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I'm a complete video novice, who's only ever shot anything with his parent's handicam. I want to make a video for a Kickstarter project, and I want to do a good job.

The video will be very simple, with the camera completely still and only a couple of shots, likely all of them indoors.

I've been looking into renting a video capable Nikon DSLR for a couple of days, and I'm wondering, do I even need an externally attached lens? Will the camera be fine without one? What are the consequences of not using one?

If I do need a lens, what should I look for?

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    Does the kit your looking to rent come with a lens ? – Adam Mann Pro Jun 29 '15 at 8:28
  • No it doesn't. It would just be a camera, with maybe a strap or whatever. – blaineh Jun 29 '15 at 20:21
  • I've added a link to one of the cameras I'm considering. – blaineh Jun 29 '15 at 22:31
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    Just to clarify, a DSLR with no lens won't take very useful pictures. They generally come with a basic lens, but it is removable, and it is possible to buy/rent a camera without any lens. This is only done if you already have a lens (or set of lenses) and don't want the extra cost. – user1118321 Jun 30 '15 at 5:13
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I just finished working with a company that has had several very successful Kickstarters.

IMHO, lighting and audio are more important than camera type for this type of video, as long as you have a pro-sumer camera that shoots decent 1080p HD. Many successful campaigns have been shot on a DSLR with a stock lens. If you want to buy an additional lens then your first lens should be a "nifty-fifty".

An external microphone is way more important than camera.

Here is the one piece of advice that was given to me by someone that has run mutltiple multi-million dollar Kickstarters. Don't let someone that is dry and boring be the spokesperson for the video.

Of course the owner/CEO of the video wants to be in the video, but that's not always the best choice to be the talking head. Instead use them in action scenes, Like at a workbench or a design table.

EDIT: I re-read your post. I assumed it came with a kit lens and you were wanting to know if you should upgrade the lens. The poster above is correct, you have to have a lens. But what I don't understand is why are you going with such a high-end DSLR?

The camera you are looking at, the Nikon D7200D, is a great camera. But it's also an overkill for what you need. It's a 24MP camera that can shoot video at 60FPS. HD video is only 1.8 MegaPixels and you only need 30FPS. For almost the same price as the rental of the body and lens you could buy an older model (refurbished or used) DSLR with a 50mm lens and own it. This would give you time to learn how the lens AND the camera work since they are two different beasts.

Also because a DSLR is not primarily a video camera, it's actually a little bit more complex to setup for video. Not ideal for a beginner. A Pro-sumer HD video camera would be a better choice but it costs more.

So I would actually recommended, for a beginner, a camera with a built in lens. Something like a Nikon Coolpix that shoots full 1080p. You can definitely get one of those (factory refurbished) for less than what you would pay to rent the Nikon D7200D with a lens.

I know I'll probably get criticized for that recommendation. But if you don't know how to use the D7200D, then you probably won't shoot anything better than would with a Coolpix.

Now all you need to do is learn 3 point lighting. If you put a key-light on the back of your subjects head, then you will shoot something better than most other kickstarters.

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  • By "stock lens", do you just mean the one that is in the body of the camera? Or do you mean a basic lens that is externally attached? Ultimately, I'm just trying to decide if renting this camera "as is" will work out. – blaineh Jun 29 '15 at 23:47
  • A stock lens is also called a "kit lens". It's what comes standard with most DSLRs (unless you buy the body only). Generally it's an 18-55mm lens. Unless you are trying to recreate Hitchcock's famous "Vertigo Effect" it should be just fine for a Kickstarter video. – FernoFilms Jun 30 '15 at 1:04
  • Which Coolpix model would you recommend? Owning a good hd video camera would be wonderful. – blaineh Jun 30 '15 at 23:57
  • This one is jumping out at me as a good combination of cost and quality. Am I crazy? – blaineh Jul 1 '15 at 0:06
  • Having a good camera to take nice still photos would be great too, I could easily find many uses for that. – blaineh Jul 1 '15 at 0:06
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To use a DSLR for video, a lens is a requirement. A DSLR body is only a sensor and control circuitry, with absolutely nothing that will focus light on to the sensor. If you could even get it to record without a lens attached, you would simply have a large colored square recorded.

That said, for what you are trying to do, a DSLR is probably not what you want to use anyway. DSLRs are popular in video circles because they allow you to use a variety of lenses and accomplish high quality video effects that can't be done with comparably expensive video cameras, however they are not user friendly.

They require far better knowledge of photographic principals and video shooting technique to produce quality results. They are more difficult to use than video cameras and without practice and training, you are likely to get a far better quality of video using a decent normal video camera.

Additionally, as others have mentioned, the sound and lighting is also highly critical to getting ideal results. Stay away from renting a DSLR for shooting the video unless you have someone familiar with using DSLRs for the purpose. They would also be able to determine which lenses you needed for the shots you are planning.

If you do still want to rent a better camera, instead rent a prosumer video camera, such as the Black Magic Cinema Pocket (still needs a lens) or something like the Canon XC10 that is on that same site you were looking at. It costs a bit more than the body only for the Nikon you were looking at, but it is cheaper than the cost of additionally renting lenses. It really probably isn't necessary as long as the camcorder you have shoots decent quality HD video though.

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