With all the camera accessories available to filmmakers and videographers today, it can be difficult to decide which ones you really need to make the videos you want to make. Here, you can learn more about one of the most popular video accessories of them all – anamorphic camera lenses – and how they can help you capture just the right type of video for your needs.

What Anamorphic Lenses Were Designed to Do

If you can remember back to the days of tube TVs and the standard 4:3 aspect ratio, then you already understand part of the concept behind an anamorphic camera lens. Over the last couple of decades, widescreen televisions have become mainstream. Technology now allows for a wide range of aspect ratios, but in order for a camera to create a 16:9 (standard widescreen) film, it needs certain attachments. That’s exactly what an anamorphic lens was designed to do.

To put it simply, anamorphic lenses were designed many years ago so that videographers could more easily fit a widescreen image onto a standard 35mm film frame without leaving much of the top and bottom portion of the frame unused. It fills the entire frame and makes a much larger, crisper picture by enhancing the vertical resolution of the video and reducing any grainy, fuzzy appearance.

How an Anamorphic Lens Works

An anamorphic lens works by changing the way that the image is projected onto your camera’s sensor. More specifically, an anamorphic lens, which is more oval-shaped rather than spherical, project images that are compressed along the longer dimension. Due to this compression, it’s important to “stretch” the film post-production for it to display properly. It still improves image quality, but only when you need a higher aspect ratio than your camera’s digital sensor can otherwise capture.

Although very few filmmakers utilize an anamorphic lens for actually shooting film, it is an incredibly common tool for b-roll footage. Consider a bokeh effect that you might use as b-roll footage between film scenes. With a standard spherical lens, the bokeh appears spherical, but out of focus. With an anamorphic lens, the bokeh is significantly elongated due to the longer focal length. This also works with other features like flares or vignettes, giving filmmakers access to a far wider variety of effects they can use in their films.

Shallow Depth of Field

Finally, an anamorphic lens is also ideal for any situation in which you want to create the appearance of a shallower depth of field. In other words, an anamorphic lens is great for blurring out the background of a photo while leaving the subject in crisp focus. It’s become a widely-accepted “signature” style, particularly in recent digital film productions, and it gives the filmmaker plenty of opportunity for added creativity.

Though an anamorphic lens is not a necessity in the way it was back before digital cameras could easily record in a variety of different aspect ratios, many filmmakers continue to tout its importance as a creative tool. With just a little experimentation, you might find your “signature” camera effect with the help of an anamorphic lens, too.

For most people, a camcorder or even a smartphone is all they need to capture their memories. However, for those who want to amplify their videography and produce higher-quality films, camera cages often become necessities. Below, you can learn more about camera cages and what they do so that you can have a better understanding of your needs and the products available to you.

Do You Really Need a Cage at All?

First-timers often wonder whether they need a camera cage at all, and this is especially true when they have an excellent camera or smartphone that takes high-quality videos without one. Camera and smartphone cages do far more than simply improve video quality, however. They also protect your camera or smartphone and all the accessories you may choose to use with it. What’s more, it makes it much easier for you to handle your setup, especially if you choose to use microphones, zoom lenses, or other attachments that may otherwise make your camera cumbersome.

Not All Cages are Universal

Now that you’ve decided a cage is the right way to go, it’s important to consider the bevy of options available to you. Though many camera cages are universal, some were designed only to work with a specific brand, model, or model range. It’s important that you narrow down your selection to cages that were designed to work with your camera or smartphone. Even if the listing says universal, be sure to read the description and any reviews carefully before you make your purchase.

What Attachments Will You Use?

No two camera cages are exactly the same, so make sure that you’ve thoroughly considered the attachments you will be using before you buy your rig. For example, are you going to be attaching an external microphone, zoom, and flash? If so, make sure the cage you buy not only has the room for these accessories, but also provides you with the right features designed to allow for easy connections. If you’ll only be using an external flash or ring light, for example, then you may only need a camera rig that allows for basic attachments. The possibilities are endless.

Should You Get More than You Need?

