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$2400 to spend on DSLR accessories

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Paul Sholly
$2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 6:43:55 am

I recently got $3500 for a new video camera. At first I was considering getting a Panasonic HMC 150, but then I thought about the potential of DSLR's. If I got a Canon T2i 550D (arguably the same video quality as the 7D), spending about $1100 for camera and stock lens, what should I get with the money left over?

Basically my question is: If you were given $2400 to buy DSLR accessories (for purposes of shooting video), what would you buy?

I've been looking at a lot of Redrock stuff, and it looks neat, but it doesn't seem to do much for image stabilization. Anyway, I ask for the opinions of the experienced and the professional. Thanks!


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Richard Harrington
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 3:29:24 pm

Tripod
Viewfinder
Plate or mounting box
Prime lens 22 or 35 for interviews
External audio recorder
External mic

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and ATS:iWork


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Steve Crow
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 5:13:26 pm

I can't argue with anything Richard suggested. I did a series of blog posts on this topic recently, breaking down your kit option into 3 levels: basic, advanced basic and pro. Check it out if you are interested!

start here: bit.ly/aaFQQp


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 6:34:04 pm

Thanks. That's a really awesome post.


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 11:30:20 pm

Steve your blog posts where really informative but I would suggest you pull the MBP pricing from basic kit, if someone needed it they would need it for any of the kits, and that is 1/2 the price of the kit. The recommendation is fine but I wouldn't put in the "Adding it all up" it is not a camera accessory . Just my 2 cents.


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Steve Crow
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 12:15:26 am

Hi Michael,

That's actually a great point and something I will really think about, thanks for the input! :-)
Steve


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 6:14:41 pm

Thanks! I was definitely considering a tripod and external audio recording device. What about for handheld stuff? Can anyone suggest an affordable option there that would offer good image stabilization? Also, the stock lens for the camera is 18-55mm. Would that suffice for a 35mm lens, or do you still recommend a separate 35mm lens?

Also, does anyone have some good resources on the drawbacks of filming with DSLR's?

Thanks for the responses.


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on May 31, 2010 at 11:25:28 pm

The stock lens is a tough thing to use IMO. It is really slow and tough to focus and it cannot be used with a Follow focus. You want straight f-stop lenses, not variable, which the stock lens is 3.5-5.6 this not only means that the widest opening will stop down as you zoom, even at f-stops above 5.6 you will see exposure changes as the aperture changes to keep the f-stop the same. So if you plan on use the lens just keep the limitations in mind and don't zoom while shooting.

$2400 will go pretty fast so think everything through, new (or used lens) should be high on the list. For video I always recommend getting fixed f-stop lenses and faster the better.


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Noah Kadner
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 12:49:06 am

Yeah the stock lens is really not good for much of anything other than checking that the camera itself is functional. Budget yourself some better zooms and primes- otherwise you're kinda missing out on what's great about DSLR cameras in the first place.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
Learn DSLR Cinematography.


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Norman Pogson
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 5:43:16 pm

I use older Nikon prime lenses with an adapter I get from Ebay for $10.00 I use a 24mm Nikkor f2.8 I also have the Canon 50mm f1.4 which is a great everyday lens and good for shallow depth of field.

I have heard a lot of shooters checking out the Indieslider people for low cost shoulder mounts and sliders. A slider would be good, here is the website http://www.indisystem.com/products/indirails_pro_dslr_sm

You will need a polarizing filter and neutral density filters, in order to open up the lens aperture, there is the Fader ND from Ebay. I have started reusing my Cokin filters which I have 4x and 8x ND filters etc.

If you are into time lapse, then an Ebay intervalometer would be useful for $40.

I second the tripod and if you are running and gunning then a bean bag and a Manfrotto super clamp and ball head might be useful.

The Tokina 11-16 is on my shopping list, which gives a great wide angle.

