We’re onto the final gift guide of the holiday season. We’ve had cameras, lenses, lights, tripods sliders and gimbals, but now it’s time for those essential accessories and doohickies we often find stuffed into our camera bags or on our desks that we just can’t live without. This year we’ve picked some of our favourite new tools of 2020 and those that have been the most useful to the team here at DIYP.
I’m not a huge light painter. It’s something that I do like to experiment with, but not something I’m very good at. I enjoy the type of work that others create, and this year, the only light painting tool that’s really stood out to me is Light Painting Brushes’ Fiber Optic Wand. You can look here to see why! So, if you’re into light painting, or you know somebody who is, this is well worth checking out!
Sennheiser MKE 200 (Amazon / B&H) – $99.95
The Sennheiser MKE 200 has quickly become a favourite on-camera microphone amongst many, due to its small size and audio quality that Sennheiser’s pretty famous for. It’s an unpowered microphone, so you’re still at the mercy of your camera’s pre-amps, but it features some very unique and interesting design features that let it produce some pretty incredible sound.
Personally, though, my favourite on-camera microphone this year has to be the Rode VideoMic NTG. I’ve tried quite a few this year, and they’re all pretty good if you just want to record a scratch track for syncing to externally recorded audio in post, but if you want the best possible sound in-camera for things like vlogging (or even booming overhead a subject) the Rode VideoMic NTG is best in its class as far as I’m concerned.
Synco is a relatively new company to the world of microphones, having just celebrated their first anniversary a couple of months ago. But, they’ve quickly established themselves as a decent player in the industry, producing a range of microphones that produce good quality sound for many use cases at a very affordable price. The Synco Mic G1 (A1) is a single 2.4Ghz transmitter and receiver set which features a microphone built into the transmitter or the option to plug in a less obvious lav mic. If you need a pair of microphones, check out the Synco Mic G1 (A2).
The Deity Connect system also runs on 2.4Ghz but offers a number of very cool features not found in other systems. Aimed primarily towards higher-end productions, this dual-channel receiver and two transmitter kit offers adaptive frequency hopping, uncompressed digital signal, up to four antennas on the receiver (2 internal and 2 external) to maximise reliability on set. They also boast over 10 hours of battery life to last all day!
Moment is a brand primarily associated with smartphone video and photography. More recently, though, they’ve been branching out to offer tools for photographers and filmmakers using DSLRs and mirrorless kit. Amongst those tools are their Variable ND filters (review here) which offer a very high level of quality at an affordable price point.
The benefits of being able to physically disconnect one’s camera from their viewing device absolutely cannot be underestimated. The Mars 300 Pro is one of my favourite and most used video tools this year. Out on location, I’ve found the Mars 300 Pro to far exceed its claimed 300ft range, and here at home, I simply couldn’t live stream without it. It’s also handy for photography to remotely monitor wildlife over live view. Sure, you can use a smartphone app to see it with many cameras these days, but you won’t as easily be able to that it’s sharp or get as smooth a frame rate as you will with this.
The Atomos Ninja V isn’t a new monitor. It’s pretty much been the standard by which other field monitors are judged ever since its initial release. But it sees new updates and features so often, that it almost feels like a new monitor every few months. There’s little out there that can really compete with it on features vs price, and you know it’s going to keep being supported with new features for a long time to come.
Blackmagic Speed Editor & DaVinci Resolve Studio (B&H) – $295
If you’re a video editor who uses DaVinci Resolve, the new Blackmagic Speed Editor might be right up your street. Putting all of your favourite tools and shortcuts in a single set of dedicated buttons with a great big dial for scrubbing through your footage is going to speed up your workflow immeasurably. And if you’re using the free version of DaVinci Resolve, you can even get a free Speed Editor right now with the purchase of a DaVinci Resolve Studio license.
If you’re not a DaVinci Resolve editor (or even if you are, but you use other stuff as well), the Loupedeck CT is an excellent option. This was on last year’s list, but it received an update at the beginning of this year that basically made it feel like a whole new device. No longer was it limited to just a handful of apps of Loupedeck’s choosing. Oh no, now you can use it with just about any Windows or macOS app at your disposal. Still the most used tool on my desktop.
Accessories are always a tough one to nail down. Everybody has their own favourites to satisfy their own needs. Things that one person cannot live without may not fit into somebody else’s workflow at all. But sometimes, seeing the things that other people use and like can make us see new ways to improve our own workflow and efficiency. We hope that these suggestions will help you with your work, or bring a smile to the face of that photographer or filmmaker in your life.
What’s your favourite desktop or shoot accessory for your photography or filmmaking?