Until sometime last year, I’ve never heard of these Articulating Friction Arms (aka: magic arms) and after purchasing one for myself, I think I have used it in almost every camera setup since I’ve purchased it. Whether to hold my monitor, a mic, or a light.. or even using it for supporting the camera itself.
These articulating arms have been hard to purchase at a reasonable price. But through The Frugal Filmmaker facebook page I was linked to one of the lowest prices I’ve seen:
These work with a single tightening knob. The pivot points on the ends of the arm move freely and can be set into position. Tighten the knob and everything locks up in the desired position. It’s a very cool device!
When coupled with other devices like the Giottos Quick Release Adapter, and a hand grip this magic arm can be made into a customizable camera support system. This is my T2i setup with the magic arm and some other components.
(pictured above is my personal setup)
This setup has been changed and modified so many times, it’s different for every production I do. And that’s exactly what I love about it, I can customize it to work exactly how I need it for that shoot.
These articulating arms have 1/4-20 screws on each end, so you don’t need extra accessories for most setups. You can directly connect this into the tripod mount of the camera then into the 1/4-20 mount on your device.
Check out this video by Nitsan Pictures to see more variation of how these articulating arms can be used.
One of the best parts about using this articulating arm is that it can be used for all kinds of applications and customized on the spot to work the way you need. That alone makes it worth checking out!
Here’s the link to find out more about this low priced 11″ articulating arm: AVAILABLE HERE
And below are links to some other add on gear mentioned in this article.
21Aug DSLR Lens Grip
I noticed that after long periods of time shooting hand-held run and gun video that my pinky would literally hurt as I would end up using it to support my camera and lens setup.
Well, lately I’ve been holding my camera a new way… by the lens! Instead of the usual ‘photography’ style of holding the grip, I’ve been holding the lens with my left hand and focusing with my right. Despite how odd it may look, it’s surprisingly much more comfortable and ergonomic, similar the the typical ‘video camera’ handgrip setup.
I got the idea to re-grip my DSLR from a video by Dmitri (from megasetphotography.com), he was having issues with his Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD and shared his method of pulling focus while zooming.
I posted an article talking more about it, you can check out that article here.
Unlike Dmitri’s style, I tend to keep the lens at a fixed zoom and generally just adjust my focus with my other hand. And as I mentioned in the video, it may not add any extra stability, but it sure helps relieve a tired hand from the smaller grip of the Canon Rebel series.
Give it a try and see what you think!
A sidenote about the video:
You’ll notice that I’m shooting at 50mm which isn’t ideal for handheld moving shots. I wanted to do an extreme test and see how this method works.
Unfortunately, this test footage doesn’t represent the stability of holding the camera like this. I’ll have to post a follow up sometime to show a better comparison.
Gear used in this episode:
15Aug Sling Bags Camera Packs
In this DSLR filmmaking world, so much time is spent researching and finding the the ‘right camera’ or lens but researching on how you store and transport your DSLR gear is often an afterthought!
The Lowpro 202-AW SlingShot sling bag DSLR Backpack option is what I’ve chosen to use for my gear. It has just the right amount of room for my gear and extra components and I love that I can access my gear while shooting.
I also came across a lesser known brand that holds just as much gear, and has just about the same function and build quality as the Lowpro Brand.. but as is half the price of the Lowpro! This could be a great option, if you’re looking into a sling bag.
The “Video Digital Photo Sling Shoulder Bag Daypack Backpack C2000 “. Also known as PolarOne Camera sling bag, as well as some other ‘non’ brand names.
(Check out the video review of this bag below)
This sling bag has all the same features, and just slightly smaller storage pockets, but the bag is surprising nice quality for being available for about half the price of the Lowpro bag.
The other thing I was testing in this episode of Quick FX was the quality of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS point and shoot camera. Which was the camera used to film this episode! It was a pretty harsh sunny afternoon, so I figured it’d be a great chance to see what the limitation of the Canon camera are.
Due to the wind and area noise, I recorded with an external audio setup with my Zoom H1 and Audio Technica lav setup Though the audio from the camera was surprisingly very useable!
(You can hear the camera mic audio at the very end of the video after the KNOPTOP logo)
The camera doesn’t offer much manual control in video mode, but the ease of use allows just about anyone to shoot some great video. A nice option for youtube tutorials and fast production videos, especially if you’re working with friends and family who may not be familiar with cameras. A camera like this can be handed off to them and they can film.
