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Budget video gear gets put through the rigors of Fashion Week by a pro
Can Flashpoint’s latest HD Video accessories stand up to the rigors of New York’s Fashion Week? Using my Canon 5D Mark II, I put them to the ultimate high-pressure test.
Fashion week: Designers, models, photographers and gawkers take over much of Manhattan. The pressure is high to deliver outstanding stills and videos. Can the latest Flashpoint products for DSLR video help me easily and conveniently shoot videos of the action? I brought a handful of Flashpoint products to test at New York Fashion Week Spring 2013. (For those who don’t know, the Spring Fashion Week takes place in the fall, and the Fall Fashion Week takes place in the spring. This is to preview the next season’s look in enough time so clothing buyers can place timely orders.)
And so, Fashion Week Spring 2013 was the perfect real-world test for Flashpoint’s new gear; I put together a rig for my Canon 5D Mark II made up almost entirely of Flashpoint gear. Here’s what I used, and what I thought of it.
Demo video: Flashpoint Video Rig in Action
I shot great video with a handful of useful items to keep the Canon 5D Mark II steady while shooting awesome make-up and backstage shots at New York Fashion Week Spring 2013. Check it out!
As you watch the video above, you'll notice there is no lens flare, thanks to the Flashpoint Matte Box System II, which I used on this rig. What else did I use in this setup? Read on!
Setting Up The Flashpoint Video Rig
I started with the Flashpoint DSLR Shoulder Rig II. It is very light, very strong and sturdy. Since this is fashion week I must be quick and thoughtful of others around me. Backstage is like bumper cars for video cameramen. I had to keep the shoulder rig narrow so I can use it without bumping into other cameramen or models. The front rail was way too wide. so I replaced it with a smaller rail that comes with the kit. I placed the front grips on each end and positioned the shoulder pad on the rails, and I was set with the shoulder rig.
I mounted my Canon 5D Mark II by using the plate mount that comes with the shoulder rig mount. My Canon 5D Mark II was locked into place and never moved. The camera mount is adjustable for height. I left mine down flush with the rails.
I then mounted my BeachTek DXA-2T Universal Dual XLR Camcorder Adapter underneath the lower part of the camera mount so I could connect any wireless microphone to it and be able plug it into the camera. This was great for me because I am able to have audio and DSLR controls near my fingertips without having to take the shoulder rig off my shoulder to search for the controls. Now I am all set for video and audio.
The next set-up task was to hook up the Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro II. It slides easily onto the rails and locks in. I wrapped the focus belt around the Canon 24 -105mm lens, then adjusted the width a little bit on the focus puller. It worked perfectly. I was very impressed by the focus puller and its weight. It also has two focus rods so you can plan precise rack focus shots.
Then I added the Flashpoint 312 LED light-Dual Color. Wow! This is a lightweight panel light that takes two Flashpoint NP-F330 DSLR camera batteries. It has a light dimmer on the back of the led panel, and a lighting temperature knob that allows you to adjust the lighting temperature from tungsten 2700 to daylight 5500. This feature is very useful, and Flashpoint did a great job with the overall design. I highly recommend this item. While shooting backstage every area is lit differently, so it is important that I can adjust tungsten to daylight at any time. This led light was perfect for that. Now the rig is rockin’!
Finally, I added the Flashpoint 7" TFT LCD Field Monitor, which has 1024×600 pixel Resolution with HDMI input. I placed it on the front rail of a rig arm I had in my closet, and mounted the monitor on it so I could use it without getting anybody’s way. The monitor worked great right out of the box—I did not need to adjust color or contrast. I got great HDMI video playback with the help of the Flashpoint HDMI cable.
Now I was ready to shoot smashing videos at New York Fashion Week Spring 2013.
The Fashion Week Field Test
Getting accustomed to the shoulder mount was very easy, and worked great. Camera mounts are locked. Focus puller is in place on the rails and the lens. Audio box is locked. Light with mounting shoe is working well and the arm holding the monitor for steady, well-lit shots is ready to go.
So, guess what happened? Nothing! Everything that I used from Flashpoint passed the fashion week first day test, and kept on working. As the week went on, I could not believe how durable this equipment was. All the gear was awesome throughout the week as I shot over 20 shows backstage with no problems.
Flashpoint Video rig: Ratings
Over all the Flashpoint DSLR Shoulder Rig II gets 5 Stars for the durability and cost.
Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro II gets 5 Stars for the easy latch-on the rails and weight is perfect and did not give me and trouble during fashion week.
The Flashpoint 312 LED got 4 Stars, only because it needs a better camera shoe mount to withstand the weight, and needs to work for at least a day. The light is awesome; everyone should have it for any DLST or Video camera. Keep in mind you will need to buy a stronger and heaver shoe
Flashpoint 7" TFT LCD Field Monitor gets 5 Stars. The HDMI picture is awesome and clean, right out of the box. I wish I had the time to play with the menus and other options but hey, it is fashion week! If the signal is clear, shoot before you miss your chance. Also look at other options to buy monitor arms and rigs; it is a must-have for any DP either in the field or in a studio.
Conclusion and Recommendation
I highly recommend Flashpoint’s line of accessories for DSLR video shooters or prosumer ENG shooters. They are available exclusively at Adorama; the prices are great, and the equipment really does stand up to a hard, bumpy ride like fashion week. Let’s not forget getting in and out of taxis, running back and forth to shows, knocking into people and, most of all, keeping all the gear intact. The moment when you hit the record button you are ready to rock, and to shoot great video with the gear.