Who doesn't love gear? I figured since this is the first blog post for this site, it should be about the gear. This post will cover what I use on a daily basis right now in Indonesia.
Weapon of Choice
Photographed with a Samsung Galaxy S4, this Nikon D3300 was and still is my first DSLR. It came with an 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 kit lens with image stabilization. I shot exclusively with the kit lens for 2 years, and I'm glad I did. It taught me how to make do with what I had. It was only a month ago that I bought new glass.
This camera has been great for learning how to make movies. However, I hope to upgrade to a cinema camera next year, possibly a Canon C100. This Nikon wasn't "made" to shoot video though it can. Yes, it's true that a camera is less important than the person using it, but I want to use something that was made specifically for making movies.
This little guy stole my heart. Because I'm so fortunate to be living in such a different culture right now, I wanted to create immersive content with quickness and ease. I can't think of a better way to do that than with a discrete GoPro Hero 4 Silver. Coupled with the Joby Gorillapod, my sidekick can go almost anywhere, do almost anything.
The Silver is a great complement to my Nikon, especially with the time lapse capabilities and fantastic touch screen on the back that allows you to compose your shots. Additionally, it's hard to attach my bulkier Nikon to my helmet or my bicycle: The GoPro can be affixed to tree branches, stop signs, chairs, and even human faces (always good to have options).
Like I said earlier. I shot for two years with the kit lens that came with my Nikon. That lens is fine for someone learning how to make photographs, but it doesn't do anything extremely well. Just recently I've purchased 3 new lenses. The Nikon 50mm 1.8 G, the Nikon 35mm 1.8 G (used to take this photograph), and the Sigma 10-20mm 3.5. The main lens I use now is the 35mm which functions as a 52.5mm because of the crop factor. Not exactly a "nifty fifty" but it's close enough. I love the shallow depth of field and the field of view that the 35mm offers.
With the heavy beast firmly locked into place, the Sigma 10-20mm sent me into a giggle fit the first time I looked through the viewfinder. Never before had I experienced a very wide angle lens on my Nikon. It's a great lens for showing both vast landscapes or the entirety of more confined areas like a small room or store. With a respectable maximum aperture of 3.5, it affords nice shallow depth of field.
Honestly, I rarely use the 50mm lens. In the future I might use it for interviews when I can keep my camera on a tripod. It's just too shaky when handheld, which is how I shoot 99% of my video right now.
I like to shoot with a very wide aperture most of the time, and when you do that outdoors during the day you have too much light hitting your sensor. That makes your image an overexposed mess. Put an ND filter on there and it's like sunglasses for your lens. Your aperture can stay wide but you get the right exposure, and thus a usable image.
Originally I bought two non-variable neutral density (ND) filters from camera stores in Indonesia. They didn't have variables filters where I looked. When I used those non-variable filters, one either would let too much light in or the other wouldn't let enough in. There was no Goldilocks ND filter that I could find in Indonesia. Then I purchased these variable ND filters and getting perfect exposure in any bright situation became a breeze. These are extremely handy for working on the fly when you're going between different lighting situations.
The three things I use daily for audio are the Rode Videomic Go, the H1 Zoom recorder, and the Giant Squid lavalier microphone.
The Rode Videomic Go is a decent shotgun mic, but I don't like to use it as my main audio source. Next year I plan on upgrading my shotgun mic.
I do have a Zoom H4n recorder, but I don't carry it every day because it's much larger than the H1 and it takes a long time to boot up. I like the H1 because of its size, sound quality, and affordability.
The lavalier mic has been great in situations where there's a lot of background noise like in an airport or a restaurant. It can be clipped to one's clothing, allowing for the mic to be very close to the talent's mouth.
All of the equipment featured in the post so far fits in this Altura camera bag. It is a great pack for staying low profile while out and about. Since I don't have any long telephoto lenses, this pack works just fine. I will definitely need to upgrade the bag in the next year or so.
In addition to the stuff already mentioned, I keep my wallet and extra batteries in this bag. I'll even stuff a backpack rain cover in there in the event of a downpour. This is Indonesia after all. I love having all of my run and gun gear in one compact kit.
Other Gear (Not Everyday Gear)
When getting ready to return to Indonesia after a three week vacation, I had to make some tough choices about what gear I would bring. I wanted to bring my big Manfrotto tripod and slick Manfrotto monopod, but I decided to leave them back home. I brought a much smaller and cheaper Kodak tripod. Since I bike or take cramped buses to get places, it made sense to have as light a kit as possible.
I also have an Aputure Amaran AL-HR672W LED light in Indonesia, but I haven't had a project which required my bringing it. Hopefully I can use it on a documentary within the next year.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the gear that I use on a day to day basis. As you may have noticed, none of it is real top of the line stuff. Unfortunately I don't have an unlimited bank account. However, I know I'm very lucky to have what I do have, and I will use what I have to make movies as entertaining, informative, and beautiful as possible.
I'd like to know what you shoot with. Do you use gear similar to mine? Tell me about the pros and cons of your shooting setup in the comments below.
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Take care and keep creating.