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tips & tricks


Video gear

So in my previous video shoots I was using Blackmagic Video Assist 12G 7" but found it was way too heavy to use with a gimbal. Within 30 minutes my arm was so tired that I had to keep resting. So later I decided to get the Atomos Ninja V.

Compared to the Blackmagic the menu system on the Ninja V is terrible. The touch screen I find doesn't always respond to my touches. Playback of recordings looks like it reboots the monitor before it switches to playback which takes like 3 seconds. I like how Blackmagic switches like in 1/2 second to playback.

But the pros are the Ninja V is way lighter. The one battery lasted me through a 3 hour shoot and I still had plenty of power left when recorded in ProRes 422 at 1080p 50fps.

Accessing focus peaking other essential stuff can be clicked using the icons quickly.

Though not connected in this image, I can connect a USB C cable between the Ronin and Nikon Z 6II. I am then able to use the record button on the Ronin handle to control the recording on the Ninja V without having to reach for the monitor screen 😁

What also helped was using Ulanzi's Nato handle that I could place The Ninja V on top using a Smallrig monitor mount so the weight was centered. Before I had the Blackmagic on a Nato side monitor mount so the weight of the monitor made the Ronin RSC 2 heavy on the left side making it harder on my arms to balance the gimbal straight up.

What is also nice is that with no side monitor mount I can hold the gimbal to my side in briefcase mode. I couldn't do that with the Blackmagic on the side mount because it would get in the way on me walking.

So if you're using a gimbal setup like me then get the Ninja V. If you have the money for a Steadycam then the Blackmagic Video Assist will work great.

Affiliate links

Atomos Ninja V - https://amzn.to/3UH5WhN

The camera - https://amzn.to/3Rgr0ci

The gimbal - https://amzn.to/3BFadcU

Ulanzi Nato handle - https://amzn.to/3SllnL9

I switched to Sony

I switched to Sony

So I have been a Nikon shooter for over 20 years. I started with a D200 which was my first digital camera. I then later got a D300, then a D300S. In 2012 I bought the D800 and it was my work horse for many years. 

Then the Z6 came out and i had a chance to get a hands on test of it but unfortunately it didn't have the option for the battery grip so I skipped that. Then the Z 7II was announced. I made a pre-order with Nikon and was waiting for several months. Nikon kept pushing out the date probably due to chip shortage. Then one day I got an email from Nikon saying they had canceled my order. 

So i started to look at the Z 6II and ordered one from Amazon that was renewed. It turned out that it was a international model so when I wanted to update it for the RAW option that Nikon would do for $200 it wasn't eligible. So I had to buy a new Z 6II and send it in to Nikon for the RAW upgrade. 

After using the Z 6II for several video shoots I was noticing that the camera would do some focus hunting and so a lot of the good portion of video (composure) was out of focus. 

So that prompted me to look into Sony. I bought a A7R IV but then found out it didn't have RAW output. It was a $2500 camera and it didn't have RAW output? I ended up returning it and did some more research and bought A7S III. It was expensive but it had the features I needed. I ended up doing a video shoot and i had no issues with focusing. The A7S II will be my main camera for shooting video. 

So even though I like the ergonomics of the Nikon better, the menu system on the Nikon is far superior to Sony's menu system, the Sony does its job well. I highly recommend the Sony especially for focusing. 

Affiliate links

The camera gear I'm using in 2022

Whats in my Nanuk case

So I am currently using a Nikon Z 6II for shooting mainly music video and product reviews. I also have a Nikon Z5 that I use in conjunction for shooting product reviews. 

The reason I like the Z 6II is that it is a light weight mirrorless camera. When using with a gimbal like the Ronin RSC 2, using a mirrorless camera makes more sense than using a camera like my old Nikon D800 which was pretty heavy. 

The lens I use for product reviews is the Nikon Z 14-30 f/4 S lens. I like that it is wide enough to get the camera close to the table because I am using a teleprompter to read from. I also use the Nikon 35 f/1.8 S lens for shooting overhead. I'm using a third camera, which I'll talk about in another review, that I use for a off angle shot of me or the product.

For recording the product videos I am using a Blackmagic Atem Mini Pro ISO. I wanted this ISO version because I needed separate recordings for different camera angles. If there was a mistake during a take, it is easier to remix the video using the different angles wheras if I had one recording then editing would be harder especially when audio is mixed in with the video. The ISO allows me to have a separate audio track. 

The Atem Mini allows a monitor to be connected to it so that you can view the different camera angles all on one screen. The Atem allows you to connect 2 external microphones using the 3.5mm input jacks. You can also monitor the audio inputs and use the adjustment buttons on the Atem to be sure the audio signals are at maximum level without the audio clipping. 

So when DJI announced the new RS3 gimbal I did some research on it's features and I was very impressed. It was a no brainer to buy it, which I did. The most needed feature was the ability to quickly lock the gimbal automatically without having to manually flip the locking buttons on the gimbal. This allows you to change some settings on the camera without the motor fighting with the different force which makes the motors vibrate. I always have this fear that the motors will burn out because they working very hard to keep the camera balanced. Another feature was the quick button to change to different modes for the Panning and tilt. On the old DJI RSC 2 you had to go through a menu system to change modes or press the M button which I found to be unreliable.  

Affiliate links

My new gimbal - https://amzn.to/3ShMs1F

Blackmagic Atem Mini Pro ISO - https://amzn.to/3xTUoyc 

Nanuk waterproof case - https://amzn.to/3BJo1Dv

Nikon 14-30mm f/4 - https://amzn.to/3RgRg6m