a good extra mic, it will plug into your phone and give you a surprisingly good extra option with the APP that comes with it.

Also take a look here:


  • Either the Sennheiser MKE 400 or the Rode VideoMic Pro Compact are reasonably priced and work well. Getting the on camera mic right is very important. Too long at the back and it will get in your eye when trying to shoot stills, too long at the front and it will show up in your your wide angle shots.
  • Shure VP83F LensHopper Shotgun Microphone with Integrated Flash Recorder, seems like a good option but we haven’t tried or tested this one. This microphone combines both a sound recorder and a small form shotgun microphone, excellent for saving space and can also give you back up when using the shotgun for ambient and street interviews.
  • See the B&H video below which looks at ways to improve the in-camera audio on “run & gun” style, single-operator shoots using camera mountable mics that plug directly into the camera’s 3.5mm external mic input.


Tripods are a crucial bit of kit and choosing the right one is a personal choice that must take into account your size and willingness/ability to carry a heavy weight around with you. If it’s your first time buying we’d recommend a cheaper option until you know more about your style of shooting, you can always upgrade later.

  • Benro tripod plus ballhead — (400–600+ RMB on Tabao). Cheap and cheerful. You won’t get any movements out of this, but it works and you can easily carry it around. I use one of these when traveling light.
  • Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod with 502HD Fluid Head Hybrid Video Kit
  • Sachtler Ace Fluid Head with 2-Stage Aluminum Tripod & Mid-Level Spreader. The Sachtler Ace is a good option for a DSLR as it is just about sturdy enough to be able to do professional movements and also has a leveling base that will make getting setup much quicker.
  • Gitzo Series 2 6X Leveling 4-Section Fluid Tripod Kit with Manfrotto 054 Magnesium Ball Head with Q2 Quick Release. I am a little isolated in the professional community for this choice but for much of my work I go with a lightweight tripod. I am normally working on my own and on my feet all day. The Gitzo is super light weight with carbon fiber legs, very quick to set up and packs down small to fit on the side of my backpack. It reaches up to eye level of most tall men and also has a hook underneath that allows me to drape by backpack on windy days for extra stability. The hook alone can make the tripod 3 times heavier than without it, depending on what I have in the bag. Again controversially I like using a light weight fluid video head as its quick to set up shots but it does limit my camera movement options. This one from Manfrotto is cheap but its a real tradeoff from using the Sachtler. If you are just shooting video I would not recommend it but for multimedia journalists who are multitasking or for people having to carry their equipment on foot long distances it can be worth the trade off.



you’ll need 2 x 1 or 2TB backup (800 RMB) (It’s a good idea to buy drives in your home country as there are many fakes in China). Again so many on the market.

  • WD My Passport 1 or 2TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive. Reasonably priced and very reliable.

10. BAGS

  • Safrotto F3 version or the Lowepro Fastpack 250–300 RMB. Bags are very personal go to a store and try your equipment in them and try them on.


Spare camera batteries

Batteries lose power quickly always worth having and carrying back ups


  • LED light — Z96 on Ta0bao (300 RMB)

Point of View Cameras

  • Go Pro Simple but great point of view cameras with lots of accessories and attachments to get them into places you would never think of putting a camera. They have four basic functions, video, stills, time-lapse and timer. Don’t think you can replace a DSLR with them though as HD they are but good quality they are not, particularly in low light situations

Wireless lav mic System

  • RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker Kit A new model combining affordability and quality.
  • Sennheiser EW112-p G3 Camera Mount Wireless Microphone System These are compact and very robust making them a favourite for many professional video shooters. The one downside for DSLR users without a headphone jack is they don’t have provide one for you which would give you another place to monitor the sound from if you were plugging them straight into the camera.
  • Sony UWP-V1 Wireless Lavalier Microphone These are a little larger than the Seinnheiser but do come with a headphone socket. As with the mini mixer the headphone out will only let you monitor the signal into the wireless unit and not what the camera is recording but it is better than nothing if you are using a DSLR without a headphone jack

Shot Gun Microphones

There’s a huge range in shot fun mics, ranging from a 100 to thousands of dollars. While for first time buyers we don’t recommend anything too expensive, we also don’t advise on the very cheapest models — if you are ready to invest in a shot gun mic, then you are stepping up your game and you may as well buy something that will last sometime and deliver professional quality.

