07767 403 402 hello@meehow.co.uk

Best cameras and equipment for documentary film makers


This is a bit of a geeky post, but those of you interested in film making – and more specifically in the equipment used to create online documentaries and other videos – will find it useful.

I came across this infographic through one of my newest Twitter followers, Cameron Robertson, who posted a link to this page with POV’s 2013 Documentary Filmmaking Equipment Survey results.

I won’t analyse the entire list of results, just wanted to focus on a few interesting highlights. You can see the rest on the infographic below. (You may need to click on the image below to open it in a new window and enlarge).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the camera brand of choice for most documentary filmmakers is Canon. But it’s the gorgeous C300 (above) that leads the way among Canon users. One filmmaker quoted by POV said:

The Canon C300 is still the best out there for filming broadcast-compliant HD documentary material in a difficult environment over long periods without grip support.

The relatively new Canon 5D Mark III and 7D have almost as many fans as the grandfather of DSLR filmmaking, the lovely Canon 5D Mark II.

But while the C300 is the camera of choice in general, for interviews and multi-camera events, most people seem to prefer DSLRs.

The really cheap Canon nifty-fifty (50mm, f 1.8) is the most popular prime lens for Canon users, followed by its more expensive and faster equivalent, the 50mm f1.4 version. Canon’s L-series lenses lead the way in the most popular zoom lens category.

Sennheiser and Zoom seem to be the most popular audio brands, with Sound Devices and Rode some way behind them.

A massive three quarters of all respondents use Final Cut Pro (primarily FCP 7) as their editing software and only 26% rely on Adobe software to cut their films. It’s interesting that almost two years after its release FCPX is still used by a minority of editors who prefer the Apple software over Adobe or Avid.

In terms of colour correction, DaVinci Resolve leads the way, followed by Final Cut Pro and Magic Bullet. But animation and special effects are done using mostly After Effects, as 69% of those who responded opted for Adobe’s software.

There are many other interesting bits in the survey results, but the two that stand out are:

– Swiss Army knife is hugely popular among documentary filmmakers, and

– if you’re torn between buying new equipment and renting it, here’s your answer:

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.23.20




See the complete results of the survey below (click and enlarge image).

pov-documentary-tools-survey-2013-results-734-v4 big