Camera and Lenses – Gear
The long anticipated successor to the MKII, this baby is a great full frame sensor camera with several video improvements over the MKII.
This camera offers up to 30 minutes of continuous recording time, as well as the ability for free-run or rec-run time code.
Compared to the MK II, it has improved low light performance and reduced moire/aliasing, all with a full frame sensor.
Cons: Only offers recording to H264 format.
Read our full review of the MKIII here.
This is one of Canon’s most affordable options, and definitely the best camera you can buy for its price. We use the C100 ALL THE TIME and we truly love it!
It’s lightweight, ergonomic form factor makes for great speed and mobility. It has all the standard plugin ports for audio and monitoring options. It uses zebra bars and waveforms, and has the great image quality you would get from a larger sensor.
Cons: It can only shoot up to 30 fps in 1080 🙁
Say hello to our little friend! The Canon 1DC is a ten pounds of fun in a five pound bag — we usually break it out for special projects. Think of it as the RED Epic’s more athletic, younger brother.
It shoots 4k really high resolution, small and compact and user friendly form factor. Great if you’re looking for high resolution as well as speed and mobility — we took it rock climbing!
Cons: The 1DC uses CF cards, which will fill up really quickly. Also it doesn’t shoot in raw, so you’ll need to make sure you’re shooting correctly the first time around
You can read our full review of the 1DC on the blog.
Aside from investing in ourselves… this camera is probably the wisest investment we’ve made as a company. With 5K resolution and stunning slow motion, you know when you’re looking at RED footage… because it looks incredible.
It has super high resolution, and it can shoot in 5K. It also shoots in raw, so you have the freedom of changing color dramatically in post and the image will still look great. It’s also capable of shooting really high frame rates, up to 300 fps. And the EF-mount allows us to use the same lenses as we do on our Canon DSLR!
Cons: Some people wonder why we don’t just shoot with this camera all the time. We would, but it’s one drawback is that it isn’t as mobile, so it’s slower to shoot with and fits best for produced shoots where things aren’t happening too fast.
Check out our BTS video on the Red Epic here.
We love the Scarlet for many of the same reasons we love the Epic, as they share a lot of the same functions — the cool part is that the Scarlet is significantly less expensive!
We’d say the biggest difference is that the Scarlet really isn’t very functional in 5K, but make no mistake that this is an amazing camera for shooting in 4K.
We use our Tascam DR-40 all the time! Generally we use it as a secondary audio recorder, or we’ll plug a lav mic into it for wireless recording. You can even plug an XLR cable into it and go directly into your camera.
It’s relatively lightweight and very portable, and boots up in just 4 seconds or less. It also provides phantom power for maximum convenience when you need it. The battery life is great — anywhere from 3-7 hours of life depending on the type of microphone you’re using.
One thing we really hate during a shoot is having to go through elaborate menus in order to change settings and controls on our equipment. The DR-40 has really intuitive controls, it doesn’t require much menu navigating… we really like that.
This mic has great audio quality on both the boom and attached right onto the camera, but it’s going to give you the best results when used professionally.
The mic is weather proof and can be used for outside recording as well as inside, and it’s generally got great range and pickup.
Overall this is the best value in a shotgun mic — something pricier might get you a crisper sound, but in this price range you’ll be hard pressed to find something that delivers as well as the NTG 3.
We recommend using any blimp mic when shooting outdoors to minimize wind noise — and we use the Rode blimp here at Stillmotion.
We like this guy because it uses a 2-stage barrier system. The outer barrier slows down the wind, while the inner dead space further cuts it down.
We don’t recommend using a blimp indoors, however, because you’re still putting something around your mic, which is not the purest form of audio you could get.
The Shure FP Wireless System features a sync button to easily sync the receiver and transmitter together — this is really valuable, as many other systems require you to dial in the exact frequency.
It also has a trusty knob to adjust the volume! Some things should always be manual…
It’s also more affordable than other wireless systems of this caliber. Score!
Oh baby, oh baby — this is a really simple LAV mic that allows you to hide the mic without having to deal with tape or elaborate hiding solutions.
