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Old August 15th, 2003, 01:17 PM   #1
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Headed to Iraq w/my GL2

I work in the entertainment industry, not as a dp or cinematographer. I am also in the Army Reserves - in a Civil Affairs unit. I was just called up and they are sending me to Iraq.

So, I got a GL2 and I want to make a documentary out of my next six months of experience. It should be interesting. I'm in a Special Ops unit that tries to support governments, etc. We're mostly lawyers, doctors and construction people. I sort of want to show what Army Reservists do and why they do it. Plus, how the Iraqis respond.

(I'll hold off my opinion about the whole deployment and the situation in Iraq. Cause this is not really a good place for me to chat.)

Anyway, I'm not a camera expert. Any advice? I have a couple extra UV lense to protect from sand. Any other must have equipment? I can't take too much. External microphone? Camera coat?

I know I'm in over my head. But, hopefully, I can get some shots that reveal what is going on at a deeper level than the news can.

Thanks for any advice. Great to be in the forum. This is pretty cool.
Mark R ONeill

"Some people never see any beauty anywhere. Others see it everywhere."
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Old August 15th, 2003, 02:37 PM   #2
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I would get a Beachtek or signvideo XLR adaptor, a Sennheiser ME66/K6 mic, extra batteries, plug adaptor for Iraq electrical plug to US plug, a polarizer (linear, I am told), perhaps a set of headphones, a good soft case like a Lowepro Nova 6 (keep everything in plastic inside the case), lots of tape, tape cleaner, Saran Wrap (clear clingy sandwich wrap), and a good but light tripod with video action fluid head. Oh, and perhaps get yourself a ND 6 filter, and a bulb-squeeze air brush lens cleaner and cleaning cloth. Compressed air might come in handy to, but don't use it on the lens.
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Old August 15th, 2003, 04:20 PM   #3
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Since equipment size and weight is a major issue for you I would find a mini tripod that will support your camera. I am talking about the little fold up kind that are only good for still shots, in fact they are made for still cameras but the right one will support a GL2. They donít even have a head and will fit in your camera bag. They are about the size of three pencils.

It does not matter what camera someone is shooting with (camcorder or Beta), if the image is shaky it screams amateur. If you are shooting a non-moving subject you should not be holding the camera. These little mini tripods can let you set it on a table, hood of a car etc. to get it out of your hands.

Good luck in Iraq.

Steven Digges
Still learning twenty years later.
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Old August 15th, 2003, 05:18 PM   #4
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Hey Mark.

Since I may be the closest to you, I would be more than happy to meet with you before you deploy and show you my set-up, as well as attempt to answer any questions you have about your camera.

Im located in in Huntington Beach, and am happy to scoot up th 55 fwy to see you before you go. Are you on 72 hour notice?

Go ahead and e-mail me if you are interested.


- Aaron
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Old August 16th, 2003, 05:39 AM   #5
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One piece of gear I adapted (from my Appalachian trail hike) for my DVX100 is I use a large Sil Nylon stuff sack to protect my DVX 100 in harsh environments.

Harsh for me that means swamps, rivers, mud, and rain but it would be good in a sandstorm also. Sil nylon is tough, waterproof and featherweight. I also put some of those gel packs/moisture removers in the sack with the camera. You could adapt the stuff sack with velcro access points for camera adjustments.

You're going to get some interesting footage for sure. Good luck !
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Old August 17th, 2003, 02:41 PM   #6
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You probably want to remain relatively unencumbered with stuff. Still, a lightweight tripod would be nice, but if you stay at wide angles and use the optical stabilization, you can get very nice steady shots hand held. You can't do that zoomed in very far.

I would invest in a Potabace bag also, exta batteries, and as Frank mentioned, power conversion stuff. Also, plastic bags. I've read more than one article about news cameamen complaining about sand killing the cameras. So it's probably a good idea to keep a plastic bag over the camera, with a hole cut for the lens, while you're outside shooting. I would also try to not open the camera to change tape while in sandy conditions. And, when not using the camera, keep it shut in its bag. Same for tapes--make sure you put every tape back in its case when you take it out of the camera...don't lay a tape down on the sand, etc.

