As the Hollywood community continues to embrace the razor-sharp HD video capabilities of the newest generation of Digital SLRs, many pros and weekend warriors are seeing the benefits of shooting videos with them as well.
Shooting HD video with your DSLR, however, is not as seamless as it looks. It is a much different animal than shooting stills, and there are a number of technical issues to consider before moving into this new medium.
If you are going to shoot like a pro cinematographer, you will need to think like one, so learning to ride manual focus on your DLSR will be the key ingredient to a well-produced video. Audio quality is going to be issue, especially if you are shooting outdoors. You are going to need a separate audio recording device as well as microphones and headphones to record and check the sound levels that you are shooting. Camera stability is another big issue. Since video can show even the slightest camera movement, keeping your DSLR rock-steady is going to be another key element to making your video productions really pop.
Here are a number of video accessories available from Adorama's Video department that are designed to help you take your DSLR videos to Oscar level (information current as of November 13, 2012):
Carrying Your Gear
Adding video to your list of projects is going to require purchasing new gear. And, lugging that gear comfortably to your next gig will require new toting options.
Lowepro recently rolled out its revamped Street and Field (S&F) Series, a modular carrying system said to be ideally designed to optimize workflow and help pros meet the growing demand for multimedia content. The heart of the system includes the S&F Light Utility Belt, S&F Deluxe Technical Belt, S&F Technical Vest and S&F Technical Harness. When either belt is worn in tandem with the vest or harness, the user has the ability to comfortably carry a heavy load while quickly accessing gear and adapting to fast-changing shooting scenarios.
Lowepro S&F Deluxe Technical Belt
Adorama price: $33.46
Lowepro’s S&F Deluxe Technical Belt offers a host of ways to organize and carry gear; it’s compatible with both the harness and vest. The ergonomic and flexible design holds multiple SlipLock tabs for attaching any S&F or SlipLock compatible case or pouch (up to 11 total) and wraps around the body with a snug and comfortable fit.
Lowepro S&F Light Utility Belt
Adorama price: $47.95
The S&F Light Utility Belt is constructed of removable segments to size up or size down and includes a detachable shoulder strap and cable ports. The cable-friendly design allows cables or wires to be threaded through the belt, then between belt and pad, for secure cable/wire management. A removable and adjustable shoulder strap may be used to help stabilize a heavy load or to create a single shoulder bag solution with other attached S&F carrying components.
Lowepro S&F Technical Harness
Adorama price: $29.99
Lowepro’s S&F Technical Harness can relive a heavy load when worn with either compatible belt; it converts to a backpack when paired with a shoulder bag. Other features include: a lapel strap keeper that secures a camera strap via sturdy straps and SlipLock attachment loops for expanding carrying capacity.
Lowepro S&F Technical Vest
Adorama price: $59.99
The S&F Technical Vest is said to provide a comfortable, tailored fit while supporting a heavy load at the waist when paired with either compatible belt. Two shoulder adjustments allow a custom fit of the vest whether you're wearing it with a short-sleeved shirt or windbreaker or jacket. And cinch-down side straps let you adjust the fit across back and shoulders. A lapel strap keeper secures your camera strap while you're in motion via sturdy straps.
Vanguard Up-Rise 33 Messenger Bag
Adorama price: $129.99
For the videographer on the go, the UP-Rise 33 offers the ability to expand in size to accommodate changing lens and gear needs. One quick zipper pull enables expansion; it also shrinks back down when the extra room is no longer needed. It has a sleek and sporty design with an orange interior, making it easy to spot loose gear. Other features include removable rain coats, multiple pockets for extra memory cards and lens caps. Rapid Access System features top and front retrieval points, so users never miss the action because they’re too busy fumbling over their stowed cameras.
Kata Pro-Light Resource 61 Video DSLR Shoulder Bag
Adorama price: $180.68
Kata’s Pro-Light Resource-61 PL shoulder bag is designed specifically for a DSLR system kitted up with video production gear and accessories. The large top compartment snuggly fits a DSLR connected to a stabilizing system and a modular Cocoon Pouch will fit anywhere in the remaining space and hold accessories most often needed or an additional DSLR body. The bag offers a spacious storage area partitioned with modular Aeriform dividers organize additional lenses and accessories and two side pockets can store accessories or personal effects, and a rear compartment can carry up to a 15-inch laptop.