My Canon 7D Blog


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 7:09:46 pm

Can I ask what advantages you gain from using Nikon lenses vs Canon lenses? Was it just cheaper for you since you may have already had some Nikon lenses around? Also, what size polarizing filter and neutral density filter would I need? I notices there are so many sizes (52mm, 62mm, 72mm, 77mm, so on) and I wonder if these mm sizes refer to.


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Richard Cooper
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:03:47 pm

"Also, what size polarizing filter and neutral density filter would I need? I notices there are so many sizes (52mm, 62mm, 72mm, 77mm, so on) and I wonder if these mm sizes refer to."

This is the size of the front of your lens, so it will depend on what lens you want to put the filter on. Should give you the mm size right on the front of the lens..... I believe.

I would also invest in a ZFinder Pro, rails and a follow focus. Using only the LCD is difficult at best when pulling focus while shooting.

Hope this helps.



Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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Norman Pogson
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:10:48 pm

The Nikon lenses I have are all primes and constant aperture, so give good shallow depth of field if required. I use a Cokin filter holder and have a couple of different adapter rings for them, most of my Nikon lenses happen to have a filter size of 52mm which is small by today's standard.

My Canon 7D Blog


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Noah Kadner
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:58:19 pm

Yeah if you have Nikon lenses already the adaptors are excellent.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
Learn DSLR Cinematography.


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 12:53:00 am

If you are going to shoot outside a ND filters are a must, I have been looking that the Faderfilter Fader ND and the LCW Fader ND. These are expensive filters so I will but one that fits my canon, 58mm and get a step down for my Nikon lens. A loupe (like the Z-Finder) is a must for outside shooting also.

Nikon E series lenses are a steal, they are really inexpensive and they are built better than anything is today. The glass is also very good, Good 70-80's gear = top notch 2010 gear. One nice thing about old manual lenses is that the aperture ring is on the lens and not done by the camera. For us cheapo who went with the T2i that means we don't have to find the shift key to change f-stops.

Norman's got a lot of good suggestions but I would stay away from Cokin filters (unless you are getting the expensive P series) they are not the best quality. You lens is only as sharp as the cheapest piece of glass/plastic that you are shooting through.

The toughest thing is to balance what to spend the big bucks on vs the cottage industry things. Lenses and filters need to be top notch, they are what matters most. shoulder mounts, matte boxes, follow focuses as long as they work you can do with less then the best.

These cameras are really mini REDs in a lot of ways, but the best connecting is that what starts out as a $900 purchase to get into Shallow DoF turns into a $3000 package pretty quickly and that is not looking at many lenses.

But the one thing I don't think you have answered is, what type of filming are you going to be doing. While most will say I want to do it all, you have to think about what is most important. If you want to do scenics you need to be spending your money on a good tripod vs a shoulder mount. If you are working indoor you don't need ND filters and lens hood, if outdoors that they are a must.

Let the fun begin.


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 1:59:45 am

I hope to be able to go on some wedding shoots, maybe some music video shoots as well. So yes, I'll be doing some outdoors work. I imagine I will be doing some scenic stuff and some interviews.

Even with shoulder mounts, hand held seems to be pretty shaky on dslr's. There doesn't seem to be much to gain by spending hundreds of dollars for a shoulder mount that doesn't really do much for the end product. I'm thinking of getting a handheld Glidecam (about $550).

Also, I'll definitely look into those older Nikon e-series lenses. Is there any lens you believe is a MUST?


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Norman Pogson
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 1:32:35 pm

35mm is a good focal length for interviews on the crop sized senor x1.6 I like the Canon 50mm f1.4 I use it a lot. You can get a Nikon 24mm fairly cheap, a 200mm will give a nice compressed look and allow for candid shots at a wedding.

My Canon 7D Blog


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 3:42:20 pm

For weddings you need fast lenses, for some reason people don't like to use lights during the ceremony. In my thinking zooms are important also since it is hard to move position once things get started.

