A Light Weight and Portable HD Video Rig

Good video requires a good lens, good sound recording, and adequate lighting.  I’ve cobbled together a relatively inexpensive rig that satisfies these requirements, and is very light and portable besides.

The pocket sized Leica D-Lux 4 point-and-shoot camera takes very good HD video (in .mov format). But, like most point-and-shoots, it lacks a sound-in port; and its onboard mic is unsatisfactory for professional work because it picks up clicking sounds from the camera and doesn’t record with excellent fidelity.  To solve the sound problem, like many video shooters using DSLRs that lack good mic input ports, I’ve taken to recording my video sound tracks with a digital field recorder and then sychronizing those files later with the sound tracks of my video clips.

Here’s how the whole rig works:

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On an old TLR pistol grip from my box of ancient photographic junk I Super Glued a strip of rubber from the hardware store, making a very stable platform for mounting an Olympus LS-10 digital sound recorder, the D-Lux4 camera, and an on-camera video light powered by four AAA cell batteries.

My filming procedure is to start the sound recorder first, then take the video, then stop the video, then stop the sound. Back in the office I cut the beginning and end off the sound file with the free sound editor, Audacity. Then I’m ready to use a sound-synchronization program, DualEyes, to synchronize the LS-10 recorded file with the sound track of the video file. Dual Eyes substitutes the superior sound file from the LS-10 for the video track, leaving me a video clip with excellent sound quality.

The D-Lux 4 has an f/2 lens, and so, captures good video in low light. The on-camera light shown in the picture doesn’t throw very far, but is good for illuminating faces indoors.

This rig is extremely light, and disassembles into small, easily packable components. The rig can be mounted on a light weight tripod, also good for travel. However, I’m finding that with a fairly wide horizontal base for my hands and the eye piece supporting the camera at my forehead, I can take remarkably stable video without a tripod. (The D-Lux4 also has good image stabilization, which helps.)

The LS-10 stereo microphones are configurable to record sounds within a rather narrow or much wider cone. However, even on the narrow setting I have found that I can’t make a good video interview in a noisy location, because too many background sounds are picked up. So for interviews I use an inexpensive lavalier mic plugged in to the LS-10 mic-in port.

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