HD DSLR video offers an unprecedented image quality and such a versatility compared to traditional video cameras (if you've tried a pro lens with a Canon 5D mkII, you'll know what I mean !) but it is still pretty much a work in progress. A lot of guys are experimenting to compensate for the high prices of DSLR-specific video accessories and the relatively poor choice that are offered right now, especially in Europe...these guys are my favorite DIY... they just make me laugh with their creations and ...really made me wish I was a better DIY person.
Anyway, though the list of gear you need to have is a never ending, I realised that this is what was really crucial to offer the best quality and the sharpest HD videos :
- An LCD Video viewfinder : attached to the LCD screen, it is a life saver when it comes to focus with precision and continuously. It also blocks any light from your vision so the image is really clear and your eyes don't get exhausted in an hour.
- A sturdy tripod with plenty of controls, ideally a video head. Avoid ball heads and joysticks as any movements will be too abrupt on the screen. Lately I've been very keen in actually switching to a monopod with a good foot to minimize the space taken by the camera and also to be able to go to corners etc.
- A stabiliser...depending on what or how you shoot, you will need something specific for yourself. My best fit was a habbycam shoulder brace to be able to move around without a tripod, have the mic attached to it, and being able to bring the camera high and low with a minimum of camera shake. That's what I used for this video :
- A good external mic : as a lot of HD DSLR bloggers mention, the sound on cameras is ... crap. That's just a few holes on the front of the camera that take more noises from your hands than from the scene you are recording. I've chosen record my sound completely separately and to sync the video with the audio at post production stage. That's the best workflow I've found, both in quality and in time management. I have 3 different Zoom mic that are pretty handy and good : the H1 which is the smallest and still gives me all the controls I need; the Q3, that is older but still decent and the Q3HD that has the handy feature of doing HD videos (I'm yet to review this feature in terms of picture quality but hey that's a great way to have a 2nd camera view !)
- A LED video light with manual controls : oh so important whenever you are indoors. I used it as a fill light on this video
And here's another demo of it :-)
That's the basics but if you are really keen in knowing more about HD DSLR, you probably know its master, Philip Bloom