Panasonic GH4 (M43) I bought the GH4 because Panasonic started providing many features I was asking Canon for but never got, like no aliasing or moire, zebras, and focus peaking. This camera is the complete package for video. The detail coming off this camera at 4k and downscaling to 1080 is just amazing. This is not a low light camera, you will need to feed it plenty of light to make it work well. I normally don’t shoot over ISO 800 with my GH4, when I do I will grab my Sony a7S. When it comes to photography I use this camera more than my Sony a7S. Watch my review of the GH4
Panasonic 12-35mm lens (M43) 24-70mm full frame equivalent. Since you will get less shallow DOF when using a M43 sensor compared to full frame you’ll be shooting wide open at f2.8 a lot, so having a nice sharp lens wide open is a must. This lens while pricey keeps images sharp and has image stabilization. However I would not recommend shooting at or above f11 as the image becomes dull and takes your nice 4k image and makes it look like 1080 resolution, you can pick up an ND filter 58mm 0.9 Tiffen so you can shoot at the sharper end of the lens. This lens pretty much lives on my GH4.
Panasonic 35-100mm lens (M43) 70-200mm full frame equivalent. Just like the 12-35mm above try not to shoot above f11 if you want to keep a super sharp image. While I love my Canon 70-200mm lens (listed below) I don’t use it that often because it is so darn heavy, but this lens is so light I can carry it all day while walking around on vacation and get some awesome shots. Also it takes up very little room in my camera bag so I take it almost everywhere I go. The firmware for this lens just got updated and the image stabilization works much better now.
Panasonic 42.5mm (M43) – 85mm full frame equivalent. I’ve used this lens for over a month and while I don’t own it just yet I would like to have one. It is really expensive and I am waiting for it to go on sale at some point. It is very heavy and the build quality is excellent. If you really need some nice shallow depth of field for an interview shot and want auto focus for stills, this is the lens for you. I plan to do a shoot out between this lens and other M43 lenses that can shoot really wide open like Voigtlander and SLR Magic.
Since I own the Sony a7S and I have no issues getting really shallow depth of field, I am struggling if I should invest in this lens at all, but I would like to own it for when I’m only carrying my GH4, so let’s hope it goes on sale.
Metabones Canon EF Lens to M43 If making the transition from Canon to the Panasonic GH4 you might consider the SpeedBooster so you can reuse your existing Canon glass. This gives you more light and lowers the camera’s crop factor from 2x to about 1.4x which is closer to Super35. Warning this will not work with every Canon lens out there and it is about the price of a good lens.
I have tried the Speedbooster and it works quite well, however I didn’t end up buying it. Why? Because I purchased the Sony a7S which is full frame, so when I need super shallow depth-of-field I grab the a7S instead of the GH4. I normally use the GH4 for mid/wide shots when I have plenty of light, and I use the Sony a7S for close-ups and low light situations. Plus using the native Panasonic lenses listed above provides quick auto focus for stills, something you will not get with this adapter.
Sony a7S (Full Frame) This is a low light monster! The image coming off this camera is so clean at just about any ISO. While it does not shoot 4k internally like my GH4 it does deliver a superior detailed image to the Canon 5D Mark III. If you need to shoot in 4k you can pick up the Atomos Shogun like I have.
I will be reviewing the new Sony a7Rii which has IBIS and 4k internal recording, this looks to be a very exciting camera and could replace my GH4. Keep an eye out for that video.
Sony 55mm f/1.8 (Full Frame) the sharpest 50mm lens I have ever tested, also one of the most expensive. I got tired of fighting reflection issues with the adapters and my Canon lenses (see adapter below) so I picked up this lens for when I have light sources in or near the frame. This lens is 300 degrees Kelvin cooler than my old Tamron 24-70mm which really surprised me. While it does not have image stabilization I am very hopeful that the new a7S II will have IBIS (in body image stabilization) in the future. I am somewhat disappointed Sony only has a one year warranty on this very expensive lens, but the build quality is really nice.
Sony 35mm f/2.8 (Full Frame) I really like to use this lens when I want to travel light, or flying it on a pistol grip 3-axis gimbal. So small and only weights 120g. The lens is sharp and the color matches the Sony 55mm listed above perfectly. This lens does not have any image stabilization but I am very confident that the Sony a7Sii will have Steadyshot image stabilization soon. The is the perfect focal length street shooting and traveling with my family.
Sony 28mm f/2.0 (Full Frame) This is not a Zeiss branded lens from Sony, but I can tell you it is just as sharp and has the exact same color as the FE 55mm and the FE 35mm, but for a lot less money. I believe a Sony rep told me the 28mm is made at the same place as the Zeiss lenses. The only difference I could see is the bokeh balls on the 28mm have a bit more onion rings inside the bokeh balls compared to the other Zeiss glass. I don’t own this lens yet, but I have used it for a month and I am saving up for it.
Sony 10-18mm /4.0 (Crop) While this wide angle zoom lens is designed for crop sensors (or crop APS-C mode on the Sony a7S) you can use it in full frame mode at about 15.5mm without any vignetting. The advantage to shooting full frame rather than cropped mode on the Sony a7S is no aliasing and slightly sharper image. The reason I purchased this lens over the Sony 16-35mm f/4.0 (which is actually a superior lens to the 10-18mm in sharpness) is because of size and weight so I can fly it on my PilotFly H1+ gimbal. This lens has SteadyShot image stabilization which is very important for video and flying it on a gimbal.
Commlite adapter for Canon EF lenses on the Sony a7S (FE mount). The Commlite is slow to auto focus and boot up after you put in a fresh battery. The biggest thing I don’t like about these type of adapters is the reflection issues you can get if you have a light source in or near your framing.
If you come from a Canon background like I did and have a lot of Canon glass, this is a good adapter for you. It will allow most Canon lenses to power the image stabilization and allow for auto focus. However do not expect the auto focus to be really fast, it is not, it’s actually painfully slow. Also when you change to a lower f-stop number you might see flashes as you make that adjustment.
I hear that the new a7Rii auto focus works better with the Metabones than the Commlite, but I have not tested that yet.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (Canon Full frame or crop) I still use this lens with my Sony a7S (it is my only Canon lens I have left). After borrowing this lens many times, I finally picked one up for myself because it is so good! While this lens is not cheap (most expensive one I own) it is truly a joy to shoot with.
Does owning really good glass matter for your images? In this case this lens does matter, it is that good.
This lens has full time manual focus which means you can manually focus while the auto focus switch is turned on, I really like having this feature for video use.
Atomos Shogun 4k recorder. Great for the Sony a7S if you want 4K recording. I thought this was too expensive so I picked one up used. I really like all the tools it has from the zoom in vectorscope to the 2:1 zoom feature for focus. It is a better screen than my Ikan monitor listed below that I sold.
Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera: Warning, even though this camera looks small and has a price similar to Canon’s entry level cameras, it is not a good first camera for a beginner. I have not purchased one yet but I have spent a lot of time with it, I would like to when the price drops to $500 again.
If you’ve watched my review, you will have seen me struggle getting the images out of this camera just to match that of the Canon 5D Mark III. I am not a professional colorist so I don’t have the experience yet to take the log (film) images and make them look good yet. But I think for those that have mastered shooting video with a DSLR, this a great camera to graduate to.
GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition 4k action camera. I just picked up this camera but I have not done a review on it yet. So far it works great, just make sure you use the mirco SD card I recommend below or your GoPro will lock up if it’s not fast enough for 4K filming.
I know it’s not the same, but sometimes I will carry this camera instead of taking my full frame wide angle lens which much heavier to travel with.
SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 32GB you will need a somewhat fast card like this one for the All-I codec in the Canon 5D Mark III, my old class 6 card stopped recording after 30 seconds in the Canon Mark III. This card is much cheaper than the Extreme Pro’s listed below.
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 32GB with the All-I compression on the Canon 5D and 6D you need a fast card, this one is faster than you need for video (the 60MB/s card above works fine) but now with USB3 this card lets you transfer your file on to your computer so much faster.
SDXC memory card – REQUIRED for the Sony a7S XAVC S format video. This card will work on both the Sony a7S and Panasonic GH4 (at 4k). In terms of size, I am starting to buy more of these 64GB cards and less of the 32GB because I find myself shooting longer clips when flying it on a 3-axis brushless gimbal.
SanDisk Micro SD for GoPro Hero 4 Black this is the card GoPro recommends for shooting 4k footage on the Hero 4 Black edition. At 24fps at 4k you will get around 2:13 of recording time. If you try a slower card the GoPro will lock up and you will have to pull the battery out to reboot it. It comes with an adapter so you can connect it to a normal SD slot on your computer. I would suggest the 64GB size because many times with the GoPro I start recording and then I snowboard, go snorkeling, or go mountain biking and just let it roll and then edit only the good stuff later.
