by Tim Fok | 21st December 2015
In conclusion of our top 10 must-have gear posts we look at Kit Bag Stocking Fillers. Christmas is literally days away but there’s still time to cram in a few extra presents in those stockings! Check out our favourite list of sub $100 for your kit bag. #1 AA Battery Pack Holder $4.95 AA batteries are still pretty popular in gear, particularly sound kit and compact lighting. Their universal nature means there’s rarely a shoot location where AAs aren’t available to purchase close by. Battery holders like this not only help keep your bag organised, but it can help catalogue AAs in accordance to how much charge level they have. These are handy because they come in different colours and sizes. The different colours means you can buy a variety that can signify the charge levels left in a particular set. Fresh ones goes in a green holder, barely used in an yellow and so on.. #2 Think Tank Red Whips $7.95 If there were a candidate for my favourite piece of kit from all three articles, these may be it. Think Tank Red Whips have become an integral part of my kit bag. Billed mainly as cable organisers to which they do a fantastic job, but highly useful in a number of scenarios. A simply bungee chord and toggle tensioner ensure you can quickly coil and secure your cables, being bright red they are hard to lose also. This is a pack of 10 but go nuts, once you start dividing them up among your kit you’ll want more and more. #3 Tenba Messenger Wrap $13.95 Ever have that odd shaped bit of kit that you really struggle to fit properly in any of your bags? Or maybe you travel a lot and try to squeeze precious bits of kit into your personal clothes bag without padded dividers. The Tenba Messenger Wraps solve your un-protected gear woes. Quite simply their big padded clothes with velcro on each corner, wrap your gear up and you’re good to go, genius. They come in 3 sizes – 10″,16″ and 22″ and a selection of colours accommodating small items like a mic shock mount up to a Macbook Pro. #4 Cocoon Grid It This clever organiser comes in varying shapes and sizes. It’s an elastic grid which neatly presents your accessories. You can arrange each Grid It in a number of different ways according to your preference. I have one for my card readers and another for laptop accessories. #5 Pixel Pocket Rocket $16.75 No better way to keep cards organised on the go than the Pixel Pocket Rockets by Think Tank. They cater for a combination of SD, Micro SD, Compact Flash and CFast cards, simply pick the one that suits you best. They have a belt clip to ensure the wallet stays with you at all times and a clear window for each card so that you can quickly identity them. I use a simple and popular technique of having cards facing out for clean, and reversed for ones with full data on. #6 Cable Roll Up The cable roll up is a great way to organise your cables, whether they’re HDMIs and BNCs for you camera kit or USB3s and Thunderbolt adaptors for your laptop. It’s useful for pens and other small accessories like lens cleaners too. #7 Think Tank Battery Holder $17.75 These have been around for a while, I’ve used them since shooting video on the 5D back in the day. Originally listed for Canon DSLR LP-E6s, but I’ve found they loosely fit Sony Alpha batteries too. These are a great way to store your batteries, airport security will be happy each terminal is isolated from another and you can easily install a forwards/backwards facing procedure for full and empties. #8 Think Tank Cable Management 10 Think Tank clearly invest a lot of time into making useful kit bag accessories, here’s another one of their products. The Cable Management bags are very useful, clear front for easily recognizing accessories inside and a nice little pouch on the back for a business card. I keep my lav mic kit in the Cable Management 10 and use the business card holder for storing spare batteries. #9 Tenba Toolbox 4 Another accessories bag worth checking out is the Tenba Toolbox 4. Slightly more substantial than the Cable Management bags with a more rigged side and padded inserts. It also has a clear lid and has a set of elastic loops on one side for securing bits and bobs. #10 Tenba BYOB 7 Camera Insert #29.95 Our final item is the Tenba BYOB camera insert. This is the perfect accessory for keeping your kit organised in a bag without dividers. Whether you’re travelling and want to keep it all in a personal traveller or just like your more fashionable bags! Another great use is when paired with the Packlite Shoulder bags, these are fantastic for travel and getting over the headache of paying for an extra bag as carry on. Check out our article here for more on that. The BYOB range come in a variety of sizes, each present a healthy selection of divider sections, clear zip pockets, business card holders and loops for lanyard accessories. That’s it for our Top 10 lists for Camera, Tools and Kit bags.If you haven’t already check out Part 1 on Camera Kit and Part 2 on Tools. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and have a great festive period!Read more
by Tim Fok | 18th December 2015
