Photography / Buying Guide

12 Great Gifts for Emerging Filmmakers

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It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly a decade since Nikon announced the D90—the first DSLR with video capture capability—in 2008. The accelerating video explosion that followed has created a generation of emerging filmmakers, many using DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to produce pro-caliber videos as creative expression, or to document news and events while on the road to becoming professional moviemakers. If this describes anybody on your holiday gift list, here’s a carefully selected compilation of 12 useful, high-quality, high-value video-related items guaranteed to take their videography experience to new dimensions. These products are sure to delight any filmmaking enthusiast who receives them, even if that someone happens to be you!

Dracast Camlux Pro Bi-Color On-Camera Light Kit This ultra-compact, stackable continuous light is great for shooting video with DSLR and mirrorless cameras. An anodized blue aluminum body incorporates 160 bi-color LEDs that provide variable color temperatures ranging from 3200-5600K with 100% dimming, and an impressive CRI of 95. The kit includes dual L-type batteries that offer a combined output of 14.4 V, a charger, a ball head cold-shoe mount, a D-Tap cable, and a soft nylon carrying case.

Dracast Camlux Pro Bi-Color On-Camera Light Kit

Manfrotto Befree Live Video Tripod Kit This compact, minimalist, fluid-head tripod is aimed at videographers using DSLR and mirrorless rigs weighing up to 8.8 pounds. Its flat-base Befree Live Video Head features independent fluid pan and tilt drag knobs, providing full 360-degree pan movement, and supplemented by a Manfrotto 501PL sliding quick-release plate and a removable pan bar. The robust 3-section legs have a flat base, are adjustable from a height of 17 to 50 inches, and to an eye-level 59.5 inches with the center post fully extended. The tripod features aluminum construction, incorporates a bubble level, and weighs 5 pounds, complete with included carrying bag.

Manfrotto Befree Live Video Tripod Kit

Steadicam Solo Stabilizer & Monopod This ingenious 3-axis gimbaled, counter-weighted camera stabilization device will not only allow you to shoot smooth, professional-looking HD or 4K videos with DSLR rigs weighing up to a hefty 10 pounds, it can also be pressed into service as an effective monopod for shooting critically sharp videos and stills with any camera. Its four sections extend telescopically to shoulder height for near-eye-level viewing, and it folds to a compact 24 inches for easy stowage and transport. The all-metal Solo has an ergonomic foam gimbal handle and post control grips, and can be used in combination with an optional Steadicam arm and vest set. A quick-release mounting plate and set of counterweights are included, allowing out-of-the-box use. For shooting smooth, shake-free videos with iPhones or other smart phones, check out the Steadicam Volt, and the Steadicam Curve, designed for all versions of the GoPro Hero action cameras.

Steadicam Solo Stabilizer & Monopod

Sunpak Platinum Plus Action Camera Accessory Kit Designed to maximize video opportunities with the popular GoPro Action Cameras, this ingenious 4-part kit consists of a comfortable user-adjustable one-size-fits-all head mount weighing 3.2 ounces, a 3.6-ounce adjustable SelfieWand measuring 9.0 x 1.0 x 1.0 inches, which makes it easy to be part of the action, a 6.0 x 1.5-inch, 2.2-ounce floating hand grip that keeps your camera afloat if it’s dropped in water, and a pocket-sized multi-use LensPen lens cleaner measuring 3.7 x 0.6 x 0.8 inches, and weighing a mere 0.3 ounces.

Sunpak Platinum Plus Action Camera Accessory Kit

Hondo Garage Pop & Lock Mini Rig Designed to accommodate a wide variety of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, such as the Canon 5D Mark IV and Panasonic GH5, this fully adjustable rig features anodized 6061 aluminum construction, slip-resistant rosette joints, and easily adjustable ball bearing tension nuts. Compatible with follow focus units and iris adjustment rods, it includes a top handle for low-angle shots, and a removable Pistolero grip handle with quick-release locks to facilitate forward and backward adjustments.

Other features: Standard ¼"-20 mounting point, pan/tilt handle for use with non-video tripods, compatible with EVF, non-EVF, and ManCam rigs for handheld shooting.