  • Rode NTG4 Shotgun Microphone. Sharron is currently using this model, for one of the cheaper models on the market this performs really well. More expensive models will deliver better results, but this mic gives professional, broadcast quality sound on a budget.
  • Sennheiser MKE 600 Simialr to the Rode option above this offers a compromise between affordibility and quality.


DSLR’s are notoriously bad at dealing with the sound requirements of video. A mini mixer gives you four of the missing links. XLR connectors will make your audio signal more stable as the extra earth wire will help eliminate static and annoying interference from mobile phones etc and at the same time give you access to a whole array of professional microphones and other audio products. Secondly the mixer will give you a stronger signal into the camera which means you don’t have to max out the in camera levels to get audio at decent levels and degrading the quality of the sound. Thirdly it will give you a headphone socket so you can monitor the sound. This is not perfect as this is the audio going through the mixer and not what the camera is recording but better than nothing. Fourthly it gives you multiple inputs so you can mic up the interviewer as well as the interviewee, do a two person interview or use a shotgun and a lav to get a fuller sound.

  • Juiced Link Riggy Micro
  • Tascam also do excellent mixers

ND Filters

ND faders are a must for DSLR video shooters wanting to get maximum benefit from the large sensors. With the shutter speed fixed in most cases the ND fader gives you another way to bring down the light levels so you can open your aperture up and get shallow depth of field.

  • Heliopan 77mm Variable Gray ND Filter
  • Polaroid 77mm Neutral Density Fader Filter This is not something that you want to go cheap on if possible as it’s an add on that will directly effect the quality of your shots. However the Heliopan is expensive and a cheaper option like the polaroid can still make a big difference to the look of your video


  • You can pick up cheap, no brand LED lights at the camera market for around 2–300 RMB.
  • Cineroid L2C-3K5K On-Camera LED Light These are expensive for their small size but are very small yet powerful with lots of options.
  • Westcott Ice Light 2 LED Light This small form factor tube light is excellent for lighting interviews as the tube gives very little fall off onto a wall behind the subject and is also a very soft light. Not cheap, but beautiful and portable.

Small stands for lights / mics etc

  • Lollipod I normally cary at least one or two of these, sometimes more. They are very light weight, easy to set up and can hold a go pro camera, a light, a monitor, a microphone etc. They do break easily but are cheap so always good to have a small stock of them


  • Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x I bought one of these soon after they were released and have used it almost daily ever since. It’s expensive but solidly built and makes the task of focussing in bright light so much easier. I prefer to use the clip on rather than attaching a mount to the camera as this way I can quickly flip it off to shoot stills.
  • Cheaper models can be found online and in the camera market for 2–300 RMB, sure they are not as good as a Zacuto but they do the basic job.


  • Canon Timer Remote Controller or no brand copies. Not needed by Nikon users or those with magic lantern installed on their cards, the intervalometer allows DSLR filmmakers to shoot time-lapses. Great for moving clouds across a landscape or a busy road junction to show time passing. It’s light weight and cheap so should be in everyone’s bag just in case.

Camera Straps

  • BlackRapid RS DR-1 Double Strap A friend tried to persuade me to use these straps for a year before finally I did and I have never looked back since. They are comfortable to wear, quick to use and when combined with a tripod baseplate make it very fast to unclip and drop onto a tripod. I use the dual ones for two cameras with the option to also just use a single strap. Well worth the investment for anyone who has to do a lot of walking with their cameras.


(To be updated soon)

Support Rigs

The great thing about rigs is that they are extremely adaptable and you don’t need to have a single unit from one company. My rig is made up of components from four different companies which all bolt together to form one (multi-coloured) unit. In essence the rig should comprise of a base plate sitting on two metal rods to which you can bolt things. Handles for holding the rig off the tripod. A shoulder pad with a counter balance to allow you to use a DSLR as a shoulder mounted camera. A focus finder, either connected to your lenses or plugged into the USB socket of the camera (Canon only) and a bracket to attach your monitor. You may need extra places to plug additional extras like microphones, mini mixers and radio receivers.

