Technology makes everything obsolete, sometimes within days or even hours of a purchase. This holds true with pretty much everything related to videojournalism. Except.
The support gear.
What is support gear? Well it includes tripods, lights, mikes (and cables).
Like others, I tend to focus at times too much on the camera, the image, the quality of what I’m shooting when equal play should be given to what holds the camera, lights the image, and captures the sound.
So if you’re looking to get into the field of videojournalism (or related fields) make sure you include those items that make you a true pro and will most likely outlast your camera (or your next few cameras).
I have an Electrovoice 635 stick mike I got back in 2002. If it runs true to its siblings used in news, it may well last forty or fifty years. A solid hunk of metal…no batteries required. Wired of course…and I have several XLR cables to connect it to whatever camera I’m using.
For reaching further there’s the Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mike. Needs a battery or is phantom powered through the camera and can really reach out and grab sound.
And finally the Lectosonics wireless system…which can be used with the lav mike (clipped on to subject) or allows me to hook up the 635 or ME66 so they can go wireless.
You notice I have three different mikes. Stick mike/635 for general use and run and gun. Shotgun for sitdown or on the run interviews or nats. Lav mike when I want my gear to disappear and not be seen but still give me the freedom to move around.
Tripods – right up there with microphones as a necessity. A tripod is a platform to give your camera stability and allow the audience to see your images without shaking or the jitters. A good tripod may set you back anywhere from $400 to thousands, but again, will outlast your camera(s).
What to look for? Well the less you pay, the less you get. The minimum should be a half ball or full ball fluid head. That gives you good movement and lets you level the head w/out having to constantly adjust the legs. Worth every cent.
I have four full size tripods and a few little ones. My mainstay is a Libec DV22/half ball head. Then the old heavy duty Bogen, which is now used with my jib. A couple of lightweights – cheap little Slick and a no-name really lightweight set of sticks.
The toy tripods are a Pentax tabletop and the Press Grip. The latter lets me hang a camera or microphone pretty much anywhere.
And finally – lights.
The first light you should buy as a VJ is probably a good on-camera light. Tungsten as been the mainstay in the category, although LEDs are moving in pretty quickly and are recommended for their long battery life, weight, and for cool running. But be aware that LEDs are NOT full spectrum. For news they are acceptable, but your video may lack some color.
In the light category and right up there w/on-camera light is a good reflector. Something to bounce light around. Most of my time in news I got by with a little 20-incher, although now I have two 30 inch reflectors. One white to use for bounce and diffusion and the other gold on one side and silver on the other.
And finally – the stand lights or a light kit. Again, you’ll need to make some choices…this time tungsten, LED or fluorescent. Each has its merits and problems, ranging from throw to cost to color spectrum. Tungsten has been around the longest and has the most throw/is brightest. And costs less (most of the time). Fluorescents and LEDs are both pricy, but run cooler…and throw out less light.
And that is about it. Figure on spending at least a thousand bucks to get set up initially. Then keep an eye on what’s out there and add to your kit as you can afford it/or jobs require it. And remember – this is money well spent…on equipment that will follow you for years to come.