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Old May 9th, 2009, 10:57 PM   #1
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HM100 Accessory Recommendations and Gear for Doc Project

Tim Dashwood (and other voices of wisdom on this forum),

Thanks to your many forum contributions, and the reviews from Phillip Bloom and others, I have my heart set on using the new HM100 for an upcoming doc I am filming in Africa for friends who are doing humanitarian relief work in Malawi. For the past 3 years I have been using my 2 HD100s and other JVC pro gear for various local jobs but am a little anxious to be relying on this brand new camera in the field with very little time for set-up and advance testing. However, its small form factor and so many other outstanding features are perfectly suited to the parameters of this project and I’m committed to using it.

I am near the front of the line to receive one of the first HM100’s from our friend Peter at HVS, hopefully on Monday, and am scheduled to leave for Malawi on Thursday with this beautiful new piece of equipment (along with extra batteries, a dozen Transcend SDHC cards, a Manfrotto 561B video monopod, a Rode NTG-1 for on-camera audio, and several Sennheiser G2100 kits among other things).

What I really need to know is:
1) what size and brands of polarizing filters and/or ND filters should I get for the HM100? Most days I will be a one-man crew, shooting run-and-gun style during the daytime in rural settings (bright sunlight, dry hot landscapes, African faces and villages, etc.).
2) Do you have any basic scene settings and/or other set-up suggestions to pass along before you’ve completed your comprehensive testing results? I would greatly appreciate any tips however preliminary.
3) On occasion I may be shooting after dark or inside huts and wonder if I need an on-camera LED light kit. Any suggestions?
4) Any other “must have” gear or accessories for the HM100 that I should be taking along that you would recommend?

This is my first big overseas film project and any advice that you or other experienced videographers can offer would be most helpful. I should have access to the internet and this forum during the 4 weeks of filming, but would like to get the most out of the camera right from the start. And I hope to pass along my real-world testing experiences with the forum while in Malawi and post some footage when I get home.

Thanks again for all that you and others have contributed to the education and enlightenment of so many of us aspiring professionals!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 12:26 AM   #2
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I would definitely get the JVC wide angle adapter. It's small, light, gives and excellent picture with little distortion, and it will let you get into tighter places as well as operate hand held close in with less problems with shake.

In another thread Tim suggests a .6 ND filter if you get only one grade. He says the in-camera ND wasn't quite enough in his tests in the desert to him use the F-stop he would have preferred.

In the same post, Tim highly recommends a polarizer.

The threads on the HM100 lens are 46mm. I don't know if the wide-angle has threads or accommodates filters.

"Dead cat" of some kind for the mic.

Highly recommend a "bean bag" type support for this size camera. I have a small CineSaddle, and it is great (Phil Bloom uses one in his demo video for the HM100 and I've used mine all over the world with a PD150 and an XH-A10), though expensive and I think have to be ordered. However, this kind of support is invaluable for quickly putting on the bround, holding the camera on top of a chain link fence, setting the camera up in a corner on a shelf... just as examples to give you the idea. I've used it on the back of theater seats, sliding along a handle for tracking shots, etc. The CineSaddle is very lightweight, unlike a real bean filled bag. There must be some lightweight "peanut" filled pillows available though that would be good.

Anyway, here are a couple of ideas to consider.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:06 AM   #3
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Thanks for the good recommendations and the 46 mm tread sizing spec on the lens (couldn’t find that info anywhere yet). And thanks for referencing Tim’s advice on ND filters, etc. from another thread. I had seen that but thought I’d start a new thread since I have other accessory questions…

I already have a Rode “Dead Cat” Muff for my NTG-1.

How large/heavy is the small CineSaddle bag? What kind of $$ do they cost? I did notice it in Phil’s video review and it looks very cool. I decided to go with the fluid 561B monopod because of it’s versatility for other kind of shots, but of course it will let you shoot from low angles on the ground, etc.

Any other gear suggestions from you or others? Any brand names recommendations for filters?

Thanks for you help.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 11:10 AM   #4
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Here is the website for the CindeSaddles:

Now there are 5 sizes. When I bought it there were only two sizes, and I bought the smaller, the MiniSaddle. Phil Bloom used the next smaller size, the BabySaddle. And there are two yet smaller, the tiny and Micro. These last two are called the basic models and are about $100. The CineSaddles are over $350.

For your use and for traveling, I think the basic model TinySaddle might be best. The one I have is bigger than necessary for the HM100 and a bit too bulky for suitcases, though it works. The BabySaddle is expensive and still a bit larger than you really need for traveling.

Compared to similar type products, the CineSaddle is extremely lightweight.

The problem now is that they come from Australia and take a couple of weeks. AbelCine (a sponsor) may have the largest one in stock, but that's too large.

A $50 alternative is the Steadybag (sold at B&H). But I think that's useless for travel, because the smaller one weights 3 lbs. and the larger one weighs 7 lbs.

Perhaps for this trip, Forget the CineSaddle, but keep in mind that in an emergency you can use a pair of jeans or a towel to set the camera on for a special shot.

