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5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast

Pocket Video Recorders | Video Lighting | Shotgun Microphones By JG Harding
Published July 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.

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.

  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. 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!

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.

  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. 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 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. Sennheiser MKH416 (£766$999): Popular premium shotgun mic for those with the money to spare. Rugged and resistant to the elements, it has a 130dB peak SPL handling and a neutral sound, without the brittle high frequencies that can mar cheaper models. Used in many movie productions.

POCKET VIDEO RECORDERs

Camcorders and DSLRs aren't the only way to capture digital video. Here are five portable video devices that wil 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.

  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast1. Aiptek ActionHD GVS (£169$249): Mini camcorder from the US with fip‑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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast2. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast3. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast4. 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.
  • 5 Best Buys: The Gear To Get You Filming Fast5. Zoom Q3 (from £199$199): The only portable video recorder 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 July 2010