It's almost the new year, which is a great time to plan for what's next while also taking time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end. This year, I decided to make a video about my favorite gear purchases of 2017. Check it out.
Here are the gear highlights from the video. None of this is comprehensive, but I may give more detailed reviews in the future!
Rhino Camera Gear Slider EVO - Motion Bundle
This is hands-down my favorite piece of video production gear purchased in 2017. As I mention in the video, I have owned an original GlideTrack slider and a Dana Dolly for years. The GlideTrack was a great intro to sliders when I purchased it, but it was an older model with no bearings, and couldn't handle heavier camera setups without binding. The Dana Dolly is a solid piece of gear – that I still own and use – but as anyone who has a Dana Dolly knows, it is large and cumbersome to travel with and set up. Enter the Rhino Camera Gear Slider EVO. This thing checks all the boxes for me: portable, flexible (I have multiple rail lengths at my disposal), can handle small and large camera setups seamlessly, has motion control, flywheel, locking carriage, and comes with a wonderful case that can expand to allow a tripod head to be mounted on the carriage during transport. All-in-all, a perfect slider in my opinion. My only wish list item is for Rhino to come out with a 2 axis motion controlled head – something I would wager they are already considering.
IntellyTech Light Cannon F-165 Bi-Color
I am a big fan of lighting equipment and I think it is almost always a great investment. Our cameras do one thing: they capture light. Good lighting equipment not only gives you the tools to shape that light, but it also lasts for years, doesn't become outdated quickly, and can be a timeless addition to your tool chest. I have been a big fan of Kino Flow, Arri, Mole Richardson and many other lighting brands for years, primarily because they make timeless gear that just works. For a while now I have been searching for an LED fresnel to round out my kit. I use mostly Kino Flo lights for my soft fixtures and was in need of a fresnel that was not a hot-light and wanted variable color temperature. The IntellyTech Light is a great fit so far.
I purchased the light after my friend Aaron Draper had sent me some links to it. He was curious about the light and asked if I had used it. I hadn't, but the specs seemed great. LED, 165 Watts with a 1K equivalent (they also make a 300-watt, 485-watt, and now an 800-watt version). These lights have great output and are very efficient. Variable color temperature from 3000 Kelvin up to 8000 Kelvin, with the brightest setting in the daylight / 5500 range. There is a fan that needs to be on above 50% power, but it is quiet enough. I also have the softbox for this light but haven't used it much. Only downsides are that the light is rather large for its output, and IntellyTech doesn't offer a good case option (I recently saw a two-light flight-case, but it seems impractical for my use). Some other companies offer nice semi-rigid cases for similar lights that would be a nice addition, I modified an older Pelican case to carry my light.
DJI Ronin MX
I bought this late in the year, so it's a fairly new piece of gear for me. That said, it makes the list because it works great so far and fills a void in my gear setup. I am a big fan of gimbals and have used them for about three years (Starting with the Freefly Systems Movi M5 - review here). I've rented gimbals or used them on productions, but never owned one. There are several reasons I've put off purchasing a gimbal, but mostly I've just been putting it off as I wasn't sure which gimbal/camera combo I would want to work with long term. In November of this year, I stopped kicking the can down the road and bought the Ronin MX.
So far, I am really liking the purchase. The Ronin MX takes about 5-10 minutes to setup and begin filming with my Canon 5D Mark III. I have used it inside of caves, on city streets, for home interiors, in parks – it's incredibly versatile. You can adjust settings quickly with your smartphone and the DJI Assistant app. I outfitted my setup with the Ronin Ring, Thumbcontroller, and monitor mounting and cables for my SmallHD Monitor.
My only real complaint was that in order to turn it on the first time you need to use the DJI Assistant app, have an internet connection, and be logged into a DJI account. I don't see the need for this with a gimbal (I get it for drones). DJI says this is only necessary when first initializing the gimbal after purchase, but my concern is what happens if somehow the gimbal resets itself and I am on a shoot? A shoot without an internet connection. I think support gear should work independently of any need to be tethered to an internet connection or a user account.
I didn't cover any runners-up in my video review, so I will add them here:
- Kessler Quick Release System
- Canon 24mm 1.4L (This should have been on the favorite things list)
- Cyclapse TimeLapse Camera System
What gear did you purchase this year that maks your favorite things list? Let me know in the comments.