In China I most use the Nikon D750 as a go to camera. It’s a full frame DSLR that takes amazing photos and can run as a good HD camera with a large variety of lenses. The image quality is superb and it even can take microphones when needed. DSLRs typically suffer from flexibility issues, but Nikon worked hard to make the D750 their most functional movie shooting DSLR, with controls that work while recording, different frame rate and quality acquisition modes, and continues focusing ability. I have 5 prime lenses for the camera and a couple of zooms.
Black Magic Pocket Camera
Surprisingly small, this little guy shoot RAW Cinema DNG and Prores 422, the best codecs out there. The form factor can be a pain, but with a Tilda cage and some accessories this can be a true cinema quality camera, with a smaller 16mm sensor. With a M4/3 lens mount, the camera is able to mount all 30+ lenses I own, making it ridiculously flexible. This is the go to camera for commercial or narrative shoots, because it can’t handle long record times- the format takes up a whopping 64GB for just 30 minutes of footage. With a flat, LOG picture and 12 bits of depth the camera is astoundingly good at making great pictures, if you know how to use it. After being shot, a colorist must take it into DaVinci Resolve and tweak the image to get the best results, which will stand up even on a theater’s big screen.
This is the Panasonic HMC80 Camcorder. It is my primary camera. It records in full HD 1928×1080 using AVC-HD, which allows up to 7 hours of recording time on a 64GB SD card. The camera is really versatile, gives a pleasant image, and most importantly is reliable. By using 3 Mos 1/4″ sensors the camera is able to outperform large single chip cameras in the area color, prevention of flash frames and moire, banding, and jello shutter. The depth of field is very wide on this camera, which makes it ideal for live events where many performers are spread out throughout a stage. The camera also allows automated time lapse recording for excellent B-roll inserts and it can take 10 mP pictures that can be printed up to letter sized documents. I love this camera most of all because it has dual cold shoe mounts for lighting and microphones, automated level balancing software for recording with up to 3 microphones, a built in sun shade and ND filter to prevent flares and over exposure, and an ultra comfy shoulder pad for the times I need to take it right out of the case and start recording. This camera can do it all!
My second camera is the Lumix GH2. It has a much larger 4/3 sensor and can take stills up to 16 Mp which can be printed up to poster size. It currently is one of the highest resolution motion picture cameras on the market and by filming in the AVCHD format the images are stunning and match well with the HMC80. The camera boosts a plethora of functions and can mount virtually any lens ever made; this thing is almost a toy for nerds like me. The camera can shoot up to ISO 12,000, but looks best in the 320 or 640 range which complements the HMC80 well because it has a native ISO of 80- meaning this camera is great in low light. The camera also takes very good stills, up to 5 RAW a second or 9 jpegs, or 40 thumbnails that can be turned into a slow motion video. This camera doesn’t disappoint and it was well worth the 3 month back orders to get. I can use it to film up to 7 hours of video, or take 2,000 pictures with- it will find itself on every shoot from weddings to dance recitals, to hunting down the right shot for graphic design work.
Does anyone ask for film? No. If they did, would I shoot it? For Free!!! I love film. Digital is getting better in so many ways, but film still has a role. This camera has been going since 1966 and only until 2009 did the shutter start giving out. They made them too good, but this thing is pretty heavy.
Kodak Cine E
I know what you’re thinking; “What, that works?” Yes, and surprisingly well. The lens is permanent and has a fixed focus of 3m, but the color that comes out of it is great and it works really well in low light. This camera is great for experimenting, something special, and possibly music videos- if bands can afford it.
Sankyo Super 8mm sync-sound camera.
A great run and gun super 8 camera with a 1 shot picture mode, 24fps, built in shutter, and an ultra fast lens. The XL shutter allows in more light, so better in the dark, but motion can be blurry. Great camera to use for shooting interesting footage for any event or narrative. I love super 8, the digital filters that try to emulate it only prove that those who use them don’t even know what super 8mm looks like and that they do not know how to shoot film. Nothing beats the grittiness of this old format.
