September 10, 2014 at 12:00PM

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Low Cost Gear - What's Your Favorite?

I'm going to be shooting a documentary in Uganda soon and I'd rather limit the amount of high dollar gear I take as I'm sure things will get broken and stolen. What's your favorite low cost travel jib, slider, camera support (steadicam, travel tripod, etc), portable light rig (LEDs), and anything else you like to travel with?

18 Comments

Konova Slider is awesome, I have a 24" and a 40" version I think it is. Holds a good amount of weight and is nice and smooth and fairly light weight. The portajib traveler I think it is is a great portable jib, easy set up and being able to use the bag to hold rocks or sand as a counterweight can be really handy if you're hiking around.

LED panels are great, depending on the size you want to carry. I like to keep 1x1s with me but they are a little cumbersome but I keep 3 of them in a travel pelican case and can roll it around but not great for hiking around with, walking in town isn't bad but smaller panels would be better if your hiking. Bounce boards an invaluable when I'm hiking around, lightweight and can create a ton of light if the sun is out.

September 10, 2014 at 2:15PM

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Chase Axton
Cinematographer
1214

Since you're shooting a documentary, i feel the steadicam(prices vary by models) would be one of the must need gear to get hold of. However you do need proper training before going for some field work. It is one of the best gear i have used under a minimal budget for tracking shots and what not. It may help a lot for moving shots as well as steady ones. Check out some youtube videos on steadicam to see what this baby can do.

September 10, 2014 at 3:47PM

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Santosh Thayaparan
Director, Story Writer,DOP,Editor,Photographer
80

Manfrotto fluid base monopod. It's my desert-island camera support.

September 10, 2014 at 5:18PM

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David S.
3027

I lived in Honduras for two years and so I understand why you think your gear will be broken or stolen. I wasn't doing any filming there but from what I learned there I have a few tips for you.

1. Don't pack your gear in pelican cases or anything else that looks nice. This is counter productive because you want to protect your gear but they also make your gear look really nice. Keeping things in inconspicuous old bags won't draw attention to you and prevent people who would look over and say - "Hey those guys have nice cases. There must be something valuable inside."

2. Try and pick one or two pieces of gear that you will use and make them work for the gear you won't bring. If you are bringing a jib don't bring a slider and use the jib for times you would want to use a slider. If you are bringing a Glidecam, don't bring a shoulder rig. Keep the camera on the Glidecam and support the Glidecam on your belt or something. I say find what you will be using the most and bring that and then pick one more piece of gear that will do something that the other thing can't do.

3. If you can afford carbon get it in carbon. Your back will thank you.

4. Audiowise - you can't go wrong with a Rode NTG2 and the Senheiser G3 mics. I would say bring an extra Rode Videomic Pro as well.

5. I don't know how low cost you were planning on going but a Canon T3i with a 24-105 is a great combination and costs about $1,500. Also - it is such a small camera that you can pack it away easily and won't draw a lot of attention to you as well.

September 10, 2014 at 5:18PM

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Aaron Allsop
Producer
229

I did a small doc shoot on avian flu in 2009 in Laos and Cambodia. We packed a decent Manfrotto tripod kit, some basic lights/reflectors, sound kit, and our Canon XH-A1s A-cam. Of course, this was back in the day when this was actually a desirable camera and was worth a solid $4,000. Obviously we had to pack all the gear in flight cases so avoiding "expensive-looking" cases was out of the question. To combat this, we took gaff and duct tape and went to town making the cases look destroyed. We painted them with random paint and just generally destroyed the upper layer of tape. This worked incredibly and our gear arrived safely with us at the airport and we really never had to worry about it getting stolen (because we were usually with the cases and no one is going to steal a beat up case from someone).

September 10, 2014 at 9:22PM

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Aidan Gray
Director of Photography Assistant Camera | Gaffer
1481

Of extreme importance (if you haven't already got one or two): a back up camera! (or even more than one!)

It doesn't matter if you have a slider/jib/LEDs/etc if you have lost/broken your camera!

I'd recommend the Panasonic GH1, it can be got for just a couple of hundred bucks and the image quality from it is truly tremendous for its price:
http://www.anycamerawilldo.com/old-but-not-out/

Sony NEX-5N is one other you might like to also consider:
http://rungunshoot.com/the-350-docu-filmmaking-kit-depreciation-is-wonde...

As they're both mirrorless cameras, you can easily adapt whatever lenses your main camera is using to these cameras. And they're both small cameras too, won't take up much space.

September 11, 2014 at 2:07AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2530

Or the Panasonic GH2 if you can find one.

