IF THERE’S ONE thing I’ve realised very strongly in the last few months, it’s that my photography needs have changed! Man oh man, how they’ve changed.
Back in the old days, or around 2008 or so when I was getting back into photography after a long hiatus, I had a Nikon D200 DSLR, which was quite the piece of kit in its day. That Nikon went everywhere with me, and I used to lug around at least three lenses, plus polarising filters (and a big-ass tripod or monopod in the car of course). Then I cut back to a 12-24mm and a 35mm f2.0 for most of my shooting, and when I got too lazy to schlep to the West Coast of Auckland on a regular basis and fell in love with bokeh and shallow depth of field, I dropped back to the D200 and that amazing 35mm for 99 percent of my photography. Video was the last thing on my mind.
There’s something liberating and pure about grabbing a fixed lens camera as you leave the house and finding a way to get every shot with zero zoom except your feet. It’s a turntable to an MP3 player, a classic steel fixed gear bike to a state-of-the-art $10,000 electronically shifted roadbike. It’s old school but it’s cool.
The Nikon was the perfect companion for a while but when I started traveling, something smaller and even simpler seemed to be in order. Roll on the best pocket camera in the world when it was new (in my opinion of course) – Canon’s tiny S95. What a brilliant little camera it is – it’s been my go-to unit, along with an iPhone, for over five years.
But then I met a girl. And we started a YouTube channel, and we started shooting videos for her businesses, and I’ve got another YouTube channel coming up. So I went from, “I don’t care about video because I’m a PHOTOgrapher” to, “Holy heck, the mics on the S95 are awful, and there’s zero manual control in video mode, and the depth of field is way too deep etcetera.” The iPhone is really handy, but it’s not great in some conditions.
So I got off my butt, did some reading and whipped out the credit card. And now I’ve got some new photography gear coming my way. It’s slowly trickling in from Amazon, Canon USA and B&H Photo – ah, the joys of being in the USA where stuff is cheap and shipping is free. Now, if only the NZ peso hadn’t done a swan dive from the high board into a deep heap of cow poo.
My selection is limited because everything needs to be small and light, preferably very much so! I live out of a suitcase and have done for the last 14 months and will probably do so for the next couple of years at least. So a EOS 5DMKIII and a huge f1.2 lens, plus a shotgun mic and a serious tripod won’t do the job. That lot would also be too expensive for what is only part of a bigger picture when it comes to our projects – so cheap would be cool too.
This is the first arrival. A Senal MS-77 dslr/video mini shotgun microphone with a “dead cat” in the other box in the bedroom (that is, a windbuster). It’s tiny, which is good, and it has adjustable gain so I can take the useless preamps in the camera out of the equation, to a degree. It wasn’t all that cheap but it seems to be a good buy for what it does – as I’ve learned from hundreds of hours of video editing, sound is critical, and you can’t fix real problems after the fact.
So what’s next? A camera of course. Which one? Well, for now, suffice to say that it’s about as small as a DSLR gets, and it’s pretty cheap and pretty good for video too. Watch this space.
Oh and if anyone is interested, that YouTube channel is right here and below is the most popular playlist. Probably not ideal for Witchdoctor readers but y’all have ladies in your lives don’t ya?