Recommended Video Equipment


Most DSLRs today have the ability to capture stunning 1080 high definition video.  However, the DSLR presents 3 problems with video in my mind:

  1. DSLRs record only when live view is activated and it can be difficult to see your LCD while you record.
  2. Most built in internal microphones record terrible audio, especially if you are using a VR or IS lens which is highly recommend.
  3. You need to support them with a quality (expensive) fluid heads or your results will be to shaky to stand.

Below are a few products that have helped me overcome these setbacks.  Make sure that you have enough processing power in your laptop or PC to process large video files before spending all of your money on equipment.  My 27in IMac with upgraded 32gigs of ram does the job on my giant D800 files.  I use Final Cut Pro X to cut my videos which you can view a sample of on my Vimeo channel.  It took me about a month to become fluent in Final Cut after doing video tutorials on (cost me $25 for a month).   A less expensive easier to use video editing software would be iMovie.


Z-Finder Pro 2.5x or 3x

I carry this device around my neck every time I shoot.  It clips on and off of the back of your LCD to create a dark environment to shoot video and a 2x or 3x magnification of your screen while in live view.  I also use it to check images for overexposure on sunny days.  Its available in a few different sizes so make sure you check the compatibility specs on B&H before purchasing.  A less expensive yet undesirable option would be a Hooman Loupe with one of the many attachment devices.

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Sennheiser MKE-600 Shotgun Mic

As I mentioned above most built in internal mics on DSLRs produce poor audio.  It’s important to invest in a quality shotgun microphone to produce usable audio and eliminate the “humm” sound lenses make when using VR or IS.  Sennheiser makes the best mic on the market.

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The number one most important item for someone wanting to shoot great video is a quality fluid head.  Starting out I though I could shoot video off a Wimberly gimbal head because it was my preferred head to shoot wildlife images off of.  What I found was that I was getting very little usable video unless it was locked into place which it seldom was because wildlife subjects are always moving.  DSLR video is highly sensitive to vibration and movement and most of my clips looked like I shot them from a moving car on a bumpy road!  I then moved to a Manfrotto head which did a great job with all of my lens except my 500mm where it couldn’t handle the weight.  It wasn’t until I got the FSB-8 that I started to capture professional looking video with my D800.  The pans and tilts are smooth as silk, even with my heavy 500mm lens mounted on it.  Highly recommended.

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504HD Fluid Head

I recommend this head to anybody who can’t afford the far superior FSB-8.  It works great up to a certain weight capacity which I hit when I mounted my D800 and 500mm lens on it.  If you are shooting smaller telephoto lenses this is a great affordable option to get you started in the world of dslr video.

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