As you’ll well learn over the course of this blog’s existence, I am a video nut. I’ve been producing and shooting video for well over 15 years, but I rarely think to bring my gear with me on a trip. Video gear — especially the pro stuff — is heavy, bulky, and not all that fun to lug around. But now, with the advent of micro-camcorders and easy, portable editing solutions, the temptation to bring along a full complement of equipment is stronger than ever.
No one wants to lug around a hundred pounds of extra stuff when you’re just trying to enjoy your trip. Yet we still want to capture those memorable moments and show them off on the family blog. In an effort to lighten the load and still get that amazing shot, here are five items for the nomadic videographer:
- AVCHD camcorder – These tiny handheld camcorders are made even lighter because of their solid state AVCHD recording media. Without the traditional recording mechanism of tape or hard drive based models, AVCHD camcorders shed those oh-so-important ounces, while giving you stunning High Def images. Try models from Canon or Sony. With all that saved weight, you’ll be able to carry an extra package of GORP.
- GorillaPod SLR Zoom – Probably the greatest invention for outdoor video and still photography enthusiats, Joby’s Gorillapod is the lightweight go-anywhere tripod with bite. Three nearly infinitely posable, rubber tipped legs allow you to wrap the miniature tripod around a tree branch or grip it securely to a rock face. Joby has also just introduced a ball head for the Gorillapod SLR Zoom version, which allows free-flowing movement in a 360 degree circle. The ball head includes the GorillaPod’s traditional quick-release plate.
- LED On Camera Light – LED lights are starting to make their way into professional videography, and with good reason. They’re small, lightweight, and bright, but use less battery power than traditional on-camera lights. In the woods or in darkly lit alleys, a good light is essential to seeing what’s on camera. This sub-$200 light from Bescor is small, lightweight, and dimmable. *Tip: when shooting in the sun with deep shadows, use your camera light to fill in those shadows. Your subject will look much better.
- Short Shotgun Microphone – Many pros have said it, yet most amateurs ignore it: Audio is an important – if not the most important – part of videography. If you can’t hear, what’s the point? The Azden SGM-X short shotgun microphone sits in your camera’s hot shoe while it’s 1/8″ mini jack plugs right into your camcorder’s microphone jack. Use the mic to not only do on camera “standups,” but also to pick up the amazing sounds you encounter on your journey.
- Headphones – These lightweight earphones from Klipsch are a great complement to your shotgun microphone. Just as picking up the sound is important, hearing what you’re picking up is important as well. These earphones sit snugly and comfortably in your ears, without taking up a lot of weight or space in your pack. Though they may be pricier than you’re used to, they’re well worth the investment when you can hear the wings of that grey heron flapping from a quarter of a mile away.