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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

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Film Making, a Basic DSLR Kit in 10 Easy Steps?

I'm planning to take up film "seriously" (I feel video is THE form of media to communicate with in this current age), been looking around heaps for a camera that does video very well. They're quite pricey! (hello the 5D Mark III, D4/D800, or even the GH3! And that is just the DSLRs, anything above that of course can be massively more expensive) & the camera body is just a small fraction of the entire equipment cost :-P Film making is surprisingly expensive even just to cover the basics (but I am a tech gearhead, I think I'll love this), or maybe not so surprisingly! LOL.

Am even going to enroll in a Diploma of Digital Film, so I'd like to build up something close to a "professional" kit (but done on an extreme level budget! It will have a heavy DIY focus whenever possible, largely to keep costs down as low as possible. But also because I expect I'll enjoy making gear from scratch! Am really looking forward to that side of it).

Going to build up my filmmaking kit gradually over time in this order (along with some of my reasoning behind them, and other options):

1) camera body + kit lens, either the Panasonic GH1 or GH2 as I've been very impressed with the value Panasonic's GH series provides when I've looked at tests and what they've also produced. Just debating which of GH1 or GH2 given my limited budget (although of course the GH3 would be nice! ha). Leaning towards the GH1 as once hacked it still even now a very good camera, and picking the GH1 would leave more room in the budget for the many more items yet to come...

2) DIY shoulder rig, a basic simple one is super cheap and easy to build so this is the very next thing on the list as keeping the video steady is important.

3) extra batteries, nothing worse than going to the hassle of organising people and getting to the location only to be short of power half way through! (will get one authentic Panasonic battery, and another additional cheaper no name one. Paying extra for the authentic Panasonic battery as I've heard bad things about if the no name one runs all the way to the end while recording. Better off using just Panasonic and having the cheapie as the absolute last resort, which hopefully will just capture the final pieces of action without going long enough to risk it getting flat during a shoot)

4) couple of prime lenses, glass last longer than camera bodies! Micro Four Thirds mount allows a very nice range of glass, including many cheaper old lenses. I think my plan is buy soon one very inexpensive secondhand prime lens, then pick up another one or two more over time as they pop up on the secondhand market and cash for it becomes available.

5) I know sound is very important, audiences are much less forgiving of bad sound than bad images! I believe the top contenders at the bottom end of the range (because like camera bodies & lenses the sky is the limit in terms of how much you can spend on sound!!!) for DSLR filmmakers is: the Olympus LS-11, Tascam DR-100mkII, Zoom H4n, Olympus LS-5, Zoom H2n, Tascam DR-40, Tascam DR-07mkII, Tascam DR-05, and the Zoom H1. Out of them all I reckon it appears the Zoom H4n is the most popular for DSLR filmmakers. However as I'm certainly not an audiophile (the whole span of audio is mostly uncharted waters to me, feel free to give any kind of suggestions at all on this topic!), it is a mystery to me for now why I'd want anything other than the cheapest one out of what I listed :-P (although I can see the benefit of XLR as that is the standard used by other equipment it might need to work with. However until I am lucky enough to get a paying gig which requires something more than the cheapest recorder from that list I might as well save the money in the budget?)

6) DIY from hardware store a couple of light source set ups (lighting is obviously very important too!).

7) video grade head for tripod (much higher quality is needed than the cheap photography one which I have, as they need to be smoother for when video is being taken).

8) DIY dolly, this is more often useful than a crane and is easier to build so thus it comes before the crane in order of priority.

9) DIY crane.

10) then finally a second camera body (either the GH2 or the GH3 depending on the market at the time) & demote my 1st camera body to bcam which is *very* useful to have.

Will get the first step of a body + kit lens next month (or maybe February, when the course starts). I expect to get to the end of that building up cycle which I described could take approximately 18 months.