You absolutely need a tripod in addition to your monopod. It can be the cheapest aluminum thing you find, but you have to be able to setup the camera, whether for an interview, a shot you will later speed up for a time lapse effect, to set up the camera to wait for the tiger to come out of the cave to check the weather.

Does the head on the 261B monopod come off? If so, you could screw this on a cheap consumer tripod when needed. This is not meant to be a professional pan and tilt video tripod setup--just a way to setup the camera and not have it move when you need it.

You are taking several SDHC cards. Are you also taking a computer? Perhaps they have computers there, but you should take a 2-1/2" USB hard drive to off load the cards to and/or for a backup. You could use this on someone elses computer, if you are not taking your own.

And don't forget the USB adapter for the SDHC cards.

In another thread somewhere there was a discussion of drives that can offload SDHC cards directly, without a computer, but I don't have any additional information.

The lo-lux mode of the camera should come in handy, based on what I saw from a sample posted here. However, if you are going to shoot in the dark, you do need light. I don't know what is available where you are going--if there is electricity, if there are Coleman type lamps or what.

From you description, the LitePanels Micro (the old or new version) is probably the best bet for an on-camera auxiliary light. It is very lightweight and runs on AA batteries. (Lithium batteries, while expensive, can outlast several sets of alkaline batteries. Rechargeables work fine, but are a hassle on trips sometimes.) If people are going out in the middle of pitch dark nights to talk to people, some kind of light would light up their faces. The little light is also good to get a nice shot of the giant snake head attacking.

Sima makes some low cost rechargeable lights a lot of people use. Here is an interesting one for shooting in the dark:
Night Vision Video Light

Here's the regular light Sima that is popular:
Sima | SL-20LX Universal LED On Camera Light | SL-20LX | B&H
It's out of stock at B&H, but a google search will find it many places.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #5
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Filter Brand Suggestions and HM100 Set-up Suggestions?

Thanks again Jack for your help; excellent descriptions of the CineSaddle bag options, and useful on-camera light recommendations. I’ll definitely look into getting a CineSaddle once I get back.

Re: your suggestions about other gear. I am actually taking a bunch of other gear that I didn’t bother listing in my original post (i.e. MacBook Pro, eight 500 GB WD Passport Elite HDs, card readers, Edirol R-44, cables, mics and light-weight stands, and more… but most of that gear will stay in the NGO mission compound for special/occasional use as lots of my shooting will be 'run & gun')

Re: tripod for the HM100, your advice is well taken. I’ve been shooting for 3 years with a solid Manfrotto set of sticks & smooth head (519/525) and I’ve been taking those steady shots for granted. Your suggestion reminded me that I do have a set of light-weight Manfrotto sticks from my still photography days that I will check out and bring along. I’m think the head from my new monopod might just work on them; I’ll check that out tomorrow.

Finally, if you or anyone else has recommendations re: scene setting, etc. AND specific brand recommendations for a good polarizing filter (and maybe a kit too), that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Michael Lafleur View Post
Finally, if you or anyone else has recommendations re: scene setting, etc.
This isn't really the 700 so the scene's look doesn't have a lot of fine control.
Detail Level: Off
Knee: 90%
Gamma: Cinema
Gamma Level: -5 to -3 usually but when it gets dark I turn that up before I get to gain's over 12 dB.
Color Matrix: Cinema Vivid
Color Gain: 0

I would also add that if you have the Auto Level on for the shotgun mic you can hear the zoom motor in quiet situations. It doesn't come through the mic, just the vibrations of the camera body. If you are going to be in a quiet spot just be ready for it or to deal with it later.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:02 PM   #7
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Much appreciated guidance on camera set-up that I will use when I take delivery -hopefully on Monday (it will be one of the first HM100s in the Canadian market other than Tim Dashwood's demo). I'm hoping to run some tests in the next few days before I fly out to Malawi later in the week.

Have you shot any low-light footage yet? If so, did you use manual settings or auto? Any suggestions on how to best utilize the image stabilization feature?

Did you happen to buy any filters for the camera? If so, what brands or kits worked for you?

Someone mentioned on another thread that they were experiencing significant audio hiss. Did you find the same thing? If so, I may have to try to use my Edirol R-44 more than I had planned. I anticipate using manual audio settings whenever possible.

I plan on using a Rode NTG-1 on camera, a Senni G2 100 wireless sometimes, and for static interviews and/or when I have a boom operator, my Rode NTG-3. Have you tried anything else other than the JVC shotgun mic that comes with the camera?

I’m glad (and a little envious) that you guys in the UK received the new cameras before the North American market. Thanks for allowing me and others to learn from your experiences.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:17 PM   #8
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I have shot low light and auto everything works fine but I shot manual and it is alright. I am not bothered by the noise too much. The image is still sharp and pleasing. Later on I was at 15 dB and 1/24 as wide as I could go and that stuff turned out alright. It was a little under exposed but that is my fault. It was so dark I was being fooled by the LCD's brightness. When I do something like that again I will probably set the zebras for 60% to 70% and just make sure my faces are all zebra covered.

