Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Gear For Still And HD-Video Capture
Essential equipment for getting the best still and motion imagery and sound in the field
Your DSLR's internal microphone is an amazing piece of technology, but for the very best sound, think about an accessory microphone. Que Audio, Rode, Sennheiser and others make shotgun mic setups designed specifically for the DSLR shooter. These camera-ready sets come with everything you need to mount the microphone onto your camera and plug it into the mic jack. For more audio versatility, you can buy a device that lets you plug mics with XLR inputs into the DSLR. juicedLink is one of the most popular makers of these accessories.
Another route is having a dedicated audio recorder. The Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-07mkII are two units that are particularly useful, inexpensive and compact. These recorders have built-in, high-quality mics and they are incredibly versatile. The H4n can even take additional mics beyond the ones built in. Portable recorders are great for capturing some ambient sound independent of shooting video. Then you can just add the audio to your video or multimedia production when you're editing it together. Portable recorders and microphones are just a part of the contents of a camera bag in this golden era of photography and video.
A large accessory monitor is a fantastic accessory to have. It's not necessarily ideal for shooting fast sports action or wildlife, but for slow-moving subjects, it's great to have that big view. Your DSLR has a good LCD monitor on the back, but even the biggest and best are only a few inches. On the other hand, you can get a five- or seven-inch accessory monitor for just a couple hundred dollars, and it will give you a great look at the footage while you're shooting. Production-quality, highly color-corrected units are probably overkill for most OP readers, as these models can get expensive, but for a modest budget, you can have a monitor that's incredibly useful in the field. If you were a large-format photographer, you know the benefit of a having that big view to work with. If you've always been shooting with small viewfinders and DSLR LCD screens, the accessory monitor will change the way you see.
Shooting HD video takes up a lot of storage space. Get yourself a few high-capacity memory cards that are fast enough to handle the frame rate. Whether your DSLR takes CompactFlash or SD or both, you can find cards that'll be plenty fast for HD video. You want to have cards with approximately the same speed specifications in the camera if your DSLR takes multiple memory cards. That is, if your CF card is rated at 60 MB/sec read and write speeds, use an SD card that's as close to the same speed as possible. We suggest this because some cameras will write to both cards at the max speed of the lower-rated card, and it's not necessarily obvious when it happens. A good rule of thumb is simply to get the fastest you can afford with at least 8 GB capacities—16 GB is better. UDMA 7 or better will be plenty fast for your CF cards, and Class 10 is ample for SDHC and SDXC cards. Hoodman, Kingston, Lexar, PNY, SanDisk and Transcend all make solid memory cards.
One accessory that you probably haven't thought about is a matte box. These are the big lens shades that are normally associated with large professional movie cameras. You can get inexpensive matte boxes that will fit nicely on your DSLR or on your support rig, and that will fold down to a manageable size. The matte box acts as a lens shade to keep flare and errant reflections from spoiling your shot. They're particularly useful for occasions when your camera will be in motion.
This article only scratches the surface of the myriad items that can make a big difference for your still and motion shooting. Our goal here was to provide a brief overview of some of the more helpful products. In future issues of OP, we'll be delving into each of these types of gear and how to use them on your rig.
Page 2 of 2
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!