Of course after that I'd still have many other important bits to get like an external viewing monitor, extra lights, GoPro Hero 3 (outdoors and sports shots are very important to me, as I'm a sporty guy. But best to get the basics down first before getting a specialised camera such as the GoPro Hero 3), extra lenses, boom mic, & focus puller to add to the shoulder rig... plus more! :-P Is quite mind boggling when you consider all the many different elements which are required....

Ahhh... well.... it still is in total a very cheap kit I've sketched out which should punch well above its weight! As I'm primarily doing this as for documentaries and events coverage which I'd really like to do (for the love of it, as they are many great stories to be told and moments to be captured). Plus to a lesser extent whatever shorts (such as the 48 Hour Film Festival!), music videos, or anything else which catches my fancy or I can help friends out with.

For instance I'd love to produce a "Fat Head" with 10x the production values, as it was a bit shit (if you haven't seen "Fat Head" then please do, it is my favorite documentary! A pity it didn't look prettier). Or make a documentary about any of my many sporting interest. However making any feature length documentaries is very much a longer term goal, for now I'll just be learning (love learning!) and creating shorter pieces.

As I'll be doing it for love, any money I could make would just be a bonus! Recover costs maybe, but not time... $0/hr :-P As this set up wouldn't be for the mega bucks million dollar movies! lol

But I hope it would be appropriate (once the kit is complete! Well, the first stage at least which I gave in detail. In a certain sense it will NEVER be "complete"! lol) to use in low end commercial advertising work, music videos, event coverage (such as weddings), product reviews, documentaries, news reporting, micro budget full length films, & more.

Finally got to the end of this mammoth sized post (thanks for reading!!), as this is a big undertaking and I've been thinking about this for months. Any suggestions or comments feel free to throw them at me! :-) Especially anything NZ specific.

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

1) The GH1 doesn't allow you to use external monitoring, it also has a broken codec implementation, I have one and you can get beautiful images out of it - but sometimes you have to fight it. Get the GH2 or 3.

4) The Olympus and Pana lenses tend to be quite clinical and a little slow, check out the slrmagic 12mm and the voigtlander nokton lenses. Unfortunately the Voigts are worth as much as the camera. SLR Magic is also coming out with 25 and 35mm MFT lenses in the next couple of months. The SLR Magic 35mm and 12mm are cine lenses so they don't breathe on focus, have built in gears for your follow focus, and step less apertures. I have the SLR Magic 12mm t1.6, am planning to get the Voigtlander 17.5 f0.95 when I next need to shoot, and will get the SLR Magic 35mm t1.4 when it comes out, i also have a few legacy lenses, the one that I use regularly is a F.Zuiko 50mm f1.8.

When you are building your lens collection you will be relying on the kit lens to fill any gaps so get the 14-140mm with the camera, MFT can mount pretty much any lens in existence so finding > 28mm is easy and inexpensive, its the wider end which gets expensive.

5) The preamps on all of these recorders can be quite noisy, I have a MicroTrack II and its preamps are useless. I'm pretty sure that the GH1/2 doesn't have auto gain so if you can't afford to get a recording device and a preamp then it might be a good idea just to get something like a juicedlink and plug it straight into the camera. I don't do this, I live with noisy preamps but am looking at getting something like a Azden FMX 22 from Rubbermonkey on the cheaper end or a Sound Devices MixPre-D sent from the states on the more expensive end when my Blackmagic arrives.

If you do go to dual system sound then you might need to invest in something like pluraleyes which is software that matches the audio to the image automatically.

6) I'm planning on moving to low cost LED's the advantage being that they are cooler so easier to move around, they weigh bugger all, and can run off of batteries. Check Ebay for color balanced LED's.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

Thanks, those are some good points but as I'm wanting this to be on quite an extreme budget I see maybe some of them are a bit much.

