Moving To Motion

Most professional photographers make their first forays into motion by leveraging their still photography equipment. Everything, from the motion-capable DSLR to the usual collection of lenses to the tripod and head, was ported from still capture to motion capture. Any prolonged work in shooting motion requires some additional gear.

Continuous Lights

Obviously, strobe lighting doesn’t work for video. There are a ton of options for continuous lights for rental and plenty of reasonably priced options for purchase. Lights like the K 5600 Joker-Bug models have proven popular for both still and motion projects. Fresnels are among the most common types of light on any movie set because of their ability to put out bright, collimated illumination. Some lighting companies offer dedicated Fresnels, and others make Fresnels that are modifiers designed to be attached to different light heads.

Dedicated 4K Motion Cameras

Like a lot of photographers, you may have cut your teeth with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II or similar camera. Over time, however, client needs have evolved, and the buzzword in motion now is 4K. There are mirrorless cameras that can output 4K, or you can make the leap to a camera like the RED SCARLET or EPIC DRAGON. The RED cameras are true still + motion cameras that can capture full 4K (and higher)-resolution footage. You actually can pull a frame from the motion stream to use as a still shot, and it’s full resolution and there’s no line skipping. RED cameras can take a variety of lenses. They’re high-end pieces of gear for high-end work.


Adding a little movement as you’re shooting static scenes makes the footage much more dynamic. Like the often cited Ken Burns effect, the shot feels like it has a lot of movement even though it’s basically a still. A simple manual slider is all you need to pull off such an effect with some practice. At the other end of the spectrum, you can go for a fully programmable, motorized unit that allows you to control camera movement in several axes at once with variable rates of movement like the Kessler CineDrive.

Going Handheld

There are all sorts of tools for going handheld with motion. Rigs like the models from Redrock Micro are highly modular and let you put the camera into a variety of positions. To keep the camera steady as you move with it, a counterweighted rig like those made by Steadicam and Glidecam are excellent options with a lightweight camera like your regular mirrorless or DSLR body.

Lenses For Motion

Your regular still photography lenses can do a great job, up to a point. One of the biggest advantages of true movie lenses is that, in a given series, all of the models will have the same size lens barrels and controls will be in the same place so you can swap lenses and not have to make any adjustments for focus pulling, etc. The Zeiss CP.2 primes, Rokinon and Samyang cine lenses, as well as the Tokina Cinema ATX zooms are good examples of popular motion-capture models.


Aerial drones are moving from the RC hobby arena to the photography and videography mainstream. Commercial and movie productions have been using large octocopters to carry small movie cameras for years. Now much smaller quadcopters like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ and 3D Robotics Iris+ place HD cameras on drones that can be carried in a backpack. The DJI Inspire 1 was introduced in late 2014 and shown at CES where its integrated 4K camera created a considerable buzz. Aerial videography remains complex and it takes a lot of practice, but these well-integrated solutions make it possible to master their use without having to solder circuit boards and control wires. The view from above is fantastic, but where drones can really create some amazing footage is by using them for tracking shots. See Philip Bloom’s short film Koh Yao Noi for a great example of this kind of shot. Find it on his site,, or go to Vimeo and search for it there.

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