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For the new year, we have decided to step up our film making game. We are enjoying film making so much, and we believe that you (the reader) get a much more accurate feel for our experience on the road with videos. In addition, our family and friends back at home seem to feel much more connected with us through film, which makes our 2+ year bike tour much easier for them.
We have been filming on a basic compact digital camera for the past three months now. Although we have received great feedback on the videos we produce, we can't help but feel that our little digital camera is holding us back.
The things we want to improve on include:
Stabilising our images better – Given that we are riding a bicycle on rough roads in remote locations, stabilisation is always going to be an issue. Although we would love to carry around a “steadicam”, the size, weight and cost of the device is just not practical. We have therefore purchased a camera with a far superior optical image stabiliser (OIS) than our current compact.
Recording higher quality sound without wind hiss – We hate that our voices cannot be heard clearly on windy days, and that the microphone hisses from even a slight breeze. An external microphone with a wind shield should give us what we want.
Using a zoom – We are excited to use a zoom on our new camera! Although the compact can zoom and film, it was just not practical.
Manual focussing – Our current compact is a bit too automatic for our liking. We are looking forward to using a manual focus to capture pro-shots!
What camera did we buy?
Although it looks they will be extinct soon, we purchased a camcorder! The model we are working with is called the Panasonic V700.
We opted for this camera for a few reasons:
– It's dedicated to filming. I compared many youtube videos between this camcorder and many compact/super zoom fixed-lens cameras and found that the way that the lens focussed, handled colour and light was of a much higher standard.
– It's small and light. Although I would love to film with a DSLR with some nice glass, the size and weight of the gear just isn't practical for our trip! The Panasonic camcorder isn't even 350g. If weight and size were not an issue, we would probably film with a micro four-thirds camera (Panasonic GH2/3).
– It has a hotshoe for an external microphone.
– The OIS and zoom are off-the-charts good on this camcorder.
– Camcorders are such good value these days! Sub-$500 will get you something great.
One of the key reasons for buying a new camera was to make our sound quality better. An external microphone will sit on top of our camcorder and when needed, will have a “dead cat” cover on it to reduce wind noise on the road. Being a directional microphone, it will also improve interview sound quality as well.
Other than using a better quality video camera, we plan on video grading our clips more regularly to give you much richer colours.
Filming from new angles
In addition to the camera we picked up an X-shot. We will be riding a tandem soon, so it will be important to get us both riding in the frame. This monopod should do the trick.