Video + Filmmaking

17 Must-Have Filmmaking Tools

May 12, 2017

By Greg Scoblete

Here’s the latest filmmaking gear to take your cinematography to the next level.


While small, nimble handheld gyro stabilizers are all the rage, SteadXP has an even more sophisticated trick. Rather than mount your camera to a stabilizer, you mount the much smaller SteadXP to your camera and stabilize your footage after the fact. The device has an accelerometer and gyroscope to record your camera’s movements across three axes. It connects to your camera via the stereo mic input and video output, and saves motion data to a microSD card. The second piece of the SteadXP solution is desktop software that ingests the movement data collected by the hardware. Combined with your footage, the software syncs the motion data to your video and digitally stabilizes it. The software offers a combination of automatic fi xes to instantly stabilize imported footage, but also offers room for your own edits and adjustments. The hardware has an internal battery that’s good for about 10 hours of operation and is rechargeable via USB.
Price: $280

SmallHD 703 UltraBright Monitor

If you’re ready to dive into the world of high dynamic range filmmaking, SmallHD’s new UltraBright monitors are worth a look. These HD monitors are available in 5- and 7-inch sizes and feature a pair of SDI inputs, an HDMI input and output, and one SDI output. The 5-inch model supports 10-bit color and offers a brightness of 2,200 nits; while the 7-inch model also supports 10-bit color, it has a brightness of 2,500 nits.
Price: $2,499 (5-inch), $2,999 (7-inch)

Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9

The first of a new line of cinema lenses for Sony E-mount cameras, Fuji’s new MK18- 55mm maintains a constant T2.9 aperture throughout its zoom range. It has manual focus, iris and zoom controls and the zoom ring rotates a full 200 degrees for a nice, slow focus pull. All the new Fuji cinema lenses will have identical gearings so you’ll be able to quickly swap them on and off cameras without having to change follow focus accessories. And take heart Fuji fans, X-mount versions of the cinema lenses are expected by the end of this year.
Price: $3,799

Tascam DR-10L

This compact lav mic captures 48kHz/24-bit WAV audio files to microSD cards. It features a built-in limiter to reduce distortion, a low-cut filter to reduce wind noise and an OLED display to read out mic settings. You’ll get about 10 hours of operation on one AAA battery.
Price: $200

X-Rite ColorChecker Video

X-Rite’s ColorChecker is a go-to tool for many still photographers looking to ensure color-accurate results from their cameras. With the ColorChecker Video line, X-Rite has delivered a similar set of color targets more carefully tailored for the needs of filmmakers and videographers. They’re available in two versions. The ColorChecker Passport Video is a pocket-sized checker in a rugged case. It has four targets including a reference for evaluating specific chromatic colors aligned with video production, plus grayscale and white balance targets and a focus target. The ColorChecker Video is physically larger, with a series of chromatic color, skin tone, gray level and linear grayscale color chips. There’s also a pair of black and white chips at two corners of the ColorChecker to determine illumination across the target. Flip the ColorChecker Video around and you’ll find a white balance reference target.
Price: $129 (ColorChecker Video); $149 (ColorChecker Passport Video)

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

This update to Blackmagic’s URSA Mini introduces a few major modifications to the company’s budget-friendly cinema camera. The biggest upgrade is an interchangeable lens mount. The Mini Pro ships standard with an EF mount, but you can remove it yourself and add on (optional) PL and B4 mounts, if you were so inclined. The exterior has also been tweaked so that there are now far more external controls. The Mini Pro also has builtin ND filters to provide two, four and six stops of filtration. Like the original Mini, the Mini Pro uses a 4.6K image sensor with a whopping 15 stops of dynamic range. You can record 4K/60p footage internally to a pair of CFast 2.0 cards in CinemaDNG or ProRes (up to 4444 XQ) formats.
Price: $5,995


Cinetics Lynx Motorized Slider

If you’re looking to inject some smooth camera movements into your motion or time-lapse work, the Lynx camera slider is up to the task. Capable of holding payloads of 10 pounds, the Lynx slider features 24-inch carbon fiber rails and a motor that can propel your camera along at a max speed of 2 inches per second. The motor’s battery is good for about three hours of continuous use.
Price: $1,299

Tenba Cineluxe Collection

Not many doctors make house calls these days, but filmmakers are always on the road and the doctor bag-style openings in Tenba’s Cinelux give them ready access to their gear wherever they happen to be. These bags have anodized aluminum bars across the top that pop open. The collection is available in rolling cases or carry-on-friendly backpacks of varying sizes. They use new Flex-Core dividers that are rigid yet bendable to accommodate a range of camera and lens combos. Cineluxe bags include a selection of protective, padded wraps and pouches that allow other sensitive tech to be stowed alongside the bag’s larger contents.
Prices: $199-$359

