Carry Less, Shoot More!

I have been experimenting with minimalist setup for video and photo gear lately. I had the idea of fitting everything into a small carry bag, with easy access, and the setup should be versatile enough for my normal street photography shooting and recording POV video of that session simultaneously. I finally did it, after purchasing a cheap crossbody messenger bag from Decathlon that costs RM49(USD15) and I went out and did a full POV video which I published on my main channel here (click). Here, I am sharing the breakdown of stripped down, bare minimalist setup which I adopted to produce that particular video. 

I also made another video on my vlog channel to share this minimalist setup in the small bag - you can view the video here (click). 

The purpose of this new setup is to be able to do both street photography shooting and capturing POV video at the same time. 

The camera for street shooting should be small in form factor, preferably a mirrorless camera such as Olympus PEN, or anything compact, and paired with matching small lens such as a pancake-designed lens. For the first experimental session, I was using the Olympus PEN E-P1 and M.Zuiko 17mm F2.8 pancake, which fitted nicely into the bag without taking much space. 

To shoot video for YouTube, the one device to do it all woudl be the DJI Action 2. The action camera may not seem like the best choice, but it shoots decent quality video in good light, so my street shooting should not be a problem since it was done outdoor in broad daylight. The DJI Action 2 has very good electronic stabilization, mitigating any shake, producing smooth, gimbal-like footage, and the lens was wide enough to fit everything that I needed, allowing the viewers to see more of what's happening around me as I composed my shots. The action camera was also very, very small, and was the perfect candidate for this minimalist setup combo. 

One huge advantage of using the DJI Action 2 was the high quality built in microphones, which negated the need for me to attach any external microphones. The internal microphones in the action camera records high clarity audio, and has good enough noise isolation if the camera/microphone was placed not too far from me. Having to deal with less devices makes things a lot easier for me - less things to worry about, and less chance of making any errors. 

Inside the bag, I fitted:
  • Olympus PEN E-P1 + 17mm F2.8
  • DJI Action 2 with Battery Pack
  • Powerbank + USB charging cable (for the action camera)
  • Manfrotto Pixi, a mini tripod
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Cheap 8-Inch Android Tablet
  • 8"x6" Photobook
  • Spare battery
  • Wireless IEM Headphones
Note that the E-P1 + 17mm F2.8 and DJI Action 2 cameras were placed inisde soft carry pouches to protect them from possible scratches, as the bag does not have internal dividers. 

Of course there are comprises. The footage from the action camera will never look as cinematic as what I normally shoot with my E-M5 Mark III. The video lacks dynamic range, the skies get blown out easily, and the 4K video does not look 4K at all, more like an upscaled Full HD video, with low contrast and sub-par sharpness. Having said that, the not so polished footage does get the job done - it shows wide coverage of the environment as I move along and shoot my photographs, and it shoes everything quite clearly. The main idea of the video was still about photography, the POV footage was purely to support the images I have captured. Hence, objective achieved successfully in my books. 

I can't be bothered to deal with 2-3 large sized mirrorless cameras and multiple lenses, external microphone attachments, multple tripods or any support devices, just to make a simple POV video. As a one man crew, people don't talk enough about how difficult it is to handle multiple devices and multi-task. My brain has limited capacity and I find it increasingly difficult as I have to shoot a video with one camera while at the same time focusing on getting good shots on the street with another camera. Add to the already complicated scenario, I have to remember my script and speak to the camera, and work on my delivery. Trust me, if you have not done this, it is harder than it looks!

Of course, this is just an experiment, and I may change a few things, or make some tweaks moving forward. That is the fun part, we get to try different approaches and the experiment goes on!

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1 comment:

  1. I watched the video on youtube and I found it very compelling; walking, talking and shooting (and shooting!), I did wonder how you did it all! Great content and so much more interesting than a person sat at a desk. It really makes you want to get out on the street and take some photos!