Lumix 14-42 f/3.5-5.6 Basic kit zoom lens. No real character to it but it is a wide angle zoom that gives high resolution pictures with fast and continuous auto focus. Great for climbing around with and getting every shot you need.
Nikon 50mm f/2 1966 kit lens, fast and sharp. Made of metal and heavy enough to kill small animals if you unfortunately drop it on them. The contrast if very stiff on this lens, but it gives a unique image that I tend to use most.
Minolta 50 f/1.7 A bit faster than the Nikon 50, but not as sharp. If you really need that light, a go to.
Minolta 28 f/2.8 A standard lens for m4/3 but not one I particularly love. Good images but no character.
Nikon 35mm 2.8 1971, a legendary sharp lens for a cheap price. I never used auto focus and I do mind paying twice the amount for a lens with it. I’ve taken so many pictures with this lens on my old Nikon F 35mm camera and I still can’t believe how sharp it is. Sadly, it doesn’t do well on digital.
Nikon 55mm Macro f/3.5 1973 A fun lens to use. It is too high contrast for most work, but because of the close focusing distance and razor sharp details it takes essential pictures and video on almost every job. When I need to get close to a product, this is the lens I use.
SLR Magic 12mm f/1.6- 2012 Wide and fast don’t go together, except for this lens. Beautiful images that have unbelievable sharpness and a close focusing distance make this lens a steal for anything less than a grand.
Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 The best thing to happen to micro four-thirds. Creamy bokeh, super fast and good for low light, superb colors. A great lens, nothing can beat it.
Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 SC. Considered the best black and white lens out there, this single coated beauty takes sharp pictures and is tiny, almost a pancake style of build. The ideal walk around a shoot focal length, I’ve been in deep love with this lens for years.
Vivitar 80-200 f/3.8 1981 Internal auto focus. This is a true cine lens. A bit telephoto for every shot, this smooth focusing and zooming lens is ideal for the slow dolly shot or artistic push in on the subject. Also great for portraits.
Takumar 50mm SMC, 28mm Super Takumar, 200mm, and 135 SC set. Some of the best and most cherished lenses by collectors for their sharp rendition, beautiful color, and great bokeh. There is hardly a better set of lenses, all hand designed in the 70s, than these.
Takumar 85-205 Macro 1983 f/3.5 This was never considered a good lens, but for 6 dollars at Goodwill it is hard to pass up. To my surprise, the lens takes some pretty good photos and the macro ability is useful. I put this in my kit all the time when I need to get a very special extreme close up. I also like the low contrast of the lens for shooting flat and getting a perceptive higher dynamic range than what the camera actually does. This lens actually works better on digital than it does film.
Rokinon 8mm Fisheye f/3.5 2011. The best deal in fish eyes, this takes fairly sharp and well saturated pictures at a whopping 121 ° field of view. This lens even fits on full 35mm frame cameras. This can be useful for a really unique shot, or just when you really need to see everything.
Tele-Lentar 135mm f/2.8. A typical telephoto lens with descent quality and good speed for low light.
Angenieux 10mm f/1.6 16mm lens 1961. An old C-mount lens, it gives a rough picture with awful flares and a big vignette. Why? Well, I can think of a reason to use it for certain crazy cool shots, I’m working it in still though.
Ricoh 55mm f/2.2 1991. A fast kit lens that takes the softest photos ever. Mmm…no reason to use it. No matter how hard I try.
Tokina 70-210 f/4 1979. Another cheap Goodwill buy, but not worth it. Goes on my wall.
Vivitar 2x tele-converter with Pentax mount.
Minolta 2x tele-converter.
Nikon Extension ring- Gets focus 2 times closer for micro photography.
Panasonic 0.6x Wide Angle Adapter.
Lowell Ex-66 Two head kit. A great kit that includes a 600 watt soft box that has interchangeable heads, one for tungsten/Halogen the other for fluorescent. The other light in the kit is a 200 watt tungsten/halogen v-light, great for adding a hard light for talking heads.
Red Head- This is an open face 800 watt blast of heat. I use it to boost or fake a window with a kuki.
