Photography / Buying Guide

Gear Recommendations from the B&H Sales Staff

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Nothing beats a spirited chat with a B&H sales associate to awaken your inner gear hound and make you feel like a kid in a candy store. With a depth and breadth of knowledge extending to every facet of our product offerings, B&H sales pros are equally valued for their passion for practical solutions that help you get the most from your purchase.

We interviewed several staff members about their top gear picks while sourcing quotes for the inside front cover of our popular catalog. Included below are some of their favorite products.

Pro Photo Products

According to Patrick Davidson of the B&H HDSLR Sales and Technical Support team, purchasing a solid, reliable tripod shouldn’t need to break the bank. He recommends three different Oben tripods as go-to options, citing their price-to-performance ratio and other unique features that set them apart from the pack.

Backpackers and frequent travelers will appreciate the variable proportions of the Oben AT-3585 Folding Aluminum Travel Tripod, (with a BC-226T Ball Head). “It extends to a maximum height of 66.5", yet it folds to a compact 15.75", so you can easily strap it to a backpack or throw it into your luggage,” Davidson says. The sturdy BA-226T Arca-type ball head gives this tripod a respectable load capacity of 27 lb, while its five-section legs feature twist-locking mechanisms for fast height adjustments and compact storage. What’s more, each leg can be positioned independently at three locking angles (22.5-24°, 50°, or 80°) to ensure stable support when shooting on uneven terrain.

Oben AT-3585 Folding Aluminum Travel Tripod with BC-226T Ball Head

Those on a budget will appreciate the Oben AC-2361 Tripod (also available in a Kit with a BE-126 Ball Head) due to the replaceable flip locks on the tripod legs. “With a lot of budget tripods, if you break a leg lock you’re done,” says Davidson. “But with this model, you can change the locks, so it can be easily repaired.”

Oben AC-2361 3-Section Aluminum Tripod Legs

Photographers interested in macro or copy work need look no further than the Oben AC-2341L Lateral Tripod, also sold as a Kit with a BE-117 Ball Head. A swiveling center column moves 360 degrees laterally and tilts 180 degrees, and flip locks on the legs are also replaceable. “This model gives you more creative freedom,” Davidson notes. “You can shoot low to the ground, as well as around corners.”

Oben AC-2341L 3-Section Aluminum Lateral Tripod Legs

“When shooting outdoors and in bright light, an LCD hood makes it easier to view and analyze the image on the camera’s LCD screen,” says B&H Live Chat and Email Sales Associate Rob Kern. While there are many different options available, the Hoodman HoodLoupe is my favorite,” he says. 

Hoodman Compact HoodLoupe Optical Viewfinder for 3.2" LCD Screens

Another item topping Kern’s must have list is a software product. “Software has become just as important as the camera, and my favorite is Adobe Creative Cloud—specifically, Adobe Lightroom and its mobile editing function,” he says.

Adobe Creative Cloud

After every shoot—big projects and day-to-day photos—he uploads his files to the computer and makes a Lightroom image collection, which he places on Adobe Cloud. “This allows me to edit my photos everywhere on my iPad, using the Lightroom App’s mobile editing function,” says Kern.

“I can use this function on location or when commuting to and from work. When I get home, I sync everything to the cloud, as well as to my computer, which allows me to process and play with my selected images. It’s a really helpful tool and a real time saver for me.”

Pro Video Products

Motion capture is hot topic, and our Pro Video sales team stays on top of everything needed to make you a trendsetter. Here are a few of their favorite products.

“Whether you’re a YouTube influencer, a video journalist or a small nonprofit looking to document your events, the Sony PXW-X70 stands alone as the perfect prosumer-level camera, offering all the features of a professional model at an affordable $2,000.00 price point,” says B&H Pro Video sales associate Jake Estes. “At first glance it’s a bit small, but this little camera body packs a really big punch and its compact design makes it perfect for almost any situation,” he adds.

Sony PXW-X70 Professional XDCAM Compact Camcorder

Topping the list of this camera’s pro-level perks, Estes points to Sony’s new Codec, XAVC, with the broadcast standard compression rate of 50mbps, 10-bit color space and 4:2:2 Chroma-subsampling to provide greater detail and sharpness and less compression, which is crucial for green screen Chroma-key.

