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Filming Gear: Five Best Buys

The Gear To Get You Filming Fast By JG Harding
Published November 2010

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.

Entry‑level Non‑linear Editors

These NLEs have certain features limited (examples given), but still provide a great solution for the aspiring videographer. They're good for those on a budget or keen to edit quickly, but be sure to check compatibility with your camera's shooting format.

  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys1. Adobe Premiere Elements 8 (£78$99): Windows only. Easy entry into video editing with simplified, clean workflow. No window for trimming footage; no 24P support; less native codec support than Premiere Pro; no batch capturing.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys2. Apple Final Cut Express 4 (£99$199): Supports DV, HDV and AVCHD; interface similar to Final Cut Pro. No 1080p support (720p and 1080i HD are supported); no timecode or batch capture; shorter Undo list.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys3. Avid Pinnacle Studio 14 HD (from £40$49): Consumer software. Supports HDV, DV and AVCHD editing. Editing layout is simplified when compared to Media Composer, but can create a decent edit.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys4. Edius Neo 2 (from £182$199): Similar to full version; handles many formats including uncompressed footage. Time remapping, the ability to import an EDL (Edit Decision List) from another NLE, and audio mixer have been disabled.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys5. Sony Vegas Movie Studio (from £43$39): We reviewed this in our May issue, so be sure to read that for more detail. Provides an editing environment close to that of a professional NLE, feels very DAW‑like in operation. Limitations include only four video tracks and two audio tracks to work with.

Video Lighting

Point a wonderful, professional cinema camera at a poorly‑lit scene and you'll be disappointed with the results. Lighting is important, and there are many solutions out there for all budgets, whether you're a dedicated semi‑pro or first‑time documentary maker.

  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys1. 500W Worklight (around £20$25): If you're on a budget and really stuck for lighting, workman's lamps can really help. Careful positioning and improvised filtering help.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys2. Arri Arrilite 800 (£299$549): The real deal, complete with barn doors, focus control, protective mesh, gel frame (for filters) and in‑line power switch. You'll need to get a stand and fit the plug, but you can rely on it for plenty of shoots to come.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys3. LitePanels LP Micro (£210$305): A rectangular light for hot‑shoe mounting, comes complete with dimmer switch. Colour temperature remains constant throughout dimming, and gels can be fitted over the top. Uses six AA batteries.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys4. Rotolight RL48 (from £99$115): Innovative 48 LED design mounts on a shotgun mic, or in a hot shoe with an adaptor. Lasts six hours on three AA batteries, and comes with filter gels, with others available.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys5. Sima SL20LX (£20$29): Very low priced, this tiny LED panel is ideal for those with pocket video recorders. Comes with a mount for connecting to a tripod. You can even clip multiples together!

POCKET VIDEO RECORDERs

Camcorders and DSLRs aren't the only way to capture digital video. Here are five portable video devices that will slip into your pocket and let you capture footage out and about. These are ideal for those wanting an easy way to shoot with no need to learn menus and settings.

  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys1. Aiptek ActionHD GVS (£169$249): Mini camcorder from the US with flip‑out screen and 5X optical zoom, shooting 1440 x 1080p and 720p to SDHC card. Records 30fps only, but a low price for the features.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys2. Flip Mino HD (£89$229): Popular pocket-sized 720p video recorder, runs for around two hours on a fixed internal battery. Fixed recording at 30fps, shooting to fixed 8GB internal memory only. Handy USB connector built in.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys3. GoPro HD Hero (from £199$269): Unique action camera shooting at up to 1080p, 30fps. Comes in kits to attach it to helmets, cars and surfboards! Waterproof casing and wide-angle view makes it a versatile piece of gear, shooting to SDHC card.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys4. Kodak Zi6 (£99$159): Kodak's portable recorder shoots 720p footage and sports a large 2.5‑inch screen. Shoots at up to 60 frames per second to SDHC, allowing for sharp slow‑motion video.
  • Filming Gear: Five Best Buys5. Zoom Q3 (from £199$199): The only portable video recorders with a clear focus on audio quality, offering stereo 24‑bit WAV recording at 48kHz. Sacrifices some video resolution, shooting at VGA (640 x 480).
Published November 2010