As a content creator, you’ve probably accepted the fact that spending doesn’t end at your camera and lens. There are tons of camera accessories and gear battling for attention, and it can be tough to know where to start.
Epidemic Sound ambassador ZY Cheng has listed the three essential camera accessories and pieces of gear that’ll make your life easier. Check them out below.
What are the three most-important accessories for a camera?
Sometimes, it helps to think of owning a camera like owning a pet. Every dog is different, and their interactions with each owner/employee – delete as appropriate – won’t be the same. How you work with the dog depends on how your skills and attitude match with theirs.
The same goes for cameras. Just because a camera is technically better, it might not be the right fit for you – one person’s trash is another’s treasure. However, if you’re looking for the basics or considering camera gear for beginners, these three accessories are essential: a camera cage, ND filter, and an external camera monitor. Let’s dig into each of those now.
Why do you need a camera cage?
A camera cage is an outer shell for your camera. It serves three main purposes:
- It protects your camera from accidental impact
- It offers extra mounting points for more camera accessories
- It improves ergonomics through additional grips and handles
If you want to keep your camera in pristine condition, a good camera cage can help you out. Dings and bumps are bound to happen as you shoot material, but you can use the cage to take the brunt of that damage.
Every time you screw your camera onto a tripod, it’s not the camera’s threads you’re wearing down – it’s the cage’s. Likewise, you can pull your camera across the floor to achieve a cool angle, scratching the bottom of the cage rather than your camera’s bottom plate.
If you’re on the move or shooting on location, a camera cage can prevent any random button presses. You’ll likely feel the difference in weight when traveling, as some camera cages can be heavy, but it’s worth the peace of mind.
A camera cage isn’t 100% guaranteed to protect your gear, but it’ll do a mighty fine job. You can also use the cage to attach extra accessories like Magic Arms, and other pieces of gear that need to be attached via a NATO rail. If you don’t have the cage, some of those additions won’t sit correctly on your camera.
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What does an ND filter do?
An ND filter, or ‘neutral density’ filter, is the perfect camera accessory for shooting outdoors. It’s a dark piece of glass that looks a little like a camera lens. When you fix the ND filter onto your lens, it darkens your image. But why?
By dimming the lights, an ND filter dials down the exposure and works toward a natural amount of motion blur. This affords you more control over options like shutter speed and aperture. You’ll need these options when shooting in well-lit environments or outdoors, where overexposure will be common.
When shooting without an ND filter, you’d usually double the value of your frame rate and use that as the denominator for your shutter speed. If you’re shooting outside and it’s bright, though, the image might not look how you’d like. Overexposure can also be caused by shooting in the log profile of your camera, which limits your base ISO to a high value.
The solution most people think of is just darkening the image by cranking up the shutter speed. However, if you do this to an overexposed image, you’ll likely end up with choppy, unnatural motion. Darkening with an ND filter will produce clean, smooth footage.
ND filters come in all shapes and sizes, meaning you’ll be able to find the perfect match for your camera and lens. They also come in different variants, allowing you to control the amount of light you cut from your shot. If you’re lucky, some high-end cameras have them built-in, so you don’t even need to shop around for a specific model.
If you do need to purchase an ND filter, bear in mind that low-quality models can degrade the overall quality of your footage. It pays to do your research and splash out on a reliable ND filter!
Do you need an external camera monitor?
Sure, modern cameras already have a screen – why bother with an external camera monitor? Visibility is the main factor. A lovely, high-brightness monitor gives you a better view of images and footage, both during the shoot and when reviewing your work. This will help you spot things in the frame that shouldn’t be there, leading to fewer mistakes on-set. It’s much better to spot those inconsistencies while you’re shooting rather than getting a nasty surprise during post-production.
Most external monitors, including the budget ones, should offer features your camera might not have. These could come in the form of overlays, or if you’ve bought a high-end model like the Atomos Ninja V, it can even double up as a high-quality recorder. That’s because some cameras only deliver their highest codec, like ProRes RAW, when outputting to an external device.
If you’re not prepared to splash that much cash – because it is a lot of money – then there are plenty of cheaper models on the market. You could even pick up something like the Accsoon SeeMo, which turns your iPhone into an external camera monitor.
So, those were our must-have camera accessories. Of course, different people will prefer different gadgets, but the camera cage, ND filter, and external camera monitor are all useful, accessible pieces of gear that’ll improve anyone’s footage.
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