Amazon: King of Cheap Independent Filmmaking Gear

Amazon: King of Cheap Independent Filmmaking Gear


I'm overwhelmed by the amount of affordable filmmaking gear available on amazon. Just about anything is available, from follow focus systems to step-up rings to used lenses, filters, tripods, sliders, just about anything anyone needs to make their film or get their video business going.

If you're a patriot and like USA-made stuff only, you'd better steer clear or this decent-quality Asian-made gear, and in fact you'd better steer clear of sites like amazon and ebay altogether. In most of the item descriptions you can find out where it is manufactured, among all the other useful information like dimensions, user reviews, and specs.

Most of this crap is pumped out of Chinese factories just about as fast as the new original gear that it copies is released.

If I had the choice, yeah, I wouldn't consider the kind of equipment I'm talking about here, but I don't always have 2-3k to blow on a Red Rock system when I've already spent thousands on camera and lenses and audio stuff. If you have a production budget, sure you can rent or buy the high end Red Rock stuff, but if you're dabbling in filmmaking or doing lower budget video, this stuff, most the time, works just as good. You're always taking a risk when you order gear like this, but it's always a pretty low risk seeing as how the higher end equivalent is five to ten times the price.

A lot of this stuff is so basic that these cheaper amazon alternatives are either equal with the more expensive stuff, or at least they function decently and help you get your job done. Below is a short list of stuff I've either personally used or would like to get my hands on to test. 


Stuff I've personally ordered and put to regular use includes:

Translucent Umbrella - these are so simple that any of them should be fine, even the ones for cost a dollar. The most expensive ones are usually a little most robust, but they all work great for diffusing light in interview situations and other intimate lighting environments.

Camera mounting plate for 15mm rails - There are ton of these and some aren't so great. Get one that clamps to the rails so it can adjust. Some have fixed rails are very cheaply made. Steer clear of those. Get the one with several mounting hole sizes for added flexibility.

52-77mm step-up ring - You can get these for a couple bucks as opposed to the name brands for around ten.

Konova Slider - the Konova is not a low end product. It's available on several sites like adorama and B&H, not just amazon. It works great and I'll have a separate review up shortly. 

Filters - Don't just order any old filter. The Agfa filters look like some of the best deals around. I've also used a brand called Zeikos and they do work pretty good. There's also the Polaroid brand that makes quality filters for a good price. 



Stuff that looks like worthwhile purchases for your filmmaking kit:

ezPhoto 15mm rail Camera system - This is a kit that includes a camera mount and tripod mount, and some 15mm rails. This is your base so you can then add your personally chosen matte box, follow focus, and other accessories. 

matte box - There are a ton of 15mm system matte boxes on amazon. Most of them are cheap and don't have the adjustability of the Red Rock matte box that includes filter slots, barn doors and eyebrows. 

Follow Focus - Again, tons of these available. I'd recommend going with the ones that require lens rings. The ones that have wheel that directly touches the lens are typically not as accurate and not as adjustable. The ones that require rings can be used on any lens size and are very smooth and accurate. 

15mm Rails - These are just simply machined 15mm rods that allow you to mount more accessories. There's definitely no reason to pay the jacked-up prices of the Red Rock rods. 

I'm going to keep adding to this list. 

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