Earlier this week we released an article on the top 10 camera kit stocking fillers for under $100, now its time to build your filmmakers tools box! Below are ten great items you should consider taking with you on set. #1 Sharpie $1.69 OK, so they won’t all be as boring and obvious as this. But who couldn’t be pleased with a Sharpie filling their stocking? All departments will make use of this one, which is exactly why you should carry a few spare as guaranteed they’ll go walkies on set. #2 S-Biner $3.38 The Carabiner is a great tool, but it’s less widely used S-Biner is equally useful item on set. Use it where ever you need quick access to an item or tool from both sides. I have one for my belt clip to carry around some camera tape for quick access, great for quick access to me or handing over to an assistant. #3 1/2″ Flourescent Tape Pack of 4 $7.95 What’s a camera setup nowadays without a healthy clad of fluorescent tape? I like the 1/2″ (12mm) stuff as it’s easy to carry around and store in your camera bag. This pack of 4 is essential, great for distinguishing one item for another; I’ve labelled up all my batteries and chargers with coloured tape so it’s much easier to pair. #4 Bean Bags $9.79 You’ll find most focus pullers carrying these around, but they’re useful for lots of different crew. These ones aren’t industry spec’d or anything, just simply bean bags toys. They’re great for setting markers for subjects and actors; simply throw them down on the floor. Quicker and less messy than tape, easy to to see for subjects hitting their mark, useful for visual effects cues also. #5 Rip Tie Carabiner $12.50 Familiar Carabiner clasp on one side and velcro strap on the other. Rip Tie Carabiners are a great for organising cables and accessories to mount of the side of a mag liner or hanging off the side of your field mixer where you need quick access. Good for keeping small items secure in the back of a travelling van also. Listed is a pack of two, I recommend grabbing a few pairs! #6 Gaff Tape Holder $14.95 Gone are the days of seeing John Wayne on a set, but this little tool ensures his legend still lives on. As an operator, I do just fine with my S-biner and 1/2″ camera tape, but for the gaffers and multi skilled assistants out there, this is the tool for your belt. Access to gaff tape is never quicker than with this bad boy. It only takes one hand to grab, very handy when you’re up a ladder. #7 Pelican Flashlight $22.58 Flashlights (or torch) are another very handy item to have on set, it took me a while to stop using my phone as my main portable utility light source. The Pelican Flashlight is well built, a quick button press on/off on the rear (faster than a twist) and has a belt clip on the side for safe attachment. #8 Gerber Multi-tool $31.79 A multi tool is absolutely essential for anyone in the technical side of filmmaking. The Gerber gets the nod here as it has open facing tools, meaning you don’t have to open the jaws of the pliers to gain access to your driver heads, knife, scissors etc. This particular one has a great fold out carabiner too. #9 Lastolite Grey and White Pop Out Card $32.88 I don’t go anywhere without this bit of kit. Grey card on one side, white card on the other. It’s compact (12″/30 cm) and pops out like a mini reflector, very useful for obtaining critical exposure and white balance. I find it particularly useful for setting the white balance of Sony Alpha and FS cameras that can be a little more challenging with colour in mixed temperature lighting. #10 X Rite Color Checker Passport Another tool permanently residing in my tool bag, the X Rite Color Checker Passport is a very compact, folding color chart and great card. I find the Lastolite easier to use as a grey card, but the X Rite comes into it’s own as offering a portable solution for color reference; it’s literally the size of a passport. Next up will be our top 10 for Kit Bag stocking fillers, a personal favourite of mine. If you have any useful items of your own that you’d like to share, please add them in the comments below!Read more
by Tim Fok | 16th December 2015
The festive season is upon us, what better way to celebrate it then cramming a B&H shopping cart filled with gear?! I’ll be doing a trio of articles over the next few days each containing 10 great products that you should have at your disposal, starting with camera kit stocking fillers. All items are sub $100, perfect for stocking fillers if you have any baby filmmakers in the household (or simply want to hand this list over to your better half). We’ll cover the tool box and kit bags in the following two articles, but first lets get started with camera kit! #1 Wide Open Lens Gear – $21 Wide Open Cameras don’t make many products but the niche ones they do tend to be pretty useful. Here are some very affordable and universal lens gears. With a 0.8 pitch they will fit my follow focus systems. What I like about these is the very slim form factor, you can quite happily leave them mounted to the lens when switching to handheld operation. #2 Convergent Design Ultra Slim BNC SDI Cable $24 I never go on a shoot without a hefty supply of spare cables. Add to that spare bulbs, tape, ties etc and your ‘just in case’ bag gets pretty large. These cables are fantastic in keeping your kit small; they’re almost none existent in size. That’s not all, these are the perfect cable for gimbal work as their ultra slim nature adds very little in persuasion to the balance of your rig. Thick cables are a pain, they are easy to knock and can add weight to your camera rig. Keeping them slim and light will streamline your setup. #3 Zacuto Zicro Mount $28.50 These mounts work alongside 15mm rod systems (more on that further down) they bypass the need to constantly use the stock thread making the mounting/dismounting of accessories much quicker and safer. Tired of spinning your valuable monitor around and around to get it on/off your camera? Stick one of these in the middle (plus a ZUD below) and you’re good to go. There’s also the larger Zicro Mount with placeholders for larger accessories to limit spinning. I use these on all my monitors and sound kit, I have a 15mm stud on the end of my boom pole permanently so I can quickly adjust my mic shock mount via the Zicro lever. #4 Zacuto ZUD, 15mm stud $46.55 So I’m breaking the costing tier with this