DSLR Essential Accessories?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jwheeler, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. jwheeler, Dec 3, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010

    jwheeler macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    Hi All,

    I've started saving up for Just bought a Canon 60D for videography (also photography).

    The video usage will be for me and my friends to film our band and also were writing some scripts for a comedy sketch show. But also for work (product demonstration w/ voice overs).

    Here's what I got:

    Later on I see me getting:
    • Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 (Second Hand)
    • A better tripod
    • (Much later) A mic upgrade

    I do lot's of DIY so will be making all sorts of rigs
    This is what I see me making in the near future:
    • Aluminium telescopic crane (2m+)
    • Joystick Controlled Crane Head
    • Tripod Dolly system
    • Rail dolly system

    Does anyone know any essentials that I should buy also? Or corrections to what I'm thinking? I'm new to "good" video equipment as I'm using a Kodak Zi8 (piece of rubbish in most situations) and a microphone my parents bought 10 yrs ago for £20. The good equipment I own now (as of recent) is a macbook pro, a firewire audio interface, and an SM58 dynamic mic (for band)

    Edit: Corrected to display what I bought.
  2. JazzCollector macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2009
    A good tripod is essential. Shoot Raw and invest in a good software program such as Lightroom for images and Final Cut for video.
  3. jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    Thanks JC, A tripod is definitely on my list, but considering I'm saving up from almost squat (keeping mind I still need to eat :p). I will be buying the camera first and mic. I know I can make do with the tripods I currently have access to.

    As for software I have final cut but i've never tried any specialist photo software (only photoshop). Ill take a look.

    Edit: Is light room an extension of photoshop? or a separate app? Is it also an equivalent of Aperture? Which is better?
  4. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    It looks like most, if not all all your video work will be done in controlled environments, so I would recommend an external sound recorder over the rode mic. Even with the Rode mic, audio recorded directly from the DLSR is mostly garbage. The 60D has improved on this somewhat, but it's still not very good from what I hear.

    Syncing sound is not difficult and you'll have much more control over it, especially if some of your stuff is music driven as you claimed.

    A good tripod (fluid head) is extremely important for DSLR video. That, or some kind of shoulder/handheld support. These cameras don't perform well handheld in video mode. Because of the small size and weight, it's very hard to keep the camera still and the motion smooth. Most DSLR footage without any kind of support will be jittery, no matter how stable you think you can hold it.

    Of course then there are the lenses. The kit lenses with these cameras are perfectly fine for photography work (still not great by any means), but aren't very good for video. You can get by with it, but there will be issues you have to work around. I would make lenses a priority. There's a pretty good used lens market out there so this might not be as expensive as you think.

    Further down on the accessory list would be a viewfinder, follow focus, ND filter, etc.

    The articulating screen is a huge improvement over the other Canon cameras. It still might be an issue seeing it clearly when it's bright outdoors and also grabbing focus (the screen's still small). There are some really nice ones out there, but expensive. You can get away with one of the cheaper models. All you need it to do is magnify the screen and keep out surrounding light. An alternative to this would be a portable monitor.

    A follow focus will greatly improve your ability to focus smoothly and on the fly with these types of cameras. As it is now, you are forced to focus by manually turning the focus ring on the lens. This introduces more jitters to the footage because of what I explained earlier with the camera being small and light. SLR lenses aren't specifically geared for video work, so they don't perform nearly as well mechanically for focusing on motion.

    You mentioned looking at the 50mm prime 1.8. I'm guessing you're going for the fast lens to allow for some really shallow depth of field. Well stopping down to 1.8 is going to throw a hell of a lot of light in there, so to make this footage usable you'll need to put some Neutral Density in front of the lens. Google "ND fader filter" and that should point you in the right direction. this would be the most economical way to go instead of having to buy several filters over a large range. I'd also buy the largest filter possible and then get some cheap step down rings to fit your actual lens sizes.

    What kind of software do you currently have at your disposal?
  5. jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    I totally agree with you. But money is an issue. I would prefer to have an xlr shotgun mic that i could plug into my audio interface. But it would need to be less that £100. From what i've read, a 60D with Rode VideoMic is acceptable as a starting point.

    Actually the music stuff would probably be lip synced so no good quality audio is required. (Just reference point stuff). I am not worried about syncing as I did syncing in a recent project with my Zi8 and iPhone 4 where the iPhone's audio was better.

    This will be my next thing to save up for. Do you have any recommendations?

    What sorts of lenses should I be looking at?

    I will make do without the view finder and follow focus for now, but they will definitely be put on my wish list. ND Filter sounds like a must?

    Do you know if the 60D does live output? And would it be hdmi or composite?

    Follow focuses seem really expensive. Is the D|FOCUS any good?

    Videos on youtube of the 50mm f1.8 aren't too bad? What about the f1.4? it's more expensive, but would you recommend waiting on a prime until I can afford it?
    Also with the filter's, what about a matte box with slots for filters?