With proper, matching clothing you can place this mic on your talent in plain view and no one will be able to see it. Since you don’t have to hide it, you won’t have any issues with rubbing.
Depending on clothing color, fabric, and patterns you may not be able to use this mic. However, you can get the PinMic with a neutral-colored cap that can be painted to match the clothing.
Wow, you can barely see this little guy!
Truly a very tiny and precious LAV, the Countryman B6 gets really great audio quality and is very small and easy to hide.
You’ll want to be careful about where you place the mic (or any small LAV mic). A nice central location, like underneath a neck tie, for example — is going to give you much more even audio quality than on one side of your subject.
For some tips on hiding a wireless LAV, check out our wireless audio blog post.
This rectilinear lens offers an ultra wide field of view with more natural edge distortion than other wide lenses in that focal range. This guy is a really great option if you’re shooting with crop sensors when you want to get a truly wide field of view. It also has a short hyperfocal distance, making it a great option for Steadicam.
Watch it in action on the blog.
This is part of our core DSLR kit that we bring to many shoots… it rarely leaves our side!
Like all of the Canon L-series primes, it has a really high build quality and great optics, and at f1/4 it’s great in low light situations.
The bokeh on this lens is gorgeous, and it’s got beautiful colors and contrast.
This lens is one of our favorites, we rarely set out on a shoot without it.
The 35mm is a wide angle that moves nice and fast, and you can get up close to your subject with a minimum focusing distance of just 25cm.
Fast, wide, affordable, and great in low light — this one’s a staple in any lens kit.
Also known as the “nifty fifty,” this lens has an outstanding picture quality and it is amazing in low light situations!
It’s also weather resistant, the bokeh is beautiful, and it shoots really gorgeous portraits.While the low aperture rate isn’t for the inexperienced, we would absolutely recommend the 50mm f1.2 to anyone in the market for a 50mm lens.
Another member of our core DSLR kit, this is our go-to longer prime lens. This lens has a very short minimum focusing distance, and this is what allows it to get an especially beautiful looking background blur.
It’s also compatible with the EF 1.4x II extender, which is another one of our favorites tools.
Watch it in action on the blog.
This is one of the most popular Canon zooms, and it offers a great set of features, covering a lot in one package. The focal length gives you wide to medium coverage and at f2.8 it’s a fast lens. It also performs very well in dim lighting.
Its macro feature also comes in handy, giving you the perks of a macro lens without having to bring in an actual macro lens — all in all this is just a great zoom lens!
This is our go-to lens for the majority of our handheld event work. It’s great for capturing movement on the go!
It gives you a huge focal range to work with and the image stabilization is crucial for getting that raw feel, without making it difficult to watch.
The image stabilization is great for handheld shots, works great in vehicles as well. It covers a fairly wide focal range, giving you lots of options in a single lens.
Find it on the blog.
This is a high-powered, daylight balance light that allows for a multitude of lenses and attachments like soft boxes, barn doors, and drop in gels. And it’s compact and easy to travel with, which we love. But you’ll definitely need to pull the bulbs out before flying with this light.
Sold separately is a remote that allows you to control the intensity of the HMI… it’s awesome and a worthy investment!
This baby is really strong overall, great for lighting anything from interviews to large rooms.
This light is great for many of the same reasons that the Profoto Daylight Air is great, the main difference being that this one has a tungsten filter.
The ProTungsten uses the same housing as the Daylight Air, and the two of them share all the same attachments. You can also use the same remote to control this light as well as your HMIs simultaneously… very handy!
We generally use this guy when balancing for daylight is not a priority, but we need a high-powered light.
This light rules! We use it for everything from weddings, to interviews, to live events.
It’s a super affordable 250-watt light, at only about $100… and it’s nice and easy to travel with as well.
You’ll want to be careful with this light though as it can run very hot and will usually need some time to cool down. Other than that, we totally recommend this light as it is such an affordable and useful tool for independent filmmakers.
This LED light is perfectly sized, with enough intensity to light an interview, a small scene or even just to add some fill to a room.
And what’s more? You can dial in the exact Kelvin temperature and intensity so your lighting is perfect every time!
It’s also not bad for traveling, we probably use this light about 90% of the time and travel with it often.
