Often we stumble, haphazardly, across a byline on some social media sites which seem interesting, but more often than not, they are lists. Most of the time these lists are not even click worthy, other times they aren’t as informative as they suggest, but once in a while there are some little gems/nuggets.
Let’s start with the misleading list.
Now, you’ve either clicked the link and you’re no longer reading, or you’re patiently awaiting my explanation as to why this list is… Well, a bit rubbish.
- The prices are in American dollars, this should be referenced in the heading, it’s not hard to add (USD or US) to the title. It’s clearly going to be viewed by International audiences since they (these links) often appear on social media, which has no global borders.
- Most of the cameras are BARELY under $1000 (US), so you aren’t necessarily getting the deal of the century.
- Several of the cameras listed are the body only (the exception is the GoPro), so although you’ll be paying under $1000 (US), you can’t go out shooting immediately. You’ll now need to find competitively priced lenses and or research the best/better lenses (bang for buck). In other words, you need to spend additional research time AND you’re still going to need to spend more money before you have a functional camera.
- The post is potentially sponsored as all prices are linked back to the B&H site. They are generally cheaper in some cases and will ship Internationally, but the referential tags in the links suggest The Beat get a modest referral fee, this isn’t a bad thing, but it maybe to push up sales or push non or slow moving stock (but this is conjecture only).
Don’t get me wrong, there are some positive aspects to this list, they do include pros and cons for each of the 8 cameras and they also feature a couple of filmed examples. But of all the cameras listed, only two are ACTUALLY filming specific cameras, the others have it as a secondary feature to their primary function (of taking PHOTOGRAPHS!), this makes the prices reflective of the functionality. Granted most of the cameras have been adopted by countless filmmakers, but I’d rather see HD video specific cameras listed, at least the majority of those you can immediately hit the streets and shoot with.
The next post is a little closer to getting you where you need to be, if you already have a camera (obviously) and you’re looking to start filming something (watchable), the following might be a little more your speed:
- Number 4 in this list is a decent LED light, you should never rely on natural lighting as it’s so changeable. A minimum of 3 lights will see you at least able to shoot interviews or MCU and CU shots for a short, just remember to defuse your lights if they’re too bright or harsh. And also remember to have three lights offering the same light type (EG: Tungsten or Daylight). White balancing also helps!
- Depending on your camera, item 6 on the list is also a worthy purchase. If you’re filming guerrilla style and need to be in and out of an area (due to a lack of permission, restricted access, or private domain) a monopod is quickly and easily setup and doesn’t need to be collapsed to be moved once setup. Just remember, a monopod is still a poor substitute for a Tripod.
- The 7th item on the list is a good pair of headphones, but the main point here is to ensure you have over head headphones and preferably noise cancelling, this will ensure you can more easily hear your shot clearly and can pick up on that plane/car/screaming child/siren/etc, which will potentially ruin your sound or continuity in post production.
- Clean sound is good sound, never rely on your DSLR cameras internal mic, they aren’t great in most situations, 8 on the list is a nice basic Rode video mic and at a reasonable price. BUT before purchasing a microphone, always do some research and read the pros and the cons or reviews for each product. So much post production time can be lost trying to remove pops and burrs or just dirty feed from microphones and/or your filming environment. A good microphone with direction adjust-ability (for Shotgun, Omni/Directional positioning) is always of better benefit.
If you have the luxury of a sound person, the Tascam DR-05, positioned at number 9 on the list, is a good start. But for my money I would spent a LITTLE bit more and get the DR-40, it has much more functionality and versatility. Although Tascam would be my preferred brand, don’t look past the Zoom recorders, a lot of people swear by them and they too are competitively priced.
- Lastly on the list, a bag, this one is obvious especially if you are a crew of one, or just looking to shoot B-Roll. Never underestimate the need for bags and cases, and try and separate your production “departments” as best as possible (EG: A case for sound, a hard case for cameras, a briefcase style case for cables and so on). If it can all fit in your boot, you’re ready to go out and shoot.
Granted there are some very specific items on this list which aren’t entirely necessary, the over the shoulder rig is nice, but you can achieve more with a Manfrotto Fig Rig as they are just a bit more versatile and less restrictive.
Other items listed are clearly brand specific, so if you don’t own a canon camera, or a canon camera which is compatible, then these items are realistically wasting space here, space which could be used a little more expansively. Perhaps a boom pole, or directional lighting could have been included and replace the Canon specific items… Just a thought.
There is a third (much older) list, which is a little comical, but it does list items often over looked.
- Items 2 (Sandbags), 3 (Clamps), 5 (Gaffer tape), and 12 (Notebook) should never be underestimated and ideally included in every field kit. Granted 5 (Gaffer tape) and 12 (Notebook) should ALWAYS be present, no exceptions!
The cable bag listed at number 7 is a good idea, but as previously mentioned, and the more cables you have, the more likely you should look to the better functionality of aluminum “briefcase” type cases. Many of these cases already have elastic looping/strapping in the lids which removes the need for individual cable ties and will go a long way to speed up your setup time.