Don’t kid yourself, we all play favourites.
While dancing around the corporate world, I once invested my time in reading a book on leadership entitled First, Break All the Rules – it certainly was my kind of title. Of all the ideas held within its pages, only one has stuck with me over the years; play favourites. It simply stated that in order to grow yourself and your surrounding business, you must offer preference to that which benefits you most. Makes sense, right?
Your camera bag is no different.
I thought it would be fun to put together a list of the five ‘can’t-live-withouts’ in my camera bag. The tools I choose to keep close for each story that I’m telling. Essentially, it’s my documentary filmmaker’s starter kit. And as my preferences change, so will my camera bag. But at any given moment this will hopefully guide you to the five pieces I can’t leave the house without, and the first things I pack as I prepare my bag each morning.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L: It’s perfect for scenics. It’s perfect for interviews. It’s perfect for game action. It offers almost every classic focal length (24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm), and equal light through the full focal range. If you can’t already tell, I fancy this little lens quite a bit. I continue to shoot every interview with it, as it gives me several different options when framing the subject. It’s the first lens every filmmaker should load into their bag.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L: It doesn’t matter who I talk to, or how long they’ve been shooting sports, it seems absolutely everyone I come across has this lens. It is arguably Canon’s sharpest zoom lens in the EF line. I first broke in this lens while shooting All For One, and trying desperately to stretch my shot across the vast soccer pitch. With its relatively fast action, I found a dual use for it during interviews as it offers a delightfully soft focus to everything in the background while keeping the subject crisp. The focal length created quite a dramatic look, with only the hairline-to-neck in frame. I’m also partial as it offers the same action as the 24-70, creating harmony when switching between the two.
Zoom H4n: Audio isn’t my strong suit. I’m still working through solutions to find the best combination. So far, I’ve received the highest quality output from the Zoom H4N. I’ll admit, I’m using it mainly for the XLR inputs, preamp and stereo output, feeding it straight into the camera to avoid synching audio to video later. When the audio output jack is being used, one press of the record button simply feeds the audio through the output and not recording it independently – cutting down battery usage. But user beware (and this is an embarrassing admission), the record and play buttons are of similar size. When operating blindly it was easy to press the wrong one, feeding pre-recorded audio through into the camera. Hey, it was an honest mistake.
Marshall M-CT6 Field Monitor: During my first project with the 5D Mark II I was often challenged when trying to shoot in confined spaces or low angles, being left unable to see the screen. The Marshall 6″ Field Monitor is a bit bulky but the list of pros make it a must-have in my bag. The monitor uses the Canon standard LP-E6 battery, meaning I always have plenty of spares. The HDMI display creates a great uncompressed image and although the rear speaker isn’t the greatest, the stereo jack is great.
Shape Paparazzi I Cage: As the accessories pile up, unfortunately you start running out of places to put everything. And I’m not sure about you, but a monitor and microphone doesn’t do me much good stuffed in my pocket. The cage alleviates the problem, offering several mounting holes at both the 1/4 and 3/8 varieties. The C shaped cage also acts as a comfortable top handle perfect for low tracking shots.
Disclaimers usually come off the top, but here we are nearing the end and I’m left needing to share that all of this was picked up for use with the Canon 5D Mark II – though I’m sure it can work with an array of other bodies. And if you need a hand selecting a camera bag to stuff all these goodies into, I still swear by the Lowepro X50.
Now hopefully you go off and do what I do every time I read something like this – google where you can pick one up. Have fun.