1) If I was only getting the camera body I would absolutely go for the GH2! This was my original intention. However as I got thinking and realised this is only a small fraction of the total cost I am tempted towards getting the GH1 (and only eventually getting the GH2 at the end, so that I've got two bodies. Although like I said in my original post, might even get the GH3 as my second body! But I can't see that far into the future as to what my finances might be and what the price of the GH3 could be in the future! :-P).

Am aware the GH1 can't have external monitoring, however it already has a nice flip out screen and I'm imaging I'll be using my gear in very small crew (size of one!) situations. So this shouldn't be a major problem initially.

4) oops, should've listed the specific lens I'm interested in.
http://www.gh1-hack.info/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.ShootingMoviesWithHackOnVeryTightBudget
After reading that my plan is to get these lenses quickly to use with the GHx (and obtain in this order too):
Vivitar Series 28-90mm F2.8-3.5
14mm F2.5 Panasonic Pancake
28mm Vivitar F2.0 28x FD

Probably will get these more pricey ones too, but some time after the 10 step build up is complete:
50mm Canon F1.4
85mm Samyang F1.4 Pentax

Am not sure about getting the kit lenses, the nice 14-140 kit lens is sold out as an option with the GH2 (isn't available for the GH1 either). And it is more pricey anyway. So I'm only left with the 14-42 option. Considering how much cheaper it is without it I'm tempted to go without, however if the special earlier of the GH2 kit with a 14-42 lense for only US$499 pops up again I will find it very hard to resist not getting it!

One significant factor in favour of getting the body only is if it is the GH1 it should just managed to squeak under the GST threshold when bringing it into NZ which will save a nice chunk of change (giving it an over NZ$250 saving in total over the GH2 body).

5) The Azden FMX-22 is three times the price of the more affordable options I listed! Yikes. Good for you, but might be a bit out of range for the build I have in mind :-) Even the juicedlink looks to be outside the budget I'd imagined for this from what I can see on Amazon, although if you're meaning this then at US$150 it is a bit more affordable. However then if I get this then I will have to get a mic such as the Rode VideoMic or a Azden SGM-1X which adds another US$150 to the cost! (plus shipping)

And I was kinda hoping if I got one of those recorders I listed such as the Tascam DR-05 or Zoom H1 then I could get by for a year without any extra expense on any sound equipment beyond that (although absolutely yes, once this minimal 10 Step Kit is complete then getting a mic would be of high priority).

Is it that hard to manually sync on the PC dual system sound? I wouldn't have thought so, especially if a clapper is being used.

6) Affordable Lighting options for DSLR Filming. - DSLR Film NOOB - YouTube
How to: DIY DSLR Lighting | DSLR Rig | Gini Rigs

When I said "DIY lighting" I had something like that in mind, any of the options mentioned in those two videos.

I'm mindful of the fact I will need 3 lights, so any cost for a light then becomes 3x! Although I probably will get three kinds from those options, range from the cheapest to the more powerful (like the main one in the second video).

Good tip about LEDs, I can see they'd be a very good option if on location away from a mains power point (but that then brings in the cost of batteries to power them.... !). Took a look around, I can't find anything with that search for color balanced LEDs on eBay that you suggested. But Jaycar has LED lamps, is that what you're meaning? When I consider that a traditional 100 W incandescent light bulb has a lumen output of 1750 lumens then these don't seem particularly good value for how bright they are.

But it seems like a good idea to keep in mind for when I need to create an on location light set up running off batteries, however that I shall leave for the future after I've completed my initial "10 Step Basic Kit".

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Hey IronFilms, I don't actually own any of these yet but I've heard good things about the Apatures; http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=aperture+led&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313&_nkw=Aputure+led&_sacat=0

A bit more expensive than DIY but lots of benefits from what I can see, you can get models that you can dynamically dial the color balance, others that you can dial the focus, and others that you can dial the brightness. I was going to buy a couple next year and check them out before committing to more.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

Ah, excellent. Thanks for that link. I imagine I could pick up at least one of those at some point, especially for using for run and gun documentaries (which is a kind of thing I'd like to do).

