Let’s say you have a big shoot that is going to take place outside. You want to use your field monitor but it’s hard to see the screen in bright day light. You even place a hood around the monitor and it helps a little but not much. This can be a huge problem. I have a GH5 and rely on the EVF when I am out in the sun. The EVF works great on the GH5, but if you are conducting an interview outside, you do not want to have your eye up close to the EVF the entire time. So, what do you do?
There are several great monitors you can buy that are bright enough to withstand sunny days, but they can cost anywhere from $500-$1000. That’s is a lot of money especially if you already own a monitor. A trick that I have learned and adopted is using a black fabric called Duvetyne. This is a black fabric that is used to black out unwanted light. You can drape it around your monitor and have it over your head which will block out much of the sunlight. I purchase a small piece from Amazon for around $20. Duvetyne has been used on movie sets for ages. It can block out natural and tungsten light. Maybe you need to block out some of the light that comes from a window, duvetyne to the rescue. The fabric is fire retardant, and is also known as "commando cloth.”
I am big on using resources, especially if you can save money. So, if you already own a monitor but can’t view the screen in direct sunlight; pick up some duvetyne and start using your monitor outdoors. I have linked a video to show you how well this works.
I go through this and you may too, gearhoging. I know, it’s not a real word, but when you constantly want the latest and greatest camera gear you really do feel like a hog. And then reality sets in, you buy buy, buy, and then you must learn about the equipment all over again, like you are meeting that special someone for the first time.
Look at your gear now. Does it serve a purpose? Are you getting paid with what you own now? What’s the problem, oh yea…it’s not new? Well, that next camera you want won’t be new forever, in fact it will more than likely be replaced by a newer version in two years. Before you replace equipment ask yourself a few questions. “Do I need additional gear that I do not already own?” and “Will this new equipment I so desperately want solve any problems?”
If you already have a camera, why are you looking at another one if you do not have a decent mic? I use this for an example because many people believe video is the only thing that matters. And if you do have a camera and a descent mic how will a new camera better your production? These are all logical questions one should ask before they even consider buying. Sometimes, after doing your research on your desired product you may find out that it really won’t work for you, or it’s not worth the money. Research it on YouTube and watch the reviews. If you are on Facebook, and you belong to a videography type group, ask them about the product and see what they have to say about it.
I have been here several times; therefore, I really want you to understand the whole gearhoging phenomenon. If you have what you need then go shoot. It’s nice to have new things, but it’s also great to earn money by using the gear you already have.
There are times when new gear is warranted, I’ll give you that. For instance, I shoot with a Canon C100 and there is no way I am going to hold that on a gimbal for moving shots. The camera is too heavy for me, and it shoots 1080p. Panasonic released the GH5 not too long ago which is a smaller camera. The weight of the camera is manageable on my gimbal and it shoots 4k. This means I can crop the image if I need to, and I do not need to bring two cameras to my interview shoots. I can simply punch in with the GH5 in post and make it look as if the piece was shot with a two-camera set up.
Half the time after you buy the equipment you feel guilty, or at least I do. Really think about what your needs are, and contemplate your decision for a few weeks, you’ll thank me in the end. Think about all the time you have already invested in learning about the equipment you already own. You understand it’s limitations, it’s pros and cons. What you can get away with and what you can’t. The time you spent learning about your gear is an investment.
I wish you well in your gear shopping and think about what problem will be solved once you make that purchase.
I have been working in television and media for over 18 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer and storyteller.