Four Simple Gadgets to Make You Look Professional

In the world of professional video equipment – sensor sizes and resolution dimensions have been getting larger and larger – with affordable 4K video becoming readily available to the masses. One thing that’s gotten smaller, however, are camera bodies. It only takes this comparison image of the Red Epic (below) with the Red One (underneath) to see that in less than ten years, cameras have shrunk considerably.

Arri 18-80


This is a good thing, right? Most people seem to think so – with less “body” to haul around, you can now mount 4K cameras on drones, sneak a cinema camera inside the London Eye, and put a fully-packed camera like the Red Epic on a MoVI gimbal. However, this presents a problem when trying to convince actors, documentary subjects, and other “non-film people” that you are a legitimate cinematographer (with a tiny camera).


Photo by Tyler Purcell

The solution? Add-ons! These are pieces of gear that, while not always necessary, will give your rig the look and feel of a professional capturing device. Because, frankly, most people don’t know the difference between an Arri Alexa and a Canon 7D – they only look at the size of your operation. And in this case – bigger does equal better.


So what if your lens comes with a hood and you’ve already got a variable ND filter? Mounting your camera on a set of rods and attaching a matte box will make your client and/or actor feel like you’re really gear-ed up! No matter if your lens costs only $100 – a matte box will make your entire camera and lens package look upscale! Check out Aputure’s option right here.

Note: in most cases, having a matte box and slots for NDs is advantageous. Not only do you not get the polarizing effect you’d get with an on-lens variable ND filter, but you can have more options, such as gradations. You’ll also be able to mount any lens on your camera without worrying about upscaling or downscaling rings. Check out Caleb Pike’s video on filtration for more:


You may have a Panasonic GH4, a Canon 60D, or even a Sony a7s – all of which have articulating screens of some kind. But is looking at a tiny screen really advantageous for you? What if you are in bright sunlight or your camera is mounted on a MoVi? What if you cannot see the screen from where you are standing? And – more importantly for the topic of this blog – what if you look like a consumer video shooter that’s making a home video. We’ve all seen them: fathers on vacation with their kids who stare at their camera screen, squinting to see the image.

Aputure V-screen vs-3 field monitor

A monitor will provide you with not only a bigger, clearer picture but with advanced controls for zebras, peaking, color science, and more. Check out this video on Aputure’s newest monitor below and consider the investment:


I’ve done an entire post on audio before, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you that good audio is 50% of the battle when shooting video. If something sounds terrible – you’re likely never getting hired again.

aputure v-mic d1

“But I’m only using my camera’s built-in mic for a scratch track,” you might say. You might be using an external recorder or lavalieres. Still – have a shotgun mic on your camera. Remember – it’s all about making your subject feel confident. If they see a tiny DSLR or mirrorless camera staring at them, they likely won’t take you seriously. If you’ve got a microphone on board like the V-Mic D-1 with the fluffy wind screen, not only will you be getting better scratch audio (a backup, just in case your lavalier dies), but you’ll look cool doing it.


Trust me: nobody outside of the film business knows what the “little white wheel” does. But they do know it looks cool. Every famous cinematographer or director has at least one photo of them clutching the wheel, so in a client’s mind: you + “mysterious white wheel” = professional. Even if you’re locked off on a tripod. Even if you’re not shooting very shallow. Just have it around – looks great and comes in handy in case you do have to rack focus. you don’t want to touch the lens and wind up bumping the camera! Check out Aputure’s V-wheel right here.

What other things aren’t absolutely necessary all the time but make you look “cool” while shooting? Leave your answers in the comments below!

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