Everything you’ll need to shoot video (properly) on your DSLR.
You’ve decided that the allure of shooting video with a DSLR was too much to resist. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. One of the major barriers of entry to this sort of product is the shear volume of stuff (crap) you have to buy just to make these things work “right.” So, since I have nothing better to do, here is the little bit of research I’ve done to help you quickly order all the necessary ingredients to shoot quickly. I won’t go into lens purchases, because that’s a whole other article.
I don’t like to spend a ton of money – so for you Bloomberg’s out there – yes, there are better/more expensive items then the one’s I’ll list, but have you read the news about the economy? By the way, I’m still finding stuff that I need all the time. Hopefully, the madness will end and we can just concentrate on shooting/what we’re having for lunch.
Compact Flash or SD cards are you’re only two choices really. There are high speed cards and regular ones. Video requires less speed (oddly) than shooting continuous raw stills, because of the h.264 codec. I suggest not blowing your hard earned dollars on speed and instead going for size. An 8gb card gives you 24 minutes of 1080p video. I’ve had luck with the Kingston Elite Pro 32gb card for my Canon 7D. The cost $77.
You can go with a pelican case for those situations where you need the camera to be checked under a plane or survive the holocaust. I went with a backpack configuration. This way, all your stuff is comfortably on you at all times. These backpacks from Zeikos cost $20.
Self Explanatory. In this case, I don’t buy knock offs. Why? Because I’ve had so many problems with knock offs not charging in the OEM charger that came with the camera. Trust me, these things eat batteries. I’ll already tried to cut that corner several times. Learn from me. Canon’s cost $67.75. Get the AC power supply, that doesn’t come with most cameras for $62. I still have yet to use mine since the batteries last so long. Seriously, think about getting the battery grip add on. It stores 2 Canon batteries in it and can run on AA’s, which will save your a**. Cost $72.95.
My God – the amount of things you’ll want to strap to this camera! There’s only one shoe adapter and no place to velcro anything. You’ll need a shoe adapter or rod/cage system. If you’re going mobile with the camera, a full on rod system or cage is a bit overkill. If you just need to attach a shotgun, wireless and light try J-rod. They have tons of cool multi-shoe products for cheap. I like the J-Cube. $80 beans.
On Camera Light
Good news. On camera photo lights are pretty cheap for their performance. I like LED lights because of the low power draw. Litepanels Micro is the real deal, but a nice, cheap alternative is Alzo. They have a great, dimmable LED that runs on AA’s or Sony Lithium camera batteries for only $100. It will blind you it’s so bright. A couple of these could light a whole scene.
You will never miss the ND filter wheel on your video camera more than when you start shooting with your DSLR. Shuttering up is not always an option, and can produce funky results. You can get an expensive mattebox like everyone else or try this, the Cokin Filter Holder. It uses the ubiquitous 4″ square filters. So, put in it anything you’d like. It attaches directly to the lens, so you’ll need to buy step up or step down rings to fit all your different lenses. Warning: it may be useless with a really wide lens, because it’ll catch the edges.
Orginally, I fought the 2nd source audio thing by buying a Beachtek XLR adapter. It didn’t work out. The DSLR is just not built for sound, and what I was recording didn’t even meet my low standards. You should get the Zoom H4N audio recorder. It’s reasonably priced at $299 and will accept XLR inputs as well as 1/4″ cables. It will record for hours on the smallest of SD cards and runs on AA’s. Combine this with PluralEyes syncing software and recording 2nd source gets really easy.
Do you guys have any other stuff you’ve found that works. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments. I haven’t filled my backpack yet.