I know this is an odd topic talking about the future on the day the end of the world, but just in case it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Just in case you weren’t noticing as filmmakers, and photographers the technology of our craft is evolving over night. 4k is pretty much going to be the standard for cinema, and will be in the future for broadcast also. While we want to upgrade today, the reality of budgets dictate what we are able to do. There’s hope so you don’t have to throw out your 5d yet. There are 5 bits of equipment you can upgrade that will last a career, and are worth the investment.
#5. A good light kit.
This one may not seem that pressing, but a good light kit can save you a ton of time and effort. Light is necessary to expose your image, and a good kit will last you many years. A huge bonus, the technology behind lighting hasnt changed much over the years. Having the light kit will also cut down on your rental fees and means more for your bottom line.
#4. A good tripod.
Once again over looked, but essential. Good tripods aren’t cheap, but are worth every penny. If you need to upgrade anything your tripod is one of those things. More than likely you started with the bare minimum, and while it gets you by, Im sure you could benefit from an upgrade. You should look for one that has a bowl for balancing the head and carbon fiber legs and spreaders. I can tell you that my first real tripod weighed like 25 pounds. While that may not seem like much, lug it around for a day and it gets to be a bit much when you add a camera, lens, and all your gear to the mix.
A quality set of glass goes into the last a life time category. A good lens on a ok camera can yield amazing results. There is a catch though the future compatibility weighs on the mount and that the lens is fully manual. My recommendations are as follows. Still lenses Nikkor ai/ ai-s, Leica r, Zeiss zf, Contax Zeiss, or m42 mount. For cine look for oct 19, oct 18 (not ef adaptable), bncr (particularly the Super Baltar, Cooke Panchro, or k35), and the current standard pl mount. I can go on for hours on lenses and I will in a future post. The point I’m trying to make is that once you have a good lens it will stay with you for a long time.
Building up your audio kit is always a sound investment. Puns aside, audio is more than half of what you shoot. Still, filmmakers, and videographers still refuse to put any money into the audio until its too late. Even if the recording formats change, a mic and preamp always will be used. A good kit should have a boom pole, shock mount, wind muff, dead cat, shotgun, hyper cardioid, and lav as basic. Add some cables, preamp/mixer, and a recorder and your kit is set. This kit may sound like a lot of extras, but I can safely say if your getting started you can rent out your audio kit and have it make you money.
#1. Upgrade Yourself.
The most important thing you can upgrade in your kit is you. Go out and take a refresher course. Learn another job on set. Get certified in editing software. Anything you can do to lean more about your craft will get you everywhere. Personally most of my tricks I know about shooting, I learned in the edit bay. You can learn more from a colorist about exposure than a camera guy. Yes a good DP knows how to fix errors before they happen, but what better way to learn than from mistakes made in the field. Heck I catch things when I edit that I missed in the field.
No matter what the future holds there are many ways to improve the quality of your work without having to buy a new camera every 6 weeks.
Keep watching for more posts on lenses, audio, and editing systems in the near future. And keep shooting.