Essential accessories for shooting video with your DSLR

Shooting video with your DSLR is simple. You just switch over to motion mode and point your camera at something beautiful or interesting. But, if you want to get serious about shooting motion, having the right gear will really help you immensely. These accessories will make your movie-making experience more enjoyable and more productive.

How necessary is a pan head tripod? 

PAN HEAD TRIPOD

Why do I need a pan head tripod? Camera shake is bad for still photos, but it can be downright nauseating when shooting motion, so a sturdy set of “sticks” is essential. For the legs, you want something that’s going to be extremely stable and as light as possible. Carbon fiber is nice, but not entirely necessary. Stability and portability are your top priorities.

The head is where things get a little more specific. If you don’t plan on moving the camera while it’s on the tripod for pan shots, any kind will do fine, but eventually you’re going to outgrow the static shot. Fluid heads are a great option because the movement is damped to make it smoother. Plus, they rotate on flat planes, making them more practical than many ball heads.

How necessary is a hoodloupe?

HOODLOUPE

Why do I need a hoodloupe? You’re going to be doing 100% of your composing and focusing using the screen on the back of your camera, and that can cause some issues. Glare can be a big problem if you’re shooting in the sunlight, and a loop will take care of that for you.

You’ll also likely be focusing manually using only the screen as your reference, so having more magnification on your screen will give you a better look at your subject as you focus.

Plus, loops with an eye-piece let you shoot with the camera held-up to your eye, just like you would with a still camera, which a lot of shooters, especially those of us who primarily shoot stills, find convenient and maybe even a little bit comforting.

How necessary is a neutral density filter?

ND FILTER

Why do I need a neutral density filter? Shutter speed is a tricky thing when shooting motion. You’re very much limited on the end by the frame rate at which you’re shooting. When your shutter speed gets fast, your footage begin to look artificial. A ND filter helps to keep that in check.

It does the same thing as it would do in a still photography scenario, letting you use a wider aperture in a brighter situations. But, it also lets you slow down your shutter speed under similarly bright lights to keep things looking smooth.

How necessary is a dedicated audio recorder?

Why do I need a dedicated audio recorder? DSLRs are capable of capturing beautiful video, but when it comes to audio, the tiny built-in microphones just don’t cut it. Ask any experienced video shooter and they’ll tell you that audio is crucial, so this is a good place to spend some of your budget. Here are some options to consider.

Dedicated audio recorder Having a stand-alone recorder offers a bit more versatility than an on-camera microphone because you can literally drop it wherever you want and let it record. If you’re going to be shooting video of your kid’s recital, you can drop it in an audio sweet spot and shoot from wherever you like.On the downside, however, you’ll have to sync the audio up with the video in post, which adds time to your editing.

Shotgun Microphone This type of mic typically sits in a hot shoe and records audio directly into the camera. These can be good for run-and-gun style interviews and it offers a definite improvement over your camera’s built in recorder. They can be very directional, though, so you’ll likely only get a good audio signal out of things happening directly in front of you. They need to stay attach to your camera, so the sound changes according to the camera moves around.

Lavalier microphone A must if you’re going to be doing a lot of documentary style interviews. These mics attach directly to a person and provide the best quality when it comes to recording someone’s voice. Until you get far along in your video making career, you probably won’t need one of these.

How necessary is video editing software? 

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