My “one bag” GH2 docu filmmaking kit in explicit detail

Run and gun can be tough when you’re also trying to be cinematic. Here’s a kit I’ve been using for the last few months that allows me to be agile, creative, and low-profile.  Plus, it fits in a single medium-sized SLR bag.  This kit may get revised after Photokina.

Camera:

Panasonic GH2 with 14-140mm kit lens (this lens offers awesome autofocus, which can be a lifesaver in fast-action environments)

I hack the firmware.  Higher bitrate = more color grading options and clearer reproduction of fast motion.  It’s safe and easy.  This camera rocks with the hack.  CAMERA  HACK INSTRUCTIONS

Generic Batteries (Plan on 1-2 hrs recording time per battery.  These are a good deal cheaper than the Panny batteries, but you lose the ability to monitor battery level.  If the battery runs out during a shot, you lose the clip.  For me, this has never been an issue because I shoot short takes, but it is something to note.)

Lenses:

Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (my normal lens for low light and near subjects)
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 (my portrait lens)
Nikon to Micro 4/3 adapter (for the Nikon lens)

Filters:

Variable ND filter (for Nikon 50mm and Panasonic 14-140mm)
Variable ND filter (for Panasonic 20mm)
Step-adapter ring set (for attaching Lightcraft variable ND to Nikon and Panasonic14-140mm)

Varible ND filters allow you to decrease the incoming light and keep a wide aperture in bright light.  To use the Variable ND filters: set the lens aperture to wide open, shutter at 1/50, and rotate the filter so the highlights are exposed properly.

Accessories:

SanDisk 64gb SDXC card (recording times will vary depending on which bitrate you use, but 2 of these babies should be enough)
On-camera LED light (dimmable and variable color temperature for indoor and outdoor environments)
Dual hot shoe adapter (for using mic and light at the same time)
Gorillapod for video (can replace a tripod for interview scenarios – just attach it to a chair and seat your subject in a chair of the same height)
Velbon Ultrastick Monopod (ultra-light, ultra-compactible, extends to 61″)
Quick release and tilt adapter for monopod (adds tilt capability)
Sennheiser MKE-400 on-camera mic (Small, fairly cheap, decent shotgun isolation)
Adapter to plug mic into GH2 (go to Radio Shack – I don’t know of a good online source)
Lav mics (2) (see instructions in the link)

NOTE: A lot of people use matte boxes, shoulder mounts, and rails. I find such things cumbersome and unnecessary for my style of shooting, but they can be essential for lens flare control and critical focus.

Happy shooting!

 

 

 

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    Latest Comments
    1. Orlando S. Gondar

      Great post! thanks for mentioning my work =)

    2. IronFilm

      btw, I *think* if you are not using generic batteries but the official Panasonic batteries then when you have your battery die on you the video clip is still saved.

      This is because the cheap generic ones lack the electronics inside those batteries to communicate with the camera to let it know when it is almost dead so that the camera knows then to save it at the last second.

    3. cyril

      Hi, thank you very much for sharing your config and tips !
      Do you use the variable filters anytime? or only when there is too much light as mentionned?
      sorry but I’m not skilled, just beginning. Thank you very much by advance, Cheers

      • Brandon Li

        I don’t use variable ND filters anymore. I shoot in Aperture Priority mode and let the shutter speed go as high as necessary, then add motion blur back in post with ReelSmart Motion Blur. I detail this technique in this blog post. If you decide to instead use Variable ND filters, be aware that they are ineffective at telephoto (due to the softening of the image) and very wide angles (due to “cross-hatching” effects distorting the image). For those focal lengths you would have to use regular ND filters.

    4. doug

      does the SanDisk 64gb SDXC card work with high bit rate hacks?

      • Brandon Li

        The highest bitrate hack I’ve ever used is the 44mbps (Vanilla) patch. Not the best test of a memory card’s write ability. Every Class 10 card I’ve used has worked flawlessly.

        I would suggest perusing this thread for user experiences if you’re looking to push things futher:
        http://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/806-memory-card-for-gh2-hacks/

    5. doug

      yes i have read that thread and it doesnt really draw many conclusions.

    6. doug

      i purchased the extreme pro so i can run any of the hacks thanks

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