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Lights, Camera, Action!

Smaller, better gear offers increasing variety of options to tell visual stories.

by Earl Nottingham


The National Association of Broadcasters Show (held annually in Las Vegas) is the ultimate destination for anyone interested in all things related to digital media. Several miles of booths and exhibits weave throughout the convention center and include every type of product and service imaginable for the creation and delivery of photographic and video images.

The theme for this year’s show was “Every Story Starts Here,” and exhibitors were encouraged to promote their products in terms of how they can help creators tell a story visually. To that end, there was a slew of new and improved products — from Hollywood-quality cameras down to smartphones — that promised to be better, faster and smaller than ever before, making the photographer’s job easier while also producing more professional-looking results.

As a photographer who shoots both stills and video, I noticed one thing while looking over the exhibits floor — virtually all new cameras on the market now shoot both still images and video, perhaps because of the explosion in the use of video in social media and personal communication. With each new camera model, users are demanding better image quality and more features, all while keeping the camera small. Third-party accessory makers are creating innovative products that add form and functionality to existing cameras, thereby giving more creative options to help photographers better “tell the story.” Here are three products that reflect the current trends.

Nikon Z6 • MSRP $1,999.95

With their smaller size yet full-featured abilities, mirrorless cameras are dominating the market for still and video creators. The Nikon Z6 is a good example of the trend toward the use of a full-frame sensor in a mirrorless body. It also offers 4K video with high-quality color output. Additionally, the Z6 features five-axis stabilization for more stable stills and video. Older Nikon lenses can be used on the body via an adapter.

Zhiyun Crane 2 • MSRP $549

While many cameras and lenses offer some type of internal stabilization, sometimes that’s not enough when your video must be silky smooth. Enter a handheld, gimbaled stabilizer such as the Zhiyun Crane 2, which can handle either mirrorless or full-sized DSLR cameras up to 7 pounds. Its three-axis stabilization can really impart that “cinematic” feel to your video. The integrated follow-focus control allows you to manually focus without touching the lens itself. Zhiyun offers a full range of stabilizers for everything from the smallest smartphone to largest camcorders.

Filmic Pro app • $14.99

Smartphone cameras have continued to improve in recent years and now are capable of producing feature-length quality video, especially when using third-party video capture apps such as Filmic Pro, which has become the de facto film app for iOS and Android phones. While built-in smartphone cameras can produce very good video, Filmic Pro gives the user the ability to manually set shooting parameters such as shutter speed, aperture and white balance. Other settings such as resolution (up to 4K), stabilization, lens length and color profiles are also available. Some of the more professional features include manual focusing, a waveform monitor, focus peaking aid and a Log color profile that produces the widest range of color and exposure information and is intended to be finessed in post-production.

Please send questions and comments to Earl at earl.nottingham@tpwd.texas.gov. For more tips on outdoor photography, visit the magazine’s photography page at tpwmagazine.com/photography.

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