Sometimes we dwell a lot when it comes to the tools of our work, in the gear we use instead of focusing on what is truly important and what should be the focus of every filmmaker – making films. Sometimes we go the opposite way, and we show no care at all of the instruments of our craft. We disdain some pieces of equipment, maybe because they have got a bad word of mouth, or we don’t feel like trying.
Be as it may, there are some things that have a bad rep and are kind of underrated although they could be pretty useful. Now, if you are a gearhead and roam a little bit trough YouTube, you may have already encountered Armando Ferreira and his insightful reviews. This time he partners up with Nic Pachunka in a helpful overview of some gear for filmmakers that we can consider underrated even if it doesn’t deserve it.
Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine lens
The first item on the list is a lens. We’re talking about the Rokinon 85mm T1.5. It’ a nice and cheap lens, it goes for less than 300 bucks, it has a nice de-clicked iris, it covers a full frame sensor and weights so little that it’s a shame that not every filmmaker has one in the bag.
Take a look at the photo and it’s bokeh: the nice round circles are soft and appealing to the eye. Absolute portrait killer.
Godox SL60W LED Video Light
Many of us are familiar with Aputure 120D series that got just recently updated to the MK II model, it’s a great light, one of the best on the market, but its price tag can be prohibitive for most of the beginners. This is where the Godox SL60W comes in. With its $160 price, it’s a steal.
Yes, it lacks many small details but the important things are all there. It’s dimmable, it has a remote, a nice output and a Bowens mount in front, so it can take a lot of different light modifiers, like the FotodioX EZ-Pro Deep Parabolic Softbox. The combo goes for less than 300 bucks and makes for an amazing high-quality keylight.
Tiffen 4×4 Filters
When you get your first matte box kit, you’ll find those couple of filters that make you think: “What am I going to do with this one? I’ll never use it“. And usually a decade later you get to say: “Boy was I wrong“. This is a very stylized and particular type of filter, actually, jokes aside, it’s not used that much, but in those couple of situations, it can make a very huge difference.
We’re talking of those filters like the graded NDs, that can be used at twilight to push up the sky, or the pearlescent or “beauty” ones that give that morbid glow all over, or those that walk the thin line between gorgeous and tacky, like the star filter that turns any light source in your frame into a star shape.
With little exceptions, these are filters that we usually leave alone without even trying them, but from time to time there can be an occasion where they can turn the tables and make a dull and boring shot into a special one.
iFootage Cobra 2 C180 Carbon Fiber Monopod
One of the best innovations in camera gear together with SpeedBoosters was the introduction of the small feet for monopods. They used to be quite unstable, and having to do some kind of movement like a simple pan could be quite difficult. All changed with those small supports that allowed for a major step up in smoothness of use.
Now, the recent upgrade to this system comes from iFootage, and it’s quite useful. Their new monopod is made from three separate stages, the base, the actual monopod, and the friction head.
With a quick release system, you can go from the normal configuration to a Hi-hat-like solution that can be very useful in run and gun situations. It is quite sturdy and as you can see in the last part of the photo, it seems capable of holding a camera on its own, but honestly, I would not try this at home.
There you have it, a bunch of underrated filmmaking tools and accessories that you might re-consider for your next shoot. Let us know what do you think about these in the comments below.