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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:12 AM   #1
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$2500 Budget For More Gear. What to Buy?

I'm a budding hobbyist that wants to start filming better quality projects. I would like some input from the board about what gear to purchase next.

Mostly, I shoot documentaries and local interest projects for cable access. I have shot the odd event, but don't like to. At this point, I'm not pursuing videography to pay bills. So the gear doesn't need to pay for itself...at least not yet.

I currently have:

Computer/NLE: Mac Pro Quad at 2.66 Ghz with 3 GB RAM, and 1 TB of storage, stock video and sound cards. Recently purchased FCS 2. Also have dual Dell 2507 24" monitors. Also have a PC with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Camera: XH-A1 with hard case, oogles of filters, extra batteries, and a bundle of Sony HDV tapes.

Sound: Rode NTG-2 with boom pole and XLR cables, Rode Podcaster for VOs, pop filter and mic stand.

Support: Low end Sony tripod and a Tiffen SteadyStick.

Lights: entry level 3 piece set up with soft boxes.

Additionally, I've a half dozen or more training books on FCS1, PS, and Motion. Although some hands on training with real Pros would probably be more benefitial at this point.

What I'd like to add to the collection is:

Another Rode mic, the NT-3, which I understand is better for indoor work than the NTG-2. $200 or so on eBay.

Sennheiser G2 wireless system with plug-on transmitter. $599.

ikan V8000HD for monitoring (getting tired of some incredibly soft focused shots). Around $800 with battery.

Apple Shake, mostly for experimentation. $500.

Tripod and head: Bogen or equivilent in the $400 price range.

Other accoutrements I'd like to have down the road are a Firestore, Matrox MXO with SD monitor, DVmulirig shoulder rig, MacBook Pro, and a second camera.

Given a similar situation, I'd like to hear how others would manage their bank account. Not only do I hope to get good purchasing advice, but to also learn more about the thought processes of expierience folks.

Thanks!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:51 AM   #2
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Sounds like you know exactly what you're doing and don't need any help but if it were my money I might bump up the $ on the tripod system for a Bogen 503 head or equivalent and look for a better mic for the Senn wireless.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:59 AM   #3
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Matt, you beat me by a couple of minutes... and you said exactly what I was planning on saying: with this much good gear, $400 for a tripod plus head will not cut it! Add at least $100 and get the Bogen/Manfrotto 351 legs with a 503 head at the minimum - see http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...arch&Q=*&bhs=t.

I would also add a Bogen/Manfrotto remote control; I have two of these and cannot imagine how one can live without them. See http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...arch&Q=*&bhs=t - it was the best invested $400 I have ever spent!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:12 AM   #4
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I did have a better tripod in mind and would be willing to forego Shake to make up the difference.

While I'm at it....I could possibly dip into savings and get the entry level Firestore.

Wohoo!

BTW, could I mount a cheap crane to the linked tripod/head? I'm looking at the Skycrane Jr. and want to keep that in mind when I buy a tripod.

Thanks!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Buys View Post
Sounds like you know exactly what you're doing and don't need any help but if it were my money I might bump up the $ on the tripod system for a Bogen 503 head or equivalent and look for a better mic for the Senn wireless.
I had experience with the Senn in an earlier life, which is why I'm buying it.

What sort of microphone do you suggest?

Thanks.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:14 AM   #6
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I do a lot of the same kind of shooting you do. The two best investments I made in my gear -- the ones that resulted in an instant improvement in my shooting were:

- A Miller DS-10 Solo tripod with the carbon-fiber legs ($1200, or so), and;
- A Sennheiser Evolution (G1)bodypack wireless microphone set ($400)

That may not leave a lot of room left for all the other things you want to buy, but consider this: a good tripod and good basic audio equipment will NEVER become obsolete, and properly treated, will outlast any camera.

I've used a lot of Bogen tripods and I thought they were O.K. until I tried the next level up. Do yourself a favor and go find a Miller, Sachtler or Vinten head on a good set of sticks and try it out for a few hours before you make your final decision.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #7
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I second the vote for better fluid video head. I shoot mostly with a monopod, so I haven't felt the sting of using the cheaper ($250) heads. I wouldn't consider anything less than a Bogen 501/503 (pick the one you like better) and a set of sticks with leveling feature. I don't see much difference between the 501 and 503, but definitely get sticks with a leveling head feature or add the Manfrotto 438 leveler between your sticks and head. It is probably better to get sticks with the feature built in as the 438 adds weight. I have the 438 on my HUGE sticks where I don't mind the weight. A leveling head will save you a minute every time you move and that minute is usually in a critical moment. On a no-budget student movie I helped on a few years ago I calculated we saved half an hour on our big shooting day by having a leveling head.

If you are doing lots of run-n-gun work, get a quick-release plate adapter for your monopod that matches your tripod. My monopod now accepts the same plate as the 501/503/519 and it is a real time saver.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:40 AM   #8
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I agree with the tripod and the G2 Sennheisers.

Both the Miller DS-10 Solo tripods and the Sennie bodypacks are a worthy investment.

Had a guy just put a couple of those G2s as spares on his uber-high end camera the other day. Work like a champ, although, he's using them for the talent mic when you do a two person interview. The Lectro kit is for the subject, because the G2 performs better with a voice that has been trained to work on a mic.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #9
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Rumours are that Shake is on the way out or will be integrated into Final Cut Studio. So, instead of dishing out money on that one, get some other gear.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #10
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I'm with Brian and Alex... a good tripod will serve you well for documentary shooting. I actually upgraded from a Bogen 501 to a Miller Arrow 30, just wanted to be done with the whole "stiction" issue. No regrets.
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