Vid101 – Don’t Leave the House Without This
In today’s episode, we go over my super important don’t-leave-the-house-without video gear list.
If you shoot a lot of videos, you probably have a lot of gear. We all tend to carry a little more equipment than we need for a shoot, which is better than carrying less; but in this video, I wanted to show you the basic, don’t-leave-home-without video gear to help you understand what it is that you need to take with you and what you don’t.
We assume that you’ve watched our other videography 101 episodes and if you didn’t you should definitely go check them out by using this link before you continue with this video.
The first thing you will need is a camera, this is obvious. My go to camera these days is the Sony a6300 which I really like as it gives me the option to shoot with different video profiles such as the Sony a7r, a7s and even the Blackmagic production camera.
Another reason to use this camera is the fact that it can shoot in 4k and even slow motion with 120 frames per second in such a small body with the price of about $600 and the small body gives you the option to use small tripod and monopods.
The next important items in my bag are my lenses. I usually carry with me the Sigma 18-35 Art Lens which on the Sony a6300 is about 27 – 52 because of the crop factor for the lens.
I like the lens as it is, super sharp and keeps on f-stop of 1.8 which will give a nice and shallow depth of field. Anther lens I use a lot is the canon 50mm 1.8 with the Metabone adaptor. On the Sony a6300 this lens will actually be a 90 mm lens because of the crop factor for the sensor.
The other lens I use a lot is the canon 70 to 300 which will be a 105 to 450 lens, again because of the crop factor for the sensor, again with the Metabone adaptor. I think these 3 lenses cover most of the needs for any type of coverage I’ll need to get.
3. ND Filter
An ND filter or Natural Density filter is just eyeglasses for your camera. The ND filter will help you reduce the amount of light going through your lens without needing to change your lens or your camera settings.
Here is an example, this shot was taken outside on a sunny day:
You can see that we have too much light going through the lens making our sensor go blind by it. To fix that we can push our aperture up – meaning get the blades on the lens to close down and permit less light to go through the lens.
The only problem is now that our focus plane – the area we can focus on – is huge, and if you like the shadow depth of field look, you’ll have a problem; well, not if you use an ND filter.
There are different ND filters out there, some cameras even have them built in, and some lenses adaptors like this one from Fotodiox has the ND filter built inside the lens adaptor itself.
I have a variable ND filter; this means that the density, or how black the Filter become can be controlled by twisting the filter around which will help you control the amount of light going into the sensor, leaving you with the option to have a very shallow depth of field like in this video:
4. Step Up Rings
As every lens and ND filter has a different size, it will be a waste of money to buy different ND filters for every lens you use.
My solution is Step-Up Rings. With the Step-Up Rings you can mount a bigger ND filter on a smaller lens, just screw the correct amount of Step-Up Rings onto the lens until you get the right diameter. You can use ND filter on all of your lenses.
Here I have the Variable ND filter connected to a very basic 50mm prime lens, and here I have the same variable ND filter attached to a much bigger Rokinon 85mm prime lens instead of buying 2 different sized variable ND filter.
Always have a small and handy tripod around. Maybe I’ll want to shoot a nice time lapse, or maybe I’ll need to interview someone – in any case – a small tripod is a must.
In fact, I have a small cheap tripod just lying in the back of my car as I can never know what I’m going to encounter. As I said before, this is why I love the small mirrorless cameras, they are small and don’t require a huge tripod.
Another solution I use all the time is my Benro Monopod. It has 3 collapsible legs at the bottom and it acts like a very small and handy tripod, in fact, the Sony a6300 that I am using right now is standing on the Benro Monopod while we video this.
All you have to do is to open up the monopod, open up the collapsible legs, screw the quick-release plate to the camera and attach the camera to the monopod using the screw and you are ready.
7. Extra battery and cards
It goes without saying, I never, never, never leave the house without extra batteries and cards. You don’t want to take the chance of a battery dying out in the middle of your shoot or that suddenly one your cards stops working. Always have an extra card and an extra battery to prevent any of the above situations.
This is why I love my Sony a6300; it can be recharged from an external mobile phone battery – just plug the external battery in and continue shooting.
I also carry with me at least two of the Sony NP line of batteries as I can use them to light up my LED light panel.
My basic light panel that I use all the time is the Aputure Amaran led panel. They are super light, and as they are led lights, they can work off the batteries for about 3 hours.
When I have a small shoot I’m using one led panel, and when I need more light I’m using two. These led panels can be mounted on top of each other, and as they are so light they don’t need a big and heavy tripod.
Another important part of my light gear is this semi-translucent fabric that I use to diffuse the light, in fact, the light that I’m using now is just two Aputure led panels mounted on top of each other with the diffuser fabric in front.
If I am going to shoot in a place I have never been in, I will always carry with me 3 different microphones. One is the good old Lavalier microphone, just put it on your subject and you are done.
Remember that the Lavalier mic is a little touchy, so if it touches the clothes or is out in the wind, you will get a bad sound. Another point with the Lavalier microphone is that if you have a crowd talking it will pick up a lot of the chatter, and your sound will not be as good.
For the crowd scenario, I usually get a dynamic microphone. The reason for that is that the dynamic microphone has a small pick up area. This means that it only picks up sound in a very close to the mic area, so if you have a crowd – it is your best pick.
Last but not least – a condenser shotgun microphone. This microphone is my basic go-to microphone.
The shotgun mic has a very narrow pickup pattern, meaning that it has to be aimed at the source of the sound to be able to pick it up. I have two shotgun mics that I use all the time: one is the Audio-Technica and the other is the Rode VideoMic Pro which I now use a lot as it can be mounted on top of the camera, or can be used on a pole and connected either to the camera or an external recorder.
10. Water resistant camera bag
Now, I know that sounds funny, who will not leave the house with a bag, but sometimes you want to go out and shoot something and you’re just too lazy or don’t have the time to get everything in your bag, and, that’s usually when you need it the most.
So, I keep a fail safe bag ready for any situation, and it has everything I need in it. If I am going on a big shoot and I will need more equipment with me, I will get the rest of the gear into cases and take that along with me, but whatever happens, I have my bag with me. That prevents any problem from happening.
If you have any questions regarding any of the equipment I mentioned, just write them in the comments box below and we will answer them in our next episodes.