Audio is a crucial component of making high-quality videos. Since the sound capabilities of video DSLRs are somewhat limited, consider the PIX 220 from Sound Devices. It connects to cameras with HDMI and records directly to QuickTime using Apple's ProRes or, optionally, Avid's DNxHD codec. Since the recorder uses ProRes and DNxHD, files recorded in the field can be used directly in post, making workflow simple and fast. A 5-inch, 800x480-pixel LCD display gives immediate confirmation of recording, playback, audio metering and Setup Menu selections. Estimated Street Price: $1,595. Contact: Sound Devices, (800) 505-0625, www.soundevices.com.
Also worthy of consideration is the popular MKE 400 compact shotgun microphone from Sennheiser. It reduces side noise and includes customizable sensitivity for long or short distances. A single AAA battery provides up to 300 hours of operation, and a foam windshield and shock-mount are included. The microphone also has a rugged all-metal housing. Estimated Street Price: $339. Contact: Sennheiser, (860) 434-9190, www.sennheiserusa.com.
WATERPROOF CASES In wet weather, keep your gear and gadgets dry in Aquapac Stormproof protective cases. The lineup includes 14 waterproof packs and pouches that hold everything from phones and MP3 players to cameras and laptops. While they're not designed for submersing in water, they do have a "fire hose proof" International Protection Rating that means they can withstand water projected from a powerful jet. The bags are made of TPU-coated nylon and have welded seams. Estimated Street Price: Varies. Contact: Aquapac, (866) 929-0639, www.aquapac.net.
DSLR VIDEO RIGGS
For more comfort and improved shot panning or tracking, use the Novoflex MMR BLUEBIRD, which includes integrated chest and neck support for even weight distribution during long shoots. Twin handgrips use a MagicBall joint with adjustable friction for precise camera alignment. Simultaneous horizontal and vertical swiveling camera movements, similar to a ballhead on a tripod, are possible. The rack system also accepts monitors and microphones with the optional mounts, as well as focusing units. List Price: $1,399. Contact: Novoflex (HP Marketing Corp.), (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketing.com.
Another option is the Camtrol, which has a cage-free design that's ideal when using a camera with a swiveling LCD display. You can use it with an HD DSLR or a small camcorder up to seven pounds via an ambidextrous "true-feel grip" for steady and level floating shots. Three locking ball joints and a vertical stabilizer bar allow the Camtrol to shoot from ground level, overhead or around objects. The device folds down to 10 inches in length for storage and transport. The unit comes in a variety of kits and configurations. Camtrol works with all POV cameras and Apple's iPhone 4. It also works with the Canon EOS 5D and 7D with monitors attached to the Camtrol receiver post and can be attached to a monopod or tripod with a quick-release plate. List Price: Begins at $399. Contact: Camtrol, (888) 722-6876, www.camtrol.com.
With a redesigned interface, AsukaBook Maker 2 is now faster and simpler to use for creating book layouts to display images. With similar functions grouped together and in categories, such as layout templates, masks and keylines, it's easier to get the look you want. With many preset layout templates available for free, simply drag the template you want onto a spread and drag images into the layout areas. Images are automatically resized and arranged to fit the template. If you don't want to use one of the included layouts, you can create your own. Once the images are arranged as desired, you can drag masks or Sloppy Borders onto the image for framing. There are a bunch of tools for editing and designing. Estimated Street Price: Free (app); Varies (books). Contact: AsukaBook, (866) 330-1530, www.asukabook.com.