As an essentially self-funded independent moviemaker and photographer, with a tendency for social, health and human rights-related storytelling, I need to make the most of what I’ve got.
I may never have the fees, budgets and usage rates I used to pay other, often famous, photographers and directors after I jumped the fence from talent to talent-finder, commissioner and producer at the top end of advertising elsewhere in the world.
Every item of equipment I own must be thoroughly researched then saved up for before purchase. Every one has to last years beyond the maximum lifespan its maker has planned for it. I need to be very sure before forking out for every piece of hardware and software because there will be no budgets or lucrative contracts to pay for better, faster or more up-to-date.
And so I ask far more of my gear than most, I suspect. That includes adding bits and pieces to core items so they can do more, and do it better, and become more versatile. Right now I have two workhorse cameras for video and stills, a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and a more recently-acquired Panasonic Lumix GX8. I continue to be blown away at the quality I am getting from both as well as their ease of use. I held off investing in further major cameras and lenses after my Canon EOS 5D Mark II. I wanted to be sure the next ones would be more future-proofed, and way more versatile. And so they are.
One well-proven way of extending the life and usability of my gear is to add useful, affordable accessories. Before purchasing the GX8, I mated a battery grip with my GH4 and now my GH4 has the centralized weight and extra stability I was used to in more traditional movie cameras.