The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #37 – 10 Pieces of Video Gear
Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.
10 Pieces of Video Gear
Lensrentals.com own Ryan and Ally sit down for this episode, and talk all things video gear – specifically, what gear you should be looking at as you just get started into videography. Ryan and Ally have years of experience in videography, and both help run our video rental department, with inventory selections, gear recommendations, and more.
Getting started in videography can be an overwhelming journey. So Ryan and Ally are here to help filter through the noise and give you their ten picks for video equipment that all beginners in the field should be looking into. Listen to the episode above for the full list of gear recommendations, as well as tons of additional tips and tricks, but let’s highlight some of those recommendations a bit below.
Starting off the list is camera systems, and it may be the most difficult decision to make when you start making the move into videography. The most important thing to remember, and something Ally and Ryan discuss in-depth, is using the right camera for the job. And ARRI Alexa Mini LF has a very different purpose than a GoPro Hero9, but they both serve their purposes very well. Additionally, Ally recommends looking into the used market if you’re on a budget – as there are many cameras from a few years ago that are still very relevant today.
Once you get your camera system in order, it is time to look at the various lens options available for your system. There is a near-infinite number of options available, so let’s just cover some of the common phrases used in lenses. The first two are prime verse zoom. Like in photography, a zoom lens will cover multiple focal lengths, where a prime covers a single focal length. Both of these options have advantages and disadvantages, so weigh your options and find what works best for you.
Another common phrase used in video lenses is the term parfocal. Parfocal lenses are lenses that maintain their focus through their entire zoom. So if you had a 24-70mm lens that was parfocal, and you focused on a subject at 24mm, you would be able to zoom to the 70mm, and not lose your focus on the subject. These lenses are usually quite a bit more expensive, but you can see the value in having a lens like this if you’re needing to zoom in on objects and subjects.
Neutral Density Filter
A neutral density filter (or ND filter) is what both Ryan and Ally both agree is an asset for videography. Commonly referred to as ‘sunglasses for your camera’ ND filters simply darkens the scene by a specific amount of stops of light, allowing you to open your aperture up, and get a shallower depth of field. Some video cameras have ND filters built into them, while others will accept the screw-in types that go right in front of your lens.
For the remaining seven tools recommended by Ally and Ryan, be sure to listen to the episode above. And if you have additional recommendations, feel free to chime in in the comments below.
00:40 – While people are still shooting with a 5D Mark II, there is a lot to consider when picking out what camera to begin doing video work with. Interchangeable vs fixed lenses, outputs with HDMI and look for SDI, connect-ability, and more.
3:00 – Differences between HDMI vs SDI. SDI locks so it doesn’t get bent. Depending on your budget you could get an adapter for XLR, but sometimes it can be the same price once you build out the whole package instead of just buying the camera with that option.
3:54 – Ryan feels XLR input is non-negotiable, would Ally be ok going without that?
5:00 – There are limitations on how long you can record, and as a freelancer, you have to be able to record for more than 30 minutes.
6:30 – Now on to lenses! #1 is lenses, and the question is as always, zoom or prime?
7:50 – There isn’t a “correct” answer to “what is the best lens” in documentary work a zoom lens is probably more commonly used.
8:50 – How fast should a starter lens be in your opinion?
10:55 – #2- Don’t cheap out on the recording media you use! “Never cheap out on media” And it didn’t make the list officially but as an unofficial mention never cheap out on batteries either. Brand name recording media and batteries from the same company
11:50 – On to #3, media! You have to have the most expensive option but you have to weigh your options: price of your media vs the price of data recovery. And Data recovery is always more expensive. Or the price of irrecoverably losing the work you’ve done. Which is of course the worst outcome.
12:20 – We always advise our customers that it’s easier and cheaper to use 2 smaller cards than 1 large card. You want to spread it out over multiple cards.
12:50 – #4 is an external hard drive, and we ranked it higher than may be expected because we want to drive home the point you should have a library of external drives at home.
13:50 – Here’s a freebie: Take a contract law class! This is another honorable mention that is probably the most important thing we can tell you. Take a business class!
15:00 – Tripods come in at #5. Tripod technology has reached its peak, the only question you need to answer is a fluid head or ball head? We discuss the difference.
15:40 – For video equipment, we recommend a ball head vs fluid head, and tell you why.
19:30 – Break
20:20 – #6 is an ND filter. They are sunglasses for your camera.
22:30 – If investing in a single strength ND filter make sure it has threads on both sides so you can stack it if you need to.
23:10 – #7 is “off tripod support” which means we couldn’t narrow it down so in this we’re considering cages, stabilizers, sliders, and shoulder mounts here. What would serve you best all depends on what type of work you’re doing.
26:20 – Anything that can add motion to your shots, make things a little more dynamic and really ups the production value, and ups the work your producing look much more expensive than being shot on a tripod
27:10 – #8 is a mic. So, lavalier or shotgun? We explain how to determine what you’ll need and how you’ll set it up
29:30 – #9 is maybe the least obvious, a 5 in 1 reflector! We recommend buying it before you buy a light so you can adjust the existing light before venturing outside of that. Sculpting and understanding that light is super super important.
32:35 – #10 is a monitor. We prefer an SDI but HDMI is a good bit cheaper. We recommend you go with one made by SmallHD because most others are just knock-offs of what they make.
34:15 – Brightness is more important to Ryan than resolution. He’d take a 720p over a 4K if it’s bright enough to be seen outside. Peeking, histograms, and what kind of battery they take are all considerations to take in. At the budget level, you won’t find something 100% color accurate, but this is the budget option.
35:50 – What a client sees when viewing footage shot in LOG and what to consider renting in addition to that SmallHD 502 we just recommended.
38:20 – As a bonus, we’re offering #11: Take a business class!
The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals.com, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, SJ Smith, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.
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Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.