Viewing What You Shoot
Since the autofocus feature is not an effective option for your DSLR when shooting video, you are going to need to focus manually and need to view the LCD screen to exactly see what you are shooting. An extra viewfinder will come in handy. They basically attach to the back of the camera and magnify the image, providing a much clearer view of the frame and thus making it easier to see if the subject is in focus.
Hoodman Professional 3-inch LCD Screen Loupe
Adorama price: $79.95
Hoodloupe 3.0 Professional can be worn around your neck just like a normal loupe, and you can also use it to review your shots by placing it over your LCD monitor to get a magnified view. Each Hoodloupe is encased in rubber for comfort and protection from bumps that will occur throughout your shoot. A comfortable lanyard and compact protective storage case included. It fits up to 3.0 inch LCD screens.
Hoodman Cinema Strap
Adorama price: $19.95
Hoodman’s Cinema Strap is a simple rubber mounting system that secures Hoodman’s Hood-Loupe 3.0 over the LCD screen of your DSLR for extended hands-free shooting.
Hoodman Cinema Kit Pro
Adorama price: $189.95
Hoodman has also added the HoodCrane hot shoe mount for using the HoodLoupe 3.0 during shooting. HoodCrane is available with the Cinema Kit Pro which includes: HoodLoupe 3.0, HoodMAG, a magnifying video eyecup for the Hood-Loupe 3.0.
Zacuto Z-Find-Jr. Optical Viewfinder
Adorama price: $251.75
The Z-Finder Jr. viewfinder offers a 2.5x focusable magnification, a 40mm diameter Zacuto optical design lens, a large form fitting eyecup preventing extraneous light leakage, and a field of view ideally matched to 3-inch LCD screens. The Jr. quickly mounts to the camera using the Jr. stainless steel mounting bracket.
Since most DSLRs feature a very small onboard microphone (which will pick up the unwanted sounds of you handling the camera, as well as the camera’s internal noises) and small microphone input you are going to need external audio recorder as well as mics and headphones to get better sound quality.
Zoom ZH1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder
Adorama price: $99.99
The Zoom ZH1 is a stereo handheld digital audio recorder that offers pro-level recording designed for musicians, journalists, podcasters and more. It records WAV and MP3 files, and the stereo Mics are in an X/Y configuration for accurate stereo images. It records onto MicroSD/SDHC memory cards and records up to 10 hours on a single AA battery. A tripod socket lets you mount the recorder to a tripod or stand.
Sennheiser HD 25 Dynamic Compact Professional Monitoring Headphone
Adorama price: $249.95
Sennheiser’s HD 25 is a closed dynamic compact professional monitoring headphone offering high attenuation of background noise. Capable of handling very high sound pressure levels and featuring extremely robust construction, the HD 25 is said to perform exceptionally well in high noise environments.
AmpliVox S1600 VHF Wireless Lapel & Headset Mic Kit
Adorama price: $199.00
Take your videos to a new level with a wireless two-channel mic kit, like the S1600. You can choose from Lapel and Headset with beltpack transmitter or Hand Held with Built-In transmitter.
J-CUBE Camera Shoe-mounted Video Accessory Mounting System
Adorama price: $79.95
The J-CUBE J-Rod Video Accessory Mounting System is designed to work on the shoe mount of your camera to give you 3 mounting points. The J-CUBE allows a microphone and a radio receiver to be mounted on your camera and leave a shoe open for a light, flash, audio recorder, hard disc, or extra receiver. It will fit in any video or still camera flash shoe.
Switronix DSLR FLEX
Adorama price: $129.00
The Switronix DSLR FLEX is a handle-mounted DSLR remote unit that will trigger HD video start and stop recording for both the Canon 5D and 7D DSLRs. The FLEX's clever gooseneck arm houses an optic to be positioned within line of sight to the remote sensor on the Canon cameras. Once in place, the remote transmits a signal through the optic when the button is depressed.
Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle
Adorama price: $599.95
This bundle includes the Flashpoint Matte Box, Follow Focus, and Shoulder Rig. Each part can be purchased separately. This affordable system is adjustable to fit different body sizes and will work easily together to give you smooth and controlled movement. This rig is a great starter system that will give you all the essentials you need for DSLR shooting. For a full review, see Rich Harrington's video on AdoramaTV.
Shine a Little Light
One of the most significant video advancements of today’s DLRS is their ability to capture images in much lower light than most of the video camcorders out there. But when a little extra light is needed here are a couple of bright options:
Lowel L-light with Stand-link, 100 watt 120 volt Flood Lamp & Clear Protective Glass with Holder
Adorama price: $133.49
The Lowel-light L-light is compact accent light that can be used as a quick kicker, a discreet backlight or, with diffusion, a subtle fill. With a variety of mounting and accessory options, it's a great answer for those situations where a small versatile light is needed. It uses any standard Edison (ed. E-26) screen in base lamp, including the special screw-threaded MR-16. Stores compactly with a lamp and barn doors attached.
Litepanels MicroPro On-Camera Dimmable 5600K LED Video Light
Adorama price: $314.00
The Litepanels MicroPro light is said to provide broader HD friendly quality of light and is ideally suited for mounting on DSLR cameras. Powered by AA batteries, it offers luminous, soft, directional lighting. Unit comes complete with three filters, including: Daylight to Tungsten Conversion, 1/4 CT0 Warm and White Diffusion. The MicroPro also includes a ball-head camera adapter and also offers a threaded receiver providing the ability to mount a MicroPro fixture directly on a light stand or camera arm.
With video, simply getting a steady shot can often be a lot trickier than it looks. In many cases, you'll later notice every slight shake, shift, and shudder of the camera when you play back the footage that you shot. To help compensate for this, many vendors have created a wide assortment of stabilization options for the latest crop of DSLRs.
Adorama Hands-Free Shoulder Support Bracket
Adorama price: $24.95
Built-in image stabilization systems take the jitter out of stills and video, but can’t keep your framing smooth and consistent. Adorama's shoulder support turns you into a human tripod, so that all your hands have to do is operate your DSLR or camcorder. Resting on your shoulder and torso while strapped around your back, it incorporates a large platform that can be unlocked to swing horizontally; a supplied riser/quick release can be screwed into the platform for extra extension and height. What it does: Provides hands-free support of your camcorder or DSLR for more comfortable, steadier shooting.
Glidecam Smooth Shooter Support Arm and Vest
Adorama price: $1,389.95
If you're looking to invest on pro-grade equipment to achieve steady takes, consider the Glidecam support arm and vest. The Smooth Shooter Support Vest will help evenly distribute the weight of the system across your shoulders, back and hips and the Dyna-Elastic Support Arm allows you to pivot and boom very smoothly, with virtually no noise.
Vanguard Alta + 263AP Aluminum Alloy Tripod with PH-32 Panhead
Adorama price: $169.99
The Vanguard Alta+ 263AP aluminum alloy tripod is their latest addition to their high end entry level lightweight and compact tripods. Perfect to take on the road for air travel and backpacking, the units’ legs adjust to 25, 50 and 80-degree angles with a simple push of easy-release buttons for terrain changes and great for getting those low angle shots. Other features include advanced camera vibration and shock control, all-weather foam grip legs, patented premium magnesium die-cast canopy and head. It also offers ergonomic handle, easy to lock panhead and splicing handle for easy carrying.