Komputerbay 64GB 1000X CF card for when I used to shoot Magic Lantern raw video on my old Canon 5D mark III. My card average writes speeds are very high (83MB/s) which you will need when you are shooting raw. Can you buy other 1000X cards but this one is the cheapest I have found.
Pelican 0915 SD Case It is made out of plastic but I bet you could drive a car over this case without damage. After your shoot is done, the most important thing is getting your card or cards back safely to your office and backing them up. SD cards are so small and easy to lose that you will want to protect them the best way possible. This case is small enough to fit nicely in to your pant pockets and big enough to not get lost inside your backpack.
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Sennheiser G3 Wireless Microphone System yes this is expensive but I think it is the best wireless system out there for DSLR or mirrorless cameras compared to the others I tested it against.
Rode PinMic (lav mic). The microphone that comes with the Sennheiser wireless system above is not my favorite, I’ve run in to issues where it is too bright on a female voice, that is why I got the Rode PinMic. It is also good for people that wear t-shirts because you have a lot more opportunities for mic placement for the best sound.
You will need to buy Sennheiser MiCon adapter since it doesn’t come with it.
Watch and listen to my review where I compare the Rode PinMic and Rode Lav to the Sennheiser ME2.
Rode SmartLav+ After I ran some tests with this lav mic that you can connect to your iPhone I purchased one. The two reasons why I purchased this mic: first for backup to my Sennheiser wireless system for when batteries run out or I am getting interference, second is when I fly my cameras on a 3-axis gimbal and I can’t balance the camera with a wireless pack in the hot shoe. The mic sounds good, not that much money and doesn’t take up any room in your camera bag.
Rode VideoMic Pro The reason I upgrade to this mic from the VideoMic because it is much more sensitive so I can turn down the noise preamp on my camera and it is smaller and fits in to my camera bag much easier. It sounds the same as the VideoMic. I liked the cord on the old VideoMic better but overall the construction is pretty good even though it is mostly plastic.
However if you own the Sony a7S you might want to look into the Sony Adapter and Microphone Kit. I have not tried it yet but it has balanced inputs.
Micover Slipcover: I got this “deadcat” or “furry” or whatever you want to call it for my Rode Videomic Pro. It is much better than the one Rode makes.
Zoom H1 mobile recorder sounds great and is so easy to use. I am not a big fan of the mircoSD card you have to fool with, but it is such a handy device. It is so much quieter than using the preamps built-in to the DSLR’s like the 5D Mark III or the Nikon D800.
Instead of buying a very expensive wireless microphone system you can wire up your talent with a lav and the H1 in their pocket and sync it later in post. The downside of course is you can’t monitor what is going in to the H1.
Rode VC1 10′ extension cable to remote the Rode VideoMic Pro. Don’t make the mistake of buying a cheap cable like I did (it was not pretty). This cable is great for interviews by getting the microphone close to the person being interview and placing the Rode VideoMic Pro just out of frame and then connecting the other end in to the camera. If you are doing something more than an interview you will need a longer cord or go to a second audio recording setup.
AKG K 240 Studio Monitor Headphones. I’ve owned these for a very long time and they are the most amazing headphones I have ever tested. There is a reason this model has been selling for decades, they are that good.
I use these for mixing audio during my edit sometimes. However they are not good for field use in noisy environments since they are 600 ohms (not efficient) and semi-open design.
Mini HDMI Cable 18″ Inches mini HDMI connector (fits into the side of your Canon camera) to a full size HDMI connector to your field monitor or field recorder.
Once you start working on projects with others you will want to see what the camera is producing together on a larger screen. This one is nice and short, 18″ and it is thin and somewhat shape-able so you can bend it out of your way.
Micro HDMI cable 18″ Inches I compared 3 micro HDMI cables for my Sony a7S and Panasonic GH4 and the cheapest one won in terms of picture quality with the GH4, the a7S had no issues with the 3 different cables but the GH4 did have issues. Theoretically they should all look the same because it’s digital signal but for some reason I was getting red dot issues with some of the cables I tested.
