The Kit

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When choosing the camera kit we wanted the least conspicuous, easiest to use set up.  A set up that meant we could film in a crowded bar and look like we were just taking photos but if we end up with something quite good, we had enough quality in the camera to jazz it up in post production.

Everyone is talking about how cheap a camera set up is right now and they’re right, by comparison with 10, even 5, years ago, you can set yourself up really well for under £5,000.  So here is the list of what we have in our kit bag:

CAMERA AND GRIP WHAT WE SPENT
Black Magic Pocket Camera borrowed (700)
San Disk Extreme Plus 64 gig x2 £60
Batteries – Dtap x2 £224
Battery Charger 113
Battery lead £20
Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm lens £500
Zacuto Blackmagic Pocket Camera Z-Finder £154
Tiffen 58mm Variable ND Filter £70
Tiffen 58mm UV Filter £8
Benro KH25 Tripod £144
Smoothshot Steadicam £50
SOUND KIT
RODE Smartlav Lavilier for Smartphones £45
Exttension cable £5
Zoom H4n Reciever borrowed (159)
Rechargeable batteries (12 per day) £100
RODE PG2 Pistol grip and shock mount £50
RODE NTG2 Shotgun Mic £126
Headphones free with mic (25)
OTHER
Silicon Armor hard drives 2TB x2 £220
Lowe Pro Photo Hatchback Back Pack 22L £78
Camera cleaning kit £12
Worldwide travel adaptor with surge indicator x2 £12
PROJECTION KIT
Benq Projector MS512H £329
Yamaha NXB55 Speakers £130
White Blackout Material £12
GRAND TOTAL £2462

As you can see we didn’t buy the two main pieces of kit – the camera or the sound recorder. We borrowed them from a most generous and talented writer/director/editor based in Salta – Martin Mainoli.  And even still we spent £2500 on all the accessories to go with the kit.  This doesn’t include the fact we both have laptops with Final Cut Pro to edit on.  Now – it’s still really cheap by comparison with a proper film camera like the Red Epic which will put you back $19,000 before you’ve bought any lenses to make the camera work.

We went for the Black Magic Pocket Camera because it is small and it is SO easy to use.  The menu has hardly any settings.  Yet it still records professional quality material.  We’ve gone for Pro Res 422 as our recording format because it’s big but not so big that we’ll use up all our hard drives in a couple of months.

With the help of our friends at Spirited Pictures (cheers Richard and Flora) we have worked out the accessories we need to fix the little glitches that this camera brings up.

COMMON BLACK MAGIC POCKET PROBLEMS

1 – the battery life is only about 40mins with the in built battery.  Fixed with D-Tap battery pack and an adaptor cable which gives you a battery life on 1 day per battery.  I bought 2 which is useful if you’re shooting all day every day but way too much for what we need.  In general I have bought too many batteries….better than too few I guess…

2 – there is no viewfinder so it can be really difficult to see what you’re shooting, especially on a sunny day. Fixed with a Zacuto Viewfinder – it makes the camera look a bit more like a proper film camera so you’re not quite as inconspicuous but hey, sometimes you want to look like you’re making a bad ass film!

3 – the sensor on the camera is one third of a normal camera which means that your frame is much smaller than your average shot. Fixed by getting the 12mm-35mm zoom to get as wide a shot as possible.  It is still not as wide as ideally you’d want for a travel doco full of amazing scenery but the widest lenses will set you back another few hundred quid so you’ve got to choose your battles.

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