Here’s a a Quick Preview of Some Upcoming Gear Reviews
- Things have really picked up for me and I’ve been super busy once again. As my business continues to grow I’ve been doing a considerable amount of video work for my clients to go with my still photography and design work. As my video business grows so does my collection of gear necessary to do my work. And that means there’s lots of gear I can write reviews about. Recently I’ve been working with new equipment from SmallRig and Aputure and there’s also been a bunch of gear I’ve used for a long time that I’ve never reviewed. In this article I want to give a quick preview of some of the new reviews I’ll be sharing in the weeks ahead.
DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras for Video Work
I know there are a number of still photographers out there who don’t like the idea of using their still cameras for video work and I completely understand their position. For video work there are some seriously great video cameras. And while video cameras are awesome they do suffer from some problems that are easily overcome when using a camera like my Sony A6000 for video work.
The biggest drawback to most semi-professional video cameras below $4,000 is their lack of interchangeable lenses. The Sony PXW-Z150 is an awesome 4K video camera for $3,299. The lens has an awesome amount of zoom range but only gets to 29mm (35mm equivalent) at the widest.The lens is plenty fast at f2.8 to f4.5 but with a 1″ sensor it won’t have as much depth of field. As great as the Z150 is I can’t help but want a wider angle lens than 29mm. I’d also prefer an even faster lens (f1.4 – f1.8) and a larger sensor (APS-C or Full Frame) to really get some depth of field. The ability to choose different lenses is one of the biggest advantages to using a DSLR or mirrorless camera for video work.
But for all the benefits of using a still camera for video work there are serious drawbacks. Video quality isn’t quite as good and audio is often terrible. The good news is with a few accessories you can capture video that is absolutely incredible. The bad news is – you have to find a way to attach the accessories to your camera. That’s why you need something called a “rig”. Here’s a look at my complete video rig:
New gear from Smallrig
I own several products from Smallrig and I like the company because they sell products that solve problems. Best of all their products are not that expensive.
Smallrig makes a great cage for the A6000/A6300 that I really love. Additionally I use their 15mm rail mount and some of their 15mm accessories. I’ll be adding to my video rig over time but the main rig looks like this:
This rig lets me mount accessories like my Atomos video recorder to the cage instead of the camera’s delicate cold shoe. This system also gives me plenty ofl options for adding accessories (like follow focus systems or a teleprompter). Here is the Smallrig cage and rails without my Sony a6000 mounted:
Pictured are the Smallrig 1661 cage, 1674 base plate with 15mm rod clamps, a set of 1872 carbon fibre rods, a 1138 ballhead arm (without the included clamp) and a 1806 rail block. The total for what you see is around $100 and it is astoundingly sturdy. I’ll be writing a full review on my Smallrig gear soon.
LED Video Lighting from Aputure
Up until recently I haven’t owned a lot of gear from Aputure, but what I do own I’ve really loved. They are a company that specializes in LED lighting and microphones and I own a bunch of their A-Lav lavaliere microphones. I was blown away by the high quality and awesome included accessories for such an affordable microphone. I picked up my first A-Lav to let me do some audio recording on long road trips but found myself using them for my in-studio work. The A-Lav rocks!
As my video work increased I found myself seriously needing to add to my video lighting arsenal. After having good luck with the Aputure A-Lav microphone I decided to take a look at their LED Video lights. I ordered in the Amran AL-H198 video light and as soon as it arrived I began testing it out. Here’s a look at the complete Aputure AL-H198 kit:
Once again I was absolutely blown away by the included accessories. For well under $100 the Aputure LED light came with an awesome case, a cold-shoe ballhead, a diffuser and an orange filter. The only thing it didn’t include was batteries – luckily I have plenty of those so I was up and running in an instant.
The Aputure AL-H198 is super bright, has awesome light quality and so far I’m extremely impressed by it. In fact, I was so impressed I’ve already ordered another AL-H198 and I’m looking at some of their bigger lights to add to my kit. After I use the AL-H198 a little more I’ll be writing up a complete review article here on my blog.
Audio Recording Gear from Tascam
One thing that absolutely stinks about using a mirrorless camera for video work is the audio. The built-in microphones on my Sony A6000, for example, were so bad I spend a few hundred dollars on two Sony microphones (one stereo and one shotgun) to see if it helped. I discovered that it improved things a bit but I needed better if I was going to get serious about my video work.
I have a number of microphones from Aputure and Rode that work great. Unfortunately the Sony A6000 doesn’t include a microphone input so an external recorder was a requirement for me. I use two Tascam recorders and they’ve been solid performers for me. My favorite of the two is the awesome DR-60DmkII. It’s perfect for my smaller studio work and it’s extremely affordable. Here’s a look at my Tascam DR-60DmkII:
The Tascam DR-60DmkII has been an awesome performer for me and it costs well under $200. I have my eyes on a future upgrade (something with timecode capabilities) but for now the DR-60DmkII is my workhorse audio recorder. I’ll put together a full review article about it soon.
My Atomos Recorder
The quality of the video from my Sony A6000 is pretty good. But I was looking to get even higher quality and a larger display than the LCD on the back of the camera. I also wanted to be able to record the back of my camera for some tutorial videos. My Atomos Ninja 2 was a perfect fit for my current needs and it’s been an awesome performer. Here’s a look at my Atomos Ninja 2:
The Ninja 2 is probably going away soon (it doesn’t have 4K video capability or HDR display for log video) but it’s still an incredible performer for under $300. I’ll write up a quick review of my experience with the Atomos Ninja 2 and as soon as I upgrade to a new 4K HDR Atomos recorder I’ll be sure to get it reviewed as well.
Also Coming Soon
In addition to my gear I’ll also be writing up reviews on some new books I’ve received as well as some new software. My friends at Sleeklens sent me their Lightroom workflow for landscape photography and I’ve been putting it through it’s paces over the last few weeks. I’ll have a full review of their processing system soon.
Finally, I’ve been working hard to get my blog completely overhauled and I’ve been working on some new pages which will be appearing soon. I have a lot of gear so putting together a “my gear” page that is complete is taking me longer than I’d like, but it’s looking great so far and I can’t wait to get it published.
With my full work schedule getting things done here on my blog has been a challenge, but I love putting gear through it’s paces and sharing my experiences. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog as well as my social media to see when my new articles are published.
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