Whoops, I see you are going to Malawi. So the zebra thing will still probably work but you will have to find out during the day where skin tones feel about right as far as zebras and then maybe go a little brighter than that. That is my guess for how to do it if you are really low in light.

Check out my reply on that post for my audio answer. I have used the built in stereo and shotgun along with a Shure Beta 87 and a nice condenser both are very quiet and so I am sure it isn't the camera that is loud.

I haven't traditionally used filters so I haven't looked into it yet. I am looking at a Century Optics wide angle lens or maybe the JVC.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #9
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Brilliant, Elvis. Thanks again for sharing your experiences thus far with the camera. I'm hoping to visit some friends in the Lake District later this summer and can wait to capture its beauty with the new cam. [oops - I thought your location said UK - but you're a Sooner, not a Brit; sorry about that :-) ... ]

If anyone else who is lucky enough already have received their HM100 can offer any responses to some of my other questions, I would be most grateful.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 03:07 PM   #10
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Consider a Spiderbrace shoulder mount for those long days of handheld camerawork. home
They are lightweight, cheap and a real relief for your wrist.
William Hohauser - New York City
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Old May 11th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #11
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Manfrotto 561B fluid Monopod should help

Thanks for the suggestion, William.

I mentioned at the beginning of the thread that I have the 561B monopod to support and steady the camera for most of my run & gun shooting. But the Spiderbrace looks like a cool piece of gear for extended handheld work and maybe I'll pick one up when I return from overseas (not enough time left to get one shipped to me at this point).

By way of follow-up to my original post:
- I've ordered a 46mm B&W circular polarizing filter (the screw-on type), as well as a basic UV filter to use when there's no need for a polarizer. I also picked up some other cool audio gear, lav wind-muffs, etc. that should help me record great sound both on and off the camera.
- regrettably the JVC WA adapter will not be available in Canada before I leave
- I will hold off buying any on-camera lighting as the project director thinks we will have little need for it at this time; Jack – I will look into your excellent recommendations further when I get back.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and I hope to continue dialoguing with you on the forum as I have access to the internet from time to time in Malawi. I'm picking up the camera tomorrow (Tuesday) and leave on Thursday - not much time to get the set-up and basic testing done. Hopefully you won't hear any cries for 'HELP’ once I'm in the field, but I will keep reading the HM100 forum to stay current on what seems to be working best and let you know how this amazing new cam holds up under the rigours of filming on the fly in Africa.

And feel free to keep passing along additional suggestions or tips if you have some; they are always appreciated (especially from the esteemed ‘Yoda’ of new JVC gear and fellow Canuck – Tim Dashwood)
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Old May 11th, 2009, 09:08 PM   #12
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Steady Bag

I have not used the cine saddle, but have used the Steady Bag. It comes in a three pound version with a strap and you can carry over the shoulder. It solves the fence post problem, the ground problem, is great for your knees when you have to do a kneeling shot. I think you can get 'em at B & H for under 50 dollars. Definitely take a tripod, I use a gitzo carbon generally used by still photographers with a manfrotto 503 head. It gets old carrying it, but at the end of the day when you need that one steady shot, it is worth it.

Jack Hubbard
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Old May 11th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #13
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I would strongly advise against a spiderbrace. The design is very weak and I would never put my $3500+ camera on it especially if I can´t send it in for repair any time soon. The spiderbrace is a bunch of bent PVC pipes thrown together and is very home brew. It took the baggage handlers at JFK exactly one trip to brake it. Besides it practically forces you to shoot from the height of your shoulder downward... I would consider a steady stick (Davis & Sanford | Steady Stick Compact | SS3C | B&H Photo Video) for long hand held work instead. As an alternative for a CineSaddle there would be the CameraCradle (Ikan | CC01 CameraCradle | CC01 | B&H Photo Video) which is lighter than the SteadyBag and its shape makes more sense IMO. Other than that I think the most important thing you need is backup stuff for as many things as possible, especially your main cam.

P.S. Good luck with your project!

Last edited by Matthias Krause; May 11th, 2009 at 10:07 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 10:02 PM   #14
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Matthius & Jack H.,

Thanks for your input. The Steady Bag & Camera Cradle look like good possibilities too, and that Steady Stick seems worthy of a tryout. Regrettably, I'm too close to my departure window (Thursday Noon) to add anything to my kit that is not in stock in the Toronto area at this point. Most of my focus for the past month has been on hoping and praying that JVC Canada would actually get the HM100 into the country in time (end of April delivery date has drifted quite a bit). My dealer extraordinaire, Peter Bauce at HVS in Hamilton, is doing everything in his power to get me the first one off the top of the shipment (Tuesday, please let it be Tuesday, Lord!!). I had to be sure that I could get one before I bought most of my accessories in case I had to go with a different camera at the last minute for this 4 week shoot in Africa.

Thanks again to everyone who has offered suggestions and shared their experiences. I’ll do my best to “pay-it-forward” when I get the chance.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #15
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I would grab a Canon FS100 or HFS100 just as a back up camera, better be safe than sorry!
Measure twice, cut once!
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