Becoming a solo shooter doesn’t mean you have to turn into a pack mule. Here are a few ways to minimize your equipment load in order to maximize your effectiveness as a producer and reporter.
Shake a Leg – Swap your tripod for a monopod. One leg is all you really need for steady on-the-go interviews and all but the longest-lens b-roll shots. Choose one that screws directly into the threaded socket on the camera bottom and that can be quickly extended or collapsed. Lightweight and easily transported strapped to the outside of a backpack, a monopod is also useful for holding your camera high above a media scrum.
Lose the Lights – One of the hardest adjustments for anyone who started life as a shooter is also one of the easiest for those who first pick up a camera after they’ve acquired reporting skills. Lights, stands, and power cords are the heaviest, bulkiest, and – unless you're shooting interviews for a magazine show – the least-used items in a videographer’s kit. Contemporary cameras do pretty well in available light and all you generally need is a little fill.
Cut the Cord – A single DC-powered LED fixture that can be mounted atop the camera takes up almost no room in your kit and will see you through most simple set-ups. LEDs use less electricity than other lamps, making them an excellent choice when relying on batteries instead of power cords. An adapter that will allow you to power the LED from the same type of battery that runs your camera means you don’t have to pack two different types of batteries and chargers. If you want to add a little weight to your pack, a single small lightstand will allow you to enhance the look of indoor interviews by moving the light off-camera.
Listen Up – Over-the-ear headphones look really cool but there's no place for them in a solo-shooter’s kit; they're space hogs. They can even interfere with shooting if your camera has a side-mounted viewfinder. A set of inexpensive earbuds is all you need to make sure that you're recording acceptable audio.
Remove Your Cap – You won't shave any weight by cutting loose the black plastic lens cap that dangles from the camera and replacing it with a permanent one made of glass but you'll look a lot more professional without it. Attaching a screw-in skylight filter to the lens protects the front element even while you’re shooting. Not missing any action while trying to shoot with the cap still in place is an added bonus.
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