A New Workflow: DSLRs, Field Monitors and GoPros

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to shoot a behind the scenes documentary of a photographer named Joe Wilson using my new video production gear. I have been slowly transitioning away from the Panasonic DVX-100B, my SD workhorse since 2007, and moving towards the Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm f/4 lens and a hot shoe-mounted SmallHD AC-7 LCD field monitor as well as a GoPro Hero 3. The transition looked easy on paper, but I’m glad that I had the chance to shoot because now I know what I need to practice.

1) Don’t Forget To Hit The Record Button

I framed the shot and loved what I was seeing. I repositioned myself, set my focus and then the field monitor went blue. I forgot to hit the record button. While the record button on the 5D Mark III is still pressed by my right thumb, it is in a slightly different location than my previous camera. Don’t forget to look for the red dot in the upper right of the frame. It’s embarrassing to admit this rookie mistake, but several shots were missed because of this error.

2) More Power

I have four Canon batteries and they worked well. Two powered the SmallHD monitor and did not need to be recharged, granted I turned it off when not in use. The other two were used in the 5D Mark III. One died half-way through the shoot leaving me with one battery for the remainder of the shoot. I see the need for a few more batteries, but for now, four should do the trick on a typical shoot.

Regarding the GoPro, I’m glad that I did some research and test shots before hand. The GoPro website said that the battery would last less than two hours and my test showed it to be around an hour. I bought the Naked Frame mount, which gives space to plug in the USB charging cable, and the Wall Charger. These two accessories allowed me to leave the GoPro plugged in and charged during the entire shoot.

3) More Storage

I filled my 32GB CF card by the end of the day. I could easily use another 32GB or 64GB card and it will most likely be my next purchase. I love not having to change mini-DV tapes, but I also find that a by-product of digital shooting is that I am less conscious of how much I have shot since I am limited only by storage space and not time.

4) Shooting Handheld Without a Rig Hurts

I love the feel of handheld and I can get shots that would take more setup time and space if a tripod was used. While the 5D Mark III with lens and monitor was initially light, over time my hands started to cramp. A rig is a necessity and I will be getting Rhino Camera Gear’s Rhino Rig.

I love the DSLR production process, but I still have a lot of practicing to do. Fortunately, practicing is a lot of fun with the gear that I have. Here is a sneak peek at the shoot from Sunday: