Whether you just started out in video production, or if you’ve been shooting for a while, this article will introduce you to some useful accessories that might come in handy one day, or possibly become something you use on every shoot.
First up is the budget-friendly Zeiss Jumbo Microfiber Cloth. The key word here is “jumbo.” It’s far larger than many of the cloths out there, which makes it suitable not only for cleaning the delicate optical surfaces of lenses, but also great for cleaning filters. You can wrap Panavision-sized 4 x 5.65″ filters in this cloth, and quickly clean both sides at once. Your glass can never be too clean, and having two or three of these in your kit can really save the day. Plus, they are washable, so it’s a good idea to pick up a few of these to have around when your others are in the laundry hamper.
Sometimes you have to put a big camera on a small tripod, and if your camera is lacking a 1/4″-20 mounting hole and only has a 3/8″-16, that may pose a problem. Or you may find yourself in a situation where the head you want to use only has a 3/8″-16 socket, but the legs or slider you are mounting it on has a 1/4″-20. A problem, that is, unless you’re packing a 3/8″-16 to 1/4″-20 adapter, like these from Manfrotto. There are many options out there to choose from, but I like the five-pack from Manfrotto. They do the job, and they’re slotted on the back end, so you can use a screwdriver to get the adapter flush with your camera’s base, or back it?out?easily when you don’t need it. This is definitely something that every camera owner should end up with as part of their kit. They take up almost no room, so there really is no reason to wait if you don’t already have some.
The Ruggard Desiccant Silica Gel Pack is great for putting in underwater housings to help absorb moisture. If you’re storing gear and are worried about humidity or condensation (something you always have to be concerned about), just place one of these in the case with your gear. This single pack is good for handling a three-cubic-foot space, it’s reusable, and packed in a sturdy metal container so the beads won’t escape. The Silica Gel inside is the indicating type, which means it changes color when it has absorbed its limit of moisture. Once it reaches maximum saturation, just follow the directions and heat it in an oven to eliminate the moisture, and it will be good to go again, and again, and again.
Another great accessory is a Domke Lens Wrap. This one is a 19″ red square (other colors are available) that provides padded protection for lenses and other items. It features hook-and-loop fasteners that grab the soft exterior, allowing the wrap to conform to the shape of whatever it’s protecting. Although it doesn’t provide as much protection as a case, it will protect your lens from minor knocks and scratches, especially if you’re carrying a few lenses around in a soft-sided bag.
Carrying multiple memory cards and trying to keep track of them can be a real irritation, and their small size makes losing them a real possibility. That’s why I like the Ruggard Memory Card Case. There are different cases for different cards, and you definitely want to get the weather-resistant version, as it protects your cards from water and dust. The one I use holds eight SD cards, but there is a case for Compact Flash Cards, as well as combination cases that hold more than one type of card. Best of all, it fits in my back pocket, but don’t worry¡ªit’s made from polycarbonate, and I’ve yet to damage it or the cards it protects.
In the digital age, organizing your footage has become more important than ever, and the easiest way to keep track of your shots is with a Dry Erase Camera Slate. When you’re trying to find that one take out of thirty in the edit session, you’ll be happy you marked it with this slate. Plus, the slate has room for information about the shot, and clapping the sticks gives you a reliable sync point.
Walkie-talkies are great for a variety of purposes, such as location scouts, and to get in touch with a crew member in another room. They eliminate the need for shouting. Nobody wants to be on a shoot during which someone is shouting. It’s also much faster to reach someone on a two-way radio than calling them on their cellphone, plus it doesn’t use any minutes. I’m recommending two sets of two-way radios for you to check out. The Midland GXT100VP4, which is a two-radio kit, and the Motorola MR350TPR three-radio set. Both sets feature a range of more than 30 miles, and run on rechargeable battery packs or AA batteries, which is a nice option if you run out of battery power. What I really like about these two-way radios is that both sets are weather resistant, handy in an outdoor device, and you can get weather alerts on the walkies, which is so very useful when shooting exteriors. Parental bonus: you can also use them to keep track of your family when you¡¯re on vacation.
Looking for an articulating arm? Dinkum Systems ProPack and the smaller Dinkum Systems DSLR ProPack are that, and a whole lot more. Both items come with articulating arms that use connecting modules that allow you to adjust the length of the arm, as well as its position. The ProPack is generally used by shooters with larger cameras. It comes with big clamps that provide a solid grip, a flag (which is useful for shading your lens from flares or for precision cutting of a light), and adapters that allow you to attach devices with 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 mounting threads (such as mics, small audio recorders, and on-camera monitors). The DSLR ProPack is the smaller version, but it also includes clamps, a compact lens flag, 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 adapters. Both packs come in a form-fitting canvas accessory bag that keeps the components snug. Either system is useful and makes a huge impact by providing you with options and solutions to situations that pop up on almost every shoot.
Gels and diffusion are a necessity on set, to control and affect your lighting. The problem, of course, is keeping them organized and in good condition when transporting them from shoot to shoot. Enter the CineBags CB-06 Gel Roll, which will hold up to one hundred 26 x 32″ lighting gels and diffusion. Just tuck your gels into the pouch at the foot, and roll them all up. The hook-and-loop fasteners keep the Gel Roll neat and compact, easy to carry and store, and rolling the gels this way helps prevent creases (which folding can cause). If you’re using large rolls of gel and diffusion, I highly recommend getting the Fiberbilt by Case Design P508. It is tough, durable, and easily holds large rolls of gel and diffusion, keeping your gels together and protecting them from being damaged during transport. Gels and diffusion are great tools, but it gets expensive when you need to replace them unnecessarily, so protect your gels.
The final great accessory in our list is the NEXTO DI 1TB Field Storage Device, model number NVS2501. This is great for taking into the field and copying footage from your memory cards, so you don’t need to bring your laptop with you when shooting. The Nexto DI essentially replaces your laptop, as you can connect additional hard drives, and simultaneously copy your footage to them, via USB, Firewire 800, and eSATA, all without needing a laptop. The Nexto DI copies footage from SXS/CF/P2/microP2/SDHC/SDXC/MS memory cards and has three copy modes, allowing you to choose from fast copy with no data verification, to slow-copy with data verification and protection. In addition to the 1TB hard drive, it features a built-in LCD screen so you can preview your footage. This is a very handy gadget, and extremely versatile, especially when you’re out shooting for a day, with limited support or space for setting up a download station.
I hope you feel a little more familiar with a few accessories that you didn’t know were out there. For more information on any of the items mentioned, make sure you click on the item’s link, call a B&H sales professional at 1-800-606-6969, or click in to Live Chat.