Recently, while shooting a podcast for NerdBlerp.com, (again) I offered to loan the services of my Canon 5D Mk II, 24-105mm F4 L IS, and Rode VideoMic. The footage, while it looked pretty good, had some problems. In all, it was a learning experience. Here are some of the mistakes I made for you to learn from.
Clean Your Sensor
A couple weeks ago my sensor became dirty. Not very dirty, but there was a smudge. After shooting for a bit though, it seemed to have disappeared so I didn’t worry about it. Then it reared its ugly head in this shoot. You’ll see it in the footage. When we were reviewing the footage on a big screen HDTV, I screamed in horror.
The 5D Mk II is now in the shop getting cleaned. That was a stupid mistake on my part.
How did it get smudged? Sometimes my assistants switch their lenses without taking the camera off—because of this the sensor attracts dust and other things.
Keep Your F-Stop Small and Your ISO Up
Since the 5D Mk II has a big sensor, then it also has very shallow depth of field. When shooting, it is not advisable to be shooting wide open. Stop the lens down to perhaps f5.6-f8. Not only will this optimize sharpness, but it will also make focusing a lot easier for you. This isn’t as critical with the 7D or T2i though because of the smaller sensor.
If I were shooting with a smaller F-stop (I used F4) then they all would have been much sharper and much easier to focus on. Why didn’t I do this? My 5D Mk II is typically used on Nerd Blerp’s set for nice depth of field images. The ISO would not have even need to be cranked up because of the set lighting.
When Shooting Handheld, Always Use an Image Stabilized Lens
Though a Hoodman HoodLoupe would have helped with stabilization because of the way that I would’ve needed to hold the camera, shooting handheld requires that the videographer uses stabilized lenses. Because of this, the 24-105mm F4 L IS is a phenomenal workhorse lens. However, the combination with the HoodLoupe would have been better.
Bring a Good Tripod
Nerd Blerp’s HF 200 was on their good tripod, so I was stuck with one that could barely support my 5D Mk II. This footage could have been better with a better tripod or a dolly system of some sort. A better tripod would have supported smoother pans and would have had a level built in to ensure straight shots.
In a case like this, a gorillapod would not even have cut it.
Bring A Rail System
If not a rail system, my favorite item is the Glide Cam Stunt Bar. It would have further made handheld shooting much easier because of just how adaptable the rails are to almost any situation. For the price, you really can’t go wrong. Any videographer would probably want to have one of these in their bag because of just how useful they can be.
What they are are essentially two-three flat rails with lots of holes and screws meant of adapting the use of your camera to literally anything. They’re used often by skateboarders videotaping themselves.
Why didn’t I bring mine? Well, even though they break down into smaller pieces, the pieces can get very big. Big stuff in your bag can become annoying.
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