Florescent Open Face- These give off a great blue soft light, great for faking a morning window or just throwing light in a room that seem perfectly natural.
Clamp Lights- Throw on a curtain rod, on a table leg, under a chair, behind someone’s back…anywhere. Get’s you just enough light where ever you need it.
2x China Balls- The classic Hollywood trick, a china ball on a pole throwing soft, warm light on someones cheeks or eyes. It’s the true beauty light.
Halogen 500 Watt Open Face- Some common work lights that just throw light on everything. Essential for matching a sun source light.
2 LED 160 bulb Video Lights with suction cup mounts attachments- mount then on your camera, in your car, on a window for back light, anywhere you can think of. With dimmers, they really act as superior clamp lights.
Sekonic L-578 Digital Spot Light Meter- A very nice light meter with 1 degree spot metering that allows you to know exactly what your f-stop should be and what contrast ratio you are using.
12 inch Bounce Disk- Collapses and folds, silver and gold; don’t leave home without it.
Bling LED on the go battery powered light. So bright it hurts.
Manfrotto 407B- A 70 lbs. set of legs with a 30 pound head. Not the smoothest with out substantial weight on it, but you can throw you jib arms, booms, or a whole laptop set up on this thing and it holds steady. It also raises up to 9 ft. so it becomes essential for those really high up angles or for wide angle architecture shots.
Chinese Tripod- Very heavy, maybe can hold 2 men. Very smooth, does everything you would want it too. Thanks China.
Manfrotto 701HDV- A light weight, 7 lbs. legs and head tripod. Throw it over your shoulder and climb a mountain, you’ll never feel it. Goes up to 7 ft. and has the smoothest pan I’ve seen from Manfrotto.
Manfrotto Magic Arm- A cool toy, a super clamp rated and a 2 part elbow joint arm that has stud wholes on both sides. Lets you mount lights or camera anywhere you can clamp it too. Very discrete and versatile.
Basic Kit- 50 lbs. box of everything from A clamps to zip ties.
Avenger C-Stand- A spring loaded three part stand with two gobo heads and a 3ft. arm. Locking leg and sandbags make it very steady for lamp heads and board.
Sennheiser 800 boom Mic- Half cartoid shotgun mic that is mean for focals. Low pass filter switch allows you to bleed out the noise in the room. Basic work horse mic.
Aduio-Technica At-890 Lavaliere- A highly rated lav. mic. for putting on interview subject or using in audio capture for narrative. Good range with little noise.
Audio-Technica Wireless Lav System- 2 Channel lav. system that has an astonishing 75ft. range. Can be noisy in the wrong places, but perfect for controlled enviroments.
Rode Boom Pole- They cost 100 bucks, it’s a stick? I don’t know.
H4n Zoom- the work horse of the sound industry. Reliable and good quality field recorder, please don’t steal it.
Mac Pro 2xQuad core 3.2 GHZ Xeon Processor with 6GB ram and 10 TB hard drive Space with Geforce 9800. If only it did laundry. Primary work computer, very powerful.
Mac Book Pro 2.6 Ghz Dual Core Intel Processer 13 inch laptop with Geforce 42 processor card and SD Card slot. My field computer, great for media digesting in the field and audio capture.
Dual monitors, Acer 22 inch and Dell 13inch with a 36 inch Vizio HDTV and 23 inch Insignia Tv hooked up. Hey, don’t make fun of my old Dell monitor. It has really good color. I need to upgrade all of these though, they aren’t ready for broadcast.
Lacie Light Scribe external burner and HP internal Lighscribe Burner- This allows me to get pseudo-professional products to clients.
Grass Valle ADVC 110 analog to Digital transfer module- lets me use sd analog devices in a digital HD environment.
2x 16mm Projectors Bell and Howell auto-feeder and Pagent- two legendary projectors for watching my old movies on or transferring film over.
Blacx Hot Swappable External Hard drive Bay
Final Cut Pro 3 Suite
Celtyx Scrip Writer and Pre-Production Software
Aperture RAW Development Software