After a few weeks on the roads we start realising many things. Some tools become your best friend, others never get out of the bag. In a random way, here are some tips :
1 — A variable density filter ND is just essential for video shooting using a DSLR ! We will never travel again without it. Indeed, it let you keep a good shutter speed , around 1/50s in any amount of light condition with your prefered aperture settings (f/1.2, f/1,8...). This is called a "movie look" shutter which you can achieve in any type of situation using this variable filter. For instance, you will be bale to film at f/1.8 with a speed of 1/60s under a strong sun in the desert!
Thanks to this filter, you also avoid diffraction ( blur on the image) which is visible at f/22, same for the strobosopic effect related to a high shutter. The variable filter offers a better flexibility during filming with smoother light transition. You won't get the " step" feeling that you would experience by changing the shutter speed itself. Also good to know is, the good quality of the brand Tiffen which also add some vibrancy and sharpness to the image. A "must have".
2 –Problem of using both ; a variable polarizing filter and a variable density filter. At open sea, we often think about the variable density filter because of the high amount of light but on the other hand, there are the ocean reflections for which you need your polarizing filter. But from a practical point of view, both being variable you can't really add one on top of the other. Otherwise, when rotating one of them the other one settings change also. We end up not knowing what we are setting up. And of course at the end they both unscrew and this is tragedy... Sadly, you have to choose !
3 – Mind the temperature changes when getting out of an aircon area !
The camera becomes humide and the lense gets covered with humidity. You have to anticipate that transition and remove the cover a while before starting filming if you don't want to miss your best shot.Indeed, even on the bag the camera can stay cold for a while... even longer than expected!
4 – With tropical wheather, during treks don't put your camera's cover into your pocket. It will create some small drops that will then fall on the lense itself. Our advice is to link the cover to the camera or to put it on your backpack. It will avoid you cleaning up your lense all the time.
5 – The plastic bag to keep your hair dry is a good tool to protect your camera and lense against the rain. ( and also the head of your tripod if needed). Yes, for less than 5 euros it will become your best friend under heavy rain. Waterproof, small and light, and really cheap ! You will never let it go after using it for the first time !
6 – Be carefull when shooting with Magic Lantern, it is not always stable ! It can create some black frames, and the camera freezes sometime after a long use and with hot temperature. The 5DIII will never be our main camera ; Magic lantern is a great hack and creates fantastic Raw images but it also involves some risks while travelling. So be mindfull while using it especially if you never experience any problem yet with it...
7 – Don't forget your wipes for glass / lenses, always usefull for emergencies ! It will save some of your shots... We have the habit of cleaning our gears 3 to 5 times a day so don't forget a buy a bunch of them!
8 –Always have a small clamp in you bag, you never know... During some transportation, which can be violent for the gears and bags, the screws and pieces need to get tightened most of the time. And if you can't removed that clamp that is blocking everything then you are screwed.
9 – Save all your 5 cents of euros and put as many as possible in all your pockets, bags... They are the perfect size for the tripod head and other gear pieces. It's light and well if you loose it ; it's ok because you have plenty..
10 – The « run and gun » using a 85 mm 1.2L without a tripod is not a really good idea. The shots will need to be stabilized and it will make a lot of work in post production. Usually, we highly recommend that you use stabilized lenses especially if you are not using any set-up and going for run and gun. Indeed, in motion, between the blur and rolling shutter* the shots are mostly not usable ( or it can be if it's the effect you want to create). However, the images done with a tripod will be mind-blowing ( especially if you don't open more than 2.0 ). While shooting run and gun the 70-200 mm 2.8L gave us the best results, with the flexibility of the zoom !
11 –Take some toothpick with you. Their shape will let you clean some small part of your camera and of your lenses without scuffing it. Cursed sandy places !
12 – The Gopro is really strong on many occasions, but it's not a 100% reliable ( maybe because we had high temperature with a high amount of humidity). We had some batteries issues and lost one day of shooting... which at that ime broke our heart ! So be carefull and empty your card everyday !
13 – Hide the brand of your tools and cameras using a black tape is really important. People often ask you " what is this camera ?" or " it must be really expensive, how much is it ?". Questions that bother you, but which are understandable. With a big smile you always get out of those situations without putting too much attention on your stuff. Canon, Nikon, Gopro, Apple... all those brands are known everywhere on the world. Hiding their logos so you don't attrack too much attention and make it look older is better. Our Mac pro is covered with stickers and a rugged cover ; even inside so it's not easy to recognize the brand with its design.
14-An extender with multiple entries is a must have. It's the first thing you whish you could leave behind to have more room in your bag but at the end of the day, with tones of batteries to charge and all the copy to do on the Mac you are very happy that you brought it with you all the way. You can find a good Morel with 4 entries at an affordable prize.
15 –A cage for the camera with Rodes is really useful ! Yes, it's a little bit heavy but it protects really well the camera and it also gives you better position for filming. The cage saved our live multipe times.
Those are some advices linked to our 2 months filming in Vietnam. All those elements have prooved to us their qualities during our trip.
Of course it's a list to be completed on other articles, if you also you want to share your eperience, do not hesitate ! Tips arealways good! So, what is your favorite tool guys?
To be continued…
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