Five key pieces of kit for video capture

Matt Bennett

Professional cinematographer Daniel Peters reveals the equipment he won’t leave home without

Blackmagic Designs
Pro photographer Jebson (left) and cinematographer Peters (right) show the differences between their kit bags for their different styles of shooting

In the latest issue of Digital Photographer, issue 167, you’ll find the first in a new six-part series in association with Wex that takes you through the essential skills you need for capturing high-quality digital film projects.

Moving from stills photography into the world of motion can be daunting, but in this series we look to demystify the transition, with pro photographer James Jebson and cinematographer Daniel Peters providing their advice and knowledge throughout.

Jebson is a professional stills photographer who has lately started to incorporate digital film into his workflow, and experienced practitioner Peters has been on hands to guide him along the way.

The first of our series kicks off with a look at the kit you need to get started. We’ll discuss how dedicated digital film cameras, with their increased dynamic range, can improve the quality of your video, as well as offering you the combination of usability and functionality.

This need not require a huge outlay either, and we take a look at the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and how it can help to improve your digital projects. “I was totally blown away by the usability of it,” says Jebson. “Everything is really straightforward. I can use my Nikon lenses on it, too.”

Indeed, Jebson’s initial investment was not a burdensome one. “The Pocket Cinema Camera, the [Metabones] Speed Booster [to enable Nikon G lenses to be used] and a monopod and you’re out there shooting,” he summarises.

To help you find out more about the kit you need to get started making digital film projects, we asked Peters for the items that are most important to him in his work as an in-demand cinematographer. If any of these terms don’t sound instantly familiar, fear not, as we will be revealing all you need to know throughout the series.

Here are Daniel Peters’ top bits of kit for shooting great digital film…

Zoom lens
You don’t need to make a huge investment up front to start shooting digital film. You can still use your stills photographic lenses with cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera, as they offer familiar mounts, including EF and MFT. For people starting out, I’d probably suggest a nice, fast zoom lens like the Sigma Art 18-35mm. That way, you can cover a lot of shots with just one lens.

Variable ND filter
I use the Tiffen Vari-ND, which covers most extreme lighting conditions to keep your shutter at 1/50sec or 180-degrees, in order to keep your depth of field nice and shallow when needed. If you buy the largest thread size, i.e. 72 or 88, and use a step down ring, then you won’t have to buy the same kit for different lenses. This helps to keep your costs down even further.

Lens and filter
Daniel Peters recommends having a quality zoom lens and variable ND filter with you

Carry a nice lapel mic with you to get great interview pieces to camera or narrative voiceovers. Using your onboard microphone doesn’t get the best results because these devices are simply not designed to record quality audio. In the third part of the series in Digital Photographer magazine, you will discover much more about audio, including the types of microphone on offer, best practice for audio and more.

A lapel microphone can be used for capturing audio – avoid your camera’s onboard microphone

Portable light
A compact travel light, like the F&V Z180 is perfect. This runs on something as easy as AAs, which you can get anywhere. You never know when you will need a kick of light and this model is also bi-color from 3200k to 5600k [via a tungsten filter].

Spare batteries and storage
You never want to find a great shot and not have enough power or media to capture it!

Memory cards
RAW and ProRes video files are huge, so you’ll need plenty of memory cards with you on a shoot

Make sure you check out issue 167 for the start of this fantastic digital film series, where we’ll find out more from Daniel Peters about the vital kit you need for professional filming.

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