one but as it’s relevant to number 3 so I’ll list this next. The Zacuto ZUD is simply a short 15mm stud with female thread receiver. You put this on the mounting side to match up with the Zicro Mount. For example the ZUD would sit on the top of your ball head, and the Zicro mount on you monitor. The ZUD also comes in 3/8″ thread form, what’s great about the ZUD over cheaper 15mm studs is the option of a removable male thread. You also have a tension allen on the side to help lock the ZUD in place; I’ve got many a cheaper 15mm stud stuck on accessories in the past that don’t have this feature. #5 Tera Grand Super Slim HDMI Cable $29.50 It’s no secret, I love my super slim cables. Like the above BNC, this HDMI cable is perfect for gimbal work and keeping your camera setup hassle free. I have a plethora of slim HDMI cables in my kit, ranging from Type A to B to C. This particular one is type A to type, good for full size applications like the Sony FS7 and Canon EOS Cinema Line. It comes with an adaptor for micro enabling compatibility with the Sony Alpha cameras too, however for long term use of the latter camera format I’d suggest a native micro cable; a cable adaptor is one more thing to go wrong! #6 Cinevate Universal Accessory Mount $30 This has to be my favourite accessory mount to use. More versatile than a ballhead and less faff than a articulating arm. With a 1/4″ thread on either end it’s highly compatible, mine often lives with a ZUD on one side. It’s very strong which means it gets the nod over longer arms for me, plus with the addition of a few other accessories from Cinevate it can be used for a variety of applications. #7 Manfrotto Nano Clamp $38.95 Ah the Manfrotto Nano Clamp, second probably only to the Super Clamp (it’s bigger brother) as one of the most versatile bits of kit on set. This thing will get you out of trouble in a lot of situations (pictured left with a ZUD). Many a time I’ve brought my monitoring accessories to a shoot to use with a hire camera, only to find there’s not a thread mounting option in sight. Enter the Nano Clamp, it’ll mount to anything with a diameter up to 35mm. You’ll find me using this to attach accessories to various different broadcast cameras (with top handles) and tripod pan handles. It has both a 1/4″ and 3/8″ thread on the top for versatility, the one I’ve linked comes with a male adaptor thread also to get your started. #8 Manfrotto 492 Micro Ball Head $59.88 I’ve used a tonne of micro ball heads in my time and this one is definitely the best I’ve come across. Micro ball heads usually follow with a retainer of being unstable and taking a small amount of weight; this one is a tank in comparison. All other micro ball heads I’ve owned have deteriorated over time, I have a handful of these, the first of which purchased nearly 5 years ago and they’re still going strong. The 492LCD version comes with a hot shoe mount attached. You can convert this back to a 3/8″ later down the line, but the 1/4″ to 3/8″ thread adaptor often becomes stuck inside proving hard to remove. #9 Wooden Camera Nato Lock Kit $79 This kit works in the same principle to the Zacuto ZUD and Zicro mount, it sits between accessories and their mount to make them much quicker and safer to attach/remove. This may appeal more to some (over the 15mm stud) as the nato rail is scalable in length; you have the ability to have a much wider base for a variety of setups. You could place a Nato rail the length of the bottom of your monitor or the top of your camera giving you variable mounting points for your accessory. It’s less universal than a 15mm rod however, I’m surprised on a regular basis on what a 15mm stud/rod is compatible with. Good example of this would be my Cinevate Hedron Slider, there’s a 15mm hole on one end that when couple with a light stand with ZUD on top it made the perfect additional support that is quick to adjust. You’ll seldom get these surprises with the Nato lock kit; it has wide universal support but less stuff ‘just so happens to have’ Nato support. Pick which system will likely work better for you. #10 Redrock Rhino Mount $99 The Redrock Rhino Mount is perfect for adding 15mm rail support whilst keeping your camera setup small. For small and compact setups, accessories that require rail support like a follow focus system can be off putting as much by the presence of a baseplate than by the accessory itself. The Rhino Mount comes in a range of lengths and utilizes the hot shoe on the top of your camera, keeping a setup with rail support as small as it can physically be. This is a great tool for use with gimbals (if you don’t need the hot shoe for a top cage) when you want to keep the setup small a light. Other setups like helmet cams, lightweight jibs etc will benefit too where you need rail support for your accessories but don’t want the added size & weight of a big baseplate. That’s my top 10 stocking fillers for camera kit, next up will be my favourite products for your tool box and kit bag. As it’s the first article here’s a bonus number(s). Every operator should have an odds and sods bag filled with those get out of jail free items when you’re down to the wire and you can’t get A attached to B. Never mind the chocolate money or the candy canes in that stocking, good old nuts and bolts are much more fun! I have a pouch filled with threads, screws bolts and spigots just in case, I respect any other operator far more who has carries the same. Here’s a list of odds and sods to get you started: Male 1/4″ to 1/4″ Male 3/8″ to 3/8″ Male 1/4″ to 3/8″ Female 1/4″ to Male 3/8″ Female 3/8″ to Male 1/4″ 1/4″ to 3/8″ Thread adaptor Double End Spigot with 1/4″ and 3/8″ ThreadRead more
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