An addition to my earlier comment (as I'm also using this thread not just as advice to shape my future purchases but as a record keeping device for my shopping list! :-P ):

Should bump up the priority to get the Canon 50mm as I realised the Canon FD 50mm 1.4 is rather cheap on eBay! I was silly just looking at the top results (their "best matching" search results) for Canon 50mm 1.4 and not thinking to narrow it down for FD. As I have a u4/3 camera for filming, using FD is just fine for me.

I realised this after watching this film made with a GH2 (check it out, looks nice! Quite impressive as always what can be done):
http://vimeo.com/39160354
And it lists there they shot on a GH2 with Voigtlander 25mm 0.95, Canon FD 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8.

So I looked them up, but boy is the Voigtlander 25mm 0.95 very very expensive! I doubt I'd ever get that one, unless I'm very successful.

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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

From what I've researched I seem quite keen on the micro 4/3 range from Panasonic of which the obvious choice is GH1 or GH2 (or GH3 if you're a little richer... :-P Not me though, GH1 is currently the leading choice), as I outlined above at the start.

Just checking what other cheap options there might be beyond GH1, and I think I realise now I overlooked something right within Panasonic's own G-something range!

The GF1? Just like the GH1/2 it can be hacked (the "GF13") and all the lenses (and other accessories) that I get for the GF1 will easily be able to stick with me as I grow and get the GH2 or GH3 (or GH4? haha).

Pros:
a) does comparable video to the GH1 (I think it is the same? But struggling to find this out for sure)
b) goes for about *half* the price as the GH1 on eBay
c) is exactly the same system and brand as the GH series
d) smaller, for extra stealth should I wish for it

Cons:
a) lacks a view finder
b) lacks a foldout adjustable screen

Probably am missing something from these Pros vs Cons, but they're what I've found so far.

To the above I'll add the GF2 too as another consideration alongside the GF1, as it seems to be selling at about the same price as the GF1 on eBay and it has a hack too:
http://www.eoshd.com/content/7074/hacked-gf2-the-300-digital-cinema-camera
This is making the GF1/2 quite a compelling cheaper option than the GH1 now. Hmmm.....

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treefrog
From: Dunedin, Otago
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1115

Try as I may toe encourage you, please sacrifice a little today for a beautiful tomorrow and pick the GH3. Its a cherry camera with a very bright future.

Remember: You can't go back once you've made a bad decision...

2009-2015 48 Hours Otago/Southland Manager, all-round filmy geek.
2008 - 'Oh! My Gucci Boots!' - Cats of a Feather - Director -*Best Costuming
2007 - 'ARC' - Schrodghers Cat - D.O.P.
2006 - 'Scarred-The Directors Cut' - Strange Attractor - Audience Favourite
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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

The GH3 costs *7 times* as much as a GH1!!!

For a first time video producer with a budget does it make sense to spend that much?? It would seem like a much better idea to shoot with the GH1 for a couple of years and learn the ropes, then pick up the GH3 2yrs later for half the price or less!

As much as I'd like to get the GH3, what would I have to give up? Almost everything else! (lenses/sound/lighting/rig/etc)

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treefrog
From: Dunedin, Otago
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1115

Sell a testicle.

2009-2015 48 Hours Otago/Southland Manager, all-round filmy geek.
2008 - 'Oh! My Gucci Boots!' - Cats of a Feather - Director -*Best Costuming
2007 - 'ARC' - Schrodghers Cat - D.O.P.
2006 - 'Scarred-The Directors Cut' - Strange Attractor - Audience Favourite
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dramamike
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1352

Sell Treefrog's testicle

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treefrog
From: Dunedin, Otago
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 1115

Sorry,bro, already sold them for my Cinevate DOF adapter and lens kits. Good trade though.

