‘Tis the season to capture and document all those special holiday moments. Help the creative memory maker on your list take their videos to the next level with these must-have video accessories.

Portable Lights

Video uses less of the sensor and since every frame is basically a compressed JPEG where we see on average thirty of them very second, we can use higher ISOs for video than for a still in the same place.  Still, for the best colour, and to address low light, a video light is really handy.  Since many of us are not trying to light a street, a small and easily portable light is a great idea.  I recommend a battery powered light as dragging AC cords around isn’t really a lot of fun, and since a lot of us are one-person shoot teams, a light that easily mounts to the camera when necessary is great.  When we pick a light, we are looking for variable power and a relatively high LUX rating as starting points.  For family video, I like LED lights.  They are light, run on batteries and are very power efficient.  My current favourite is the pocketable Manfrotto Lumie Muse with 8 powerful LEDs.  It delivers 550 LUX at 1m which works great indoors.  When I need more light, but still portability, I like the Amaran AL-H198C.  It delivers 3430 LUX at 1m and I recommend adding on the battery and charger kit with it.

Lavalier Wireless Microphone

We’ve all figured out that while our cameras have built in microphones, the sound quality isn’t very good.  We can certainly get by, but a proper microphone is very useful.  Wired microphones can work well although you can get cable noise and are limited by distance.  I learned the hard way that wireless is best.  Fortunately the folks at RODE have a really good solution in their offering called the RODELink Filmmaker Kit.  It comes with an excellent RODE lavalier microphone, transmitter pack, receiver pack and needed cables to connect the receiver to the microphone input on your camera or portable recorder.  If you have a talent for dropping things, you could opt for a Sennheiser G3 kit that has all metal cases and is designed for long term durability.

Portable / Field Recorder

When you need more inputs for more microphones, or want to record your audio tracks independently of the video tracks, or add voiceovers after the fact a portable / field recorder is incredibly valuable.  The Zoom H4N Pro has two pro grade XLR ports for low impedance microphones, a pair of XY microphones for field pickup and a very versatile recording capability.  If you need more microphone XLR ports, the Tascam DR-70D has a bright display with meters, 4 XLR ports, 2 outputs and can be attached to the camera via the ¼-20 post on the top, sitting between the camera and the tripod head.  Tascam has been used by pros for years and will not let you down.  Both recorders can output to your camera’s microphone input, but also can record independent stereo channels to an internal SD card for better quality and versatility in sound.  Both the Zoom and the Tascam microphone preamps sound much better than the basic ones in our cameras.

White Balance Card

Just as with stills, getting the white balance right in video is critical.  Whereas we use a grey card for stills, for video we must use a white card.  The one that I like the most is the Lastolite EZYBalance.  It is a collapsible unit, so is easy to transport.  It does dual duty being white on one side and 18% grey on the other.  Available in 12” circular and  20” rectangular, these cards are built to last and are designed for shooters on the move.  Mine has been all over the world and been mistreated and still delivers after several years of use.

 Video Head

The lightweight fluid video system MVK500AM includes the fluid video head (60mm half ball) MVH500A and the twin leg video tripod MVT502AM (aluminum, middle spreader).The MVH500A is a lightweight head with a wider platform for HDSLR bodies and the sliding plate travels to balance the latest interchangeable lens cameras. The entry-level 500 ensures smooth shots and fine control with up to 5kg (11 lbs) of equipment.

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades. He has worked as an apprentice, is a professional photographer, videographer and imaging educator. Ross leads workshops, seminars, photowalks and delivers customized mentoring programs. He is also an instructor with Henry’s Learning Lab. You can read more of his thoughts, read product reviews, watch videos and listen to the Make Better Photos and Videos podcast at www.thephotovideoguy.ca.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ross Chevalier

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades. He has worked as an apprentice, been a professional photographer and a photographic educator. He is an amateur videographer and offers mentoring programs. He is an instructor with <a href="http://www.learninglab.ca">Henry’s Learning Lab</a>. You can read more of his thoughts, read product reviews, watch videos and listen to the <em>Make Better Photos and Videos</em> podcast at <a href="http://www.thephotovideoguy.ca" rel="nofollow">thephotovideoguy.ca</a>.