Finally, when it comes to the simplicity of the camera cage you purchase, it may be a good idea to buy a little more than you need – especially if it’s your first cage. Many videographers buy a rig expecting that they will only attach a light or a zoom lens, only to find out later that they should have purchased a rig that allows for several more accessories. If you’re an inexperienced videographer and you aren’t sure which accessories will best suit your filming needs, buy a rig that allows for at least a couple extra attachments in various configurations. This way, no matter what you decide, you won’t find yourself with a rig that you can’t use.

Camera cages are quite simple accessories, but for those who are new to the videography world, the massive selection can be a bit overwhelming. To start, make sure that you learn all you can about the cages that fit your specific camera, then choose one that seems to best suit your individual needs – with a little room to grow, too.

 

Anyone who’s ever attempted to record a video on their phones or cameras while walking knows that keeping the image still is a bit of a struggle. Numerous camera and cellphone makers have introduced the concept of digital video stabilization, but in some cases, optical or physical stabilization is far better. Below, you can learn more about the differences between physical, optical, and digital video stabilization so you can determine how best to approach your project.

What is Optical Stabilization?

Optical stabilization is most often used in still photography, and it involves a variety of complex hardware fitted inside a camera lens to keep things still and sharp. Though it’s been used for decades, the technology has only recently been miniaturized to the point where it can fit inside tiny cameras and even smartphones. It can certainly stabilize your video to some degree, but it’s more to remove the effects of shaky hands when taking a still photo than to help stabilize a video you recorded while moving. This is important to remember.

What is Digital Stabilization?

On the other hand, digital stabilization is more or less a software trick. If you’ve ever used digital zoom on your camera or smartphone, then the concept is fairly similar. The lens doesn’t actually “zoom” any more than the device actually stabilizes itself, but thanks to new technologies, you can create the appearance of either. More specifically, digital stabilization uses a sensor to select part of an image or video and then adjust the video or photo so that it appears the camera (and the focus subject) are moving less than they really are. It’s a neat trick and one that works well in many instances, but often not enough for those who are serious about producing high-quality films.

What is Physical Stabilization?

Finally, physical stabilization is the process involved in using equipment outside of your camera to stabilize it and produce clean, sharp videos. The physical stabilization device that even amateur photographers and videographers are most familiar with is the tripod. It is designed to limit camera movement enough to completely negate the need for either optical or digital stabilization, and it does a fantastic job – until a videographer wishes to move the camera. A tripod is designed for still use, after all.

Which is Best for You?

All three forms of stabilization will have their place in your videos. Physical stabilization via accessories designed to work with your camera is important if you plan to take shots while moving, but optical and digital measures can take that stabilization even further. Fortunately, there are numerous affordable stabilization products on the market you can buy and try on your own alongside your favorite video software or programs.

The truth is that optical, digital, and physical stabilization all have their places in filmography, and the exact form of stabilization you need will depend on several factors – your camera type, your goals, and how you plan to capture your shots. Fortunately, with just a little research, you can find a wide bevy of products that will help provide you with the base physical stabilization you need – even if you take shots on the go.

There’s no denying that today’s digital cameras and smartphones have come a long, long way since their early predecessors. They can take some pretty phenomenal videos all by themselves without the need for any extra equipment. However, many vloggers and filmmakers find that there are several benefits associated with adding some extra equipment to their rigs, and you can learn more about the five most important below.

#1 – Reducing Shakiness in the Footage

Shaky footage is a problem, and that’s especially true for filmmakers who like to take shots on the go. Though digital and optical solutions exist, these were designed mostly for slight movements or still photos – not for significant shaking in a video. If you want to make top-notch films, video stabilization equipment should be at the top of your list. There are numerous options from which to choose based on your camera and your unique needs.

#2 – Improving the Lighting

Lighting issues are common among YouTubers and vloggers who simply do not have the right equipment to give their viewers the best possible footage. Shadows are difficult to deal with, particularly when doing face-to-face or overhead videos. Fortunately, the solution is as simple as adding a ring light to your rig. This light is designed to fit all the way around your camera or smartphone and do away with any shadows that it might otherwise cause. It’s the best way to negate shadows from ambient or overhead lights, too.