2009-2015 48 Hours Otago/Southland Manager, all-round filmy geek.
2008 - 'Oh! My Gucci Boots!' - Cats of a Feather - Director -*Best Costuming
2007 - 'ARC' - Schrodghers Cat - D.O.P.
2006 - 'Scarred-The Directors Cut' - Strange Attractor - Audience Favourite
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Allan George
From: Auckland
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 36

Great thread! A lot of people are starting to use the GH cameras more recently. The Tomorrow People did a music video on the GH3, they just released it two weeks ago. Will be great to see what the 48ers this year can get out of the camera!

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Writer/Director/Editor
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- BEST EDITING NOMINEE - AKL
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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

Allan , that is nice to hear. I haven't seen much mentioned online about GH cameras in NZ.

But there are heaps of them being used overseas, it is quite an underground success if you are willing to hack it (which is dead easy).

A little update about this thread:
Last week my GH1 camera has finally arrived (I purchased it off the personal-view.com forum), I've already acquired some vintage Pentax K-mount lenses (although most of them have fungus so I still need to disassemble them and clean them up).

I have just over the last couple of days purchased a LOT of bits and pieces which I felt are needed (some lenses/adapters/tripod/etc... also I purchased some lights and a shoulder rig rather than DIY as was my original plan, as I would like to in the future do some paid gigs it makes sense to spend a little extra just to "look professional"), spent far more than my camera body cost alone! (just memory cards and sound equipment together cost more than it)

These are coming from China and USA, so could take anywhere from a week to month until they arrive. But I should be shooting soon with my own camera!! (no more borrowing one instead....).

When I've got more time I shall see about posting up a link to each and every item that I've purchased so far.

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Allan George
From: Auckland
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 36

Where did you score the Pentax lenses? Getting rid of fungus can be near impossible in most cases. I wish you all the best with that!

What is your plan for sound? What's your set up going to consist of?

Yeah if you get some time it would be great to see links to what you have purchased.

2018 | BEAST MODE (Monster)
Writer/Director/Editor
2017 | MAN OF FEW WORDS (Action) Writer/Director/DOP/Editor
- BEST EDITING NOMINEE - AKL
- AUDIENCE FAVOURITE - AKL
2016 | BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (Crime) Writer/Director/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- AUDIENCE FAVOURITE - AKL
- BEST ACTOR NOMINATION - AKL
2015 | THE FOREST ROOM (Mystery) Writer/Director/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- CITY FINALIST - AKL
- WINNER BEST EDITING - AKL
- BEST ACTRESS NOMINATION - AKL/NATIONAL FINAL
2014 | BROKEN RECORD (Film within a Film) Writer/Director/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- AUDIENCE FAVOURITE - AKL
2013 | FUSION (Crime) Writer/Director/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- 2ND AUDIENCE FAVOURITE - AKL
2012 | MY CONFESSION (Erotic Thriller) Writer/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- BEST EDITING NOMINEE - AKL
2011 | GOODBYE GILBERT (Revenge) Writer/DOP/Editor/Colourist
- WINNER IMAGES AND SOUND SEXIEST SHORT - AKL
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY NOMINEE - AKL
2010 | THE VENTRILIQUIST (Femme Fatale)
DOP/Colorist
- C4 TOP 5 FEMME FATALE
Reply

IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

Got the three Pentax lenses with fungus cheap from a Facebook photographers' group. (yes I know it could be tricky getting them clean! But seems like a fun DIY project, and when they cost so little the risks is low)

Got a 4th Pentax lens at a reasonable price from TradeMe, which is in great condition.

Sound will be Zoom H1 + hacked iRig Pre + lav mic + shotgun mic
I reckon using the Zoom H1 + lav mic on the talent/interviewee would be an effective affordable alternative to having an expensive wireless set up. And the shot gun mic + hacked iRig Pre going into the GH1 would serve as back up sound providing performance with a great bang for the buck.

