Video Gear for 2013

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Martin French

At the tail end of the year we published a feature about folk giving advice about video equipment without actually giving advice about video equipment.

To kick off the new year we thought it might be a good idea to offer some actual advice about what to buy if you are looking for some video production kit.

Now, video production is a world almost as diverse as the wacky world of dance. The sheer volume of equipment available and the possible uses for that equipment are almost endless.

With that in mind what we have created a three tier approach ranging from the cheap(ish), affordable(ish) equipment all the way to the type of setup an organisation might buy for a long term media production strategy.

The Theory

The equipment we list here will enable you to shoot video of work, interviews and record high quality audio. We will deal with post production next week.

1. Low Cost HD Video

Canon EOS 650D kit with 18/55 mm Kit Lens
Manfrotto 701HDV + Camera Plate
3 x Sandisk Extreme 32GB SD Cards x3
Batteries 650D by Maxsima x 4
Zoom H1 Audio Recorder
Manfrotto Super Clamp + Invertible Stud
Microphone Stand
Multifunction Cold Shoe Mount
Pro 126 LED Light
Manfrotto Video Monopod


For the price this particular kit offers the ability to shoot very high quality video material with the added bonus of the Canon 650D being a very capable stills camera. The addition of the H1 audio recorder and the LED interview light gives you all the gear you need to shoot professional looking interviews. Audio will have to be synchronised with the video images in post production but such things are easy to learn. As your skills grow you can, finances permitting, add more capable lenses to the mix. The addition of a Manfrotto video monopod will help when shooting with the camera handheld.

For recording audio you can attach the Zoom H1 to the microphone stand using the screw thread on the base of the recorder. You need to experiment to get the recording levels for interviews and such, there is a headphone jack but you will need a long cable on your headphones to monitor the input properly.

Downsides: Shooting with a DSLR can be tricky since the video features have been shoe horned into a photo camera but once you get to grips with it the resulting images can be spectacular. The camera will also struggle to record full pieces of work from start to finish due to camera recording limitations. Audio quality on the built in microphone is terrible.

Alternatives: For more money you could get the 60D or 7D variants. The 7D in particular is a very robust professional camera.

2. Mid Range Video Camera

Canon XF100
Manfrotto 701HDV + Camera Plate
Sandisk 32GB CF Cards x2
Canon BP-975 High Capacity Battery
Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone (with XLR Cable)
Manfrotto Super Clamp + Invertible Stud
Microphone Stand
Multifunction Cold Shoe Mount
Pro 126 LED Light


What the XF100 lacks in size it more than makes up for in image quality and capability. Despite the £2,100 price tag it can record at broadcast ready quality (50Mbits) and features fully manual control which is something you are always going to use, right? The 10x zoom lens gives you plenty of capability when filming a live production from most locations in most theatres. The camera also uses the low cost and very robust CF card format for recording and you will have no problems recording a show from start to finish.

On board "optical image stabilisation" makes shooting hand held far easier than with the 650D as does the camera's form factor.

As the camera features two "XLR" connectors you don't need an audio recorder. Simply plug in the shotgun microphone to record your dialogue. Audio from the built in microphone is a lot better than the DSLR and you can manually control the levels if you wish.

Downsides: Utilises a single control wheel on the lens for focus and focal length although there is a separate zoom rocker control on the opposite side of the camera.

Alternative: Sony PMW F100 matches this camera for size and features but houses a few more professional level connectors for a little bit more money.

3. High End Production

Sony PMW200 Camcorder
Manfrotto 504HD/546 GBK Tripod System
Sony 64Gb SxS Memory Cards x2
Sony BPU90 Battery
Sennheiser ME66 Mic (with power module and cable)
Sony UWP V1/K38 Wireless Mic Kit
Microphone Stand
Manfrotto Super Clamp + Invertible Stud
Cinedesign 516 LED Light
Light Stand


A setup like this should only really be considered if you are getting very serious about your in house video production. The PMW200 is a professional level camera in every respect and as such is a lot more complicated to operate.

In the wide world of camera making there are only a few companies that can make really top of the range lenses (the most important part of any camera). This one comes with a 14x zoom lens from Fujinon (which is not removable) along with three, independent, control wheels on the lens itself for focus, focal length and aperture control.

Every aspect of this camera is user controllable right down to the picture styles you can use to make your productions look and feel like regular videos or more "feature film" like.

Into the mix for this kit we've added a far more capable shotgun microphone with the ME66 and a simple wireless microphone kit for some additional versatility for recording the voices of people who might be walking around as you film them.

A high powered, dimmable, Cinedesign light, which can run from special "v-mount" batteries or a wall socket, is included so you can film interviews outdoors in bright light. If that sounds ridiculous we shall explain in a future piece.

Downsides: Very expensive and a steep learning curve if you've never used a video camera.

Alternatives: Canon XF305 is an excellent camera and at almost £1,000 cheaper is a very good purchase. It is a few years old now however. You could also save money on the above kit by forgoing the wireless microphone setup and using an SxS CF card adapter instead of the uber pricey SxS memory cards.

Purchasing video equipment can rapidly turn into a bottomless pit as you add "just one more thing" so try and resist that particular temptation.

One thing it's always good to have however is more memory cards and more batteries, especially for the DSLR cameras. High capacity video camera batteries will last for hours, even with the camera running, so a couple of them should get you through the day.

Go forth and shoot!

[ Editing in 2013 ]
[ Filming Dance in 2013 ]
[ Crafting an Edit ]

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Editing in 2013

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