Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eventually the stuff you have that you thought was so cool gets old. Like my Panasonic NV-GS400 3 CCD camera which still puts out great video but it is in SD format. Maybe time to up grade? I have began the laborious process of research into all things video camera related. Then I consider my still camera, the Nikon Coolpix 8800, also a great piece of gear but I bought it in...2005 and while the mega pixel size is no longer considered very big at 8mp the optics are good enough to show a nice picture on my 50' Fujitsu Plasma screen. The question has loomed, buy two new separate cameras one for HD video and another for the super great photos or try to find the perfect marriage of both still and video camera?
As my research has progressed I have vacillated between brands and various makes of video cameras still cameras, DSLRs with video etc. I have checked out imumerable blogs, reviews, fanboy websites and juggled items on wish-lists with Amazon and BHPhoto mostly as well as reading all the customer reviews on each item I considered. I also got LOTS of information on this subject from which has been an invaluable resource in my pursuit of the right stuff.

It seem there are a lot of folks using the Canon EOS 5D MKII BH Photo, and the Canon EOS 7D BH Photo and since I already own a Nikon I was interested in the Nikon D7000 of course BH Photo.  However, these cameras (in order to take decent HD video) all seem to require various kinds of shooting rigs that go from the DIY with parts from IKEA for under $25 Ultra cheap DIY all the way up to $3,000 or so from the likes of Zacuto BH Photo, RedRock Micro BH Photo and a host of others. Then there are the cheapo Chinese knock-offs at around $300 bucks they look similar but there have been some criticism of their quality (DUH) but for the price they can't be beat at Amazom. These types of rigs are just for mounting the DSLR type camera to give a decent and steady video with the bonus that you can trade lenses and get that sought after bokeh effect that says "hey, this is cinematography" and not home video. Once you have a "rig" then you have to mount a heap of shit on it including, eternal microphone, monitor, led light panel, maybe a separate audio recorder. Add a matte box to that to keep out the stray light and avoid those lens flares. Suddenly your rig looks like something from a Hollywood shoot! Try sneaking up on anybody with that... also the weight factor kicks in. I started looking into other ways to shoot by using a stedicam style set-up for those super groovy follow shots. I checked out some DIY versions as well as some of the professional made ones. I have wondered though how that would work if you tried mounting all of the other suff on some type of rig and tried running with that? I have checked out various articulating arms to attach the extra bits with and found a really good one after watching an arm review, so that part is settled. After a lot of...sifting I have definitely decided that the Rhode video microphone was the hands down winner, as it has been the choice for so many others. I also found a good deal on e-bay for a dim-able LED light panel that is the same as the professional brand IKAN, except it is less that half the price, see ebay led panel. Okay got that straightened out. Might as well add a monitor too so I found this review of the 7" Lilliput monitor, looks pretty good and again half the price of the other more "professional" brands see tonyzeh's review.

Then I saw tonyzeh's DIY shoulder rig! Quite snazzy and cheap as, I asked him a bunch of questions and instead of just answering them he made a four part series video showing the entire build! Wow, now I can make my own out of tent poles and automotive wire harnesses for a couple of hundred instead of a couple a large. see 

Next I will address the camera end of this but the meantime I have become VERY interested in the new and lighter Sony NEX 7 seems to tick all my boxes and I can take it off whatever rig I wind up using and can hand it off to my splendid wife who also likes to document nearly everything with both video and photography. The Sony NEX7 fits her major specification of a small, light camera that takes very high quality pictures both video and still. Though this camera has not really shipped yet to the public, except for reviewers who all seem to agree that this camera is the "ONE"... From the footage that I have seen on the net I am coming to this decision as well. Hmm, more to come about this.

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