So far the camera has been working out nice, though it films 1080 at a fixed 24p with may not be something everyone may want. But I think the camera is worth looking into!
If you’d like more information, here’s a review of the C2000 bag:
More info here
Equipment used in this episode:
13Aug H4n vs. juicedLink
In a follow-up to a previous comparison Robert Rozak, President of juicedLink, compares the ‘signal to noise ratio’ of an H4N audio recorder connected to a dynamic mic to a juicedLink RA333 Riggy connected to the same mic recorded into a Canon 60D.
To give you an idea, the Sennheiser E835 sensitivity = 2.7 mV/Pa where typicals hotgun mics sensitivity = 15mV/Pa.
I was surprised to hear such bad signal to noise (aka: hiss) in the H4N recording! Robert explains in the video that one of the problems was that the H4N was turned up 100% full gain and the mic was still only able to get about -24dB of mic input levels. The H4N is gain limited, there’s not enough gain to get enough signal to go into the recorder at a high enough level above the noise floor, which explains why the recording had such bad signal to noise.
Currently I own a Zoom H1 for personal/home projects and an H4N for professional project that are in need of XLR inputs. However, After hearing how well the RA333 Riggy did in this test I’m beginning to think about investing in a juicedLink system. In addition to the clean audio, recording directly into the camera would be a nice bonus.
But here’s the cool thing, in this test is Robert shows us that you could run the Sennheiser E835 into the juicedLink box then into the H4n to achieve the same lo/no hiss quality. This would give you a setup that could record clean audio on 4 tracks into your H4n!
If you wanted to get really crazy, you could also run a line out and record yet another track into your DSLR.
I’ll have to do some more research on this audio setup and see if it’s something worth investing in for the video/film productions I do. Either way, it’s obvious that the juiceLink box does produce a clean track of audio based on the setup shown in the video!
Here are links to some of the gear mentioned in this article:
I posted this video awhile ago, but I wanted to update the article with new links and details about where to pick up these jar openers.
This idea is a super cheap DIY solution for a ‘follow focus assist’ for your DSLR camera! Tony Carretti (link below) came up with this idea for using a Trudeau brand jar opener as a focus assist solution and when I saw his video, I had to try it out and share it with you!
These jar openers aren’t listed online at Bed Bath and Beyond, or the Target website, but they may still be available in store.
I contacted the manufacturer and it seems that these items are sold at a lot of Hallmark stores too! Ace hardware and some other places have also been known to carry them.
They are listed on ebay if you search “silicone twist jar” – But watch for high shipping charges.
These items are available on Amazon:
Tony Carretti’s Vimeo:
Mini Movie submitted by:
Recorded on the Kodak Zi8
Test footage on Canon T2i
Edited on iMovie 09′
Awhile ago I was doing research on some high-end Lav mics, as I was looking to upgrade from my Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier, which I use regularly.
During this research I came across this great video comparison by Chad Johnson where he demonstrates all of the more popular high-end lav microphones.
In his video, Chad discusses signal to noise ratio and some personal thoughts of the mics that he’s demonstrating. But you are free to make your own conclusion after hearing the individual mics tested in the video.
After watching this video, my personal favorite was the sound from the Rode Lav mic. It sounded the most ‘realistic’ and I really like the interchangeable connection options of the mic.
Here’s some of the mics mentioned in this comparison:
Something to else to keep in mind, most the mics tested (and the links listed below) are for just the mic. The wireless units or extension connections are typically sold separately, except for the Sennheiser EW 112P (ME-2 mic) is the only system which comes with the full wireless setup and the mic. So if you are in the market to invest in a high-end lav or mic system you will want to research wireless or other mic connection options.
In regards to wireless mic systems, the Sennheiser EW 112P is one of the more popular units used by many youtube video/filmmakers. Offering a wireless mic and wireless reciever unit perfect for run-gun shooting.
For those of you not ready to invest in one of these high-end wireless setups, you can check out my Zoom H1 “pocket pouch” setup episode where I talk about how to setup a cost effective ‘wireless mic’ alternative which I typically use in most of my videos.
Obviously, these high-end mics listed in this article are much more of an investment then the more commonly used ATR-3350 Lav or H1 Zoom mic/recorder setups, but audio is such an important part of video/filmmaking, eventually it’s something worth investing in.