Ever wondered what sort of gear I use for my filmmaking and photography? When I was just starting out (back in 2014), I remember the initial experience to be quite overwhelming. Which camera to choose? There are so many options! What about lenses? Will this lens work on that camera? What about lighting? How am I going to store my files? And most importantly, how much is all this gear going to cost me?

I’ve always been quite a frugal person. So I ended up deciding to simply start out with what I already had available to me, my iPhone 5C, and a cheap little point-and-shoot camera (Olympus SZ-14). Through much practice and experimentation, I slowly began to recognise the limitations of these systems, and over the years, have gradually upgraded cameras and added to my kit as I’ve gone. 

Below you will find listed almost everything I currently use for my projects (as of 2020) and what works best for my needs, primarily as a wildlife filmmaker. By creating this list, I’m hoping it’ll help ease some of the stresses involved in getting started, so you can spend less time worrying about gear and spend more time out shooting and getting creative!


The Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera. This APS-C crop sensor camera is both extremely lightweight and compact. Quite important factors for me when I’m outdoors hiking and for general traveling. I find the less weight I’m lugging around, the more energised and productive I am when out in the field.

The fully articulating flip-out screen featured on this camera works wonders for macro shooting. Often my subjects are at ground level and I need to shoot at extreme angles to capture them. My previous camera (Canon 1300D) had a fixed screen on the back, which meant I would often need to be lying down flat in the dirt awkwardly contorting my entire body to have any idea as to what I was capturing. So being able to now simply flip out and face the screen upwards, so I can just sit back comfortably, is incredibly handy. This design also allows you to flip the screen inwards against the camera body, helping to protect the screen from being bumped and scratched when it’s not in use.

Battery life is fairly good as long as you keep the camera completely powered off between shots. I can usually get through a full day of shooting on 2 fully charged genuine Canon LP-E12 Batteries. So it’s definitely handy to carry at least one spare. 

Another main selling point for me is that this camera can record video in 4K ultra high definition, which is four times the pixel resolution of the more commonly seen full HD video resolution. This allows for capturing incredible amounts of detail. Shooting in 4K mode on this camera will also narrow your field of view, providing a 2.56X zoom in 35mm sensor (full frame) equivalent. This additional zoom is quite useful for wildlife shooting, where getting a closer view of your subject is key.

For its price, the Canon M50 is a very capable camera. There are really only a few drawbacks that I’ve come to notice. The camera will struggle in low-lighting situations and doesn't have the greatest dynamic range when capturing both bright highlights, and dark shadows within a single shot. It also feels lacking in slow-motion capabilities when compared to other camera brands within a similar price point. The M50 doesn’t have a headphone jack for monitoring audio and doesn't display visual audio levels whilst recording video either. Making it an average option for recording dialogue and ambiance.

If you’ve got a slightly larger budget, here are some alternative cameras which have been on my radar lately and seem to tick many of the boxes for me. The Panasonic S5, Sony A7C and the Fujifilm XT-4. 

Just a side note, the Canon M50 Mark 2 has been announced for release later this year but there is very little difference between it and the original Canon M50. Probably not worth the upgrade in my opinion.


The majority of my work is shot through this macro lens. Being the first lens I bought, (several years ago now) it has seen plenty of use. The number of times I’ve bumped it, dropped it, half submerged it in mud...but it’s still going strong. Despite it being made from mostly plastic, it has a rugged, quality feel. It also features a tight, but smooth turning focusing ring, perfect for pinpoint focusing. I’ve found this lens to be very sharp between the aperture values of F5.6 to F11. 

60mm seems to be a nice focal length for macro shooting, as you can get some decent separation from your subject, whilst still filling them within the frame. I find this especially useful when shooting skittish insects which will run and hide if they see you coming too close. Or aggressive and/or venomous wildlife, which could very quickly reach your hand and do some damage if they were in the mood. Jack Jumpers (Myrmecia pilosula) come to mind!


Get even closer shots of your subjects with some extension tubes. These tubes are hollow rings of plastic that attach between the lens and the camera. This will shorten the minimum focusing distance of the attached lens, allowing you to focus even closer to your subject. The more extension tubes added, the higher magnification you can achieve. I often pair these extension tubes with my 60mm macro lens (mentioned previously). Even the tiniest of subjects seem like giants with this combo. Plus, with the Canon M50’s added zoom in 4K video mode, it pretty much turns this lens into a microscope!

The tubes can be twisted apart and made smaller to achieve your desired magnification. Plus, they also have electronic wiring built-in, so aperture and auto-focus communications will still work perfectly fine between the camera and lens.

You can even use extension tubes with a standard zoom lens, which usually will come included with your camera. This will create similar image results to that of a dedicated macro lens. A great alternative if you’re on a tighter budget.


A recent addition to my kit, and so far, it’s proving to be quite a tricky lens to use. When shooting small subjects like bugs, you’ll need to be virtually touching them with the front element of the lens in order to fill them within the frame. So it’s very difficult to shoot even mildly skittish subjects.  

