GH5s Studio Setup – My Camera Gear 2020

Here’s a comprehensive list of the gear I use to capture and edit my DIY projects, tutorials, and videos. My tool selection is optimized for my photography and videography practice and has been built up and refined over a long time. I maintain the advice that the best camera is the one you have access to, and you can get really far using just your phone these days.

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Cameras

My primary camera is a Panasonic GH5s. I’ve also got a GH4, and I can swap lenses and batteries between them. I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras for the lighter weight since I don’t have a lot of upper body strength. For my day-to-day use, there’s not much difference between these two cameras, since I usually shoot in 4K 24p 8-bit. The GH5s has a few more modes and capabilities for slow motion and low-light shooting, so I made sure to get the fastest SD cards I could find to accommodate all the camera’s features (read about why upgraded from the GH5). The flip-out screen is an absolute must for me, so I can mount the camera almost anywhere and still see the picture. I have an external monitor but it’s just such a process to get it set up, I like how quick it is to get ready to shoot with the GH series. A port for plugging in a remote is an important feature to me so that I can trigger the camera with my homemade foot pedal switch. I have four batteries between the two cameras, and also have the battery compartment AC adapter for doing things like streaming or long timelapses. The microphone port is another must-have.

My most-used lens is the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II.

I also often use the Lumix/Leica 8-18mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom lens.

I still use my 60mm Olympus lens for macro shots. Since my partner got an Osmo X5R kit, which also uses micro four third lenses, my borrowed lens options have expanded to include three primes: Olympus 12mm f/2.0, Olympus 25mm f/1.8, and a DJI 15mm f/1.7 lens.

Audio

For direct address, I capture audio using my Sennheiser ME2 wireless lavalier transmitter/receiver pair. The receiver mounts easily on top of the camera. It has an XLR connector and an adapter to plug into the GH5s’s mic port. The bodypack transmitter has a monster rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 12 hours. The receiver is smaller but it comes with two batteries, each lasting at least three hours. They all have USB ports for charging. I’ve never had the batteries die during a long shoot day, but if I were out on the road I’d probably bring an extra receiver battery at least.

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This year, I upgraded my voiceover microphone to the Rode Procaster. Previously I had been using my Zoom H4N, connected to my computer as a USB audio device.

I picked out the Rode Procaster dynamic microphone because, in my research, it would be good for female voiceover recording (me) in places with background noise (pretty much everywhere here in NYC).

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Here’s a list of all the bells and whistles that go with a microphone like this, in case you’re looking to create a similar setup yourself. Amazon carries a bundle of mic, arm, and shock mount.

But that’s not all that’s needed to make this mic work for home recording into a computer…

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Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Microphone Activator / Preamplifier

In my research, I found that folks had better results with dynamic mics going into a USB audio interface (and ultimately the computer) with the use of a Cloudlifter, which gives the signal a super clean boost. It takes phantom power.

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Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface

This little red box is perfect for voiceover recording, getting great audio into a livestream, recording musical instruments, and much more. I’m using it to provide phantom power to the Cloudlifter and also to listen to headphones.

LyxPro XLR Balanced Microphone Cable (x2, one comes with the Cloudlifter)

With all this equipment dedicated to preserving a clean signal, it would be a shame to lose quality over cabling. Yes, the LyxPro cables are twice as expensive as their standard counterpart, but splurging on an extra cable amounts to a drop in the bucket compared to the whole package.

I also have a couple Rode camera-top microphones for capturing native audio. They provide a lot better sound than the internal mic, especially since I live in a place with a lot of background noise.

I usually record from a script that’s playing back on my Parrot Teleprompter. It mounts to the end of the lens and turns your phone into a teleprompter. I sync the scripts to the app using Dropbox.

Lighting and Grip

Another C-stand, along with an extra gobo arm and a Cardellini clamp, helps me get overhead shots with my camera. I used to use the Manfrotto magic arm, but my big change this year is upgrading to this setup that allows me to capture more of the table while my arms can move freely back and forth. I still have a lot of love for the magic arm, though, which makes it easy to mount a camera or monitor in tight spaces.

As for more traditional tripods, I’ve got a few in a range of lightweight sizes, from the Manfrotto befree live, which is the video head version of the Manfrotto befree, then I’ve got a smaller Joby tripod as well as a tiny ten-dollar RadioShack one for using with my phone.

As far as lighting goes, I’ve got a few LED panels by a company called LiteGear. They’re color temp adjustable and really lightweight and easy to use. I usually use my long skinny Litemat S2 2L panel as my primary light, and fill in with the smaller size twos. To hold them up I’ve got two Avenger brand C-stands (Matthews is another good brand) that come with gobo arms. I always use a sandbag or shot bag on the long leg.

Everthing Else

For point-and-shoot, my Pixel 3 phone has finally surpassed the quality/convenience threshold needed to stop me from carrying a small pocket camera like my old G7X.

I edit on my 2020 iMac. I use Final Cut Pro X to edit my videos, using a mixture of the onboard speakers and my old Sennheisesr headphones. I’ve recently started to get more into streaming again, and for that I’ve got a Blackmagic Mini Recorder to input my camera’s HDMI signal, and the elgato HD60 S for inputting from the Nintendo Switch.

I store my cameras in a padded Pelican case.

That’s it for my camera gear this year. I’ve got more tips and advice for documenting DIY projects:

To keep up with what I’m working on, follow me on YouTubeInstagramTwitterPinterest, and subscribe to my newsletter.

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