    I have photoshop, final cut studio & after effects.
  6. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    Miller is a personal favorite. I've also owned a couple Manfrotto tripods which were ok for the budget oriented. The other big names are Cartoni, Sachtler, and Vinten. I've used them, but with the bigger cameras so I can't attest to their offerings for smaller cameras.

    Tripod systems can cost a small fortune, but you do get what you pay for. If you have the opportunity to try any out in person then I would try to do that. That can be difficult depending on where you live though.

    This is really just a matter of preference. If you want to work with primes, then maybe look into building a set, but I'd also include a good zoom in there for any situation where you want to move between the range quickly. For zoom lenses, look into one that has a constant aperture. This makes the lens more expensive, but better for video use.

    The ND filter is important for shooting outdoors or any bright situations, especially if your intent is to open up and get that shallow DOF. You can't just up your shutter speed like when you take stills (well you can, but you'll probably get unwanted results). You usually want to keep your shutter as close to the standard 180 degree shutter of a regular motion picture camera. This would be 1/60 if you're living in the NTSC world, 1/50 for the PAL people. So the ND filter(s) is what helps you accomplish this.

    You can get individual ND filters in different strengths, or stack them (either on the lens or matte box). But I've found the fader ND filters work extremely well. This is a single fader that changes the amount of ND as you turn it. So you can cover a wide range of ND with just one filter.

    I recommended buying the largest diameter one since you can just use cheap step down rings to fit your lenses, instead of the other way around of buying multiple ND filters for all of your lenses.

    I'm not sure actually. I think it performs just like the t2i in this regard, which I think is an SD signal out through HDMI. I think only the 7D offers a live out that is near HD quality.

    A follow focus can be really expensive. I don't have much experience with them, but as with the tripods more often than not you get what your pay for. Zacuto and RedRock micro have sort of led the way with DSLR accessories up to this point. Redrocks products seem to sit in the middle of things price wise whereas Zacuto is insanely expensive. But everything I've seen from Zacuto has been solid, so if you have the money then their products are a can't miss. I've heard mixed reviews on the D focus. It's definitely aimed at the budget conscious so I don't know how dependable it would be. But at that price, it probably wouldn't hurt to try.

    The 50mm 1.8 has actually gotten some pretty good reviews. I think the biggest complaints I've heard are the build quality and poor design of the focus ring. I personally own the Zeiss 50mm 1.4, which I love. It's solid and has a much longer focus throw than most still lenses which is really beneficial for video use.

    Also, keep in mind that a 50mm lens on the 60D will act more like a 80mm due to the APS-C sized sensor. So keep that in mind when looking at full frame lenses.

    As for primes themselves, there's a huge market out there for used ones. I'd recommend building a kit out of used primes and just get yourself some cheap adapters (so you can use lenses with other mounts).

    Here's a pretty good resource on lenses for DSLR use:


    Also here's a good utility for searching used primes on ebay:


    This depends on how much filter use you think you would get into. A good matte box costs a lot of money. And as with everything else, you get what you pay for. If you think you'll get into some other types of filters and find the need to stack them, then a matte box is definitely the way to go since you'll likely be using different sized lenses. Otherwise, I think this would probably sit at the bottom of the list of important accessories.

    Those should get you pretty far. The Canon utilities that come with the camera are pretty decent for bundled software. But if you feel the need to use something more robust, then Lightroom or Aperture would be good to look into.
  7. jwheeler, Dec 3, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011

    jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    Thanks for all the information. I've bookmarked it for when I get the camera. Extremely helpful.

    From what I've read since posting, the 60D has the crop factor with non EF-S mount lenses. So yeah the 50mm EF mount lenses would be like 80mm. Should I look for lower sized primes (like 24mm or 30mm)???

    Also, the 550D (T2i), the 60D and the 5DmkII (which all only have a single processor) output 1080 when monitoring, but 480 when recording :(. Bummer!

    Only the 7D (which has 2 processors) outputs 1080 when recording. :(

    PS. the LCD screen on the 60D is 1040K pixels, 3:2, I worked that out to be roughly 1250 x 832 which is pretty close to letterbox 720p. I assume that would mean the LCD with viewfinder is the best option for pulling focus?
  8. ibennetch macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2008
    I'll second pretty much everything handsome pete says. External audio recorder (I'm told not to even bother with camera audio; at least you've got the computer interface card so you're covered but tethered), good tripod, quality lenses, follow focus. Of course the audio recorder isn't relevant for the band music video or product demonstration voiceover, but sounds like your other projects will really benefit from it.
  9. mattjk macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    Regarding your choice of a 50mm lens (or even wider) if you're shooting video then think carefully about how you will position yourself to film and approach your subject matter first.

