I am asked frequently what equipment I use to capture and edit my DIY projects, tutorials, and videos. Here’s a comprehensive list of my current arsenal for 2017. I maintain the opinion that you can always take great photos and videos with whatever camera you have (so long as you’ve got good lighting), which has lead to some scrappy choices over the years. My goal has always been to keep my equipment within my own personal operating abilities to keep productions as lean as possible, but to be honest these days I don’t want for much. These are the carefully selected tools I’ve come to incorporate into my professional photography/videography practice. All of the practical tips in my 2014 MAKE article about making great build videos still apply, even if the equipment is different.
Panasonic GH4 – Love this camera, more than any camera I’ve ever owned! This mirrorless micro four thirds interchangeable lens camera was designed to be a video powerhouse, and has literally never let me down. The screen flips all the way around, the battery life is incredible, the programmable buttons let you customize the controls to the things you use most often, and because I still edit video in 1080 but shoot in 4K, I can crop in on my shots in the edit to improve composition and clarity. For streaming, which I do significantly less of than I used to, the GH4 outputs clean HDMI video with the option of no menu overlays (try and name another prosumer level camera that does this). The newer GH5 doesn’t crop the sensor in video mode, but for me that’s the only feature that would make a difference in my day-to-day (the improved OIS wouldn’t give much benefit to my tripod-tabletop shots). At some point I did think about getting the Sony A7Sii (performs much better in low light), but upon trying out a friend’s, it became evident that the lack of screen flexibility was a dealbreaker in my workflow, which routinely puts the camera facing straight down.
For direct camera address, I pop on my Rode Videomic Pro to the top of my GH4.
For studio lighting these days, I’m using my boyfriend’s set of Dedolight DLHM4-300U dimmable tungsten continuous lamps. Although these are profe$$ional quality lights, I consider the choice to use them frugal because they were just gathering dust in the storage unit. Replacement bulbs are cheap and infrequently needed, and when they break down they can be professionally serviced rather than thrown away.
To save floor space, I mount the Dedolights to my desk with furniture bar clamps and a bar clamp adapter with a 5/8″ pin. A single C-stand supports a foamcore bounce board above my desk, and I point the lights up at it.
To match the color temperature of the Dedolights, I have a roll of half orange gel suspended in front of my window (most evidence of it is hidden behind the drapes).
When I’m out and about, I always take my Canon G7X point and shoot camera. It’s pretty nice, but I’m not as wild about it as my GH4. It’s just the current iteration in a long line of square pocket cameras I’ve had since my first Canon Ixus I bought in college. I can say, “At least it takes much better photos than my phone.”
To go along with the video above, check out 5 Tips for Documenting your DIY projects.