  • Zacuto Recoil DSLR Not cheap, but makes you look and feel a little ‘Terminator’.

Aperture MagicRig Rigs come in all shapes and sizes and can be built slowly as you develop your video skills and add extra equipment. This is a good starting point as a simple brace that allows you to hold the camera more steady. Add a viewfinder and you have a great light weight run and gun rig.


Slider’s and jibs are extra weight and hassle to set up but can really lift your video. Movement sets apart straight forward news assignments to make them look more cinematic and combine this with the short depth of field the large sensors bring and you can elevate a straight forward assignment into a video that looks amazing.

  • The pocket dolly is expensive for its small size but robust and will give you a unique look that news crews shooting from tripods can not match
  • The Varavon Slide Cam Lite is a cheaper option.

Extra very cheap add-ons to pick up in local photo market:

  • Deadcat for mics
  • Hotshoe adaptor
  • Extension cord for microphone
  • Line to microphone wire to connect Zoom H1 to camera) — around 20 RMB


  • You will need a VPN — we recommend Astrill
  • Microsoft Word/Powerpoint or Pages/Keynote or similar word processor and presentation software. You will need to be able to save your written work as .doc files for our system of feedback.
  • You will need photo and video editing software, we recommend either the complete Adobe CC collection (Student edition or Chinese Trial Version is fine). Alternatively you might choose a photo editing / archiving software and FCPX for video editing. In class we teach using Adobe Premiere for video editing, however all tutors do also know FCPX so can help you with that.
  • Lightroom ( available as a free trial and cheap in China)
  • A website domain name and host subscription. This can be done in week 1.


All the above software packages are considerably cheaper if you buy the student versions please ask your tutor for details.

Formatting external hard drives:

Note Please format your external hard drives so they can be read both on PC and mac — instructions below. Please choose exfat and only do it with empty disks. Never format a disk with material on it as you will erase the files.

Antivirus Software:

You should install antivirus software on your computer. I’d recommend Sophos, its free and decent. It’s also easy to install and use. If you have USB drives you should be checking they are virus free before plugging them into others computers.


Here are two good overviews to get you started:

Once you have some ideas of the model or brand you might like, we suggest you search the model in posts to see recent reviews and tests.

Do not miss this: Building a set of usable lenses for less than $60 each

Where to Buy

Those looking to buy in Beijing we suggest buying from Zhaohui Shi in Hailong building, (call for exact floor and room). Her phone number is 13601183889. She’s a busy woman, so don’t just call her and bother her with questions, better to go to the shop. If you take the subway, metro station is Zhongguancun (close to the university) and you go to exit D. Hailong (written “Hilong” on the building but pronounced “hailong”) its huge building so you should find easily.

For Macbooks we suggest one of the two apple stores in Beijing. They have student discounts so bring your student ID. There is a shop that imports from Hong Kong and sells at discount prices. If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong it is a good place to buy all things Apple and hard drives. is the best choice for many things but beware memory cards and hard drives which could be fake. is similar to Taobao and Chinese folks say more reputable. From either of these stores you can purchase LED lights, microphones and anything not too expensive. You will need a Chinese classmate to help you buy and be sure to check the contents of what you bought when it arrives. Again there are a lot of fake goods in the market so be very careful about the store you buy from, a Chinese friend can help you to find a more reputable Taobao store.

If you like think tank or RRS gear check out

Manuals -Its essential to bring all your manuals for your equipment to class, with so many different models we may need to consult your manual from time to time. is the best choice for many things but beware memory cards and hard drives which could be fake. is similar to Taobao and Chinese folks say more reputable. From either of these stores you can purchase LED lights, microphones and anything not too expensive. You will need a Chinese classmate to help you buy and be sure to check the contents of what you bought when it arrives. Again there are a lot of fake goods in the market so be very careful about the store you buy from, a Chinese friend can help you to find a more reputable Taobao store.

If you like think tank or RRS gear check out

Manuals -Its essential to bring all your manuals for your equipment to class, with so many different models we may need to consult your manual from time to time.