One man band, a.k.a., OMB, is not a world that triggers smiles. It means that there's no budget, no time, or no talent to staff a crew. For the work I do, it would be awesome to have a journalist/writer, photographer, and sound/op. (Note that photographer may mean motion or stills... the word "videographer" reminds me of a guy shooting to VHS at a local wedding... for some reason). 

Hard at work OMB'ing it, photo courtesy of my boss Therese at RIT SPAS.

Hard at work OMB'ing it, photo courtesy of my boss Therese at RIT SPAS.

However, for more reasons that could be understood, that usually means its one guy doing three things instead. That's typically how I work.  With this one-man setup, things have to travel light and be effective/multipurpose. While the kit changes from time to time, take a look at what works for me on most occasions.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II. As mentioned in a previous post, the Canon 5D2 is a landmark camera. Even though it has been improved on by the 5D Mark III, the "2" is my personally owned and still holds its own. For the most part I've been shooting projects in 30P, at 1920x1080 (aka full HD). It offers me the most flexibility in being able to convert down to a more cinematic 24p, or keep things in the "tv standard" 30. One weakness of the 5D2 is its lack of audio output, which often means running "blind" (though deaf seems like more of an accurate descriptor). Careful ears to hear distracting noise (doors slamming, AC units, etc) as well as knowing the capabilities of a mic, and where it can be placed, are all good ways to get by. Running a separate recorder is a solution, but adds bulk as well as steps in post (syncing audio) and fingers crossed/knock on wood, I've been doing alright so far. Though when budget or availability allows, I'll hop on with a Mark III. Speaking of sound...

Audio: Sennheiser MKE400, with MZW400 fuzzy (furry high-wind windscreen). I found this little gem through the cage at RIT. Though its not the cheapest (Sennheiser is the Volvo of audio, not quite as mundane as the Fords, or high end as Ferrari, but definitely a high quality buy), it offers a great mix of on-axis and room sound. Its great at capturing natural "room noise" as well as capturing a speaking subject in front of the camera. Hold it a bit closer to the subject and it does an excellent mixture of voice and natural sound. One complaint though, the rubber shock mount thats integrated into the mic is a bit fragile, and not user replaceable. I haven't had an opportunity to try out its competitors from Rode or Shure, though for the time being its holding its own quite well.

Support: Bogen 679B monopod with 128 fluid head. This is more of a "put together with existing parts" setup rather than the real-deal industry item, the Manfrotto 561BHV (which is growing to be somewhat legendary status). The 679 is a carryover from my days shooting sports. It used to carry a 300/2.8 lens but now its found a home supporting a fluid head that I picked up at a studio sale. It offers me a decent amount of stability at focal lengths under 100mm, but putting a 70-200/2.8 on it definitely shows the upper end of its weight range. Take a quick look at this video from the very cool guys over at stillmotion on some of the techniques I've been incorporating into a monopod based kit.

Optics: This is the most changing part of the bag. Right now I've been carring a 17-40, 35/1.4, and 70-200 OR 85/1.8 if packing super-light. This gives me a super-wide for walking shots or distorty-environmental shots. The 35 is my go-to for low light, or shallow focus situations, while the 85 is great for isolating a subject or getting close-up details with a great minimum focus distance of 3 feet (as opposed to the 70-200's 5 feet). Previously I had worked with a 24-70 which met an untimely injury on the floor and have been waiting for a slow-season to get it shipped off for repair.

Other bits and bobbles: Zacuto Z-finder or Hoodman Hoodloupe. Previously I had been using a Hoodman, but found the Zacuto at a steal on the eBay... Both devices do the same job, isolate the camera's LCD from extraneous light, and magnify the image. The Hoodman attaches by way of "crane," that sits in the hot shoe, while the Zacuto clips onto a stick-on frame. The finnicky nature of the Hoodman makes it a bit cumbersome to work with... that as the bigger eye-cup of the Zacuto make it a winner for me. 

For the most part, everything travels in a Domke F3 shoulder bag, perfect for just the lenses, a few batteries, but can have the entire kit squished in, if I need to quickly run out into inclement weather or whatnot. 

And that's about it! Gear may change up if the assignment calls for it (occasionally a handheld microphone, or on-camera light, but this has been working pretty well to date!