A Christmas gift list can be either for personal use or to suggest someone the things we would like to have. Here is our list of suggestions, which wants to be a starting point for you to create your own.
DSLR users, as any other species of photography users, love gear, even if they state that the less they’ve used something, the more fun it is. DSLR owners are also, in modern days, videographers wanting to have more gear to use for their moving images. We’ve compiled a list for DSLR videographers – although others may find it interesting – with some suggestions for Christmas.
Two rules for this list: we tried to get the cheapest gear we could find when it comes to accessories. Not always easy, so we had to compromise in some areas. We also looked for gear that could, preferably, be handled by a one man crew, as that may be the reality for many DSLR shooters. We include some hardware and software to round up the list, but most of these suggestions are for people moving about.
You’ll find multiple Christmas lists, across the web, that compile a vast diversity of material, but here at PVC and for this article we looked at things that could be carried in a backpack or similar (and we even suggest the backpack)… except for those suggestions that are to be used at home but are a logical step, in terms of workflow, for photographers and videographers. We tried to pick gear for those that want/need to travel as light as possible. We hope the final result may offer many readers viable solutions for their gifts at this time of the year.
On the Road Stuff
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
The EOS 7D Mark II camera offers users the ability to shoot in 1080p Full HD or 720p HD video up to 60p enabling slow-motion capture at full resolution in either ALL-I or IPB codecs with optional embedded time code, exceeding the specifications of other current EOS cameras. Users can also choose between .MOV and .MP4 recording formats for maximum flexibility. The EOS 7D Mark II camera’s mini HDMI port can be used to record uncompressed Full HD video to external recorders.
Canon’s Stepping Motor (STM) lenses, such as the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, significantly reduce focus motor noise, letting the EOS 7D Mark II camera’s built-in microphone capture clear audio of the scene being shot without picking up unwanted noise from the lens. The EOS 7 D Mark II camera also features a stereo microphone port and outputs stereo audio via the camera’s mini-HDMI port. The EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR camera is equipped with a headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring, as well as a silent control feature that allows users to adjust audio levels during recordings. Other built-in ports include a PC socket for external flash units and an N3 socket for dedicated Canon wired remote control accessories. A cable protector is provided to maximize safety when using the USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports.
The EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR camera is available for an estimated retail price of $1,799.00 for the body only and $2,149.00 bundled with an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.
The new series of Phottix LED lights (read our article Small LEDS create BIG Lights) are small, affordable LED lights for small crews and indie videographers working on their own. Small LED lights are easy to transport, easy to work with and offer powerful controllable light for different projects, both in video and photography.
Six AA batteries are used to make the VLEDs work, but the Phottix light has adapters that allow the use of different batteries: Canon LP-E6, Nikon EN-EL15, Panasonic CGR-D16S, Sony NP-FH70, NP-FM55H, NP-F550. It can be an interesting option for some and a way to get extra energy if your AAs fail during a job. Just remember to bring the adapter with you… and enough camera batteries.
In terms of power, the VLED 168 model offers an output of 1050 Lumens, with 1250 Lumens for the VLED 198 and 1600 Lumens for the VLED 260. The Phottix VLEDs are already available, with a price of $55 per unit.
Fifty Dollar Follow Focus
Designed for cinematographers who need an affordable follow focus that won’t take up a lot of space on a rig or in a camera bag (it’ll fit in your pocket) the Fifty Dollar Follow Focus from Hondo Garage works very well for solo operators, but can be used with a focus whip if you’re lucky enough to have a camera assistant.
Although it may not necessarily better at everything, it does have some distinct advantages over a traditional follow focus: is much smaller than a regular follow focus, it’s smoother than all but the best (meaning expensive) follow focuses because of its direct drive design, it can use belts or gears, so you can use it with lenses that don’t have lens gears on them… and for fifty bucks it is affordable. The price? Just as said. A bit more if you go for the more expensive versions. Find more info at HONDO Garage.
Pocketable Pop and Lock
The Pop and Lock is the multi-tool of camera support. It folds up to a size that will fit in your pocket, but unfolds into a number of different support configurations. It’s made from aluminum and stainless steel, a solid tool that can go with you everywhere and can be used as a shoulder stock, a top handle, a selfie pole, a pistol grip, a handle, you name it, the Pop and Lock can probably do it in a pinch. If you travel with camera in hand and never know exactly what you’ll be shooting, the Pop and Lock has your back, they say. And they may be right. Again, this is a HONDO Garage product.
The Pop and Lock costs $129. Find more about the product at HONDO Garage.
Rocket Travel Slider
The Rocket Travel Slider gives you super-smooth, professional dolly shots up to 10 feet long anywhere in the world, and it sets up in minutes! 2 feet slider? 4 feet? 6 feet? 10? No problem for The Rocket.
The Rocket Base Kit weighs just 3 ½ lbs. (supporting loads up to 45 lbs!) and compacts down into a deluxe padded case about the size of a shoe box. It easily supports high-end pro cameras like the Epic, Sony F55, HDSLR’s, Blackmagic Cinema Camera and more. Even a fully-rigged Aviator Travel Jib.
