High Def with D-SLR – Adding the Nikon D7000 to My Gear Bag

Offering to help out landed me some new work. Paying work. Sweet.

It starts, as most things do, innocently enough. “Hey, can you take some pictures for us for the annual company banquet?” “Hey, can you get with supervisor so-and-so and see if they need any help with getting the highlight slideshow/video ready for the banquet?” “Hey, how is that video coming, and hey, how about an extra slideshow to run in the background while guests arrive and mingle?”

And then, “Hey, awesome job. I haven’t met you but I am one of your really big bosses and I want to meet with you to talk about your work,” and (wait for it) “Hey, we want to PAY you to do more for us.”

So in the midst of doing my regular thing I have re-launched my multimedia career. Thankfully I have been keeping abreast of the latest technology, equipment, software, etc. although a quick assessment of personal inventory led me to my favorite camera store in the whole wide world (in downtown Dallas).

As I will be shooting a mix of stills and video I turned my attention to the new crop of D-SLRs that also shoot video. My entire collection of lenses have Nikon mounts so I needed to investigate their latest and greatest. NikonUSA.com showed a recent release of the D7000 model that offered several features high on my “must-have” list: External audio inputs, focus while shooting video, native 1080p and backup storage solution.

A quick search on the interwebs found hordes of sources related to shooters using Canon D-SLRs for shooting video in the field but little exists related to using Nikons. Hmmm, that troubles me. Is Nikon behind in the game or is this continuation of trends I saw in the early to mid-00s of shooters preferring Canon for digital work?

Either way, I cannot afford to change everything over to Canon so Nikon it is, although there is a new Canon pro-sumer video camera just released that I have my eye on for future video work (XA-10 I am looking at you).

OK, everybody in the world is out of stock on the D7000 so perhaps it is a good piece of equipment. Please, Ramsey, please have one in stock. Pffft, how about having 10 in stock? Yeah, that is one reason I love this camera store.

Camera? Check. Extra battery? Check. High capacity memory card? Check. Now I just have to dig through a dozen storage containers out back to find my audio gear, tripods, shoulder brace, cables, bags, lights – you name it.

Load up the new Nikon ViewNX2 software on my iMac and I am ready to shoot.

Whoa, not so fast. I don’t even know how to set this camera to record mode for video. It fires off stills just like my other Nikon D-SLRs but where is the video button?

Valuable lesson here folks: Always test your new (or just new to you) equipment before you actually need to use it for something important or that once-in-a-lifetime shot. I sat with the D7000 for several hours and still need more – a lot more – time with it before I begin work on my first project for RBB.

Another valuable lesson: Always have backup equipment. My 720p HD Canon Powershot will travel in the bag with the Nikon for now along with my iPhone4. I hope never to have to shoot/use any HD video from the iPhone but it is there as a last resort along with being a digital recorder (that I can plug my short shotgun mic into as well) and all-around trusty sidekick. Just remember to silence all devices BEFORE the shoot begins (yours AND your talents’).

At the end of the day though, it still comes down to the basics. And I have always said you need to know all of the rules before you can get away with breaking them.

Composition, focus, exposure, color balance, SOUND … these are all biggies and all need to be learned. Good preparation will breed success. Do you homework on your subject, location, etc.

And most importantly, have fun. Good shooting!

NEXT TIME: Comparing HD video (and audio) recorded with D-SLR, point-and-shoot and iPhone4

Categories: How to Do It Yourself!