I'll have to write up a detailed list at some point anyway for tax purposes, so I suppose posting it to here afterwards wouldn't be hard :-)

As providing links too, maybe I'll add that for each one but I'll probably save myself the trouble. They're easy enough to find yourself. As aside from those Pentax Lenses and the GH1 (which I got via Personal-View.com) *EVERYTHING* I got from one of these websites: eBay, Amazon, or Aliexpress. (but also check out all the other major sites too, such as: Adorama, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R, etc... I very nearly bought the bulk of it from B&H instead of Amazon. But I was a bit too slow in pulling the trigger and actually paying for the items in my shopping cart, so I missed out on those particular specials. Which then made Amazon a better deal instead when a few of their items went on special)

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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

A little update (there is HEAPS to update on, but I'll just update with today's particular purchase):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/913512-REG/sigma_19mm_f_2_8_ex_dn.html

A friend in the UoA PhotoSoc club alerted me to this deal (TWO native mount Micro Four Thirds prime lenses for only US$199 for the pair of them together!), was tempted.... and this morning I woke up thinking *yes* I shall pull the trigger on it and buy it! Only to discover of course over night it had sold out :-/

To console myself over missing out on this, after some research, I purchased (with all the money I "saved" on not getting this deal) for my micro four thirds GH1 a Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f2.8-3.5 (Komine version) at a third of the cost of this deal (although it is also now the *MOST EXPENSIVE* lens that I've ever purchased! I'm such a cheapskate, one day I'll actually buy a native mount Micro Four Thirds lens :-P).

It might just be the perfect cheap and versatile lens for me personally, as it is also the Nikon AI-s version which will allow me to use it on my Nikon D50 as well!

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NITRO
From: Wellington
Since: Mar 2011
Posts: 383

hey Ironfilms - for led lights check out these guys. http://www.photogear.co.nz/index.php?route=product/category&path=57_62_123.

He's got most of this stuff in stock and is in auckland. I'd recommend going for a drive and checking it out. Tell him you're doing 48's too.

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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

Thanks, but those prices are double of what the exact same item would be on eBay.

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Good choice - I love my GH1 and it's got a few advantages even over the GH3.

Its multiaspect sensor is actually oversized so it is wider on the same lens than other 4/3 cameras, It has arguably more pleasing skin tones than the GH2 or GH3, and It's MJPEG mode is 4:2:2, great for keying etc.

Let us know what hack you decide to chuck on it. Mine was hacked a couple of years ago and is probably out of date.

And your right about the lack of GH series cameras in NZ, who knows why - they were all selling out when they were released. But whenever I'm on set everyone refers to any DSLR as a 5d. I have given up correcting them.

My GH3 arrives tomorrow - can't wait.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

On a related note - this equipment is not going to hold you back.
Upstream Color, the latest film from the Writer/Director of Primer was shot on the GH2:

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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IronFilms
From: Auckland
Since: Dec 2012
Posts: 106

I haven't used it yet, but I have just this week (because I had to request a 2nd dual flash light bracket, as the first one had one of the parts too loose and wouldn't tighten. I made a short video to explain the problem to the seller! :-P ) got all the parts for my frugal shoulder rig of sorts for my GH1:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Shoulder-Hand-Free-Support-Pad-for-DV-DC-Tripod-Video-Camcorders-Camera-Rig-/130870026283?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&hash=item1e7876202b

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dual-Flash-Light-Bracket-2pcs-1-4-Hotshoe-Adapter-for-Studio-Camera-Light-/230949489053?pt=Camera_Flash_Accessories&hash=item35c5a9899d

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Durable-Professional-1-4-20-Tripod-Mount-Screw-to-Flash-Camera-Hot-Shoe-Adapter-/400470809378?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item5d3deb9b22

As I only plan to put a couple of lightweight items on it (a shotgun microphone and a small LED light unit) I reckon it should work out well enough.

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