Sony utilizes Clear Image Zoom technology to provide a visually lossless 24x digital zoom, along with 12x optical, perfect for recording large events and room shots. Other Pro features include built in Neutral Density filters to help control exposure for those run-and-gun video journalists and/or documentary filmmakers who move between bright sun and low-light environments.

Last, but certainly not least, is the full 1" inch CMOS sensor, which equates to crucial low-light performance and the relatively impressive shallow depth of field familiar to DSLR shooters, which is perfect for close-up interview shots.

Always on the cutting edge, Sony made sure to future proof this camera by offering a paid UHD 4K Upgrade, featuring 3840 x 2160 30p at 60mbps, to take you comfortably into the future of video production. “All-in-all a great investment in a pro camcorder!” Estes tells us.

“One of our virtual 360-degree cameras is a great option for wedding videographers,” says Chris Hendrick, B&H Pro Video Live Chat and Email Sales Associate. The Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K Action Camera has 4K capability, and is also available in Premier Pack and Dual Pro Pack versions. “This is something every wedding videographer should have running in the background to record the whole event. It can provide a whole new billable service to clients, especially since it’s becoming so easy to post video online for viewing by the whole wedding party.”

Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K Action Camera

According to B&H Live Chat and Email Sales Associate Joseph Palma, “Two of the biggest current trends in motion are 4K Video and Live Streaming.” A very cool product he recommends for these tasks is Livestream’s Mevo Live Event Camera, which uses 4K in a very unique way. “With this single camera, you can create nine 720p camera angles, since 4K is 9x the resolution of 720p. This allows you to do a virtual nine-camera shoot for streaming, either on the Livestream Platform or Facebook Live,” he explains. The Mevo can also be controlled through a smart phone app, so it is easy to use. “With streaming becoming so popular, a product like this is a very inexpensive and efficient way to add a lot of production value when you ‘Go Live’ on Facebook,” he says.

Mevo Live Event Camera by Livestream

When it comes to capturing action with cinema camera rigs, Palma also gives a nod to CineMilled’s DJI Ronin Quick Plate Universal Mount. “This machined chunk of metal allows you to mount a gimbal on pretty much anything. You can put it on jib, a tripod, or even something like the Digital Juice Spyder Pod Vehicle Camera Mounting System, to get a stabilized shot from a moving car,” says Palma. “The tools that are now available for recording motion can get some fantastic shots, which can often go beyond what the manufacturer even imagined,” he adds. 

CineMilled DJI Ronin Quick Plate Universal Mount

Another motion-control device, the Syrp Genie, is a favorite of B&H Pro Video sales associate Bruce Mermelstein. “It’s an incredible tool that works with any slider, performs both motorized movement and time lapse, and has multiple pre-sets and custom settings,” he says.

Syrp Genie Motion Control Time Lapse Device

When it comes to recording or streaming a video signal, B&H Pro Video sales associate Bruno Derlin recommends the Magewell USB 3.0 Capture Dongle. “It’s quickly become one of the most popular go-to capture devices in the B&H SuperStore,” he says. Magewell’s dongle is virtually flawless in its compatibility with computers that have USB 3.0 ports, regardless of operating system platform (it works with Mac OS, Windows, Linux). 

Magewell XI100DUSB HDMI USB 3.0 Capture Dongle

“This product benefits from the unpredictability and somewhat limited compatibility of the Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle USB 3.0 (BLIS)—once the sole kid on the block—which also allows for the direct capture of HD video via a USB 3.0 interface, but was often finicky about which PC laptops it works with seamlessly,” Derlin explains.

For customers wishing to bring in a quality HD signal that can ingest resolutions of up to 1080p at 60fps, the Magewell is a perfect choice, and it also does frame-rate conversion on the fly. Yet, if the video stream is being captured for the purpose of editing and color correction/grading, Derlin’s recommendation falls back to Blackmagic Design’s product (BLIS for USB 3.0 and BLIST for Thunderbolt), since the Intensity Shuttle has the advantage of processing video in a 10-bit color space, while the Magewell is an 8-bit device.

When it comes to trend setting products, Pro Video Specialist V. Manuel Burgos recommends the new Atomos Shogun Inferno. “You cannot have it all in a product—or could you?” he asks.