Years ago I used to shoot a lot of industrial stuff...asphalt plants, industrial air pollution control equipment at cement plants, chemical factories, etc. Horrid conditions for any camera, and I went through a lot of head replacements. Lots of times I would have to stand around with the camera on a tripod for a long time, waiting for something to happen so I could shoot it. I always put a plastic trash bag over the camera when it was just sitting out like that, because in just a few minutes everything would always get covered in a layer of fine dust.

And a word about helicopters...I still have a Hasselblad 50mm lens whose front element is thoroughly sandblasted from a time I got right under a Sikorski Skycrane to get a cool shot of it taking off. Keep the plastic bag and the UV filter on the camera anytime there are helicopters around. Leave a UV on all the time for protection.

Instead of plastic bags, you might want to see if Portabrace or somebody else makes a rain cover to fit your camera. I used to have a Sony rain cover for my old BVW300, but it was so much trouble to put on that I just standardized on garbage bags and have been using them ever since. You can put your dirty laundry in them too.
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Old August 19th, 2003, 11:03 AM   #7
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Also, don't point it at anything that can shoot back.

Tragic, what happened to that photographer....

Oh and if you didn't know:

"Cameraman killed by U.S. troops

News agency calls for investigation

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, an award-winning journalist who had covered some of the world's hottest spots, has been shot dead while filming near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Eyewitnesses said Dana, 43, was shot by soldiers on an American tank as he filmed outside Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad. ..."
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Old August 19th, 2003, 11:23 AM   #8
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I had people ask me why the cameraman couldn't have painted the camera a bright non-violent colour. But he was already wearing a helmet with an insignia on it. I suppose it is the posture that makes a nervous soldier shoot first and ask questions later.
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Old August 19th, 2003, 11:54 AM   #9
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I trimmed your post. The text of news stories are copyrighted and must not be reproduced here. Best to post a link to the story.
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Old August 19th, 2003, 06:55 PM   #10
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I've heard from two friends working net news with small dv cameras that the most important thing you can bring is tupperware to seal your gear against the sand.

Good Luck...
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Old August 20th, 2003, 07:50 PM   #11
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thanks for the advice

Thanks to everyone who responded. I have been very busy running around buying stuff and scrounging on ebay. (That site is adicting.) I also went to the camera expo show in Buena Park. http://www.cameraexpo.com and got some great deals.

I hope others will also find this thread useful. Some great ideas.

Thanks again.

Mark R ONeill

"Some people never see any beauty anywhere. Others see it everywhere."
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Old August 21st, 2003, 03:40 PM   #12
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You may want to check out this DV.com article about "Shooting in Extreme Conditions": http://www.dv.com/features/features_...2003/curry0803

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Old August 30th, 2003, 01:58 PM   #13
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You may also want to get a cigarette lighter adapter so you can charge batteries from a vehicle since electricity there is so spotty.
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Old September 7th, 2003, 03:15 AM   #14
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I'm currently in Belad. I have my XL1s with me(just messing around). I keep my stuff in one of the black plastic foot lockers that you can find in the PX. Before leaving Germany, a bought a lot of furniture foam and lined the interior (cushions and stops dust). I have the portabrace slicker and it works well.

The biggest question is where you are going and what the composition of your unit is.

Kuwait is sand. Think beach. There are a lot of sandstorms.
Lower Iraq is also like that but as you move north, you start to transition to harder ground. I haven't seen a sandstorm since leaving Camp Virginia. There is some extremely fine dust, though.
Any place there has been a lot of Army traffic over unimproved surfaces has turned to, well, talcum powder.
I don't know about western Iraq.

I'm with a dental unit so we have lots of internal power. so adaptors aren't an issue for me. If you guys have generators, bring a lot of extension cords. Unfortunately, being with this unit, I don't get to shoot much fun stuff. Hope you do.
Any questions use my AKO: adam.houde

Have a good trip
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