As you are seeing every situation requires something different. All the gear like a steadicam and shoulder mounts take a lot of practice to use correctly. For me the worse footage in the world is bad steadicam. When I hire a steadicam guy I only hire someone that has years of experience and that is his main thing. But most steadicam with not allow you to get real long takes.


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:14:56 pm

Well if I got a handheld glidecam I would be able to practice and hopefully eventually make it look good.



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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 7:23:38 pm

This is all starting to sound like way more money, time, and research then I was hoping it would be. I'm thinking about just saying screw it and getting that HMC 150. :/

I'll need a good zoom lens and all sorts of prime lenses. And to add to that, I know practically NOTHING about lenses. I've been doing some research but I still don't know what works best for what situation.

Many people seem to recommend a shoulder mount, but footage with shoulder mounts still look like shaky doodoo. Glidecams/steadicams are nice, but even the cheapest and smallest versions aren't "cheap" and require dozens if not hundreds of hours of practice.

If I can only use $2400 for DSLR accessories it doesn't even seem worth it to go that route.

Furthermore, no one has actually told me what THEY would buy if they were given $2400 to buy accessories. But hey, in lieu of that I have gotten some pretty excellent and thoughtful suggestions and resources and I want to thank you all for that.




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Steve Crow
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 2, 2010 at 8:09:11 pm

Well, I can tell you that sold my AG-HVX200 production kit in favor of a Canon T2i. Some of the other equipment I have is

* Canon 1.8 50mm lens (I also have the stock lens the T2i came with)
* Zoom H4n with separate wind muff
* Zacuto Z-Finder
* Fader ND
* 1 extra battery
* Two 16GB SDHC memory cards
* Rode VideoMic (already have a wireles lav kit) with "dead cat"
* Tripod (pretty crappy one really)

There are other bits and pieces too but this will give you an idea. Sorry I don't know what this all adds up to offhand but I can tell you that I really feel this is the direction forward if you want to upgrade your video to a much more cinematic look. Yes, it is much more difficult than filming with my HVX-200 but it's worth it! :-)

Regards,

Steve


************************************************
Steve Crow
Executive Producer/Founder
Crow Digital Media
Palo Alto, CA
Steve@CrowDigitalMedia.com
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com
************************************************


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 3, 2010 at 4:17:42 am

Don't get discouraged. You can buy a lot with $2400, it is that you just probably buy everything you need. It was the same as when everyone was buying $17K cameras, I bet the average cost of a finished system is more like 40-50K.

ON the steadicam I wasn't trying to talk you out of it but to talk you into practicing, A LOT, which it sounds like it is your plan. While a bad steadicam operator can hurt a production big time, a great steadicam operator can give you the most bang for the buck.

There are more and more good options for accessories coming out all the time but tighter budgets mean more research.


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 3, 2010 at 4:59:00 am

Indeed. I think I can trim my budget by buying some Nikon E series lenses off of ebay. They seem less expensive than the Canon lenses I was looking at.

So far I know I need

Z-Finder
Assorted lenses (some Nikon E series)
Zoom H4n
ND filters
Tripod

Can anyone recommend a good tripod for under $200?


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Michael Sacci
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:10:20 am

Nice thing about getting the E Series is when you are really and able to move up to AF Prime or CinePrime you can sell them for what you paid for them.

I just got the 135 2.8 for under $50 with shipping. I go get an adapter for each lens and I got $15 which fit really well but the edges are bigger then the aperture ring so they kind of get in the way. Remember you should also get new rear end caps for each adapter.

Each E series lens with get
a Nikon to EOS adapter
a Canon end cap (cheap 3rd party)
a 52-58mm step up ring
a 58mm lens cap

I'm doing the a step on each cause I got just one Variable ND filter at 58mm so it fits the nikon and canon lenses.


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Paul Sholly
Re: $2400 to spend on DSLR accessories
on Jun 5, 2010 at 7:25:55 pm

Thanks everyone for the awesome input. I feel like I actually have a clue in regards to what I need to be looking at. The only trouble now is finding a retailer that isn't sold out of T2i's!


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