This reflector kit is a major necessity for shooting outdoors, as you’ll often find that you need something light and compact that will give you a lot of options for modifying light.
You can bounce the light, cut it, diffuse, flag… all within one very portable package!
The only downside is that they’re not great for strong winds, as they can become more of a sail.
See them in action in this tutorial.
Very handy dandy… we take our Scrim Jim with us on any shoot where we know we’re going to be in unpredictable lighting situations… because this thing can do just about anything!
It comes with a variety of diffusion screens, a flag, and some reflectors, all of which can be built or broken down in just minutes. The frame allows it to be locked onto one or two c-stands as well, so you can go hands free.
Watch us use our Scrim Jim outside in this tutorial.
These fast flags are super great for travel. Standard production flags, nets, diffusions, etc. can be impractical and difficult to travel with, but these offer a travel friendly solution in that their metal frames can be broken down and folded into a travel-friendly case.
Often we’ll use these for indoor interviews!
If you’re a DSLR shooter, this slider could be one of your best friends! It’s super portable and easy to use, and the rigid design allows the FLT to be mounted on a single tripod, so it can quickly be positioned at various heights.
This slider really balances performance, size and cost… it’s affordable and smaller in size, making it great for beginners and smaller crews, and great for travel. The standard legs are great in many situations, and there’s an all-terrain option for harsher environments.
Cons: This slider does not have a bowl — meaning that the user has to adjust the legs in order to find the perfect balance, so you’ll need to watch out for uneven shots.
A step up from the FLT Slider, the 30 is going to be a bit spendier, but it’s very robust and can handle just about anything you throw at it. It gives one of the smoothest slides on the market, with a body that moves along the rails via bearings.
This slider has a dual rail design, meaning the rig can be broken down for travel — but it does require two stands or boxes for elevated use. It’ll support up to 30lbs, making it great for DSLR shooters and medium-sized cameras.
It’s got a bowl which allows for quick leveling, it comes in hand when you’re operating off the ground! It can also easily be mounted upside down using stands or boxes, giving you many creative options.
Cons: The legs can be a bit slow to adjust if you’re in a hurry, and the exposed rails need to be cleaned/lubricated often.
If you know anything about Stillmotion, you know that we’re huge advocates for this tool… it’s pretty much our baby.
We take it with us on every shoot! The telescoping post, ball head, and small supporting legs make this monopod stable and fully capable of getting into a variety of spots. This really is an amazing value for how often you’ll use this tool, and how long it will last you if you take good care of it.
Cons: The small legs can sometimes break, and the ball joint will need lubricant on occasion. If you get this monopod you just need to make sure you keep up on the maintenance… and it will be your new BFF.
Check out our Manfrotto tutorial on the blog.
A very strong, entry level, body-mounted stabilizer that offers the precision of Steadicam paired with a very reasonable price tag for what it offers.
The included weights will give you many setup options, and are a great addition when working with very light DSLR cameras. The arm and gimbal on the Pilot are so good that they allow for the same quality of shots as rigs that normally cost much more than this system.
Basically for the quality of the rig and the power it offers, this is a great deal! The interchangeable system allows different arms and sleds to work together, offering an easier upgrade path.
Cons: Some mid-size cameras will have a hard time with this system, as it only handles up to about 10lbs. Also the Vest has a lot of velcro which can be noisy at an event, and kind of confusing to get off.
In our opinion, this is the best body-mounted stabilizer for cameras under 20lbs. It features a very robust vest with quick adjustments via a buckle system as well as several easy adjustments throughout. The bottom of the sled has two separate posts for the battery and monitor that can be quickly repositioned to achieve dynamic balance quickly and easily.
Quickly find the perfect balance with the Zephyr’s many tool-less adjustments, and watch the high quality monitor (also featuring lots of adjustment options!) as you go.
We love this tool, it allows for more dynamic, human-like movement without having to actually go handheld. It’s great for getting in there and getting the action while offering some extra stability!
It also works well with small and large cameras alike — you can attach extra batteries, a follow focus, and other accessories very easily.
