A Christmas Gift Buying Guide: And It’s Practical For A Change.

Christmas is upon us yet again, and it is one of those periods you either love or loathe. But its inescapable isn’t it really, and with Christmas comes the all-important gift buying.

Well we have put our collective head together and come up with what we reckon is a good guide for pressie buying for the video editor / shooter in your life.

Or of course, you could simply buy for yourself!

Now, we reckon many gift guides are just plain silly; why suggest Dad might like a new mirrorless camera when clearly, little Freddie or Arabella simply don’t have enough pocket money shell out the $2K+ needed (at least) for such a thing. No, their budget might stretch to a camera bag, or at worst a new strap. So, we have tried to keep our ideas within sane levels, with just a couple of items or three, that really are in “splurge on yourself” territory.

Here goes:

Gadget:

13048844_800.jpgWe have loved our Contour Shuttlepro 2 from the day we received it, and now cannot contemplate editing without one. Indeed, on occasion we have tried and find our left-hand grabbing at thin air trying to find the jog wheel by habit. This is probably one of our top picks. This is the closest to indispensable as an item we can find in the editing game.

Memory Cards:

Panasonic SD Card.jpgWhen shooting video or stills, you can NEVER have enough memory cards and you always keep them.

I still have a 500MB SD card from JVC circa last century – no idea what I am going to use THAT for.

The fact is, today nothing less than 16GB is worth getting for the modern camera or camcorder. So, don’t show yourself to be a cheapskate, buy your loved ones at LEAST 16GB cards or better, 32GB. And make sure they are “high speed” rated, sufficient for 4K video files.

Batteries

everready GoldLike memory cards, these never go astray. A large pack each of alkaline ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ batteries makes a great stocking stuffer. Don’t be caught out with rechargeable battery

sales banter either. Stick with alkaline or lithium.

Toolkit:

An eBay search finds any number of camera / camcorder toolkits ranging from $20 to $150. Ideally you want a lens cleaning system, jewellers’ screwdrivers, miniature nut drivers, needle nose pliers, wire cutters. tweezers and so on. In short, all the tools you might need in the field for running repairs of anything from a jammed SD card to removing a stone from a horse’s hoof or a thorn from a lion’s paw.

I’m kidding about one of these obviously.

Portable First Aid Kit

0804P_1_400.jpgCuts, grazes, scrapes, seasickness, a wobbly tummy, being stung by nettles, bees, ants and other critters and other ailments are all hazards. A small first aid kit in the backpack, whilst maybe not up to an appendectomy, is good for most of the things that can happen out I the field and doesn’t cost much. Top Tip: Get a St John’s approved one from a pharmacy and avoid online ripoffs.  And if you want an associated stocking stiffer, a Gift Card of a St John’s course is a brilliant idea.

lowepro-adventura-tlz30-ii-2Backpack:

I have yet to find the perfect backpack. And everyone has a different idea what constitutes this. But a really good WATERPROOF backpack designed for cameras and camcorders from the likes of Lowepro makes a terrific Chrissy idea.

Action Camera Kit:

$_35.jpgThe GoPro mounting system has become a de facto for action and other cameras to connect to such things as bikes – motor and pedalled – windscreens, helmets, surfboards and paddle skis, boats and even animals. Even if your camera doesn’t have the three-pronged mount, you can bet your life there is an adaptor.

Again, on eBay there are many vendors selling kits with decent waterproof cases with all manner of mounts and adaptors, sticky plates and so on included. I bought a 60 piece set for about AUD$30 that arrived in 36 hours from Honkers, freight included, and while the plastic moulding on some of the mounts needed a smidgeon of surgery to make them fit, all in all it was a bargain and perfect for your GoPro Action Man, Woman or Kid. Or dog, cat or horse.

Whatever.

OK let’s get serious about spending, now shall we?

Monitors:

This one is easy and difficult at the same time. The only monitors we have been able to review – apart from an OSEE Studio monitor which is a tiny bit specialist and non-mainstream – were ones from BenQ. And bloody good they were too. I know of at least two pro photographers who bought the ones we reviewed based on what we said. And they are VERY happy.