#3 – Improving the Audio Quality

Some of today’s smartphones, including not only the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy line, but also the Google Pixel series, can take excellent videos without much equipment required. However, if you want to include audio in your film, you’ll likely want to consider some sort of external microphone. Again, this is one of the major ways in which the right camera equipment can completely transform your videos. With a good microphone, your voice will be crisp and clear no matter the device you use to record it.

#4 – Making the Experience More Comfortable

Though it may be possible for you to film with a DSLR camera, a microphone, a light, and a zoom lens without any rig or cage whatsoever, it isn’t the most convenient or comfortable way to do it. In fact, many amateur filmmakers say they originally bought their cages to make hours-long filming sessions more comfortable. Make sure you consider the attachments that the rig allows as well as the overall weight and grip included. These things will make a big difference.

#5 – Keeping Your Camera Safe

Whether you’ve invested in a high-quality DSLR or you’re using your $1200 smartphone, protecting your camera during filming should be a top consideration. Unfortunately, many of the products you’ll find don’t do a particularly good job of protecting them, leaving you with scratches and scuffs – or worse, a dropped and broken camera. Buy a rig that is designed to protect your device and the equipment attached to it, too. It’s one of the best investments you can make.

Though the camera equipment you need will depend primarily on the limitations of your recording device and your own personal preferences, everyone can benefit from the accessories and equipment listed above. In fact, you might just be shocked at the quality improvements you notice as you slowly add them to your rig over time – or even all at once.

If you’re making a documentary, mockumentary, vlog, or even something as simple as a video to immortalize a celebration, then a shoulder rig for your camera is a great investment. These important camera cages can convert your DSLR into a full-fledged camcorder capable of recording incredibly high-quality videos. Below, you can learn more about shoulder rigs and decide whether it’s a good investment for your needs.

The Pros of a Shoulder Rig for Making Videos

If you’re a videographer or vlogger who prefers to use a DSLR for your filmmaking needs, then there are at least three reasons why you might consider a shoulder rig.

The Downfalls of Shoulder Rigs

Of course, before you run right out and buy a shoulder rig, there are a couple of potential downfalls to consider, as well.

A shoulder rig for a DSLR camera is one of those camera cages that most people either love or hate, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to your needs and preferences – and your filming style. For many vloggers and filmmakers, a shoulder rig gives them the flexibility they need to make the best possible videos on the move without having to buy an expensive over-the-shoulder video camera, and that makes them well worth the investment.

If you’re working hard to be a successful vlogger with a massive following, then you’re probably already aware that it’s important to have a great camera for filmmaking capable of creating amazing video. A camera can only take you so far on its own, so you’ll also need several attachments and camera gadgets to really get the most out of it. Here are seven you need to check out.

#1 – Extra Batteries

There is nothing worse – and we mean nothing worse – than being in the perfect place for the perfect shot or segment, only to have your battery die right in the middle of it. Sometimes you only get one chance to get it right, so it’s best to be prepared. Always keep extra fully-charged batteries for your camera on hand. Always.

#2 – Camera Cages/Camera Rigs for Filmmaking

Camera rigs come in a huge range of sizes and types, and they all have their own unique features. If you’re a run-and-gun type of vlogger, then you should have a rig that keeps your camera stable and balanced. Conversely, if you’re a stationary vlogger who films sitting or standing in a studio, go for a larger mountable rig with plenty of space for your other gadgets.

#3 – A Ring Light

Almost every single vlogger out there shoots at least part of his or her content in “selfie” mode with the camera trained on themselves. Though there are tons of lights you can use for the perfect quality video, nothing is as simple, as portable, or as effective as a classic ring light. The best part? These attach to virtually any camera rig fairly easily, making them perfect for beginners with little videography experience.

#4 – Lenses

There’s no one lens (or set of lenses) that works perfectly for all vloggers, so this is one of those cases where you’ll need to really consider your video style, needs, and preferences before reading reviews. If you aren’t sure where to start, there’s one particular lens type that almost every vlogger or filmmaker uses – a fixed prime lens. It has a large aperture, so it creates better quality videos even in less-than-optimal lighting situations.