Manfrotto Video Kit with 701HDV Head, 755CX3 Tripod and MBAG80 Tripod Bag
Adorama price: $585.00
This comprehensive kit includes the 701HDV Professional Fluid Video Mini Head, professional video tripod and a tripod bag. Designed specifically to support the latest HDSLRs, the 701HDV offers an updated design, which offers improved ergonomics with locks and knobs that allow for a more solid grip and better control, a better fluidity thanks to improved internal fluid cartridges, a double pan-bar rosette and a bigger sliding plate to optimize the position of the camera considering its center of gravity. The Manfrotto 755CX3 Professional Video Tripod is being targeted to young videographers who need a user-friendly solution for their video production needs. The 755CX3 is a 2-stage, Carbon Fiber tripod with a built-in 50mm half ball leveling system locked by a detachable rotating grip, which allows the camera operator to level the camera without needing to make micro adjustments to each individual tripod leg.
Benro A2691TB1 Travel Angel Aluminum Tripod
Adorama price: $278.00
Lightweight and compact, Benro’s A2691TB1 tripod has reverse folding legs providing pros with a sturdy travel companion. The tripod legs can be inverted and folded back 180° making it small enough to carry just about anywhere.
Induro PHQ3 Quintaxial Positioning 5-way Panhead
Adorama price: $395.00
Induro has introduced a new series of Panheads providing videographers with new freedom for camera positioning. This latest product development utilizes a patent pending Quintaxial concept. Offering dual tilt, base and top plate rotation and an Arca-Swiss-style quick release system, these Panheads allow users to have full repeatable indexing on five axes for maximum control and flexibility. Another breakthrough is the set of unique folding control handles which simplifies packing and transport. Available in two sizes, each PHQ Panhead includes a matching Arca-Swiss compatible Quick Release Plate.
Redrock RunningMan DSLR Nano Rig
Adorama price: $467.00
The RunningMan DSLR Nano Rig is a compact rig that offers solid, support shooting with minimal rigging. With its compact design you can now have both stability and size on your side. The microBrace body pad, microHandGrip, and optional microFinder loupe accessory deliver 3 points of contact for ultra stable shots in a compact package. It’s an ideal choice for the run n' gun DSLR shooter.
Zacuto DSLR Z-Cage
Adorama price: $783
The Zacuto DSLR Z-Cage allows you to have a small, stable, and portable mounting solution for your DSLR and all of the accessories you are using with it. The Z-Cage allows you to gain a better form factor for holding the camera in your hands, thus giving you more stability when shooting and lots of options and space for all of your additional accessories such as an HD monitor, audio recorder and so forth. The Z-Cage utilizes their patented DSLR baseplate and DSLR handles which are very durable and form fitting to your hands.
Zacuto Z-DSR Striker
Adorama price: $810.00
The lightweight Z-DSR Striker from their Gorilla series has three points of contact by having one hand on the handgrip, the gunstock in chest and focusing hand on the lens. The Striker uses a gunstock pressing up against your shoulder and one hand on a handgrip and the other hand focusing the lens. The less hands holding the actual camera, the more stable the video will be. By adjusting the many Zacuto red levers, the kit is infinitely adjustable to work with any body type or shape. The handgrip and gunstock uses a ball joint so you can rotate them 180 degrees for user comfort.
Cinetics CineSkates Set with Joby Gorillapod
Adorama price: $284.95
CineSkates are three wheels that you attach to a Joby Gorillapod Focus and let you move the camera steadily for low-angle video rolling and arcing shots. You can buy them separately for $200, or together with the Joby Gorillapod Focus, to get some very cool camera movement. See Mark Wallace's video review here.
Redrock Micro M3 Cinema Lens Adapter
Adorama price: $1,320
For the serious Spielberg, the M3 cinema lens adapter is said to deliver razor sharp images with a beautiful feel, wrapped in a rugged professional body and support system. Users can achieve the sought after shallow depth of field and film look without many of the drawbacks of HDSLR cameras such as sound issues, codec, rolling shutter, full camera controls). The many technical achievements and enhancements of the M3 include: Monster oversized optics delivery approximately ¼ stop: nearly transparent operation, high rpm spinning ground glass enables stopping the lens down to f16 or more without showing grain, plus a state of the art power system with locking lemo-style connectors, auxiliary power ports, rechargeable batteries, and power status indicators. A M3 rig and HDSLR can be used together for a high-quality multi-camera solution that brings the best of both worlds together.