Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Camera Tips n Tricks - Part 2

Tip #2: Put a hat over the lens.
This needs a little explaining. Have you seen professional cameras and how they have a ‘box’ around the lens? That’s there for a reason. It stops sunlight (or any other bright light) from hitting the lens from an angle. If you look at some security cameras you may notice that they have a lip extending out the front of the top edge. This does the same thing.

Grab a bit of cardboard or plastic and mount it on the top of the camera so it shields the lens from the top and sides. This will help your image look a lot better when filming outside. If you stand with your back to the sun, your image will be fine. But as soon as you start panning to the side, the light flares will make your shot look poor and over-exposed.

Tip #3: Add weight.
Many cameras are really small. Tiny actually. That makes them great to carry around, easy to use and unfortunately, easy to lose. But the biggest problem is camera shake. You see in the movies these lovely steady-cam shots and then in home movies you see these awful, shaky, nausea-inducing shots that wander all over the place. Since very few people can afford steady cams (and even fewer know how to operate them properly), we need a simple way to add weight to the camera.

Why add weight? Simple: inertia. If the camera is very light, it will take a very small amount of force to move it. If it’s heavier, then it takes more effort, effectively making the shot ‘steadier’. The downside is that the more weight you add, the heavier and more difficult to use it becomes. What you are aiming for is a little more weight than the cameraperson can comfortably hold at arms length.

So how to add weight to the camera? Easy: don’t. If you look at the bottom of the camera there is normally a small screw-hole for mounting the camera on a tripod. Even the smallest and cheapest cameras normally have these (even digital still cameras) so that manufacturer can sell you a tripod. Now, if you go to a hardware store (or junkyard) you should be able to get yourself a bit of steel plate with a small hole and a screw or bolt that matches the thread on the bottom of the camera.

See? Use the screw or bolt to add the steel and it’s heavier. Is the extra bit annoying the pants off you? Undo the screw and take it off.

If you want to get really fancy you can get the steel to be long enough to go from the camera to the top of your shoulder. Use tape to add a small cushion on the underside of the plate to protect your shoulder. Bolt some weights to the top above your shoulder to add mass. For that special touch, grab an angle-grinder’s handle and bolt that under the camera. Viola! The finished assembly looks like the cameras the news reporters’ use.

Obviously it’s not too good if you want the camera for a family picnic, but if you’re going to go to the effort of getting some friends together for a project, may as well make it look good.

No comments: