The $1,000 Church Video Studio Setup

You do not need expensive gear to shoot a great looking video. Here’s how to build a video studio for $1,000.

September 13th, 2017

Do you want to shoot video announcements? Are you interested in creating a video studio for your church? Are you curious to know what equipment you will need?

You do not need expensive gear to shoot a great looking video. And to prove it, we are going to compare two videos to prove our point. We will shoot one video in our $20,000 studio, and we will shoot the second video in a studio we build for nearly $1,000.

Recently, we gave you a behind the scenes look into our $20,000 video studio. In this video, we showed you every piece of gear we use and how it all works together.

We understand most churches and ministries cannot afford $20,000 to set up a video studio. In this article and video, we will show you how you can set up a video studio for just $1,000. In the end, we will compare videos shot in both studios to show you the difference.

1. Pick your camera and lens

Let’s face it: Cameras can be expensive. But you do not have to break the bank to purchase a nice camera that shoots quality videos.

If you are just getting started, we recommend the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera. This camera will run you around $550, and it will meet the vast majority of your video needs with professional quality.

Another great camera option you can choose is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7. This camera is slightly more, coming in at $597. It can shoot crystal clear videos with its 4k format, and it takes stunning pictures, too. We don’t have this camera in our office, so we cannot shoot a video with it for our test. But, if you have a budget for the right lens, I think this camera is a better option than the SL2.

Regarding cameras, the industry is releasing new models at a crazy-fast pace. The Canon SL2 was recently released, and we don’t even have it yet. We use the Canon SL1. So, if you want to save even more money than what I’m suggesting, you could buy a pre-owned Canon SL1 or find a new model at a discount since the SL1 was discontinued.

Now, one of the reasons I love shooting with a Canon is its functionality. You can pair it with what the camera world calls the “nifty fifty.” The nifty fifty is a 50mm lens, and the one we recommend is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. This lens costs around $120 and comes with an f-stop of 1.8, which is important for creating the shallow depth look in your videos. In other words, it can create a blurred background.

Other factors come into play when it comes to the depth of field, such as the sensor size of the camera, the proximity between your subject and background, and the distance between your lens and subject. However, your lens f-stop does play a major role in the depth you can create with your video.

If you are going to purchase the Panasonic G7, make sure you pair it with a lens that is going to give you a similar depth of field as the Canon EF. A great lens option for this camera is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens. This lens will help you produce selective focus effects, it can work in a variety of lighting situations, and it takes a sharp picture. However, at $399, it is nearly three times as expensive as the “nifty fifty.”

2. Stabilize your camera

To stabilize your camera and lens, we recommend using the Manfrotto BeFree Tripod, which is a great fit for both of the cameras we recommended above.

3. Purchase quality audio equipment

When it comes to setting up your video studio, you will feel compelled to skimp on audio products to save money. But this is one of the worst decisions you can make.

Many people are surprised when I tell them they cannot skimp on audio equipment, but the quality of your sound is more important than your video quality. You can shoot a high-quality video that looks like real life, but if no one can hear what you are saying, then your video doesn’t matter.

Since we are working with a modest budget, we suggest purchasing the Audio-Technica AT8035 – Shotgun Condenser Mic, which comes in at $269. For the price, this mic provides an exceptional audio quality.

To capture the audio, we plug this mic into the Tascam DR-60Dmkll Portable Recorder. This audio recorder will run you $199, but it works wonders.

If you want to save money, I suggest choosing a less expensive mic, such as the VidPro XM-55 Shotgun Microphone Kit. This mic costs only $78, which is a huge price saving compared to the Audio-Technica Mic.

Now, for most churches, you probably have a mic stand lying around somewhere, so throw your mic on whatever stand you have, and you are ready to go!

The $1,000 studio versus the $20,000 studio

Okay, if you add up all of the gear above, you are right in the $1,000 range to set up your video studio. Now that you know what equipment you need to purchase to build your video studio, let’s see what videos look like shot in the different studios. Are you ready to see what a video looks like shot with this equipment? If so, then watch the accompanying video at the top of this post.

I know I am biased, but, as you’ll see, the video quality is not bad at all for a little more than $1,000.