#5 – Smartphone Lenses

Unless you take your camera with you everywhere you go, you will undoubtedly find yourself in a position where you will want to use your smartphone to capture some video, whether it’s for primary vlog content or for B-roll footage. Today’s smartphones are incredible but having a set of quality lenses takes things to a new level. You can find rather good smartphone lens sets online for anywhere from $20 to $50, so they’re affordable, too.

#6 – A Good Tripod

No matter how fancy your camera rig might be, there will always come a time when all you need is your trusty tripod. However, not all tripods are created equal. Look for one that is lightweight and portable, yet capable of supporting at least 1.5kg. Remember – always consider the weight of your camera with your heaviest lens attached when buying a tripod.

#7 – An Off-Camera Flash

Most of today’s cameras – even budget cameras – have flashes attached to them. This makes things incredibly convenient and gives you plenty of flexibility in terms of your videos and thumbnail photos. However, an off-camera flash provides you with better lighting at night and can help you reduce harsh shadows during the day. Ideally, find one with wireless TTL flash control that allows you to sync your in-camera and off-camera flash perfectly.

Though there are plenty of other accessories that can make photography and videography simpler and better quality, these are the seven camera gadgets you really need to get started. A camera, camera rig, tripod, off-camera flash, extra batteries, and a ring light (along with some lenses for your smartphone) will go a long way to help you always capture the perfect shot or video.

Most of today’s successful vloggers and filmmakers understand that great content – in other words, great videos – are their lifeblood. In order to create interesting, engaging, high-quality videos, it’s important that you have access to cameras, lighting, and camera rigs that won’t break the bank. The following information can help you understand the benefits of camera rigs so you can make the best buying decisions.

What Are Camera Rigs?

Camera rigs are accessories that provide you with incredible flexibility in the way you mount and move your camera. Most are designed in such a way that you can attach not only your camera, but also your must-have accessories that you need to produce your films. In some cases, such as when you have a top-of-the-line DSLR camera, camera rigs make your life simpler. In other words, they serve as quality of life improvements that can save you time and frustration. In other cases, such as when you are using a compact mirrorless camera, these camera rigs become necessities due to their ability to improve ergonomics, sound quality, and more.

Building vs. Buying

In some cases, vloggers have built their own camera rigs utilizing generic cages. They’ve added things like lens support (for that large telescopic lens), shoulder pads, monitor mounts, shoe mounts, handles, and myriad other things designed to make their experiences better. However, unless you have a great deal of knowledge, and unless you have access to thrift store prices, you may end up working harder and paying more for camera rigs that aren’t as stable or high-quality as the ones you can buy outright. If you’re a new vlogger with limited camera experience, building a rig is not recommended.

How to Buy the Right Camera Rigs

Before you can choose the right camera rigs for your needs, it’s important to think about your vlogging or filmmaking style and the type of content you produce (or aim to produce). For example, if you’re a beauty vlogger, most of your videos might be filmed close-up while you are sitting or standing in a stationary position. On the other hand, if you’re a sports or outdoor hobby vlogger, you’ll need something that can stand up to the “run-and-gun” style – something that comes with stabilization and balance. Finally, if you’ll have someone else filming you as you go about your vlogging, a shoulder rig is probably going to be your best bet.

Buying Your First Rig

Now that you understand the purpose of a camera rig and the benefits associated with buying one rather than attempting to build it, you might be curious about where to start. A flexible camera rig is always a great choice since it fits a wide variety of cameras and adjusts to your needs. If you’ll want something heavy duty that can hold numerous accessories in your filming studio, then a larger camera cage is a better choice.

If you want to take your vlogging or filmmaking game to the next level and improve the quality of content you provide to your followers, or if you just want to make sure that your very first vlog is as awesome as it can possibly be, make sure that you’ve chosen not only the best camera for your needs, but also the right accessories – and the right camera rig to keep them all secure.

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