Long HDMI Cable 16 feet. I’ve tried other traditional thicker HDMI cables about this length and are very big and heavy, so heavy they create a dangerous strain on the HDMI port on the camera. I gave this one a try and it’s only 3.2 oz compared to the 2 pound cord I have tried earlier. I like the white cord because you can see it easier so people don’t trip on it. This cable will not connect to the camera you will need the adapter below.
HDMI Female to Mini HDMI Male Adapter (Canon) when you need to extend your field monitor out farther, or perhaps put yourself within the frame so you can adjust exposure and focus before your talent arrives, you will need a longer HDMI cable.
Benro Tripod I love this tripod, I use it most of the time. While it’s not a proper “video tripod” with spreader legs I love it because it’s small and lightweight. The leveling ball head makes setup fast on uneven terrain. It can handle up to an 8.8lb. camera which is more than enough for my mirrorless cameras. Fast to setup (leveling system) and somewhat light weight (Aluminum alloy).
I am really not that happy with the Benro S4 fluid head that is included with this kit so I don’t use it, I prefer the Manfrotto MVH5600AH Fluid head.
I do like the mounting plates that Benro makes, they work in my Manfrotto heads and the rubber does not peal up like the Manfrotto’s does.
Manfrotto 055XPro3 (I have the discontinued ProB, but the Pro3 is very similar) I am tall about 6′-2″ and I like to have the camera at eye level when I am filming myself and this Manfrotto model lets me do just that at a good price. This tripod can easily handle the weight requirement of my fluid head and my camera and other accessories I put on it. It can also handle the weight of a slider too and allows me to get smooth shots at high or different angles. It’s not made out of carbon fiber so it is not super lightweight (and super expensive).
I mainly use this for my B camera on a two camera shoot. I like using this one but I prefer the Benro listed above.
My Manfrotto 561BHDV mono pod has been replaced with the Manfrotto MVM500A which is very similar. This is an amazing tool if you need to be fast on your feet (event coverage or run and gun). It’s lightweight, easy to adjust and creates shots that you just can’t get on my tripod if you are moving fast. I use this twice as much as my tripod.
My Manfrotto 701HDV has been replace with the Manfrotto MVH500AH (very similar to mine). It is great for wide shots and quick or whip pans and tilts. It travels really well since it is so light.
Camera Phone Tripod Mount many times I will need a tripod mount for my camera phone for shooting BTS. This one by Joby and is super small, lightweight and packs up really small. However, it does seem a bit fragile, so be very gentle when opening up the springs around the phone.
The best part about this compared to the Glif I had before is I don’t need to take off my phone case to use it.
Mini Tripod I love this little thing! I use it to mount my Rode VideoMic Pro on it for my desk and I travel with it when I can’t carry a large tripod. It is really well built and will hold a Canon 5D with a 24-70mm lens no problem. It fits in my pocket in my shorts.
SnapPod I use this tiny tripod a lot with my Rode VideoMic Pro. It fits in your pocket easily, and if you really need to you can actually use it with the GH4/small lens.
Manfrotto Mini-Ball Head I like this really small ball head on my slider when I don’t need to pan/tilt while sliding. It makes for really fast set up because you can level out your shot quickly. This ball is very short which means the center of gravity is lower which means less shake in your slider shots.
It might look small but it can support up to 9 pounds, which is way more than a Canon T2i with a big lens.
Heavy Duty Camera Shoe Mount sometimes you will need to mount a device on top of your camera’s hot shoe like an LED light or a field monitor. I’ve used ones that are not as heavy duty as this one and those will make your device sag, but not this one, it works really well.
Konova Slider: As far as I know this is the only roller bearing slider that is somewhat affordable to amateurs like myself. The one I own has a length of 80cm with works great for me. If you want to bring your video projects up to a whole new level, this is the tool to get. You can easily put this on your tripod and get a much of different angles.
Pilotfly H1+ I sold my Glidecam and replaced it with this gimbal. This 3-axis brush-less gimbal has changed the way I film. The gimbal drastically speeds up my shooting for run and gun. I always come back with a ton more usable footage than before. It is 32bit dual IMU design.
I also reviewed the Came-TV Single which has a superior design, however I went with the Pilotfly because it’s lighter and smaller and less noticable. They both provide great results when you pair them with some sort of image stabilization.
