ENG Camera package recommendations?
This is a duplicate post from the XDCAM EX forum, as I thought I may get some other varied responses in this forum.
We are currently building out some new camera packages. We have been using 2 EX1s for about 3.5 years now, and they have been tremendous for us. True workhorses. We are now in the process of upgrading our camera systems and want to end up with 4 total ENG packages. I have several questions.
The first is the camera for our two new ENG cameras. We are also adding a 4K camera package (RED Epic, ARRI Alexa, or Sony F55 or something similar), so having 4K is not of the utmost importance in this camera. We would like each camera to stay under 10K, and being really familiar with Sony, that is an obvious bias, but if there are better options out there I'd love to here them.
Basically we just need to upgrade from the EX1. The "successor" to the EX1R is apparently the PMW-200, but for a little more, we can get an EX3 or the 320K. The FS700 adds some super cool features, but I've heard the support and updates are not coming along as promised and expected. Does anyone have experience with any or all of these cameras? Have another camera you would recommend?
The other half of the question is what else do I need to build out a full ENG package? Here is my general plan / buylist.
Tripod: Miller SOLO DV20 package from B&H
Porta-Brace cover and case
We have used the Senheiser G3 wireless system, which we have been happy with and will buy more for the new kits.
I have also used the Audio-Technica 4053b as an interview stick mic, but I don't know I need one in every camera package, thoughts on this?
We have not used on camera lighting, but would like to add that to the package. I'm not sure that any of the cameras we are looking at include a standard plug in for most of the lights I have found, but would love to hear some recommendations.
Obviously extra batteries and SxS cards.
What else would you add for a 1 man run & gun setup?
I'll be happy to answer any questions that would help giving an answer.
Canon 5d MKII
For a one man band run and gun setup, it's sometimes more about what to strip away than what to add.
You want to keep the weight down and not force the shooter to carry too much around besides the camera and mic. It is a terrible thing to have to make two trips to and from your vehicle into the shooting location, for logistical and security reasons. You want the shooter to be completely self-sufficient and mobile as possible in one trip. Yet not be too weighed-down with "stuff".
Card capacity and battery capacity figure into this. It is a royal pain to have to haul around a spare battery when you have the camera, wireless, and on-board light all drawing from the same source. So I say find the longest-running, highest-cpacity batteries you can. Likewise with multiple cards, they are always too short to span the stories and then you have to divide stories between cards and it just gets messy to keep track of. So get large capacity cards.
An LED-based on-camera light will help reduce camera battery drain, but they really are still best for stuff that's within ten feet of the lens, IMO. They lack the punch of a tungsten light over distance.
I love our Sachtler sticks because they are light weight carbon fiber and the center column goes up way over six feet, which lets me get shots that used to be impossible, and to shoot over the tops of crowds if I arrive later than ideal. Just very useful for b-roll without having to leave your spot.
But the ENG toy I lust for most these days is a sturdy and reliable monopod: great for moving fast and planting to get a stable telephoto shot, or letting you rest while getting a close-up, then picking up again on the move, and you can raise it up by hand to get some high angles, yet it folds up small and can hang off your belt when you are working off the shoulder. Much less weight than a tripod.
I've used Lectrosonics wireless for my 20-plus-year career shooting ENG, and I have great faith in their products. I like that my current mic can scan for a clean channel and lock it in for my use. But I have heard of some wireless mics that contain a card-based audio recorder in the body of the mic. This could be very handy to get backup audio while the shooter edits-in-camera or breaks away for b-roll shooting, and I don't see a weight penalty or an extra thing to carry because the recorder is built into the mic. Get a quick-release clamp to hold that mic onboard the camera so it is always ready to hand.
A rugged dynamic stick mic (EV 635 owners, represent!) and length of XLR cable is some of the best insurance you can have; it can fit in a fanny pack, or a pocket, so I'd say keep those on your shopping list. Also in my fanny pack is a little cigar-sized matching transformer and/or an adjustable line-to-mic pad that plugs into the XLR cable, plus some adapters so I can tap into a mult box or location sound system as needed, and not worry about level or impedance problems. A wired lav is tiny but useful in the field, also worth keeping around in a pocket.
If the ENG might turn into extended interviews, I suggest a Lowel Rifa Light for a fast and good-looking key in almost any situation. Sets up and strikes as fast as opening and closing an umbrella. Looks good for stand-ups or sit-downs.
If you are in a high crime area or have a very wide range of action across the state, it might be smart to get the vehicle equipped with a steel lockbox for the camera when it has to be left unattended in the truck/van/car. If you can't afford that, it is amazing how stealthy the back of a van can look thru the windows, if you throw a black or dark gray cloth over everything.
I have shot hundreds, if not thousands of hours with the EX-3 over the last 4 or 5 years and I can say that it is a superb camera. One of the only things I don't love is its native image settings, but if you start playing around with the picture profiles for different looks, you'll be really amazed at what you can do. I've built multiple looks into them to compliment certain environments and in some cases match the look of other cameras and they are pretty effective.
When shooting ENG style, I use it with a lectrosonics wireless lav kit, a litepanels Croma LED camera light, and a Sachtler video 14 tripod and it's a great little kit.
I could go over more of the pros/cons, but it would be pretty lengthy and might not go over what you'd want. But I've spent a TON of time with this camera in about every situation you could imagine (including putting on different lenses), so feel free to ask any specifics.