This tool is great for shooting things like athletic events, but it’s not the way to go if you’re trying to get a super steady, polished look for your story.
We switched over to using CS6 just after it was released, and it was a huge improvement from the older versions. It fixed a lot of the workflow issues that were existent in the old Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
One reason among many that we love this software is that it can handle a ton of native video format and codex without needing to convert them first.
In comparison to the earlier version, this one offers a lot more speed, efficiency, new trimming and color tools, and a simplified UI.
CS6 is what we currently use and love here at our studio… but Adobe just released a newer version that we’re yet to try: Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It’s got a lot of new shortcuts to make editing faster and more streamlined, and it holds all of your Premiere materials in the cloud.
Hey, stealing isn’t cool.
Don’t steal music for your films! Get it properly licensed, from a real-life music licensing company… like our dear friends at Marmoset Music here in Portland.
Get in contact with these guys and tell them what you want to hear in your film, and they’ll do a search through their very large database of artists to find the sound you’re looking for. As a bonus, they’re pretty awesome dudes.
Recording and syncing audio separately is always going to be a pain in the butt… PluralEyes 3 makes it far less painful.
This software is great because it allows for automated syncing of visuals and audio files when they’re recorded separately, and it’s going to save you hours of work in post when you’re working on a big project with lots of audio and video files. Basically this program does a lot of the work for you, about 10x faster than you ever could.
This is a great plugin for Premiere Pro or Final Cut that allows you to color your footage in your editing suite without having to deal with a separate program.
It’s robust enough to fully color a film and saves you the time of having to export and reimport your film from another coloring software… very clutch!
We use this program all the time with Premiere because it offers a lot more color options that those built in to the Premiere software.
Blue is blue, right? Wrong!
Different monitors will display your color differently… X-Rite allows you to calibrate your monitor so it shows your color accurately… it makes the process easy and quick (we like that).
Also the suction cup factor is very cool.
A regular old camera bag has a very specific look… black, sporty, and ugly.
But Kelly Moore’s bags look damn good, and inside they’ve got all the storage compartments you need for a camera body, a few lenses, your important paperwork, a sandwich, and a good book.
Amina rocks her Kelly Moore everywhere she goes, and if you didn’t know any better you might not even guess that she’s a photographer… just a lady with a nice lookin’ bag.
This is a neoprene lens bag made to take right on the set of your shoot. It holds up to 3 lenses as well as small camera accessories right by your side. It keeps the lenses protected from the elements, and it’s perfect for event type shooting. It also comes in a variety of colors to boot.
The bag is low profile and light, perfect for travel. Also the inside of the cover doubles as a lens cloth!
The Shootsac doesn’t have much padding on the outside, so it’s better for day use and event shooting. You’ll want to watch out for your larger diameter lenses, however, as the bag isn’t built to accommodate them super well.
We are constantly flying… and love our Rodie!
Sleek and compact, this case on wheels packs a punch. You can fit a medium-sized professional DSLR, camera system, some lenses and plenty of other goodies in here… as well as padded laptop sleeve that will fit your 15-inch computer.
There are extra compartments up top in the briefcase, and above all this case can even fit under many airline seats.
This is a well built, nicely padded travel case with wheels and removable dividers, making it suitable for a whole host of shoots and needs.
The body is relatively light but durable and the wheels make it a breeze to move through the airport and on location.
Bonus: water repellant!
ShootQ is a great resource that allows you to manage your different shoots all in one place, and it’s especially useful for covering weddings and events. It’s valuable because it automates the business side of things — automatically sending reminder emails to your clients, invoicing, and reminding you of follow-up tasks that need to be completed.
This is going to save you hundreds of hours of monotonous email sending. Technology is advanced enough to do these things for you… use it to your advantage!
Sometimes it really makes a lot more sense to rent the equipment you need for a particular shoot, rather than buy.
We love LensPro ToGo and we use it all the time! You can order something from them and receive it the next day, they’re constantly shipping things out. What’s really nice is that you get one flat rate that includes the rental, shipping, and return delivery with boxes included… so sweet, so simple.
We strongly recommend working with this company! It’s also a great way to try out gear you’re thinking about buying.
We love LensPro ToGo!