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MULTIMEDIA

Choosing The Right Gear For The Right Job

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1/10/2013 9:11:39 AM

Getting professional results when shooting video on DSLRs can take quite a bit of work. One thing you can do to make things easier and give yourself a better chance of producing great quality material is to ensure you have the right tools for the right job. With this in mind, I’m going to give you some ideas of good DSLR/lens combos for a variety of different DSLR video situations you’re likely to encounter.

Weddings

Wedding shooters need to be fast on their feet. Often there’s no time to change lenses in the heat of a fast-paced ceremony, so prime lenses, despite their sharpness and low-light ability, aren’t going to be suitable in a lot of cases. You’re going to need a good quality, fast lens which covers all of the focal lengths you’ll need.

Wedding shooters need to be fast on their feet.

Wedding shooters need to be fast on their feet.

Most wedding photographers (and pro photographers generally for that matter) have the Canon 24-70mm f/2,8 in their arsenal as their go-to lens, so it’s no surprise that this is my recommendation for wedding videography too. It covers a wide variety of focal lengths, from a wide establisher of the chapel to a close-up of the kiss from afar, and importantly for video work has a fast constant aperture of f/2,8 (the minimum I’d recommend for any video work). It also helps that the image quality is astounding, and the recently updated Mark II is said to be even better in that regard, and is a bit lighter too, A good pairing with this would be the Canon 5D Mark III, Its fantastic low-light ability means that a poorly-lit chapel or dance floor won’t hold you back from getting some great images. Also important is its 29 minute 59 second record time versus the 12 minute record time of older DSLRs, which will allow you to record the whole ceremony in one take without having to cut halfway through,

Corporate

Producing a broad range of corporate content constitutes the vast majority of my professional work. Every job is different, so I like to use a variety of lenses to cover different eventualities, I like to keep a good 50mm prime on hand as it makes a great lens to cover different eventualities. I like to keep a good 50mm prime on hand as it makes a great Lens for beautiful interviews and b-roll footage alike.

My favorite is a slightly esoteric vintage 1988 Zeiss Prime Iens which I I-iad speciaUy adapted to fit a Canon EF mount. Apart from being sharper than a razor (especially useful considering the relative lack of resolution DSLRs have) its dampened manual focus and aperture with hard stops makes it ideal for filmmaking. Unlike modern stills photography lenses, which continue to rotate past maximum and minimum focus, the hard stops makes pulling focus manually much easier. Therefore, if your budget stretches I’d definitely recommend checking out Zeiss’ ZF and ZE mount lenses for Nikon and Canon, These will be similarly sharp and beautiful, and the Nikon mount models also have manual aperture, and for that reason are often used on Canon bodies with an adaptor. Canon’s 50mm f/1,2 L is also a great choice.

Another good option for corporate work (and filmmaking in general) is the Canon 17-55mm f/2,8 IS, Despite the lack of L designation, it’s as sharp as other L series lenses (only the EF-S designation holding it back from that status, apparently). Its secret weapon, other than its sharpness, fast constant aperture and good focal range, is its image stabilization capabilities, smoothing out handheld shots and making it great for b-roll shots for a variety of corporate shoots. Pair this with a good APS-C camera, like the Canon 7D or 60D, for a powerful corporate combo,

Music

I’ve shot a number of music videos with DSLRs in my time as a professional videographer. They afford a brilliant chance to stretch your creative muscles and try out a variety of different techniques. Both of these videos: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RslTQty_Wcs and www. Youtube.com/watch?v=2p9NB4UixSA were shot mostly with a 50mm prime and a Tokina ll-16mm f/2,8. This is one of my favourite lenses as its well-built, sharp, and again has that all-important constant aperture throughout the zoom range. It’s a wide-angle lens which allows you to produce some breathtaking shots, and add a cinematic widescreen aesthetic to your work.

I’d also recommend Samyang’s series of cine primes. They’re keenly priced, and their performance is close to that of the Canon L series, with the advantage of manual focus and aperture rings. I'd pair these with an APS-C DSLR, like a 60D, as that sensor size more closely matches that of Super 35mm motion picture film for an accurate cinematic look.

Canon’s flagship DSLRs

To make the most of this awesome Iens, I’d pair it with either of Canon’s flagship DSLRs: the 1D X with its fantastic video quality, or for ultimate in image quality (and expense!) Canon’s new 1DC

Wildlife

Wildlife filmmaking, like photography, is all about big zoom lenses to enable you to get up close and personal with your often faraway subject. One of the best I’ve had the pleasure of using (albeit briefly) is the Canon 70-200mm f/2,8 L IS II.

You’ll notice a trend appearing, as this lens, like many others has a very fast constant aperture across its wide focal range. Like all Canon L series lenses, it’s also sharp and incredibly well built, as you’d expect for its asking price of around $2880! Also notable is its in-built image stabilisation, allowing smooth tracking shots even at the far end of its focal range.

The competition featured a category dedicated to nature and wildlife.

The competition featured a category dedicated to nature and wildlife.

To make the most of this awesome lens, I’d pair it with either of Canon’s flagship DSLRs: the ID X with its fantastic video quality, or for ultimate in image quality (and expense!) Canon’s new 1DC, which allows you to film your furry friends in hard drive chomping 4K resolution for maximum quality,

Action

Action filmmaking favours cameras which are small and lightweight, allowing quick and dynamic camera moves and for the cameras to be attached to things (like the bonnet of your car!) to achieve some action-packed shots.

In this situation I’d recommend the Sony NEX-5N, It shoots great quality 1080p HD video despite its size, and also shoots 60 frames per second at 1080p, allowing you to slow the footage down in post-production for some amazing quality slow motion action shots. Its compact size (it looks like a lens cap on all but the smallest of lenses!) also means that it can be rigged to almost anything with ease.

Another advantage is that when fitted with the Metabones EF-E mount adaptor, it’ll accept all Canon mount lenses natively, including those with IS, So you could pair this with the Canon 17-55mm f/2,8 IS I mentioned earlier, or even one of Canon’s new image stabilized 24 or 28mm prime lenses for super smooth action shots,

Sound

Sound is an incredibly important consideration when aiming to produce high quality professional video. This is one area where DSLRs aren’t particularly well equipped however there are a number of work-around which will enable you to record great quality sound when using DSLRs, Here are three solutions:

1.    Pair a relatively inexpensive external recorder (A Zoom HI) with a good quality lavalier microphone (The Rode Lavalierat around $240 is amazingly good value for money). This combo is great for use at weddings; mic up the groom discreetly and pop the recorder in his top pocket. You’ll get great quality sound for the vows, and with the help of some clever post-synching software (PluralEyes 3 is a great choice) you’ll be able to sync the audio in post with the low quality scratch track recorded on your DSLR.

2.    For improving the general quality of the audio your DSLR can record, try adding a Rode VideoMic Pro to your DSLR’s hotshoe. It will massively improve the quality of the internally recorded audio,

3.    For interviews where great audio quality is paramount, combine a more expensive external recorder with professional XLR connectors (a Zoom H4n is my current favourite) with an XLR lavalier microphone like the Rode or an XLR shotgun mic like the Rode NTG-2, Again, use syncing software in post to sync the audio and video.

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