Tiffen 82mm Variable ND Filter I just sold this filter, I have been buying other ND filters for my Sony and Panasonic lens sizes. I tested the Tiffen against 5 other well known filters brands and the Tiffen was the sharpest of the bunch. It did well with vignetting on my Tamron 24-70mm and had just about the same out amount of color cast as the expensive $500 ND filters I tested against. Good solid filter for the money that won’t dull your very expensive sharp lens you purchased.
The more common size is the 77mm Variable ND Filter from Tiffen I purchased the larger version for my Tamron lens.
B+W Circular Polarizer This type of filter is not to be confused with an ND filter (I was confused at first). Both ND filters and circular polarizers control exposure to some degree, but an ND filter only controls exposure. Circular polarizer for the most part will cut the glare out of your shot and add some saturation and contrast back into the image. They are only intended for outdoor use (unless you have some glass you have to shoot through inside). They can help get more dynamic range into your camera. The downside is it only works 90 degrees from the sun when you are trying to darken the sky.
Custom Windows PC build, watch the build and see the parts list 8-core, DDR4 editing machine I call “The Beast”. You can save a lot of money building the exact computer you would like to own (I’m a Windows user).
Kingston USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader FCR-HS3 I use this fast card reader instead of connecting the camera via USB cable to transfer files.
Avermedia RECentral Live Gamer HD PCIe card for capturing 1080 video from a camera’s HDMI output (mostly for tutorials where I want to quickly show how a menu function works). The video file gets saved directly to the folder you like, no swapping cards or other media.
256GB USB Flash Drive I’m all about traveling light. I use these very large USB drives for backups when I’m on the road with my laptop. After a shoot I dump my camera SD cards to my laptop and then I back up to two of these drives so I have at least three copies. These are much small then carrying actually hard drives with you. I carry one of these with me at all times in my pocket in case my laptop gets stolen at the hotel or my camera bag gets stolen.
These drives are pretty fast, the ones I own have read speeds of 175MB/s and write speeds of 145MB/s. That is fast enough to edit off of if you wanted to (which I don’t since my laptop has a faster SSD).
LG 34UC97-S 34″ UltraWide I love this monitor! It is so wide and great for video editing because the timeline is stretched across the whole 34″ screen. It takes a couple of weeks for your brain to get used to the curve screen. I have tried both the curved version and the flat version, I like the curved version because you don’t have to move your head side to side to get a better look at something on the sides. I am not a happy with the stand it comes with so I am looking for another one.
If you don’t like a curved monitor try the flat version LG 34UM95-P 34″ monitor which is much less expensive.
AA Battery Charger I use this to charge my AA batteries that power my wireless microphone units and my camera flashes. It gives you a ton of information on each individual battery. It charges 4 batteries at a time.
Panasonic GH4 Battery This is the longest lasting battery I have ever owned! It lasts about 4 hours. You almost don’t need a spare, but I picked a spare just for those long all days shoots. It’s not often I will need a spare because it lasts so long. I have not even tested some of the 3rd party batteries for the GH4 because this one is so good.
Sony a7S battery Unlike the Panasonic GH4 battery this battery doesn’t last that long, you will need a few extra spares. Luckily the a7S comes with 2 batteries, but you will need more, perhaps one or two more. In -2°F it only lasted 37 minutes, however in normal temperatures it will last about 1:45.
The good thing is these batteries are very small so they are easy to carry.
Replacement lens caps Don’t worry it happens to the best of us, these are the easiest thing to misplace. Time to buy a replacement.
Yongnuo YN560-III, I own three of these “speedlite” flashes for when I do real estate photography and sometimes portraits. I am no expert on flashes, but I can tell you they work great and they are built to last. When I changed from Canon 5D3 to Panasonic GH4 for my photography, I had to modify my Yongnou RF-603C units.
DIY Dolly. My brother-in-law who owns a machine shop built this one in a few hours with some wheels I had from an old inline skate.
Great for product shots. You can spin around the product up close to create some very interesting looks for the product. With these type of wheels you really need a super smooth surface like glass, Formica counter-top, or smooth hardware floors. If you are looking to get shots up high where you do not have a smooth surface you should really look at getting a slider.
Case Logic bag. After asking my followers on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, I tried 3 small camera bags they suggested and ended up buying the Case Logic bag because it is light weight and I really liked the features it had like the yellow interior. After several months of using it I ripped out the suspension system.