Atomos Shogun Inferno 7" 4K HDMI/Quad 3G-SDI/12G-SDI Recording Monitor

Featuring Raw to ProRes or DNxHR/HD recording, 4K resolution up to 60P, 1500 nits for hood-free outdoor monitoring, and HDR viewing and recording, Burgos views the Inferno as one of the most complete video recorders currently available in the market for an affordable price.

“It currently tops my wish list, and should be on the wish list of every serious shooter seeking an external recording option,” he says. “The bar is set high for external recorders at the moment but, with the Inferno, Atomos has a safe place at the top.”

Burgos also gives a nod to Wooden Camera’s Zip Box as a highly functional accessory certain to gain top billing with budget minded filmmakers.

Wooden Camera 4 x 5.65" Filter Zip Box for 110-115mm Exterior Diameter Lenses

“Mounting quality filters on cinema lenses can be expensive, bulky, and intimidating,” he says. That is, until you come across these filter holders, which enable filmmakers to use 4x4 or 4x5.65 filters to enhance or alter their moving images for a very affordable price. 

“You can use them with photo lenses, or in your high-end cinema lenses, and you can even fly with one if you have your camera on a drone,” Burgos explains. “The capabilities of this accessory are endless, and not many people know about it,” he says. 

While we don’t have a full description on the website yet, nor is it fully in stock, Burgos predicts it will be a very hot product among young and independent filmmakers.This is but a taste of the wide-ranging tips and helpful suggestions available from B&H’s knowledgeable sales staff. For your own personalized session with a member of our team, pay us a visit in our New York City SuperStore, visit the following links to read profiles of some of our B&H Photo Mavens and Video Virtuosos, or simply pick up the phone or log onto your computer for an inspiring chat!

Do you have a favorite item or hot tip that was recommended by one of our sales associates? If so, please share details in the comments section below.

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8 Comments

do you guys stock that green camera bag? looks cool.

Thanks for writing in Duffeyboy. I believe that lead image is from stock and unfortunately we do not stock this particular bag. I did a Google search on the image and found examples of the same bag, labeled with either Caden or or Rush brands, but from what I can tell they are not available for purchase anywhere. But, if it's this look you are after, I might recommend one of the Domke bags that we do sell, particularly the very popular Domke F-1X (B&H# DOF1XO). Happy shopping and thanks for reading Explora!

This is a good roundup.  I've looked at the Mevo recently, but it's limited to use with iPhones, which I will never own.

Is there a reasonable alternative that works cross platform?

Hi Clinton - 

     Capture and share the world around you with the 360fly HD Video Camera. Featuring a single, ultra-fisheye lens that utilizes a 240-degree field of view, the camera records and streams a circular wrap-around view of its surroundings without seams or stitches. Its ruggedized body is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof, meaning it can stand up to the most active of lifestyles.

The camera works in concert with the free 360fly app for both iOS and Android. Once the app is installed on your phone, you'll use it as your all-in-one viewfinder, remote, and editing device. Up to 3 hours of HD-quality video can be stored on the device's 32GB of built-in storage or used for live streaming via the free Livit mobile app.

Everything you need to start capturing and sharing life comes with your camera, including mounts, mic, and baseplates. Just charge it up, connect it with your iOS or Android mobile device using the 360fly app, and you're ready to record.

Note: This camera records 360 degrees horizontally, but not vertically. As a result, there will be a blank space at the bottom of your 360-degree video.

Hmm... Only Oben tripods listed here? Seems fishy... What about some suggestions from real tripod companies?

Thanks for writing in Tripod Jim. Given your moniker, would you like to make some suggestions? I wish I could have included more items in this story, but had to cover a lot of ground with a limited word count. Thanks in advance for any recommendations you can offer, as well as for reading the blog!

Let me suggest adding prices to informative articles / lists such as these. That would make the reader much more liable to click through for more product details in the sales catalog. Accompany the each with a note to the effect that market forces cause prices to fluctuate, including moving lower -- so click here to confirm.

Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. We appreciate your point of view, but our style guide dictates that we only provide links to the webpage of each product featured, where readers can find the current price for the item. As you note, prices fluctuate, not just due to market forces but also because we regularly offer flash sales and other deals on select items, therefore any price listed in story copy stands a chance of being inaccurate. We take great care to ensure that everything we publish is as accurate as possible and hope that our customers appreciate this approach. Thanks again for reading the blog!

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