My Upgraded Videoblogging Rig

Back in May of 2008, I wrote about the equipment I was using in my videoblogging for Sun. I’ve had a few upgrades since then:

Camera: Canon Vixia HV30 ($600) – I’ve only had this since early December and haven’t used it much yet. I didn’t feel I needed HD, but it’s hard to avoid buying it these days, and the camera can be set to shoot in plain old DV if I decide that’s better for my (web) purposes. I still insist on shooting to DV tape, for the same reasons I gave before: “Tape is a cheap form of permanent backup, and it stores the video in a high-quality, raw AVI format that I can edit with the software I have, and can output at DVD quality (or better) if I need to… Hard disk cameras, on the other hand, often compress while you’re shooting into a lossy video format – that’s why they can fit so many hours of video onto a small internal hard disk.”

  • Handy camera feature: My old Panasonic camera could run from a battery or from wall current, but only one or the other could be attached. This meant that, if I was running off wall current, there was always the risk that someone would trip over the cord and dislodge it, bringing filming to an abrupt halt. The Canon allows both the battery and the wall plug to be attached at the same time, so this is no longer a risk.

Mics: I’m still using the Rode mic ($150) when I’m shooting a roomful of people, any of whom is likely to burst into song… er, questions… at any moment. But nowadays I also have a great set of Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 series wireless mics ($530). When I bought them, B&H Photo was offering a kit with two lapel mics with transmitters, two receivers, and one handheld mic with transmitter (plus a few goodies). I gave one set of lapel mic, transmitter, and receiver to Peter, who is also videoblogging now. We’ve been using the handheld in interviews (I need to get something made up for it like the news stations use, with an OpenSolaris logo), the lapel mics for one-person videos such as presentations.

BeachTek Audio Adapter: ($180) Had to get a new one to go with the new camera, but these new models should work with just about any videocamera. Still great for all the same reasons as before.

Tripod: Got a compact Bogen Manfrotto ($95) that folds up to 16″, so it fits in my carry-on bag.

Extras: For international travel, the camera’s power supply can handle 110 or 220 volts, but it’s got an American plug, so I need to carry plug adapters for all the countries I’m visiting. I’ve learned that these can be flaky and are easily lost, so it’s good to have extras. It’s also good to have an extension cord and a multi-plug power strip for conference situations, when it’s a fight to the death for outlets. If you have outlets to spare, people sitting near you will be heartily grateful.

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