Large camera bag. Sometimes I can’t fit all my camera gear into one camera backpack for large projects, so I got this larger camera bag for items like my field monitor, audio equipment, flashes, and LED lights.
So far it has proven to be a durable bag. I will wait a while before I do a review on it.
DSC Labs Color Chart I will have a full review of this chart while using a vectorscope in the future, but for now I can tell you it is a life saver when matching the Sony a7S to the Panasonic GH4.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport I use this chart for photos and sometimes videos to make sure I have the color accurate under mixed lighting. Nice and small, I carry it everywhere in my camera case.
18% Gray Card Since you can not correct white balance in post with camera video footage like you easily can with a RAW image you need to make sure you have the white balance set correctly, before you hit record. This 18% gray card that can fold up and fit in your pocket is a great tool to make sure you get the prefect white balance each time. One of the things that confused me for the longest time was the only setting the white balance on the white side of this card, you can actually set it using the gray side which makes it a lot more convenient since that is the side you can use for setting exposure as well.
24″ Digital Target for Exposure and White Balance
This has turned in to a nice learning tool for me, while I don’t use it for every shoot it has been a good tool on learning how to properly set the exposure on my camera for both video and pictures. When I am shooting pictures I tend to push the exposure to the right slightly just before clipping the highlights, but with video I make sure that the three spikes on the histogram line up evenly on the graph when using a non log profile. It is a great technical tool to have for testing and production.
Large Oval 5-1 Reflector. Small reflectors are great when you are doing photography, but when you are doing video and you need your talent to move a little then this reflector works well not only as a large fill light (using reflected light) but as a diffusion screen for when you need to soften harsh light. It has a gold, white and silver side, and the black side can be used for a flag.
5-1 Reflector I use this a lot, and I am glad I went with this larger forty inch size. This reflector can change a terrible lighting situation in to one that makes you say wow that is amazing lighting. Also if you are in a situation with no shade and the direct light from the sun is too harsh just use the diffusion panel too even out the light on the person’s face you are interviewing. For the money this is your most powerful and inexpensive lighting tool you can own, every amateur can afford this one.
27lbs. Sandbags For a long time I made many crude attempts to counter balance or weigh things down so they don’t fall over, so I finally picked up three of these and I now find I am using them all the time! Pick up a couple, they are well made and should last a life time.
C-Stand from Impact. Pound for pound a great value. Use this stand for 100 uses.
It is a professional stand, but not at a professional price. This thing is a tank and will last you a life time.
Reflector and Boom Stand The coolest thing about this stand, is the boom arm can actually retract inside the straight part of the stand! Very cool idea and it works well for holding reflectors.
Impact Light Stands very rugged and very affordable. They are air cushioned so it won’t hurt your fingers on the way down. They are also very light and easy to travel with in the car.
Light Stand Bag (discontinued) when I didn’t own this bag it would take several trips to the car to carry all my light stands, but with this bag I can do it in one trip. Also it looks a lot more professional rather than carrying light stands by the arm full.
Microphone stand If you do as many video interviews as I do that are the sit down type and you don’t want to mess around with running a lav up the shirt of a person you just met, get a microphone stand and mount your Rode VideoMic or whatever mic you have on a stand and put it down low just out of the frame and you will have some great audio. I got an adapter that allows the mic stand to connect with the Robe VideoMic Pro. For the mic stand, use this 5/8 inch to 3/8 inch adapter.
Black Rapid RS-4 Camera Strap I really love this strap compared to the stock strap that comes with your camera. It places the camera in a much better spot on your body to travel with, plus it somewhat hides your camera from view compared to a normal strap (prevent theft).
Plus I love the little pocket that allows you to carry extra batteries or memory cards. Yes it is a bit pricey for what it does however would you trust a cheap strap to carry your expensive camera upside down?
ikan iLED 144 One of the best built small LED lights I have tested. I really like how you can change the color from daylight to tungsten just by rotating a knob and not having to deal with gels. It is not cheap compared to others but it comes with a nice rechargeable battery and charger and has one of the best hot shoe/light stand adapters I have tried.
Friction or “Magic” Arm These are extremely useful, not only for mounting LED lights or external small monitors on them.
They are not that expensive and everyone should have at least one of these in their kit.
The one I use is 8.3″. It mounts on 1/4″-20 female receptor. Single knob locks all of the arm at once.
Super Clamp you just don’t know how much you will use this until you get one. There are so many uses, like adding mounting a microphone to a light stand. Everyone should have at least one of these.
Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter with Sliding Mounting Plate (501PL) I am so tired of switching out plates all the time, getting a few of these helps speed everything up when switch between my monopod, slider and tripod.
If you are looking to save just a little bit of money, you can get the Calumet version of the plate (CK 9007) and it works with all the Manfrotto plates, I have a few of them and they work fine, but they don’t fit perfectly and you might have to re-adjust some times.
Green Screen if you ever wanted to do compositing with your videos you will need either a blue or green chroma screen, I like to use green myself.
It takes a bit of practice but using a green screen can be a lot of fun and give you some professional looking results.
Step up rings Don’t buy multiple ND or polarizer filters for all your lenses, just buy one for your largest lens and then use step up rings on your smaller lenses.
The Leatherman is always in my camera bag (unless I’m on a flight). You never know when you might need to tighten up a sagging tripod leg or cut some duck tape to mount a lav under a shirt.
Rocket Air Blower this is one of the most popular tools for getting dust off you lenses before you start cleaning them with a cloth.
Watch me use the blower in “How to Clean your Camera Lenses” video.
Watch me use the cleaning cloths in “How to Clean your Camera Lenses” video.
Watch me use the liquid in “How to Clean your DSLR Camera Lenses” video.
Full Blue CTB Color Conversion Gel Filter some of the tungsten lights I own sometimes need to be cooled down in color temperature so I can match light, I have big sheets of this gel to make that happen.
Gear I Use To Own
Canon Crop Sensor: I
own sold the Canon 600D T3i because I like the Panasonic GH4 better. The Canon 700D T5i is very similar to the T3i in terms of image quality but the main difference is these two offer auto focus in movie mode (doesn’t work that well) and a touch screen interface.
I would recommend the Canon 70D if you want to change the aperture quickly with one finger on the jog wheel and a bit more weather protection. The 70D also has some advanced auto focus for video, but I have not tested it yet.
If you need even more of a weather resistant APS-C camera than the Rebel line and the 70D, then the Canon 7D is the camera for you. However the Canon 7D is due for an update any month now or perhaps the 70D is it’s replacement.
The T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, 7D and 60D all have pretty much the exact same APS-C crop sensor within the body. The 70D is the only APS-C body that has a new sensor which has better high ISO performance. Besides the 70D they all offer the exact same image quality, however they offer many different features which may or may not be important to you. To find out the differences in features watch my comparison videos below.
Canon Full Frame Sensor:Canon 5D Mark III I sold this camera since I picked up the Sony a7S, I think if you shoot more video than pictures the a7S is for you, but if you mostly do photography than this camera is for you.
The Canon 6D is an entry level full frame camera that performs just as well as the 5D Mark III at high ISO’s, however for video the 6D is missing an anti aliasing filter which the Mark III has which means 6D has about the same moire and aliasing issues that the crop sensor cameras have. The 6D is still an amazing camera for video but you need to be aware of vertical lines and patterns that might cause issues in your image.
Canon 50mm f/1.8 II (Full frame or crop – I sold this) I loved this lens and what a great buy for only around $120. Of all my lens this one probably spends the most time attached to my crop sensor camera body. If you take care of this lens (because it is made out of plastic) it will treat you well. Some people call this lens “fantastic plastic” because the case is made out of plastic, it is also called the “nifty fifty”.
Canon 50mm 1.4 (Full frame or crop) I sold this lens. If you need something more durable or a better focus ring that you can actually wrap your fingers around, then get the 50mm 1.4, my friend has this one and he loves it and I have used it many times in many of my reviews.
Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 (Canon Full frame or crop) I sold this lens, I got tried of slow or inaccurate auto focus on the Sony a7S as well as dealing with reflection issues when using Commlite adapter.
While the Canon 24-70mm is ever so slightly sharper wide open (f2.8) than the Tamron, you will want the Tamron if you do a bunch of video like I do. This lens is far superior to the Canon or Sigma for video because of the VC (Vibration Compensation). I’m a run and gun shooter and sometimes all I can do is shoot video handheld. If you don’t have any sort of Vibration Compensation, many of your shoots will be deleted or not used because they will be too shaky.
This lens has full time manual focus which means you can manually focus while the auto focus switch is turned on, I really like having this feature for video use.
