My Video Gear
When it comes to camera equipment, it's really easy to get carried away. But because of my many years of working for small businesses and charities, I've always taken an intentionally frugal approach to gear acquisition: what's the minimum expenditure required to be able to make excellent quality interview-style videos for the web?
Keeping my equipment expenses down allows me in turn to keep my video creation services affordable for my small business and charity clients. So I've limited myself to getting only what I really need to be able to make great-looking (and great-sounding) interview videos, by myself, for my clients.
I've also resisted the temptation to keep replacing my cameras with the latest versions. Both of my cameras were released years ago, but they have lost none of their amazing capabilities to film great interviews. Sure, the newer models have even more amazing features now, but for the most part, I don't need them for my purposes.
Each piece of gear that I've acquired is the result of a lot of "best value for the money" research, and I'm really happy with all of these choices, and with the results I continue to get from them. Here's (most of) what I'm currently using:
Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Camera
I love everything about this camera. Not only does it shoot beautiful 4K video with a choice of really great built-in film simulations, but it also doubles as a fantastic still photography camera too.
This model is a few years old now (Fujifilm's latest version is the X-T4), but it still retains all of its original value in terms of image quality. I use it on all my video shoots, and almost daily for still photography.
X-T2 Vertical Power Booster Grip
I sprang for the extra battery pack grip for the X-T2 because it extends the duration of continuous 4K video recording from 10 minutes (without the grip) to half an hour, and adds extra power with its two additional batteries. It also reduces the risk of overheating while shooting.
Fujinon XF 18-55mm Lens
Unlike some so-called "kit" lenses, this is a very good-quality lens that gives me sharp videos and photos, the flexibility to zoom in or out depending on how much space I have to work with at any given location, and bonus optical image stabilization (OIS) for improved video quality.
A Few Vintage Lenses
I sometimes like using vintage manual-focus lenses, which I can put on either of my cameras with the proper lens adapters. My vintage lens collection currently includes the Asahi SMC Pentax 55mm f/2 prime lens (my favourite, from my old and beloved Pentax K1000 film camera); the Vivitar 35mm f/2.5 prime lens (not sharp at every aperture, but it does have a sweet spot); and the Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 zoom lens (a great zoom that gives me an awesome effective focal range from 105mm all the way up to 315mm on my Fuji APS-C sensor).
Some Prime Canon Lenses (for Both Cameras)
Depending on the space available on location, I have several extra prime lenses to choose from for the Canon T2i: the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8, the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8, and the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8. And with a Fringer adapter, I can also use these lenses on my Fujifilm X-T2 camera, which is just fantastic.
Manfrotto PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod
Occasionally, something like this is all you need to position your camera exactly where you want it. Also good for holding a digital audio recorder on a table near the interviewee.
Also handy for doing a DIY slider video with the camera: put it on a piece of cloth on a table, and then pull the cloth by its edge to move the camera slowly and smoothly across the table.
Digital Audio Recorders: Edirol R-09 and Roland R-05
Having recorded many interviews in the past with cassette tape recorders, I can't tell you how crazy I am about these digital recorders! You can record continuous, great-quality audio for hours. I attach them to the lav mics that my interviewees wear on-camera, and it improves the quality of the audio in my videos tremendously.
Ledgo LG-B560II LED Light
This is a very decent budget LED light with a high CRI (color rendering index) and a built-in dimmer dial. It casts a strong, soft light without heating up the room. It can be battery-operated, but I wouldn't advise that because it starts blinking when your batteries are low, which is a pretty strange "feature" when you're in the middle of filming an interview! So in my experience, it works best when connected via AC adapter to a continuous power supply.
Vintage Clamp Lights with Aluminum Reflectors
My Dad used to use these for portrait photography a long time ago, and I still like them! I've fitted them with new daylight 5400K colour temperature LED bulbs. Attach some parchment paper to the front (using vintage wooden clothes pins of course) and you've got some very useful extra soft lights.
This is a great and affordable teleprompter solution! An "Avenger F301 Baby Wall Plate" lets you hold an iPad on a stand, flat, in front of your camera. The iPad sits in a shadow box frame whose glass top is propped open at a 45° angle in front of your camera lens. A teleprompter app on the iPad scrolls your script slowly, and it's reflected by the shadow box glass right in front of the lens. Visible to the person being filmed, invisible to the camera. Brilliant!
(photo coming soon)