The key for every great video is the lighting, and, truthfully, we have excellent lighting in our office. If you are new to shooting videos, I encourage you to experiment with different locations in and around your church facilities, different depths, and with different angles and lighting to see what works best.

Conclusion

So there you have it: The $1,000 video studio versus the $20,000 studio.

I know the differences are real, but the $1,000 setup is not 20X worse than the $20,000 installation. Not even close.

For recording videos, the equipment you use and the lighting you have are valuable, but your gear or lighting does not make a great video. It is the man or woman behind the camera who makes the difference. So make sure you have someone with a trained eye or a person who is willing and able to learn to shoot your video announcements.

Do you have a video studio setup for $1,000 or less? What equipment did you use to build your studio? Share what you use in the comments below. We’d love to learn from you!

  • Nat_K

    We are so early in this game, but it is working for us:
    -iPhone 6s using the camera app for video
    -Shure’s MV88 mic for the iPhone
    -mounted on a phone holder on a tripod
    -we use a laptop with powerpoint as a side-mounted teleprompter
    -iMovie for simple video editing
    -we bought two licensed tracks to use for background music
    -our lighting is natural in our lobby

  • Paulo Araujo

    Brady, how about lighting?

    • Paulo, make sure to give the video attached to this article a watch. I discuss lighting there.

      • Paulo Araujo

        Hi Brady, I gave your video a watch. I did not see a segment about lighting equipment. Were you referencing another video? Thanks for your help!

        • My bad if it wasn’t in there. There is so much you can do with natural light, both indoors and outdoors. We’re working on more specific videos breaking these techniques down. Be on the look out for those dropping soon!

  • Jessica Dixon

    We’ve been shooting 4K with an iPhone 7 Plus on a DJI Osmo handheld gimbal (for action shots – VBS, baptisms, Fall Fest, etc ) or a simple tripod with iPhone attachement & a $50 TelePrompTer … it’s been a game changer for us. While we dont get the depth that a dslr provides, the picture quality is top notch and the stability the osmo provides is a dream. If you have $300… go buy an osmo asap👍🏼

    • The Osmo is clutch, Jessica! So glad it’s been working out for you.

  • Great info, Brady! Do you have good, yet economical video editing software you can recommend for smaller churches with a small budget?

    • Youthman

      We use DaVinci Resolve. Awesome professional editing software and it’s FREE!

  • J. Mayfield

    Quick question- I love the setup your suggesting, but we would like the ability to record audio with a wireless lavalier mic. What do you recommend as far as a receiver and mic that would work well with this setup?

    • I don’t love using lav mics, but if you’re set on it, we’ve had good success with Sennheiser lavs.

      • J. Mayfield

        We purchased much of the above gear and made our first attempt at video taping our service last Sunday. All was well until the camera stopped just shy of 30 minutes of video recording. We couldn’t figure out why being that we were using a16gig card- much larger than we needed for one recording. I started searching the web for answers and found several others experiencing the same problem. The simple answer seems to be this: Many cameras (at least Canon) have a 30 minute/4gig auto-shut off. Regardless of how much space remains on the card, the camera will automatically stop recording just shy of 30 minutes or at 4gig. A few camera experts chimed in and suggested this was common knowledge and that most videographers using a regular camera record in smaller/less lengthy segments that they splice together- meaning they never encounter this problem. But for me (and other inexperienced users out there) I had no idea. This creates a huge problem for us as we wanted to record the sermon portion of our service in one long segment. Not to mention, more importantly, we did not want to have someone sitting at the camera at all times. (We just wanted to hit record before we started and hit stop after we concluded.) If I would have known about this prior, it would have influenced my decision to purchase. One writer wrote in and suggested if a person is looking to record in uninterrupted segments longer than 30 minutes, then they need a camcorder and not a camera. Being that I purchased my camera on Ebay, I’m unable to return it. I wish I would have done more research.

        • Roxanne Wiedemann

          I am so sorry about that. We usually include a disclaimer in camera posts that they do have a recording limit. The gear needed to film a live service/live stream is very different than this set up, and generally costs more in the $10,000 range, we just didn’t think to include the disclaimer in this post.

          Again, I am so very sorry.

        • Sean Hynes

          Hello J.Mayfield i am a filmmaker from the NY area and i suggest you purchase a NINJA 2 from atomos to bypass the 30 minute recording limit on your dslr