The Base Kit works great with carbon fiber Travel Tracks (available separately) for the ultimate in light weight and compact portability, but the price can be a bit too much for some. But you can use the Rocket Base Kit with standard conduit pipe available at most hardware stores (not included). Compatible with most metal conduit pipe with an outside diameter of 28mm to 32mm. In the USA it’s called 1 inch EMT pipe.
The price for the Rocket Base Kit is $497.00.
Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
Conceived for those that want the best sound but do not need the complete specifications of the H6, the H5, from Zoom, is a sensible option for DSLR videographers aspiring at better sound.
The H5 allows four tracks of simultaneous recording directly to SD cards (max 32GB capacity), in a variety of MP3 and BWF-compliant WAV file formats, including 24-bit, 96kHz audio. With the use of an optional adapter, it can be mounted directly to a DSLR or camcorder and requires two AA batteries for power, with alkaline battery life of more than 15 hours.
Additional features include a stereo line output for connection to camcorders; a headphone jack and built-in speaker; onboard effects, metronome and chromatic tuner; adjustable playback speed and pitch correction; and pre-record, auto-record and backup-record functions. Data can be transferred to editing software via a USB port, and the H5 can also be used as a multichannel audio interface for computers and iPads.
Like the company’s flagship H6, the H5 employs a system of interchangeable input capsules, allowing the best microphone to be used for every recording situation. In addition to being fully compatible with all Zoom input capsules, the H5 comes with a new X/Y stereo capsule, featuring extended signal capacity—up to 140 dB SPL—and shockmounted microphones for reduced handling noise.
The Zoom H5 has a street price of $269.99. Find more info at Zoom.
MindShift Gear rotation180° Trail
A backpack with access reinvented—MindShift’s patented award-winning rotation technology is available in this smaller, lighter backpack, the MindShift Gear rotation180° Trail. Accessing gear has never been easier for outdoor photographers and action enthusiasts. You can hike, mountain bike, ski and birdwatch without breaking stride. No more removing a cumbersome backpack to access camera gear or trail essentials. In one swift motion, rotate the beltpack component and grab your gear without taking your eyes off of wildlife or disrupting your creative momentum. Just have fun out there.
The intuitive functionality of the small yet spacious rotation180° Trail keeps the day’s necessities organized. It fits a 2 liter Camelbak or any 1.5 liter water reservoir, a light jacket and an extra layer, binoculars, compass, trail books, maps and more. This 2-in-1 bag’s beltpack can be worn on its own for traveling light. So end the tiresome on-and-off again of other backpacks and enjoy the outdoors more with the rotation180° Trail.
Prices start at $179.99 and there are different models available. Check also the rotation180° Professional.
Gifts to Use Home
My Passport Wireless
Already reviewed here at ProVideo Coalition (read the article A Pocket NAS from Western Digital), the My Passport Wireless is like having your own Cloud always at hand while travelling: the 2TB model can hold 32 64GB cards.
The My Passport Wireless is perfect as a portable, pocketable NAS or Cloud used to keep your files safe until you get home, freeing your cards at the end of the day or even while in the field. When travelling or even on a day shoot, it may make sense. Small enough to carry around everywhere, the SD slot really makes it a unique contender in the world of portable drives.
The My Passport Wireless drive is currently available at select U.S. retailers and online at the wdstore.com. MSRP is $179.99 USD for 1 TB and $219.99 for 2 TB. The WD My Cloud mobile app is available for download for free from the App Store and Google Play.
WD MY Cloud EX4
The top level in the My Cloud series from Western Digital is the EX4, offering up to 24TB of NAS capacity that is easy to use. Designed for users needing more space than the regular My Cloud systems from Western Digital offer, the My Cloud EX4 is a four bay NAS or Network Attached Storage that offers photographers and videographers a single place to organize all their files. It’s a starting point on the way to create your own cloud at home.
You can choose the diskless enclosure to add up to four drives and grow as your needs expand, or choose a populated system that works right out of the box.The price for the 16TB model is $999.99.
If you’re in the market for a video editor, one program you should probably look at is Cyberlink’s PowerDirector 13, launched in September 2014. This may not be the exact tool for some professionals, but for many of us and for enthusiasts, the options in Power Director 13 are more than enough to justify the investment. Besides, the program offers what I consider to be extremely important: a user friendly interface that makes it easy to start working.
The PowerDirector family of products offers a series of options, allowing users to invest within their needs and according to their expectations. You can pay anything from $69.99 for the PowerDirector 13 Deluxe edition – which is the entry level – to $299.99 for the Director Suite 3, which includes the programs PowerDirector 13, AudioDirector 5, ColorDirector 3 and PhotoDirector 6 and also some other stuff, like Windows 8/Android versions of PowerDirector Mobile and PhotoDirector Mobile, along with direct access to CyberLink Cloud Service, with 20GB of free space. Find more reading our review of the program. PowerDirector 13 Supports XAVC-S and H.265