As a solo travelling video journalist I find myself doing features across India. Because I am inclined to development type feature stories, in most cases I am not only alone but also in less than ideal terrain – the villages of India can be hard and the heat, humidity and dust harder.
In such cases what is a solo video journalist to do? I’d like to use a tripod and I’d like to have lenses and stuff handy. But all too often I need to compromise. After all being solo does not have the luxury of an assistant passing on stuff when needed. Then there’s the decision on tripod. I have the Manfrotto but lugging it around in those harsh conditions can be a pain. So it ends up in the hotel room and used for interviews mainly.
But before my recent trip to Lucknow in north India, I came upon my new best friends. The Benro Travel Angel Transfunctional tripod. It’s a lightweight tripod that folds into a little 15 inch pack. What’s more it can be converted into a monopod in the field without any tools – just some twists and volla! A monopod for cramped spaces.
Earlier I took my Manfrotto tripod and monopod along. That meant more weight on the plane. And invariably the tripod would remain at the hotel or car.
This time in Lucknow, I took the Benro along and 90 percent of the shots were on the tripod. It was so easy to carry it around and setup shots in hot conditions. I picked up the tripod with the B1 ball head which makes changing angles quickly a breeze. Its so versatile and quick – better than the Manfrotto!
My other bestfriend on this trip was the Newswear Cheast Vest. Putting this on I was able to carry 2 other lenses, rode VideoMic pro and Sennheiser wireless lapel Mic kit with me at all times, besides the 5D MkIII and 24-105L lenses I had in hand. This meant being able to quickly adapt and also set up properly micked impromptu interviews.
I kept the backpack in the hotel and used it only to transport the gear on the plane. In the field it was just the vest.
Given my smaller profile as also the fact that I like to keep things on a low profile so as not to draw too much attention to myself and also not to intimidate my subjects, the Newswear vest and Benro tripod were precious assets I will not be letting go of any time soon.
Highly recommended if you are working as a solo video journalist in tough terrain.