Guy McLoughlin

October 2, 2015 at 7:45PM

Really good advice here. Also wanted to add (since I’m living in Uganda right now) that there is a LOT of dust here (especially if it doesn’t rain for a few days). Expect to have your gear constantly covered in a fine layer of red, and you will return home with red dust in places that you’ll never be able to get it out of. I mention this because it might make a difference as to what type of slider you want to buy/bring. I’m not sure how much dust would affect a slider, but I’m guessing it would affect some more than others.

Additionally, make sure you bring your most important gear with you as a carry-on. I’ve had bags lost in travel going to Africa before and while they usually eventually get returned, you don’t want to be waiting three days for your camera to arrive after you do.

Finally, bring enough backup hard drives that you can have your media in at least two places at once, and take one copy with you on your carry-on when you return home.

September 11, 2014 at 3:39PM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1171

PS: Sorry I didn’t have gear recommendations. I’m a newbie low-budget filmmaker, so all I came with was my camera, monopod and audio recorder, which is all I own for video gear. The video monopod is the Benro A48FBS4 and it’s worked really well for me, but it sounds like you’re used to better gear than that.

Ryan Toyota

September 11, 2014 at 3:44PM

I also own the same Benro monopod ( after having problems with the more expensive Manfrotto monopods ), and it's great for the money. Very handy support to have.

Guy McLoughlin

October 2, 2015 at 7:49PM

I'd recommend a monopod to anything else, actually. Something you can travel with/is collapsible/carbon fiber. For documentary work, a bit of camera movement is acceptable (especially considering many lenses have wonderful Image Stabilization), and you'll want the ease of being able to run-n-gun. I'd go so far as to say depending on the subject matter, I may not even recommend taking a slider at all, and instead using that space/weight for an extra lens and/or extra media.

September 11, 2014 at 5:41PM

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Benjamin Dewhurst
Writer
writer/director

Hey Patrick,

I've been to Kenya and Rwanda and the top thing I learned traveling to and from there is: NEVER check any bag that has gear! I ended up not having enough room for all my stuff on the way back (as I bought and was gifted a lot of things to bring back) so I ended up putting one of my cameras in a checked bag. Sure enough, as I had feared, it was gone when arriving back in the US. A $4k lesson learned the hard way...

That said, don't bring big items that you must check. Ideally everything should fit into your carryon bags. Loose the sliders and jibs and bring a tripod and shoulder rig. The more gear that operates off of AA batteries the better too. Also, don't be cheap but buy the good power converters for your gear.

September 12, 2014 at 2:03AM

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Alex Fuerst
Director of Photography + Cinematographer
147

I just bought the autopilot steadycam from....autopilot, whatta you know. Anyways it's a fantastic steadycam the work exactly like the glide cam but is around 70 dollars cheaper. The only real difference that I have noticed with between it and the glidcam is that the autopilot is a light so it won't be able to hold heavier cameras and lenses, but it can probably hold any DSLR. Its also really easy to adjust the weights, it takes around have as much time is at does with a glidecam so I would say that it is a definite buy, unless you are willing to spend the extra 70.

September 12, 2014 at 5:28PM

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Have you seen David Kong's documentary about working with less?

This is what he shot as part of his trip: http://vimeo.com/46762697

And this is what he shot it with: http://vimeo.com/71180315

Also, a big consideration is being robbed or having your gear stolen. Assume that at the end of the trip you'll lose all your equipment, pack accordingly, and make do.

Good luck!

September 16, 2014 at 7:16PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3889

600D is great for the money. 70D is fabulous for the auto-focus and changed the way I worked (that is, touchscreen autofocus on long moving steadycam (or wobblecam) shots...). The sigma 30mm f1.4 is cheap, if heavy, and the canon 50mm f1.8 is a no brainer at the price - it's nearly free.

Sound-wise, without hesitation, I would say the IK Multimedia irig pro got into an iPad or iPhone. Just amazing, and so convenient. Just budget for Pluraleyes too.

Konova sliders are fav, cheap and will be trashed by red dust.

September 19, 2014 at 1:06PM

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Ian Garforth
Filmmaker
169

I just looked up monopod I use:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/WEIFENG-WT-1003-Monopod-Non-slip-Quick-release-leg-Max-Load-3kg-w-Carring-Bag-/220961357299

It is dirt dirt cheap, less than twenty bucks to purchase it and get it shipped to your door!

And I use this all the time, on a per dollar basis this gets used more than anything else!

However, it is a cheap monopod, so you can only use it with lightweight cameras such as DSLRs.

October 9, 2014 at 7:46AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2530

A6000 ($450 today), couple cheap OSS primes, Glidecam HD-1000/2000 ($250), Yougnuo YN 216 ($70 - L mount or AA powered), Benro video monopod ($100), Konova K1 slider ($120?)

December 1, 2014 at 6:18PM, Edited December 1, 6:18PM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
69

October 1, 2015 at 8:18PM

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