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Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?

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Peter Lefebvre
Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 8, 2009 at 8:30:01 pm

Hi - I'm about to make our initial investment in some pro video gear... I own a small creative marketing agency and we're finally going to produce our own instructional screencasts and web promotion videos. We also want to begin selling video service (in addition to our current photo offerings) for corporate, commercial/infomercial AND some personal/creative work for art-sake!

In the end, it has been most difficult to peg a label on "what" we're going to produce - so we need a pretty versatile setup. We're looking to get the best bang for our buck, end-up with equipment that will outlast the lease payments and be upgradable or expandable.

Part of the problem is just location... we're in Canada and it seems like we're taking a genuine flogging on the price of ALL pro video stuff...

For example, we've narrowed-down our camera choices to the Sony Ex-1 and the sale(!) price of that cam here is $8,500CA (currently, that exchanges to about $7,650US and video cameras are duty-free into canada) when the camera is listing everywhere in the US for about $6,000US! All things said and done though, seems like we'll have to stick local for after sale support (firmware patches?), warranty etc. Let alone the fact that Sony currently has a US export ban on the EX-1... hmm, gee I wonder why!

Anyway, we're going to take the beating on the camera itself, but definitely going to order all accessories from the US - even after exchange, shipping (and duty if applicable), we're still way ahead of the game.

SO (sorry for the long preamble) I was hoping that you might help steer me clear of any oversights or over-indulgences in my final shopping list? Are there items here that I could foresake or replace with cheaper/better things? What would you do?!

- Sony PMW-EX1 Kit (U60 battery + 8Gb SxS)

- Tripod & fluid head (spreader or NO spreader? Manfrotto 501HDV head + 055XDB legs?)
- Light(s) (some kinda 1000W head + 30" softbox??? need help here for sure)
- Media (2 Hoodman SDHC to SxS adapters + 2 SDHC 16Gb cards)
- Support (Glidecam 4000 too heavy without vest/harness?)
- Bag/Case (Petrol or Kata, or?)
- Mic & Boom (Rode NTG2 + boom & adapter?)
- Lens filter (UV or clear?)

- Apple Final Cut Pro 3
- External Bluray Burner
- External 1Tb FW800 hard drives (x3)
- MacBook Pro 17 (with hirez LED matte screen, have it, love it)
- iMac 24" 2.4ghz + 4gb (have it, like it)
- Record audio to the MacBook (Sure XLR to USB adapter?) $150

Tnanks for reading and any advice you can provide!

Cheers - Peter.

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William Mims
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 9, 2009 at 11:40:25 am

B&H Video, out of NY, has a Cartoni HiDV Fluid Head ($ 749).
Let me just say this, save the difference elsewhere and get the Cartoni. Hands down, the sweetest fluid head I have ever used. You will not regret it. 75mm bowl, and a nice tripod for under $ 250. The Cartoni handles my EX3 with extra stuff on it just fine, it's velvet smooth, and has some nice lock down features and you can tilt it +90 degrees.
I learned this the hard way-cheap fluid heads are not fluid, they are friction with a honey like substance that will ozz out on a hot day in the trunk-then your sunk for sure. trust me. A tripod/fluid head is not the place to cut corners. At one time or another I have used them all, Sachs, O'Connors, Vinten, etc. This Cartoni is the best I have used. As far as the EX1, I can only say Sony is your best choice, hands down. The EX1 is a great camera system, however for what you are about to do, I suggest you give a lot of thought about your future needs. There is wisdom in being careful not to over spend your budget, on the other hand, for a little more you can buy the EX3. A camera system that will allow you to produce network quality work long into the future. Another option is to buy a EX1 used from a safe place like the used section here at Creative Cow. Use it for a while, switch to a new EX3 and keep the EX1 for a second camera. Sony Vegas NLE is something you should consider-I know that goes against what others here will tell you, but I have been quite pleased with how fast I got to speed with the Vegas NLE and with the extras it has without having to buy other software.


