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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gear Up For Video

A look at some of the key accessories one pro uses to make top-quality HD video with his DSLR

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Puffin Pad

THE pod
A beanbag is a simple and inexpensive way of adding support for your camera. Filled with beans or plastic beads, the beanbag is placed on a surface, the camera is placed on the bag, and the bag conforms to both. The flexible bag makes it possible to do relatively smooth camera moves without a fluid head.

I love beanbags because they make low-angle shots (that I love in both video and still photography) easy. Beanbags come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on their end use. THE pod (www.thepod.ca) includes a tripod screw to mount it to the camera. The Puffin Pad (www.puffinpad.com) is an inexpensive pad that’s designed as a support to go over a window and door in a car.

BushHawk 320D
Handheld Support
While most nature photographers will use a tripod for video, there are many accessories designed to hold your camera in front of you while supporting the camera’s weight on your shoulder, your belt and your hands. These accessories can make a huge difference in what your video looks like when you have to shoot handheld. Handholding accessories vary in size, complexity, weight and, of course, price.

Redrock Micro DSLR Rig
The BushHawk 320D (www.bushhawk.com) is a shoulder mount that’s great for helping steady your video while following action with a telephoto lens. Designed by a photographer/filmmaker, iDC gear is photographer-friendly. Redrock Micro (www.redrockmicro.com) offers a whole range of support rigs for DSLRs that are nicely designed and configured.

Steadicam Merlin
Steadicam (www.steadicam.com) and Glidecam (www.glidecam.com) make excellent supports for shooting video. Both companies have long histories in the film business, and their products are designed to let you move while shooting and maintain a rock-steady image in the video.

Glidecam HD-2000
With the larger sensors of all DSLRs (compared to HD camcorders), plus the ability to use fast lenses with large ƒ-stops, you gain the ability to precisely define focus to a particular part of the composition. An interesting way of using focus is to change focus while shooting.

The challenge is in how you change focus from one part of the composition to another smoothly and accurately. Lenses for still cameras traditionally weren’t designed to do this. A number of companies, including iDC and Redrock Micro, now offer follow-focus controls. These are basically large knobs that mount to the camera lens and include gearing to make the focus smoother and slower (as needed). These units also can be set up for smoother zooms during recording. As we go to press, an interesting new follow-focus device called the Intuitfocus Follow Focus (www.hpmarketingcorp.com) designed specially for DSLRs was introduced. Learn more in this issue’s In Focus section.


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