But, monitor models change faster than aforementioned Arabella unpacking her latest Barbie doll these days, so we asked BenQ themselves what they suggested. And they came up with four ideas.

Yes four.

EX3501R_Left60_eye.jpgAt the top of the range, for the dedicated video editing enthusiast who also wants a damn fine TV monitor to watch his latest creation (or Netflix, or Arnie in Predator in 4K etc) is the BenQ EX3501R, a panoramic entertainment monitor offering a 35” screen and 3440×1440 resolution with 1800R curvature. It sells for around $1099.

GW2780_Left45_special_eye.jpg

At the other end of the scale, let’s say you have a protege who is driving everyone mad making a video diary on his smartphone of EVERYTHING that happens, nearly every hour of the day and bunkers him or herself down each night to edit aforesaid video using iMovie or similar. You don’t want to spend huge amounts for a decent monitor (that can double as a TV or be plugged into a XBOX) so BenQ suggest a BenQ GW2780, a frameless monitor designed for beautiful simplicity. It combines ultra slim bezels with hidden cable management and BenQ exclusive Eye-Care™ Technology – protecting precious young eyes from harmful blue light emissions.

Expect to pay about $299.

ew3270u-speacial-left45.jpg

In the middle, is the TV that doubles as a Netflix or STAN viewer, fills in on occasion as a video monitor for your teenager studying drama and cinematography needing somewhere to practice their editing or 3D modelling and creation skills, and also has an XBOX hanging off the back. In short, a family unit.

Here BenQ say the BenQ EW3270U that also supports the latest HDR technology is the go for around $899.

BenQ’s 4th suggestion is not strictly speaking a monitor, but a unit designed for the ultimate movie geek – whether it be ones you have created yourself, or streamed from a service or even – gulp – on a Blu-ray DVD.  In the past we have had projectors, but the technology today is so far and ahead of what we had 4 years ago it takes your breathe away.

61LwGESEIUL._SX425_.jpg

The BenQ TK800 delivers in 4K a UHD HDR home theatre with vivid colours, high brightness and even dedicated modes for footy viewing and sport. We haven’t tested the statement, but our contact reckoned it was pretty good for Fortnite clan challenges too…

About 2 grand they reckon

Field Monitor / Recorder:

hero-en-xl (1).jpgOnce you have had access to one, you’ll wonder – like the Contour ShuttlePro – how you ever got by without it. Earlier this year, we tested the Blackmagic Design Video Assist 4K and were blown away with it. The 4K version is about $1200, but if you haven’t graduated to 4K yet, the HD version is $675 or thereabouts.

Drone:

mavic.jpg

Everyone wants a drone it seems. And to get one, you can pay from $50 up to many thousands. We’ve had a bunch go through Australian Videocamera Central over the years, and while most have a camera on board of some description, the majority of the cheapies – under $400 – are just not worth the effort. If they a) are not true HD or above or b) don’t support proper gyroscopic stabilisation, then forget it.

And ones controlled by mobile phones can suffer from screen issues we find if you use a cheap smartphone.

After a couple of – ahh – accidents, we’d also suggest that avoidance technology is very desirable. Drones that also float are still a little way off however … (there is still one at the bottom of Hervey Bay if you care for a quick SCUBA dive).

Out of the ones we tested, the DJI MAVIC family contain by far the best and at this stage, the models we would recommend.

Sure, not THAT inexpensive compared to your TV specials and side ads on Facebook etc, but you pay for what you get. DJI is known as THE drone go to company at the moment and we’d bet the house on one.

The Last Word

rrx0.jpg

If you are still stuck and have a grand to chuck at a pressie for yourself or a proper loved one, have a look at the Sony RX0 compact camera. It looks like an “action camera” and feels like an action camera. Hell, it IS an action camera, but nothing, but nothing on the market even comes close to its capabilities in a package this size. And it does so much more.

If you do a Google search, you’ll find no less an authority and filmmaking luminary than Peter de Vries ACS extolling the RX0’s virtues.

We love it and recommend one heartily. (You can find our thoughts in a detailed review of the RX0 here).

Have a safe, happy, loving and wonderful Christmas and a brilliant, brilliant New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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