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Peter Lefebvre
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 9, 2009 at 3:58:52 pm

Thanks Mims - great advice, but I've already blown the theoretical budget by climbing up from our original idea of getting a Panasonic AGHMC150P...

We also already bought FCP, so we're pretty much committed to that path now too!

We've been watching for used EX-1s but they get snagged-up pretty quick and the thought of taking a chance on shipping a used one across the border, only to find something wrong, gets me all clenched-up in the worst places!

Any thoughts on a decent (low cost!) lighting setup to get started? I figure I will need at least one decent keylight (spot with barndoors?) and a softbox kit...?

Cheers & thanks - Peter.

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Chad Johnson
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 9, 2009 at 7:54:16 pm


With as much money you will blow on getting the EX1 at Canada pricing, you may as mell just buy a ticket to New York, and go to B&H in person. Think about it, how much does a round trip weekend to NY cost? I bet it's less than 1,500.00US. So get your butt on a plane to B&H.

EX1 6,099.00

You need a decent wireless system:
Sennheiser EW112P G3 LAV SYS (B) EK100/SK100/ME2

And the G2 can be had for cheaper while supplies last, but I'd hold out for the G3 personally.

You need BOTH a shotgun and a hyper mic. Shotguns aren't for indoors remember. Rode has some great mics. You'll also need a boom pole, wind muff etc.

Rode NTG-2 Shotgun:

Though I prefer the Sennheiser ME66/K6:

A great Hyprecardioid for indoor dialog, or even music or a play. I use 2 in conjunction with a Rode NT-4 Stereo mic for stage performances, but they do great on a boom, or getting a nice VO on location in someone's office who doesn't want to come in for a testimonial or whatever:

Throw in a few long XLR cables, some Magic Bullet Looks software, maybe a Roland R-44 4 track field recorder if more than 2 track audio is important.

All in all if you add up all the basics: Camera, Tripod (400.00 - 2,000.00), Shotgun mic, Hyper mic, 2 Shock mounts (one for boom, one to go into the mic holder on the EX1 because the NT3 won't fit) cables, large battery, SxS cards (frickin' expensive), then compare the US pricing to Canada pricing, and decide if the difference is more than the cost to travel straight to B&H, I think you'll find some savings there and have some gear you won't want to replace right from the get go.

Good Luck!


8 Core Mac Pro
9 GB 667 Mhz DDR2 FB-DIMM
MOTU Traveler Firewire Interface
Mac OX 10.4.11 Tiger

My Music:

My Fun Video:

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William Mims
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 10, 2009 at 12:11:33 pm

Chad has some pretty good advice on the NY trip as well as his choices on equipment-and while you are at it, check out Chad's demo reel/website. Nice reel, Chad.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 10, 2009 at 2:16:01 pm

I, too, am a non-Manfrotto person. I have used multiple Manfrotto heads and not liked any of them. Cartoni makes good stuff, as does Vinten, as does Sachtler.

You'll want some other, smaller lights as well. With a 1K in a bag, a couple Arri 300's and a 150 (Fresnels) will be a good start. Don't forget the stands! And color, diffusion, blackwrap, and some miscellany such as a grip head or two, the short (28"?) grip arm, a couple Cardellinis and Mafers, and whatever.

You get to go buy gear - enjoy!

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Clint Fleckenstein
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 10, 2009 at 5:16:47 pm

As far as lights, you'd be well equipped with one of these: link. We have a pair of them and have been very happy with them (we have other supplemental lighting for big stuff).

I've also been very happy with this tripod and head for both cameras. We have one unit that we "share" but I have approval to order a second.


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William Mims
Re: Help with "best bang for the $" accessories?
on Aug 21, 2009 at 12:10:24 pm

Clint is right about the Lowel kit (link) with such a kit and knowing 3 point lighting you can light anything. If the Lowel kit is beyond your budget right now, check out ImageWest or cowboyStudio photography Equipment. The Lowel kit will outlast other products so consider that as you make that decision. Personally, I like the Lowel VIP series as cameras these days need less light and the VIP series is smaller and lighter.


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