    Let me explain, if you're happy shooting wide and you're not wanting to do close up head shots then 50mm is fine as you're not going to be in anyones face for a long period. If you're wanting to do a lot of head shots though with a 50mm you'll have to get pretty close to your subject matter for a long time whilst you film which can be quite intrusive, especially with a rig. For this type of work I'd suggest you go for also a longer lens/zoom lens (70-200L) for versatility and to gain distance from the subject.
  10. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I completely disagree. A 50mm is not considered wide, especially on an APS-C sized sensor (which the t2i is). It will actually act more like an 80mm lens, which would make a great portrait lens. A 70-200 zoom lens would definitely require substantial support for video and you wouldn't be able to do handheld especially in the higher part of the zoom range. A good overall zoom for video would cover the 24-70 range, or maybe a 24-105.
  11. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    It has a crop factor on all lenses: EF and EF-s.
  12. jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    So a Canon EF-S 17-85mm would actually be a 27-136mm on the 60D, despite being an EF-S lens on an EF-S camera??? Thats so confusing??? So why is it that EF lenses works on EF-S cameras but EF-S lenses don't work on EF cameras? Or am I wrong about that too. Ahhh, this is so complicated and I haven't even got to the learning part yet!
  13. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    It will have the equivalent field of view of a 27-136mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. Of course the focal length does not change, just the field of view. Which is why it's quoted as 17-85mm as that's the focal length.
  14. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Because EF-S lenses produce an image circle smaller than a full 35mm sensor.
  15. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    EF-s lenses also protrude further into the camera: if you mount them on a full-frame camera the mirror (which is bigger to cover the bigger sensor) will hit the back of the lens damaging the camera and possibly the lens.
  16. mattjk macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    I totally agree with you handsome pete. I'm not sure however what I was trying to convey was described correctly though, I agree that a 50mm (80mm APS) is a portrait lens and a very good one for someone to have and not wide angle. My point was about how close you would have to get to the subject matter to make this work AND what this impact has on the subject. Getting in and getting out for photography with any lens is fine but getting up close to fill the frame for head shots (only head shots) for a sustained time period whilst filming is a little intrusive. That's my experience anyway. Yes the 24-105 is a great lens but only f/4. The 24-70 is probably better as it's able to step down to f/2.8. The 70-200 is good for side of stage work.
  17. jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    Oh ok I figured the EFS lens was only for APS-C cameras, and is therefore listed correctly.

    I've just read that the whole point of the EFS lens was to get it closer to the sensor.

    Considering me and my friends will be the actors and it is not stage work, I think we'll be all right.
  18. fehhkk macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2009
    Chicago, IL
  19. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    Maybe I don't understand what you mean, but the 60D does RECORD at 1080P at 24 and 30 fps. I believe the T2i does also. I don't know of any dslrs that record at only 480. If there is a minimum, it's probably 720 (Nikons). You might want to double check your info.
  20. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    He's talking about the output through the HDMI while the camera's recording.

    While the camera is recording, the HDMI output of the t2i/60D/5D drops to 480. On the 7D, however, it doesn't and you still get a signal that's close to, but not quite 1080.

    The card in the camera is still recording whatever format you have the camera set to regardless. The discussion of the resolution through the HDMI is more for those connecting external monitors for preview or trying to capture out of the HDMI directly.
  21. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    That's the thing... listing the actual focal length is listing it correctly. Different format cameras have different fields of view at a given focal length, and listing the actual focal length is the correct way to do it. For instance, on a medium format camera like a Hasselblad, a 50mm is a slight wideangle lens, and on a large format 4x5 camera, a 50mm lens is an extreme wideangle. To convert those focal lengths to a 35mm equivalent would be extremely confusing when trying to determine what lens one actually has. Knowing the actual focal length is useful in such things as macro photography when trying to determine reproduction size, for instance.
  22. jdesign macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2008
    that 24-70 from other poster recommendation is a good choice. But it cost a lot , or you can get a sigma copy for canon .

    alternatives is get a cheaper 35mm f/2. it is more expensive than 50mm 1.8 but will cover your wide shot, and can do close up as unlike the 50mm the minimum focusing distance is only 25cm!

    so if you want to cut your budget, get either the 35mm or the sigma 24-70mm lens. ( i perefer the 35mm as its smaller, lighter and its canon (to save you from incompatibilities.) ..
  23. Leddy macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2008
    Depending on your location and access to resources, you might want to look at building up a basic kit and hiring certain things on a job by job basis ... ie. shoulder mount, follow focus, matte box, even certain lenses etc. - that way you get to test these things out and find what works for the kind of work you'll be doing - then you can look at purchasing these things when you have the moolah.

    Extra cards are always handy when you need to shoot just a little more footage especially if video comprises the bulk of your work ;)
  24. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    UV filters. I know it's a dumb one and a cheap one, but it can save your lenses, especially if you're on the road with a band.
  25. jwheeler thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2010
    Im actually thinking of getting the body only and saving for the 17-85mm which is about £300 new (150 used). Its not an L lens as you have suggested. But as this is a hobby, cost needs to be low.

    Again, this is a hobby thing. I only want the bare minimum to start with.

    UV filters have always been a must. They're not expensive so they are on the list in my head. :)

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