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Old February 20th, 2008, 04:32 PM   #1
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What would you do?

At the end of March I'm heading to Africa to film a doc on AIDS. 80% will be interviewing people in a small town outside Kilimanjaro where they often don't have electricity. I only have an HV20. I've already filmed two docs with the HV20 and it's been sufficient and about equal to my limited talents. I've been trying to hold off until April and see what NAB has to offer before purchasing my next camera but it's not in the cards.
I really want to survive on the HV20 until then but it's grainy without good light. Which I might not have in Africa. I don't want to carry a generator and there's no guarantee I'll have electricity to run lights and even if I did I'm worried I might blow stuff out, not to mention electricity can be very expensive in Africa for Africans. And I doubt asking every interviewee to step outside will work. Most people will be pharmacists and UN types.

I have a budget of about 7.5k. 1k of which I'm using to buy new cos11 lavs. I won't need anything else. No tripods, mixers, etc.,
Right now I'm debating between the Canon xha1 and the Sony Ex1.
What worries me about the Canon A1 is it might not have enough low light capabilities for indoor interviews with limited lighting.

What worries me about the EX1 is possible rolling cmos issues and it doesn't have the range I'd want for shooting wildlife, which is what I would primarily be shooting after this doc. Next year I'll be on a three week trip on the Amazon and I'll want alot of range for that. Although, honestly, the HV20 with it's telextender might be good enough for the Amazon.

What would you do in my situation? Would really appreciate any comments, suggestions or thoughts outside the box.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 04:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Matt Buys View Post
I've been trying to hold off until April and see what NAB has to offer...
Disregard NAB. What is shown at NAB by the major camera companies won't actually be ready to ship for months. It's very much a "here's what's coming later on down the road" kind of expo.

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Old February 20th, 2008, 04:54 PM   #3
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Funny I was just browsing a catalogue for a local electronics store earlier today and noticed this. It may be something of interest to you. Perhaps it could be adapted in some way for your needs.


and this



What do ye think? Could it be used?

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Old February 21st, 2008, 08:59 PM   #4
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Ger, interesting ideas. Wish they could produce a little more power though. I bet in another few years we'll see alot more of those.
BTW, where is Eire?
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Old February 21st, 2008, 10:05 PM   #5
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Well what i am about to suggest is a primitive idea - I'll give you that, BUT you would really be surprised just how sensitive those CCDs are to even the smallest source of light.

I have found bounce boards to be AMAZING. Now we could be talking about mirrors shooting light onto a wall in a room, or even styrofoam boards - but I.m tellin' ya it works.

Those fold up reflective windshield cards are perfect for the trunk of a car and don't temp most people to steal them. What C-stand? Hire a local to hold it for you all day long for food and $20. Great deal.

I hope that you explore this some as you will be in for a surprise. Film a scene at home without any lights. Then bounce some light in from outside - it's impressive.

One more thing - you mentioned no tripods - I agree that they are cumbersom. Consider a Bogen telescoping Monopod with a quick release plate though. They do three things really well. Provide great steady shots when the tripod wire legs are extended for the talking head shots, they allow you to fly the camera POV steadicam style low to the ground and flip the image back over in post, and they crane your camera up and over crowds, fences, in windows - all for about $150.00 - Best of all, folded up? It is the size of a collapsed pool cue.

Keep runnin' n' gunnin' & Good Luck.

Last edited by R. L. Appling; February 21st, 2008 at 11:46 PM.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 10:35 PM   #6
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Why not a fixed camera light that runs off a battery? Chimera sells great soft ones, although they are not on their site...
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:49 AM   #7
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Matt, Eire is Ireland in our native tongue.

You have a few exciting months ahead of you eh!

keep us posted.
Id be interested to know if you go for the EX1
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:06 PM   #8
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Find someone who's been there and get as much info from them as you can. that would help you determine a lot of things about what to/not bring and give you a better idea of what you are walking into.

Good luck.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:49 AM   #9
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Reflectors and relativelly cheap LED flashlights and headlamps. I just came back from Kilimanjaro and shot fully usable footage at night using a reatively powerfull Led Lenser Hocus Focus flashlight and Petzl Myobelt 3W LED headlamp with Canon XH-A1 at +6 gain setting.

For the price of just one "real" LED on-cam light (1000) you can buy 20 led headlamps and torches and batteries last for ages.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:34 PM   #10
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That triggered the thought of those cheap import "UFO lights" you can pick up for around $10 each or less on eBay - they aren't very durable, don't drop them, but you could hang a flock of them and get decent light indoors - they are VERY "cool" (BLUE!) color cast, BUT I found if I just changed my camera to the outdoor preset they were really not too bad.

You could probably get enough batteries (3-4AA's @) and a huge pile of those for about the price of a "real" on camera light... (get extras, make them expendable things to give to the kids who assist you holding them <wink>).

They don't have a huge throw, but for interviews and interior work you should be fine - you could rig a bank of them for more light - 2-5 spaced out a bit and positioned correctly it might even look like you had a pro lighting crew!

I'm just adding the suggestion as a "low budget" option you might not otherwise consider, in the spirit of the last posting!
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:59 PM   #11
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cos 11 means wireless mics, doesn't it? are you sure you can get a signal in africa?

get an onboard light, there's really not much that can substitute for an external light source, when you are shooting interviews in fast, dark environments.

HV20 is a fine camera...i don't think an upgrade to an A1 will be worth the money. as long as you have a way to run XLRs, like a beachtek box, and on onboard external light and a foldable set of reflectors, you can make an outstanding doc and save a ton of money, and best of all, save a ton of weight in these kinds of situations, you can take a ton more batteries, a lighter tripod set-up...even a monopod set-up, as suggested.

you can pretty much trick out an HV20 to do almost everything an A1 can do, except for the pre-sets, and you can save a ton of weight. and if you're already adept at running the HV20, you don't have to learn a new set of ergonomics.

a true leap in quality would be an EX-1, but then you are into more accessorizing and more weight.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 06:22 PM   #12
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Thanks all for responding. Some great ideas. I ordered a 38' reflector from BH and I liked it so much I'm going to get another.

Ger, I apologize for my geographic ignorance. I hope to visit Ireland some day. Seems like a beautiful country.

I'll check into the ebay lights and the petzl's seem like a great idea. I already have a few because I adventure race so that works out great. I have a 50 watt halogen bike light I was half thinking of bringing but I don't know why I didn't consider the petzl's.

Meryem, I'm leaning heavy towards just bringing two HV20's. And I was thinking of buying the paglight 6's down in the classifieds.


Do you think that light combined with some petzl's and reflectors would be enough to get the graininess out of the HV20 in indoor settings?

Also, yes the cos-11's are wireless. Previously I've used my wireless senn's with a B6 countryman in remote places (Utah Deserts, Belgium,) without issue. So the cos-11's won't work over there? I'm very glad you mentioned it.

What are my options then for using a lav? Although my camera is a cheap HV20 I'm a bit of a sound hound and have a Sound Devices Recorder with a schoeps cmc641. Only I don't want to drag a boom/boom stand around.

I really appreciate all the thoughtfull comments. They're helping/saving me a great deal.
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