Hondo Garage Pop & Lock Mini Rig

Seagate 2TB Slim Backup Plus Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive Taking a compact, high-capacity hard drive along lets you back up your videos on the fly and frees up space on your memory cards. This sleek 2TB capacity unit measures a compact 4.5 x 3.0 x 0.5 inches, weighs only 0.16 pounds, is bus-powered via a super-fast USB 3.0 connection, and features a maximum sustained read/write speed of approximately 100MB/second and a spindle speed of 5400 rpm. The Seagate Dashboard includes a Protect function that lets you schedule automatic backups in one click, Save and Capture features for acquiring and backing up files from social media, and a Share feature for uploading multiple files to social networks. Compatible with Mac operating systems, this drive is available in black, silver, blue, or red.

Seagate 2TB Slim Backup Plus Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Sigma WR Ceramic Protector Filter: Many experienced video shooters use a clear or UV filter over their high-end cine lenses to protect them from dust, flying sand, fingerprint smudges, and direct physical impact. The Sigma WR Ceramic Protector Filter takes this protection to a higher level, employing a super-hard ceramic substrate that combines an impressive 99.7% light transmittance value, a hardness greater than chemically strengthened glass, and greater flexibility than sapphire crystal. Thus, it delivers superior shock, scratch, and impact resistance, and it features an easy-to-clean, water-repellent, anti-static coating that repels water droplets and eliminates fingerprint smudging.

Sigma WR Ceramic Protector Filter

Axler Hammerhead Follow Focus Compatible with 15mm LWS rigs, this robust, well-made unit lets you pull focus on the fly smoothly and precisely with DSLR or mirrorless lenses fitted with a standard 0.8 MOD gear—one is included in the box. Since there’s a quick-release system at its base, the unit simply snaps onto the 15mm LWS without interfering with other mounted accessories, such as matte boxes.

Other features: Knurled large-diameter focus wheel with easily adjustable gearbox stiffness, adjustable hard stops, switchable drive gear, and a standard Arri accessory port.

Axler Hammerhead Follow Focus

Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x This high-quality device transforms virtually any DSLR with a 3.0-inch LCD into an effective viewfinder that lets you see a sharp, clear Live View image at 2.5x magnification, even in bright sunlight. The Pro 2.5x provides 4.75 diopter correction, making it ideal for nearsighted video shooters. It has a large 40mm diameter eyepiece lens with anti-fog coating and light-excluding eyecup, and a Gorilla plate and mounting frame that attach to the camera via a standard ¼"-20 screw. A non-stick rubber backing ensures a tight fit, prevents LCD scratches, and the entire finder snaps off when not in use.

Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x

Revo Camera Track Slider V2 This robust, lightweight, portable camera slider lets you capture smooth short-run tracking and dolly-type shots that give your videos a professional look. Featuring aluminum construction and precision engineered rails, it provides a 23-inch track length, and can accommodate camera rigs up to 21 pounds. The Revo employs a roller bearing sliding system, providing ¼"-20 and 3/8"-16 bushings and threads for mounting accessories, e.g. articulating arms with lights.

Other features: integral bull’s-eye bubble level, height-adjustable rubber feet, and removable legs for grounder or tabletop operation.

Revo Camera Track Slider V2

Cavision Cinematographers 65-foot Tape Measure As experienced cinematographers are well aware, a precision tape measure is unsurpassed when it comes to setting subject distances accurately and calculating depth of field. This pro caliber unit features a durable, dimensionally stable fiberglass tape, has metric and footage markings, and includes a small belt clip on its side for attaching at your waist. It’s a great high-value gift for the filmmaker in your life.

Cavision Cinematographers 65-ft Tape Measure

New Riders From Still To Video: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Video with your DSLR This downloadable video offers an excellent hands-on intro for emerging cinematographers, and covers everything from shooting techniques, to lighting for motion, professional audio, editing, color management, and delivery. It draws on the expertise of master filmmakers, including James Ball and Matt Gottshalk, and includes sections on storytelling, sequencing, budget lighting, advanced camera supports, secure capture in the field, and publishing your video. While some of the specific camera references are dated, there is so much great material here that this is still a superb instructional tool for anyone making the still-to-video transition.

New Riders From Still To Video- A PhotographerGCOs Guide to Creating Video with your DSLR

What’s your favorite video accessory? Tell us in the Comments section, below.

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