New toys and a new attitude

Updated below

A GorillaPod and a Tiffen 37mm 0.9 ND filter arrived today in the mail. They were both on a big sale on Amazon, so I thought I buy them for my small digicams — which are the main kinds of cameras I use nowdays. The 5D MkII is mostly used by my husband these days. Instead, I’m in a kind of a crusade to prove that good video can also be shot with small, cheap digicams, if the right skills are in place. I don’t believe that all video enthusiasts should buy expensive dSLRs and camcorders, for some of them, an HD digicam is more than enough, if used correctly.

Canon SD780 IS with the Zeikos filter addon, the ND 0.9 filter, and a GorillaPod
Canon SD780 IS with the Zeikos filter addon, Tiffen ND 0.9 filter, and GorillaPod

I might get the new Canon A1200, the one that shoots in 24p and costs just $110. I believe it’s possible to shoot close to 180 degree shutter, even without full manual control. If you set the camera to P mode, and half-press the shutter button, you will get the information about the shutter speed. Adjust the lights/scene or ND filter(s) until you get 1/50th or 1/48th shutter speed. Switch to video mode, lock exposure, start shooting. As long as the video mode uses the same exposure algorithm as the P mode, we’re in business.

BTW, the other day I found the manual for the A1200 (PDF), and it has all the video features I expected it to have (manual white balance, manual color control, exposure compensation+lock, focus lock), plus one that I didn’t: a miniature mode, like the one found on the S95.

UPDATE: With and without an ND filter, and some stabilization. With the ND filter there is some actual motion blur, since the shutter speed is more natural.


Adam wrote on January 29th, 2011 at 4:48 PM PST:

Looking forward to seeing what you get out of it, I love taking out my little casio putting these small cameras onto a GorillaPod transforms how you can use/hold them.

skip wrote on January 29th, 2011 at 5:20 PM PST:

Eugenia – thank you very much for all your help to improve quality of my videos. Your article is spot on as we sometimes say, maining a perfect bullseye if you were throwing darts at a dart board! I am setting up my SD780IS exactly as you have described and am looking forward to better videos. I will set the camera up per instructions as well and forward link to you when I have a video ready with addons. Thanks again – youre the best!

Glenn Thomas wrote on January 29th, 2011 at 9:34 PM PST:

Be careful with that GorillaPod. You’ll see exactly why in the next video I’ll be posting in a day or two. Don’t mount it to any round posts or tree branches. They just don’t stick as well as they’re supposed to!

The A1200 does sound like a good option. I might get one myself as a backup 24p camera.

Jeremy wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 8:36 AM PST:

Excellent idea with the shutter speed trick! I never would’ve thought of that. I’m surprised this wasn’t addressed by CHDK.

glenn wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 1:47 PM PST:

Do you have a small filter tube on that canon? I was expecting a much larger set-up with the nd filter. How does it lock onto the camera?

glenn wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 1:48 PM PST:

I like the new toys, the new attitude…I might have inspired?

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 2:17 PM PST:

>I’m surprised this wasn’t addressed by CHDK.

CHDK is very poor regarding video. Offers nothing essentially.

>How does it lock onto the camera?

You can see the pictures here.

>I might have inspired?

No, sorry. 🙂
I’ve already shot two official music videos with small digicams months ago. It’s not a new idea actually.

glenn wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 7:12 AM PST:

Thanks for the link…I didn’t notice the adaptor on the bottom of the picture of your setup.

Then what’s the new attitude?

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Eugenia wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 1:40 PM PST:

The fact that I will make it my goal to convince most normal videographers that they don’t need an expensive cam themselves.

Juan Urquhart wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 6:05 PM PST:

Well, i’m convinced, inspired by your work and Glenn’s, but mostly, and sadly, by living in the third world, Uruguay…here the t2i costs around 1500 U$S with the 18-55mm kit, and my job as a teacher pays me around U$S 900 a month.. so i should work almost two months to afford one, and by the way convince my wife and kids to quit the annoying habit of eating three times everyday …
I bought an sx130 , U$S 360 , and i’m really happy…it’s an incredible camera for the price … i’m finishing a dof adapter for using a couple of old canon lens i have , although i know shallow dof or bookahke is overrated ..
All your advice and knowledge is a trasure for me, thanks again!


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Eugenia wrote on February 1st, 2011 at 6:43 PM PST:

Juan, I don’t think a 35mm adapter is needed for a good video. Good photography, lighting, setup, script, and audio are more important. Try getting an ND filter for your camera instead. I found this universal adapter to strap an ND filter on. If that adapter is too short for your camera’s long lens, you can buy a 37mm extension filter tube. Provided the camera’s lens fits in 37mm, it can be done with the right parts.

Juan Urquhart wrote on February 2nd, 2011 at 7:35 AM PST:

Thanks for the tip, Eugenia…i agree, as i said 35mm adapters are overrated…
I checked your cinematic list top ten , and framing , script , story and good lighting are essential, way before shallow dof…
I’m trying to produce music videos, here is a link for a song of my band…

i hope links are ok…

david wrote on February 2nd, 2011 at 2:01 PM PST:

Please do continue to post your tips, techniques, recipes and findings with regard to using cheap digicams for producing quality videos.

I very much appreciate the philosophy of producing quality videography using affordable tools.

Thanks much.


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