The only downside is the build quality, it’s not as good as the Canon version, after a year of use I had to get the rubber focus ring replaced on it because it became loose, good thing Tamron has an excellent 6 year warranty which I think is longer than Canon’s.
Tokina 16-28mm (Canon full frame or crop) I sold this lens, I got tried of slow or inaccurate auto focus on the Sony a7S as well as dealing with reflection issues when using Commlite adapter. I needed something wider than 24mm for a real estate shoot but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on the popular Canon 16-35mm lens, so I tried the Tokina and it was better than the Canon! This lens is sharper, has less vignetting, less chromatic aberration, better warranty than the Canon. The only downside is you can’t put filters on the Tokina, which can be fixed by buying an adapter.
Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 zoom (Canon crop sensor only) Sold this lens. When I first got this lens I thought it would stay in my camera bag and not get much use because it is more of a specialty lens because it is so wide! But I was wrong I have been using it a lot more than I thought. It is a lot of money compared to the cost of the T3i 600D but you can not touch a similar Canon wide angle lens for less than $2,000. This lens is very sharp, even in the corners where wide angles are the weakest. The construction is great, and the focus speed is on par with the Canon lenses.
Canon 24-105mm f/4.0 (Canon Full frame or crop) While I don’t own this lens I have used it for several months, the reason I don’t own it is because my Tamron 24-70mm offers a similar zoom range as well as image stabilization, however if it has f/2.8 instead of f/4.0 it might have made my camera bag.
From my tests it appears the 24-105mm has better image stabilization than my Tamron 24-70mm. Also this lens appears to be very sharp, but I was surprised that it does have a fair amount of vignetting at all focal distances at f/4.0.
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 (Canon Full frame or crop) I sold this lens. This lens is a great beat around travel lens for my T3i since it has wide range for the zoom. It has Image Stabilization (called IS for short) which can really help your videos when you are shoot handheld because the IS helps reduce the shake. This lens preforms great outside during the day, but since it is not fast glass you can’t use it in low light situations, but if you have a prime like the 50mm that issue will not matter too much.
LP-E8 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack [Canon Rebel line of battery] I was very tempted to buy the cheap knock-off batteries that are much cheaper than the Canon batteries but I am glad I didn’t because these hold their charge so well. You really need to have a minimum of two batteries so you can have one fully charged will the other is in use.
LP-E6 Lithium-Ion Battery [Canon 5D MarkIII, 7D, 70D, 60D, 6D] I like this battery better than the Lp-E8. It lasts longer and you can use it in other devices besides your camera.
I have tried 3rd party batteries before, but they don’t last as long as theses.
Dual Battery Charger (Canon 5D, 70D, 7D) if you have lost the charger that came with your 5D or 70D camera, instead of replacing it for just $20 you can get a dual charger that can charge 2 batteries at once, test batteries without being plugged into an outlet, charge other type of batteries and has a USB power port.
Remote Timer/intervalometer for the Canon 5D line of cameras, this will not work with the Canon Rebel line. This unit is so inexpensive compared to the Canon model and works just as good. I use it mostly for time lapses, however now that I have Magic Lantern instead I don’t really need it anymore.
Ikan VK7i 7″ Field Monitor I sold this monitor after using it for a couple years, I plan on using the money towards a Atomos Shogun at some point.
I tested this monitor against the SmallHD AC7 and the Lilliput 663o/p, all 3 have very similar specs, 800:1 contrast ratio, 400nits, 7″ IPS panel with similar viewing angles, focus peaking and exposure tools. I found the Ikan looked great right out the box while the SmallHD had a green cast that was hard to remove, and I found that the Lilliput had scaling issues with the Canon 5D3 and didn’t have as good of dynamic range as the Ikan.
I am selling my Ikan (need something different for my 4k cameras), if you would like to buy it send me an email.
If you are on a budget you might look at the Lilliput 663o/p monitor it does have a headphone jack and speaker which is a plus, however the image quality is not as good as the Ikan. Also I did a video on all the accessories you might want to get with this monitor.
Software I Use
- Premiere Pro CC & After Effects CC. I don’t use Sony Vegas anymore. The main reason I switched from Sony Vegas to Premiere was because of the playback of native DSLR .mov files in Premiere with the right graphics card.
- Lightroom 5 I can’t say enough what this software package has done for my pictures! Truly amazing what you can do with this program so easily and quickly, it is not like super complicated like Photoshop is.