So during my recent venture to New York to cover the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, I was stopped on numerous occasions and asked what I was shooting with. Some of the inquiries were specific to the Canon series DSLRs “Are you using the 5D or the 7D?” “Why’d you choose that camera?” “Does a DSLR really shoot video that well?”, others wondering if I was shooting photos or videos (so many people are still so thrown off when they see a Shotgun Mic atop a DSLR), but MOST had to do with the accessories I was using to aid in the production.
Photos of me working are thanks to Mr. Philip Anema an extremely enthusiastic and talented photographer living in New York. Seriously… if you have an event you need covered and want some shots with a ton of personality… Phil is GREAT… and he’s a blast to work with. You can check out his photos from the event here on Phil’s Flickr.
So here’s a quick breakdown of my current Run & Gun rig… I’ll go into more detail below…
The FULL Rig for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (links to Amazon.com pages / Production sites):
The main things I really want to comment on are the Zacuto Z-Finder / Z-Bands, Adorama Filter Wrenches, and the Manfrotto Monopod. Everything else aside… these items REALLY helped the physical acquisition of the video. Everything else becomes a nice addition for workflow.
The shoot itself took place over 5 days, and spanned ~20 different venues all over Manhattan & Brooklyn (there were many more venues, but only so much time!). This setup meant I typically had 30-45mins per venue per day, before I had my next scheduled event / location. Lots of setups and had to get a lot of different shots.
These scenarios meant I needed to stay light and efficient, but without compromising quality during acquisition. If you’re not familiar with the Zacuto Z-Finder, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of solutions for enhancing the viewable image on a DSLR. Obviously having an off-board monitor would be an ideal solution, however in this scenario, even a small monitor would have hindered my set up times. I was fortunate enough to receive a Z-Finder v2 and Z-Bands as a promotional item from Sue Rapp at Zacuto (Zacuto_Sue on twitter). When you’re pushed to shoot fully open because of lighting, you HAVE to have some form of magnification to tell what the heck is going on.
Being able to pop the Z-Finder on and off the camera during shoots saved a TON of setups, and in turn allowed me to quickly get the shots I needed, get out, and off to the next location.
The other point in which the Z-Finder became an absolute necessity was during my use of the 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens. For those of you not familiar with this lens… I can’t urge you enough to snag one and play with it. It’s gorgeous not only for closeup macro work, but equally so for portrait / medium shots. The way this lens reads is amazing… HOWEVER… when shooting, again wide open (f/2.8), your accuracy of focus becomes absolutely critical. This is where the Z-Bands and Filter Wrenches came in.
I opted to use one of the Adorama filter wrenches around the focus ring on the lens, held in place with a Zacuto Z-Band. This gave me a perpendicular point of contact with the lens, as opposed to directly wrapping my hand around the focus ring. This, coupled with the Z-Finder allowed for some gorgeous rack focus shots… Especially when you have lines and lines of bottles / glassware with deep perspective… I’ll post clips as I get through them… Of course having a follow focus system, and a focus puller would have been far more ideal, but this proved to be a more than adequate solution, and greatly improved the quality of the move from just using my hand as a grip.
My final “couldn’t live without it” item came via the Manfrotto 560B Fluid Video Monopod. This particular monopod has three small feet and a small fluid ball at the base. This allows for a bit more added stability on shots, as well as enables for some nice moves in otherwise “gear-less” environments. The monopod also packs up small / quickly enough to help facilitate moving on the fly and bustling through subways / taxis / busy footpaths. My only complaint about this particular unit has to do with the tilt movements. Panning is absolutely aided by the fluid head… however the tilt moves tend to stick slightly. They start out nice and smooth, but will occasionally “lock” creating a very minor jitter that unfortunately absolutely transfers into the lens. Especially at 50mm and above. I’ve debated whether or not to try and add some powder / lubrication to the head, however I don’t want to lose the existing tension for my Pan moves… We’ll see… time to research and test!
This particular setup was ABSOLUTELY necessary for me to be able to adequately cover this particular event, and I am EXTREMELY grateful for all the assistance from Zacuto! Their products really do help elevate DSLR video to the next level.
OH! And if you haven’t seen the Zacuto Shootout Series, they’ve just released the final… part 3. This is a NOT TO BE MISSED test between DSLR Video and Film. DEFINITELY worth watching. Some revolutionary stuff happening.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 31st, 2010 at 12:40 pm and is filed under Blog, Media Related and tagged with Canon, DSLR Event Videography, DSLR Rig, Manfrotto, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, MCC, Rode, Run & Gun Kit, Video Production, Z-Bands, Z-Finder, zacuto. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Brandon Cummins is a Freelance Image Maker and Media Producer living in the Kansas City area, specializing in Food & Beverage Photography / Videography, Event Photography/Videography, Concert Photography/Videography, and Media Production. His work has appeared in publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Guitarist Magazine, KC Magazine, The Pitch, Ink Magazine, Kansas City Business Journal, and more. Brandon is available for editorial and commercial assignments worldwide.