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5 Best Buys

The Gear To Get You Filming Fast
By JG Harding

New to the world of video production and unsure what gear to buy? Our guide to the five best options in three categories will get you started.

DSLR Video Accessories

Here's a rundown of some of the most popular and interesting accessories available to help you shoot video with a DSRL or similar still-image camera. There are plenty of competing products in this field, so you can put together a package that works for you and your needs.

  • 1. Genus Matte Box (from £415$640): Matte‑box kits allow you to put Neutral Density filters and colour filters in front of the lens easily, avoiding the need to use screw‑in models.

  • 2. iDC Photo Video Viewfinder & Follow Focus kits (from £129$199): These follow focus kits do away with cumbersome gearing, using a simple friction wheel to move the focus and zoom rings on lenses. Kits include a viewfinder magnifying eye-cup.

  • 3. Redrockmicro DSLR Rigs (from £341$525): From small DSLR rigs including a follow focus, to lightweight, shoulder‑mounted setups.

  • 4. Zacuto DSLR Rigs (from £309$475): A range of sturdy aluminium frames to support your DSLR camera, as well as magnifying viewfinders. Renowned for solid build quality.

  • 5. Zoom H4N (£330$299): This four‑track portable recorder is incredibly popular with DSLR users. Be sure to sync audio and video with a clapperboard or hand‑clap.

Shotgun Microphones

When shooting anything other than a music video, you're likely to want to capture sound on set. Shotgun mics are highly directional, rejecting sound off‑axis and letting you capture just the vital voices. As with all mics, there are models to suit each and every taste and budget.

  • 1. Azden SGM X1 (from £99$199): A popular low‑priced mic, which comes with hot‑shoe shockmount and foam windshield. Known for a warm sound when compared to other shotgun mics. Powered by a single AAA battery.

  • 2. Audio Technica AT897 (£275$259): A short shotgun that can be powered by an AA battery or phantom power. Has a rich but bright tone.

  • 3. Rode NTG2 (£199$269): A great mic at a good price, the phantom‑powered NTG2 is moisture resistant, robust and known for balanced sound and good value.

  • 4. Rode VideoMic (£99$149): Low‑priced short shotgun mic powered by a single 9V battery, and sold in a kit complete with shockmount and foam windshield. It connects using a 3.5mm jack, perfect for small camcorders.

  • 5. Sennheiser MKH416 (£766$999): Popular premium shotgun mic for those with the money to spare. Rugged and resistant to the elements, it has 130dB peak‑SPL handling and a neutral sound, without the brittle high frequencies that can mar cheaper models. Used in many movie productions.

Portable Adio Recorders With XLR Mic Inputs

Although some camcorders have built‑in microphones, you're usually better off recording to a dedicated audio device. All of these models have XLR inputs with phantom power, so you can use your favourite mics for location sound.

  • 1. Edirol R44 (£699$995): This four‑track unit is solidly built and full featured, including built‑in effects on each channel and a pair of mics, as well as four XLR inputs and 24‑bit/192kHz operation.

  • 2. Fostex FR 2LE (£439$599): A two‑track portable recorder that records to Compact Flash media, this is well‑priced for its build quality and features.

  • 3. Marantz PMD661 (£519$529): A two‑track recorder with simple operation and rugged construction, recording to SDHC media.

  • 4. Tascam DR100 (£319$299): A two‑track SDHC‑card recorder with built‑in stereo mics, recording up to 24‑bit, 96kHz. Solid and simple to use, with Li‑Ion, AA and DC power options.

  • 5. Zoom H4N (£279$299): Zoom's recorder can record from stereo built‑in mics and two XLRs at the same time. Records to SDHC card and is rubberised and durable.
Published May 2011