Atomos Shogun Inferno

With the era of high dynamic range (HDR) filmmaking upon us, the Shogun Inferno lets you shoot in your camera’s low-contrast log profile while retaining bright colors on your display so you can accurately preview your exposure. The Inferno can record a 4K signal up to 60p in 10-bit, 422 ProRes or Avid’s DNxHR format. It supports HD recording at frame rates up to 240p. The monitor has a variety of composition tools including focus peaking, zooming, zebra stripes, false colors and a vector scope. The Inferno runs off a pair of batteries that are hot-swappable, so there’s no downtime during a shoot. It connects to cameras via HDMI or SDI and sports a 7-inch touchscreen display that offers 10 stops of dynamic range and a brightness of 1,500 nits (by way of comparison, your average HDTV delivers a third as many nits—if that).
Price: $1,995

Sigma Cine 18-35mm T2

With a constant T2 aperture throughout its zoom range, this lens is a part of Sigma’s new cinema line. Like all of Sigma’s Cine lenses, the 18-35mm features industry standard gearings, filter size and front diameter. It stops down to T16 and can focus on objects as close as 11 inches. You’ll have your choice of EF, Sony E or PL mounts.
Price: $3,999

RØDE Stereo Video Mic Pro Rycote

RØDE’s popular on-camera mic was recently updated with Rycote Lyre shock mounting to isolate the mic capsule from the mount, reducing the chance that it will pick up any unwanted noise. The Video Mic also sports two new ½-inch condenser capsules arranged in an XY stereo formation. It offers a +20dB level boost, which reduces the camera pre-amp level to produce a cleaner recording. The Video Mic accepts 9V batteries and you’ll get over 100 hours of operation from a full charge.
Price: $299


While there are no shortage of hand-held gimbals on the market, DJI’s Osmo RAW goes a step further by building in a Micro Four Thirds-based camera. The RAW delivers 12.8 stops of dynamic range and records 4K video at 4096 x 2160/24p. You can bump down the resolution slightly to 3840 x 2160 to get a faster frame rate (30 fps). Full HD recording is available at up to 60p for slow motion. You can preview camera footage and control the Osmo using a smartphone and the free DJI Go app. 
Price: $3,699

Tiffen Steadicam Volt

The Volt can fit just about any phone (even giants like the iPhone 7 Plus in a case) in its clamp. Unlike competing gyro stabilizers, the Volt can fold up, making it easy to cart around. You’ll enjoy about eight hours of operation on the Volt’s rechargeable battery. And, unlike other stabilizers, the Volt won’t go limp when the battery dies—you can still use it as a manual stabilizer. You’ll balance and tune the stabilizer using iOS and Android apps and there are Movie and Sport modes to tailor the Volt’s shake-reduction to your activity. It ships with several small, removable weights to help balance a wide variety of smartphones. The 1-pound Volt uses haptic feedback to simulate inertia so that you can gently glide your phone as if you were operating a traditional Steadicam.
Price: $199

Panasonic GH5

The wait for the GH4’s successor is over. The GH5 predictably ups the ante with high-quality 4K recording—you can save a 10-bit 422 file at 30p to an SD card or shoot 4K at up to 60p. Full HD frame rates top off at a blistering 180 fps. Autofocusing is driven by Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus technology, which has had its speed doubled from previous iterations. It has a dust and weatherproof design with a sturdy magnesium alloy build.
Price: $2,000

ProMediaGear 42mm Carbon Fiber Tripod

If you’ve invested in a cinema camera or hefty cinema lenses, ProMediaGear’s new carbon fiber tripods are strong enough to keep nearly any conceivable combination of equipment aloft. Rated for payloads of up to 125 pounds, the tripods feature an interchangeable fl at plate and bowl mount with multiple ¼-20 mounts and anti-rotation pin slots so you can easily attach accessories. The legs have three adjustable locking angle positions and the feet have stainless steel spikes for stability on rough terrain. The 42mm tripod is sold in three height sizes: 57, 67 and 77 inches.
Price: Starting at $1,000

ikan Beholder Gimbal (DS1)

If you need ultra-smooth handheld visuals without having to spring for a huge stabilizer, ikan’s Beholder gimbal is an ideal solution. Built for cameras between 1.5 and 3.7 pounds, the Beholder has a three-axis motorized stabilizer to keep your camera free from motion-induced jitter. The brushless motors can roll at up to 45 degrees and tilt up to 90 degrees. While it’s slim, there’s still room for a fi ve-way joystick to control camera movements and a USB port to power small LEDs or mobile devices. You’ll enjoy between two to three hours of use with a fresh set of batteries. There’s a 3/8-16-inch thread on the base of the Beholder so you can mount it on a tripod or monopod.
Price: $799

Libec Hands-Free Monopod

The Hands-Free Monopod earns its moniker thanks to its lock/release foot pedal. Unlock it and you’re able to tilt the monopod back and forth on the base for smooth, steady pans and camera movement. Once it’s locked in place, it can securely hold up to 17.6 pounds of gear (including the pan-and-tilt head). The aluminum monopod stretches to 74 inches high in two stages.
Prices: $159 (without pan-tilt head), $259 (with pan-tilt head)