I can only hope that there will be a lot of other happy people unwrapping new cameras this christmas. I bought my 7d about a month ago, and the best/worst thing is that now I realize buying it is just the beginning. I want to buy sooo much gear to use with it, and it is tough to find well recommended, modestly priced gear. Here is the short list of what I have or want to buy, to wet your creative whistle.
bogen tripod with fluid head.
If you buy nothing else on this list, get a tripod and a fluid head. The 5d/7d do not have ANY image stabilization capabilities, so if you plan on using any lens longer than a 50 you will need to use a tripod. The fluid head is also critical because many other types of heads are built for still photos. They are easily adjustable, but not in smooth movements. A fluid head is designed for video, and is the only real way to get a smooth pan.
Hit the MORE for more!
This should go without saying, but your lens is everything. If it is damaged you are back to drawing pictures. A uv filter will protect your lens from scratches, rocks, water droplets, human blood and baby oil (maybe even more!). They can be had for almost $100, but basically you should get the cheapest you can find. They will get scratched and abused, and then you can replace them. One thing I have found is that if you have a fast lens and you are shooting at night you can get internal reflections with a uv filter. I think this is true of all variety of uv filters, so if that is your ball of wax, just take it off and put it back on after the shoot. The stock lens I received with my 7d takes a 72mm filter. Make sure your lens and filter are sized appropriately.
Sound often is what separates great films from mediocre ones. If you are not planning on shooting video with your 7d feel free to skip this section. I have two routes you can take. The first is simple and relatively cheap. The second is more expensive, but provides better quality.
Cheap and dirty – Wired lavalier from radio shack.
This is the simplest way to get better sound for interviews and stationary setups. Grab a $25 lapel mic from radio shack and one or two 1/8″ mono extension cables and call it done. This isn’t the best audio, but it will do a lot to isolate background noise, or pull up the interviewee’s channel. One thing to keep an eye out for is to be certain to turn off the mic after use, and stock up on the small batteries. I bet they can last a long time. I always leave them on so they are always dead.
Not Cheap but clean – Zoom h4n
This option allows you to get really good quality from a small package. It has onboard mics AND it has xlr inputs to let you plug in a variety of sources. It retails for around $299 and records to a memory card. You could mount it on a pole if you wanted a poor man’s boom, or you could hide it in someone’s jacket pocket for a poor man’s lav. If you end up upgrading to nicer audio gear, you could even use it to record the audio coming in from your brand new boom mic, or lav setup! One down side of this approach is that it will force you to sync your 2 sound sources up before you edit. That means you can either use a clapboard and do it manually or you can use the next magic bullet…
pluraleyes – audio syncing software
This software looks at two or more audio channels and attempts to sync them up in your final cut pro timeline. The idea is that you record audio both on camera and with the H4N and then let it do the work. It comes highly recommended from cinema5d.com and anything that does anything automatically has to be good, right? If you have any questions, either see if they have a demo version available or just look at how much that woman is enjoying her headphones.
There is a ton of other cool stuff you can get for your camera, but everyone plans on using their 7d for different purposes. Here’s a few quick thoughts on other fun stuff.
Grab an intervalometer, it will allow you to take time lapse photos and long duration photos too. Great for star trail photography or really dark landscapes.
Grab a nikon lens to canon adapter and pick up some old nikon manual lenses. Old nikon lenses can be had for fairly cheap at garage sales and on craigslist. You lose all automatic functions, but on the other hand you will probably be able to pick up a 50mm 1.4 for under a hundred dollars.
memory cards – my experience. After reading all over the place I finally ended up getting a kingston elite 133x 32G card. I haven’t had the slightest bit of trouble with it. I have only even seen the “caching” red bar once or twice, and it is VERY fast in still sequence mode.
It might not be exciting, but an extra battery will always save the day if you are out in the desert shooting and you run out of juice. I’m not 100% sure I linked to the 7d one so double check that.
Lastly, be sure to check out the general camera gear gift guide that I whipped up a while back. It’s got even more ideas, and more explanation. Now get out and get to shooting!