Camera Hacks that Every Filmmaker Should Know

There are fun hacks, like putting Vaseline on a filter to create a soft-focus effect with any lens, but those aren’t exactly something that you’ll be using every day.

A lot of the time the best hacks or tips are the ones that after you learn them just become part of your normal workflow and make your shooting days go a lot smoother. You feel better after a good shoot too.

Filmmaker Sean Kitching has a bunch of quick tips that are more for making your life better and less about getting fun effects. These are techniques and tricks that you can use every day.

1. Safely and Quickly Changing Lenses

In some locations, like the beach, changing lenses can be a dangerous endeavor. The last thing you want is sand blowing into your camera or the back of a lens. The only safe way to change is to do it as fast as possible.

Sean has a quick technique he uses to get lens changes done. He takes the lens he wants to use and has it face the lens on the camera.

Then, holding both lenses with one hand and with the camera facing down he hits the button, rotates the old lens off, flips the lenses around, and mounts the new one. You’ll need larger hands for doing it comfortably with bigger lenses though.

2. Alternate Card Storage

If you are quickly swapping out media on set and need somewhere to keep your used cards there is a little tool you probably already have on you – lens/camera body caps.

The rear lens cap and camera body cap can usually be mounted together to create a little case. And, this new case is usually big enough to hold a couple SD cards (or similarly-sized media).

3. Gimbal/Tripod Plate Removal and Mounting

Image Credit: DJI

This one is fairly basic, but you should try and keep a coin or two in your bag for instances where you need to swap out the tripod or gimbal mounting plate on your camera and don’t have an actually wrench or screwdriver.

Coins work really well for this, just make sure it fits your plate.

4. Reverse Mic for Real-Time VO

When you are doing some vlogging and shooting things that aren’t yourself you are probably still narrating the scene. Make sure before you start shooting that you reverse any on-camera microphones you have to be facing you.

Good audio is all about mic placement so take the extra second to get it right.

5. Battery Organization

One thing you never want to do is grab a battery from your bag, pop it in your camera, and then realize that the new battery is also dead.

Having your batteries organized in different compartments or having some sort of marker indicating which are charged and which aren’t is going to make you much more confident when you go grab a battery on set.

One option if you don’t have multiple compartments is using something like tap to mark batteries when you take them off the charger and then you take it off to use it and don’t put it back on after you take it out. Then only charged batteries have the marker.

These are all incredibly simple tips but worth knowing if you are just starting out. Do you have any of your own quick hacks to share?

[source: Sean Kitching]

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