Although, if you’re patient and lucky enough to pull off the shot, the wide-angle macro view offers a fascinatingly unique perspective.

In a traditional macro lens (60mm focal length or above), the background of your shot will, more often than not, be completely blurred out. With this wide-angle macro lens however, the background will be much more discernible. Showing more of the environment in which the subject is situated, and the close proximity of the lens to the subject, makes them seem truly larger than life. As far as I’m aware, there is no lens on the market quite like this one.

Being made of metal, it feels extremely solid. Weighing in at 410 grams, it’s by far the heaviest lens in my kit. It also features a focal shifting mechanism. Although, I’ve found it is very clunky to operate. The lever used to engage the shift is small and has razor-sharp edges. Quite a poor design really. I ended up wrenching it off with some pliers after my hand had been scraped by it one too many times. This then rendered the shifting function unusable, but it was worth the improved comfort in my mind. 


Despite its long focal distance range, this telephoto lens is very light and quite compact too. Telephoto lenses are great for capturing subjects that will usually require longer working distances, like birds and dangerous animals like snakes and crocodiles. I’ve personally found this lens handy for shooting arboreal ant species, like weaver ants, which generally nest way up in the canopy. Or highly territorial ground-dwelling species like meat ants, which will aggressively pursue anything which moves near their nests. In situations like these, the extra working distance can be essential.

This lens also features in-built optical stabilization. Although, when shooting at longer focal distances, any slight unsteadiness will be magnified in your image. So this lens is not ideal for handheld use. You’ll want to put the camera on a tripod for best results.

With this lens zoomed all the way in at 250mm, coupled with the Canon M50’s 2.56X zoom in 4K video mode, it’s possible to achieve a 640mm full-frame focal length equivalent. For such a small form factor, that’s some serious range!


As I mostly use Canon EF-S lenses, this adapter is essential for attaching them to my Canon M50 camera. Canon does have a range of EF-M lenses, which don't require any adapters to attach them to the M50. These lenses are generally even smaller and lighter than Canon EF-S lenses, which may be a better choice for your needs. 

However, in my experience, I actually find these lenses are too small. After testing out the Canon EF-M 15-45mm Lens (which usually comes included with the Canon M50), I was finding the lens uncomfortable to grip, and the focusing ring fidgety and difficult to focus with effectively. Additionally, Canon EF-S lenses usually feature physical switches on the lenses themselves, making it quick and easy to switch on and off stabilization and auto-focus when needed. Whereas the smaller EF-M lenses force you to toggle these options on and off within the camera’s menu system. Far from ideal.

With this adapter, you’ll also have the option to utilise Canon EF full-frame lenses, like my 15mm macro lens from Venus Laowa. It may seem counterintuitive to mount these much bulkier lenses to such a small camera like the M50, but if you’re planning on switching over to a Canon full-frame camera in the future, it may be a good idea to invest in these larger EF lenses instead; as EF-S and EF-M lenses are incompatible with Canon’s 35mm full frame cameras. Just a warning, EF lenses tend to be much heavier and more expensive.  


In my opinion, one of the best investments you can make is in some decent lights. I’ve bought a couple of these Glanz video lights and I’ve found them to be extremely useful over the years. They have adjustable brightness dials, great battery life, and like most of my gear, they’re lightweight!

I try to solely use natural light whenever I can. Although, when macro shooting, you generally want to be shooting with a fairly narrow aperture. I usually stick between a value of F8 to F11, depending on the size of the subject. This allows you to increase your depth of field, which essentially means, you can have a larger area of your subject in focus. 

At these smaller aperture values however, the camera’s sensor is receiving minimal amounts of light. So this makes adding additional sources of light on your subject, like these LEDs, highly important. Especially when utilising extension tubes, which will further cut down on available light. In this case, you’ll need all the light you can get.

Sometimes I’ll even use these lights in the pitch dark, filming nocturnal wildlife, like sugar ants. Or just to find my way home after the sun has begun to set after a long day out filming.

These video lights work quite well for photography too. Having a live view of how the lighting will affect the final image is the main advantage of using them over a more traditional flash system. Although, a flash can be a much more convenient and effective option in many scenarios. Being mostly a video shooter, I’ve been a little hesitant to invest in a dedicated flash system just yet. Something I’m sure I’ll explore in the future.


I mostly use this kit for diffusing light. The inner white circular panel is really useful on sunny days when I’m shooting small subjects beneath trees, and I’m getting harsh waving shadows from the branches above.

Even in overcast weather, where the clouds above do all the diffusing for me, I still bring this along, but not for a reason you might expect. I’ve customised the carry case a little (which the diffusion panel folds into), by adding in a few sheets of bubble wrap. Turning it into a lightweight portable pillow! Perfect for kneeling down on when filming low-angle shots. This way, my knees don’t get shredded apart by the end of the day. 


These tripods are super handy for macro work. You can get them very low to the ground, and the flexible legs can be molded onto almost any surface. Allowing you to capture some pretty unique angles. 

