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In Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR, photographer and videographer Rob Sheppard provides the essential foundation that photographers need to make the leap from still pictures to moving ones. From technical considerations, such as audio and frame rates, to aesthetic issues, such as composition and story development, this course presents concepts and techniques photographers need to get the best results from their gear and learn the art of video-based storytelling. Exercise files are included with the course.
Tripods and video heads are important, but there are other camera supports you should know about. Camera support is always important for video because you're constantly recording something over time. It is difficult to hold the camera perfectly still over time without some sort of support. First let's look at the monopod. Monopod is essentially one leg of a tripod with a head attached. You don't need a fluid head or anything like that because with the monopod, you can always turn it back-and- forth without any problems.
You will need some sort of head though simply to allow the camera to be tilted up and down without making the monopod change away from being upright. A great advantage of a monopod is simply it is very lightweight and easy to carry around. It does not take up a lot of space, so you can use it even in a crowd and get a stable image. Monopod does have a tendency to move to one side or another as you move, but if you're careful in how you hold it and careful in how you move with it, you can get remarkably stable shots with this support.
Another important support for video is a beanbag. Now, I consider beanbags so important that it is always in my camera bag. With a beanbag, I can use almost anything solid for support by simply putting the beanbag on that solid object and the camera on the beanbag. A beanbag traditionally was simply a bag filled with beans. Today's modern beanbags are usually a high-tech fabric bag filled with plastic pellets. This makes the bag very lightweight and you never have problems with it getting wet.
To use a beanbag, simply find a solid support, put the beanbag down on the support and place the camera on the beanbag pushing the camera down slightly, so that the bag molds to the camera. Now, right now, there are a lot of hand held supports being marketed for DSLR such as this one from Redrock Micro. These supports can make it more comfortable to hand-hold your camera while shooting video, but they also tend to be rather expensive. Now, on this particular one, this is set up for low angle shots. It makes it very easy to hold the camera that way.
It also has a follow focus control, which allows you to focus very easily and smoothly when you need that type of control. But you really have to try out these types of rigs to see if your working style is appropriate for the gear and for the particular way it's set up, because this comes with different sorts of handles and things that come out of the back, and all sorts of ways of working that might be good for you, might not be. It can also be difficult to tell how well you are going to like these supports without actually trying them against your own body and with your own hands.
Now, there is no question a tripod makes it easier to shoot video, even if you are used to shooting your photographs without one. When you're shooting a still photo, you don't have to worry about keeping that camera steady for many seconds of a shot. You do with video. However, I have found that a monopod and a beanbag can be excellent ways of holding your camera still for video without always having to go to a tripod and you may find that some of the specialized supports will help you as well.
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