- The Lumix GH1 $1500
Okay okay, I know $1500 is a lot of scratch, but hear me out as to why you should use this camera to shoot your next no-budget indie film. Sure, being a DSLR Hybrid, it’s not as versatile and as easy to use as a camcorder especially for “Run and Gun” shooting (see the HF S1000 below), but for film style shooting this thing is the cat’s pajamas.
First off there is no need to get a DOF lens adaptor to give you shots that narrow depth of field and nice bokeh in the background. This camera’s Leica G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens kit lens is a really nice 10x zoom, but the real story is because of the micro 4/3 lens mount and it’s narrow flange depth you can adapt just about any 35mm, 35mm cine, 16mm cine or 2/3 inch video lens to the thing.
A couple other positives is that it uses SDHC cards to record AVCHD video. that you can drop strait into your editing workflow or use VoltaicHD 24p software to import full HD 24p. Also unlike the Nikon D90 and the Canon Rebel T1i this camera allows you full manual control over exposure and it even has a external stereo mic input.
I know some of you are waiting on a Scarlet. and yes, the Scarlet does have variable frame rates and XLR inputs,and yes it may be worth it to wait in line and spend twice as much money on a Red 2/3″ Scarlet, but remember that the GH1′s sensor is bigger than even the Red One’s. Oh, and it actually comes in red.
- Canon VIXIA HFS100 HD Flash Memory Camcorder ~$900 street price
For a couple of years now the low budget camcorder of choice was the Canon HV series ( the HV-20 HV-30 and the HV-40) so why the S100? It has all the features of the HV-40 and It shoots full 1920X 1080P at 24Mbs on SDHC cards and is under a thousand bucks on the street. ’nuff said.
- The Manfrotto/Bogen 701HDV,547BK Video Tripod System Kit $300 from B&H
If your camera rig is less than 8.8 pounds then this is the tripod and fluid head you need. The 701 is buttery smooth for light camcorders and DSLRs and these two stage aluminum legs are super-solid for the price. If your rig is haevier then throw down an extra $60 for the Manfrotto 501 head that is comfortable up to 13 lbs.
- Audio Technica ATR-55 Condenser Shotgun Microphone $50 street price
Sure you could spend over $500 on a Sennheiser ME-88 shotgun mic (if you had a budget) but for improving basic camcorder mics you can’t beat this package. You get a nice sounding shotgun condenser mic with a mini and 1/4″ connector and a hotshoe mount plus a boom or stand mount for the price of a smooze lunch.
- the Cavision Rs1580D-SPE Shoulder mount rail system $200 from B&H
Nothing sexes up your camera rig like a rail system,and when you need to take the camera handheld having a dual-handle shoulder mount system will save your film as well as your back. The Cavision set-up wins by a hair over the $269 indiRAILSpro XVsm from Indiefocus.com because of it’s adjustable shoulder pad and extra $70 in your pocket.
- JAG35pro DOF Adapter $300
If you have a small sensor camcorder, that wide depth of field is a dead giveaway that you shooting no budget video.. You want teenie-weenie depth of field to give you those luscious soft focus backgrounds for that big budget film look.
There are tons of DOF adators and plans for DOF adaptors out there, but Jehu Garcia cut through all the BS and went and produced the best bragain 35mm DOF adaptor out there. You can spend 4 times as much on a Letus, but you won’t be getting any better video for your money. You can get the JAG35 Pro Frig-rig and a frig-rig rail system for under $600 and forget item #5.
- DFocus follow focus $100
David Aldrich broke the price barrier on follow focus systems. If you are using 35mm lenses on a JAG35 or manual focus lenses on a DSLR rig, the DFocus system will give you repeatable control over those trick narrow focus shots.
- Budget Matte Box $189
Most of the time matte boxes on camcorder rigs are just set dressing. Screw-on filters and a black cardboard french flag are all you really need. But if you do ever need to use 4X4 Filters or actually pull an in-camera matte and look sexy doing it, you need a matte box I think spending over $350 for a matte box without filters is ridiculous, that’s why I recommend this $189 beauty from ImageWest.tv.
- Low budget fluorescent Soft lights $399
Again, the nod goes to ImageWest for a set of large cool softlights. These babies give you that wrap-around light that make starlets look sultry and (ahem older ) actors look, well, like well-lit actors. Being flourescent they are a bazillion times cooler and energy efficient than halogens. And they will last at least until LED lights become affordable for us mortals.
- Manfrotto /Bogen Modo Steady 585 Camera Support $100
Okay everybody knows Stedicam Merlins are WAAAY overpriced and I probably should have used this slot to hype my homebuilt “Jaybilizer 3000″ but even I can’t match the features and price of the Modo Steady 585. This thing is a do-everthing Sham-wow with Ferrari styling. I’m surprised everybody doesn’t have one of these. It’s a shoulder brace, mini-tripod, and a Merlin type stabilizer that folds up like a swiss army knife and is so cute it will have hotties signing model releases in nothing flat.
Let’s just keep this a secret and I’ll give you a price-break on the Jaybilizer 3000 (which will handle a heavier camera than the Modo, BTW)