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Gear Worth Owning in 2019

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Sony A7III

If you want the most bang for your buck in 2019, start here. There are more professional and costly tools available, but this set of kit will get you on your to creating equally professional results which will more quickly be limited by your skill than by the gear.

My recommended list for photo/video gear in 2019:

Here’s a high-level update of what I consider to be the best bang-for-buck gear available. First, it finally makes sense to recommend a single camera for photo and video (hybrid camera).

Sony A7III

Tamron 28–75mm f2.8

Ronin S

Boling P1

Umbrella

5-in-1

RODE Video Mic Go

Mac Pro 5,1

Resolve

Like I say, In 2019, mirrorless seems the unquestionable future (unless you’re Ricoh) and hybrid mirrorless cameras have really arrived. One can get both great video features and fantastic photo capability in the same camera. The Sony A73 epitomizes this. While it lacks 10-bit internal video, something the similarly appealing FujiFilm XT-3 does have, the Sony’s full frame sensor, low light ability, user-customizability, new battery, internal log recording, and robust lens selection are exciting.

The Tamron is exciting as it’s a lens designed for Sony E-mount meaning it’s sized smaller than the comparable DSLR-oriented lens of yesteryear. It’s optically imperfect when comparing to many other lenses, but not enough that it’s noticeable to the common viewer in ‘average’ circumstances. If you’re looking for one do-everything lens, this is it. The 28mm end often feels tight compared to the 24mm we’re often used to, the fly-by-wire focus isn’t good for external focus pulling, and the focus ring is mysteriously the inner-most rather than outer-most (nearest the filtered end of the lens) one. All-in-all, this lens wins for the best combination of convenience and quality.

The world is plagued by too many gimbals, and though the Ronin S feels twice as heavy as it should need to be, it’s a solid choice with a variety of accessories, a good track record of support through DJI, and a small enough form factor it can be collapsed into a backpack with other gear.

The Boling P1 makes the list as an affordable but versatile LED that’s small enough to always have with you in any camera bag. It’s an RGB LED, meaning you can do fun (and occasionally useful) colors and color effects, but what I’ve grown particularly fond of is the mounting arm included with the light. It makes it very versatile. Lights like this are often used on camera which looks terrible in every situation I can think of. I use this light with a modifier which softens the light but cuts its output. This means it can only function indoors as a key, generally speaking, but makes a great fill when outside. Color rendering is great on the light.

I still insist that a properly used 5-in-1 and umbrella are two thoroughly under-appreciated pieces of gear. The 5-in-1 makes a great collapsible fill for dark shadows or a bounce when shooting backlit against the sun. The umbrella is collapsible and quick to set up (compare a soft box of similar size). Where it lacks for control of light spill, it makes up for it in convenience. If you need to control light a bit more, I also recommend this easy-to-use Bowens softbox for a quick setup. Larger modifiers like the Aputure light dome have made setup and takedown easier with speed-ring soft boxes, but the entire package is still much more cumbersome.

There is still a case for dedicated video cameras, but it’s a harder argument to make. I personally use a C200 for anything where I need a dedicated video camera, and when I want to impress someone I rent RED or ARRI.

The RODE Video Mic Go feels like a real step forward in easy-to-use but decent quality wireless audio. Other solutions, like the Sennheiser XS, just don’t have quite enough control, while previous products, like the Sennheiser G-series, had too much. This product is incredibly small, easy to use, versatile (it ‘comes with’ a built-in lav mic) and works in a great variety of situations. Because the bandwidth of usable wireless frequencies is shrinking, more and more companies turn to clever use of the “WiFi” range, using 2.4 or 5.8 GHz signals to communicate. This means your gear works anywhere in the world, but it means you’re also competing with a lot more. This makes the Video Mic Go work extremely well in low range situation where you have line of sight to the camera.

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