John Bosley and I have been actively working on producing our second Level 1: Post-Processing Basics video and we have decided to look into getting a shotgun microphone for the studio environment. While our lavalier microphones have been working great for the most part, they tend to collect ambient noise quite a bit, especially when the subject moves or accidentally touches the microphone. Additionally, lavalier mikes can be painful to deal when there is a lot of interference, particularly in a busy urban environment. When shooting in San Francisco, we experienced some sort of interference practically in every channel, which made it difficult to shoot (and that’s considering that we had two different transmitters at completely different radio frequency ranges). So it was time to look for a different solution that gives us good quality sound without the problems of the lavalier microphones. We decided to evaluate a number of popular shotgun microphones and we came up with the following list: Sennheiser MKE 600, Audio Technica AT897, Rode NTG2 and Rode NTG3. While the first three are in the same price range (around $300) and therefore can be considered direct competitors, the Rode NTG3 was a higher-end unit priced at around $700. The big question was – which of the four microphones would win us over? Take a look at our video below:
During my trip to Death Valley, I experimented a little with timelapse photography using the MIOPS device. One of the moments, particularly at Zabriskie Point, was the one I did not miss and capture it at its full glory, while the light was constantly changing. At first, I set up my Nikon D810 to take pictures every 2 seconds, then I left the camera to go shoot a panorama with another one, as described in this recent article. After I came back, I saw that my camera captured a total of 1675 images. I reviewed some of the photos and really liked the fact that I captured so many different images and the transitions in between – from colorful pink clouds, to sun hitting the Manly Beacon. Since light conditions were changing so fast, I decided to shoot in Aperture Priority mode (see our article on camera modes), with ISO set to 100 and Aperture fixed at f/8. For the Zabriskie Point timelapse in the video, I used the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E VR lens (obviously, with VR turned off). Since I already had plenty of images for my upcoming review, I decided to use the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art lens. Boy, what a mistake!
Nowadays, it is not unusual to hear about photographers being asked by their clients to do video work for them. For many photographers adding video to their list of services can be a bit intimidating, especially when it could entail making some investments in video-related gear. While it is certainly possible to spend many thousands of dollars on additional gear, most people wouldn’t want to put that much money at risk when first venturing into this area. If you choose gear wisely you can keep your investment at a modest level while adding a significant amount of production value for your clients.
If you’re an enthusiastic still photographer who’s started to dabble with video a bit, you’ve likely run into issues with fine visual footage, but substandard audio. Crappy audio can ruin the viewer’s experience every bit as quick as lousy visuals. It soon becomes apparent that your camera’s built-in microphone records not just your subject, but also the camera’s noises (focus motors, VR, heavy-breathing operator) as well as the nearby highway, airport, dragstrip, playground or pig farm. The first step taken usually involves buying a hot shoe-mounted directional mike, AKA shotgun mike. This is great for emphasizing the sound coming from the direction the camera is pointed, but it gets not just the subject speaking or softly purring, but also the jackhammers in the construction site across the street behind your subject. It is a poor choice if you want to record dialogue. For recording talking subjects, the next step is to add a lavalier microphone system. A lavalier microphone, AKA lav, AKA lapel mic, is a tiny microphone that clips to the user’s lapel, collar, or ZZ Top beard. It is very sensitive to sound coming from very close to the microphone and not to sounds further away. Therefore it is ideal for recording the wearer’s words without too much interference from background noise.
Today we want to move your attention from photography matters and enjoy this short film called “How The Sun Sees You”. After watching this film by Thomas Leveritt, I smiled so hard my cheeks still hurt. I very much hope yours will hurt even more!
Whether you’re an amateur or professional shooter the choice of which camera brand and format to buy can be daunting. Often after you’ve shot with it for a while another round of soul-searching can happen as you better understand the strengths and limitations of your gear, and consider where your photography and/or videography is going to take you. I suppose we all go on our own ‘gear journey’…this is mine.
If you are like many professional photographers, you may be finding that more and more clients are asking if you can also do video for them when you’re on-site doing a photo shoot. Video can be a “strange new world” and you may be passing up some good opportunities. Most modern DSLRs are quite competent in shooting video, and you can use them to create industrial and commercial productions that are ideally suited for use at corporate functions, in sales presentations, as training aids, and as promotional spots on YouTube…so there is a great opportunity to expand your service offering by including video.
The video recording capabilities in DSLRs have been the subject of lively discussions ever since video-capable DSLRs have been introduced (with Nikon D90 being the first). At first, some thought it was unnecessary and too cumbersome to be of any practical use, while others embraced the new possibilities and the small (in comparison to high-end video cameras) price they came with. Regardless, the first full-frame camera to do video (and Full HD, at that) – the Canon 5D Mark II – quickly became very popular among amateur cinematographers that could not afford high-end RED cameras. A compromise, but not a too painful one. Both the D90 and, slightly more so, the 5D Mark II offered a very broad lens selection, good to great low-light capabilities and, more importantly, brought aesthetics and shallow depth of field of modern photography into the world of videography.