I have a couple of these Gorillapods and they’re mostly used for mounting my LED lights (mentioned above). Although, they’re more than capable of supporting the weight of my little Canon M50. Many times I’ve hung the camera on a branch halfway up a tree in order to film ants farming honeydew. Shots that would be difficult to achieve without one of these versatile little tripods. 

The joints of the legs do eventually wear out and loosen over time. So don’t expect these to last more than a few years of regular use. The ball heads are far more durable however, and can be removed and attached to another tripod once the legs begin to lose their stability.


Whilst Gorillapods are great for certain situations, they can’t quite completely replace a traditional tripod like this one. Made from aluminium, this tripod is solid, whilst remaining relatively lightweight. I’ve only had it for a few months now, but it feels very sturdy. I’d imagine this tripod will last for many years to come.

Really, tripods are just 3 sticks designed to simply hold your camera in place. So you don’t need to have the latest and greatest. One of the key reasons I chose this tripod over the countless other models and brands out there, is the fact that the center post (used to mount the camera) can be inverted. This allows me to lower my camera right down to ground level and capture some extremely low-angle shots. However, unless you’re comfortable operating the camera while it’s upside down, you will need to reattach it via the cold shoe mount, which is located on the top of the camera. Easily done with the use of some adapter screws.

With the legs fully extended, and the central post raised, this tripod can reach a maximum height of 1650 mm, more than enough for most shots. Although, if I think I’ll need some extra height, I will occasionally screw on an Extension Pole to add an additional 300mm.

I bought this tripod without a video head. So to mount my camera on top, I use a Joby 3K Ball-head, detached from one of my older worn out Gorillapods. A Joby Quick Release Plate is tightly fixed to both my lights and camera at all times. This way I can conveniently clip them to and from this Benro tripod and my Gorillapods in a matter of seconds. No time spent fumbling around screwing and unscrewing separate mounting plate systems. 


These tiny memory cards slot into the base of the camera and are capable of capturing large 4K video files from my Canon M50 without any issues. I prefer using smaller capacity cards and having more of them (either 32GB or 64GB cards), just as a precaution. Misplacing a single 32GB card full of footage, or having all the files become corrupted due to a malfunction, is not nearly as bad as having the same thing happen with a full 256GB card.    

I’ve only ever used these particular Sandisk SD cards. Not because I think they are any better than other brands, but I’ve just never had any issues with reading and writing speeds, or files becoming corrupted - touch wood! So I’ve decided to stick with what works. 

I have however, lost a memory card whilst shooting up in Northern Queensland. The card must have come loose and slipped out of my bag. I was devastated. 64GB of photos and footage lost! Since then, I bought one of these SD Card Hardcases for securely storing all of my cards and keeping them organised.


The key to creating good video, is capturing quality audio. This is something I’ve really struggled with over the years and I’m still trying to come to grips with. Whilst having a quality microphone is important, I’ve found focusing on the space you’re recording within and how your audio is being projected, to be equally as crucial. There’s some great YouTube videos on this topic from Alex Knickerbocker. Definitely check his channel out. He can certainly explain things better than I can!

This particular shotgun microphone is a very recent addition to my kit. So far I’m finding it incredibly adaptable. It’s battery-powered and can be plugged straight into a camera, phone, or computer, to capture great audio. I especially like the gain dial on the back, and the warning light which lets you know when your audio is too loud. I’ll mostly be using this mic for recording voice-over, ambiance, and potentially some talking head work in the future.


Shooting mostly on the ground and getting low-angle shots, inevitably, my camera and lenses are going to get a little grubby. Especially when using my Laowa wide-angle macro lens. With its tiny working distance, it’s often hard to track my subjects and nail focus without getting preoccupied and accidentally turning the protruding barrel of this lens into a shovel. This is where these little dust blowers come in handy. I always have one in my pocket ready to go.


So that’s my entire filmmaking kit! No doubt it’ll undergo some tweaking in the future, so I’ll try and keep this page updated as it does (last updated 24/10/2020). 

Whilst my kit isn’t exactly what is considered ‘professional-grade’ (there are certainly more feature-rich and higher quality options out there), I can understand that to a newcomer, and/or the more thrifty of you reading this, my kit may seem a little pricey. But just keep in mind, I’ve accumulated all these tools over the span of many years. I certainly didn’t buy everything at once, and I suggest you don’t either. It’s all about what works best for your particular shooting needs and your budget. 

So to summarise, if you’re primarily focused on macro wildlife shooting (like myself), to get yourself started, I’d recommend pretty much any modern camera with a macro lens, or else a standard prime or zoom lens paired with some extension tubes. But importantly, before you consider these options, start with what you already have and go from there. Most camera phones nowadays can produce some pretty impressive results. You can even attach clip-on macro lenses to them!   

Anyway, if you’ve made it this far down the page, I hope this has given you a better sense of my workflow and has provided some helpful insights as to which gear you may want to invest in. Best of luck with your photography and filmmaking journey!  

Filming some weaver ants. Proof you can get some decent results filming with a phone.