I’m a collector of camera kit and enjoy the craft of telly making. This allows me to maintain healthy self-shooting skills and exercise my eyes and ears for composition clear speech.

Camera Skills

I’m a confident self-shooter and my camera kit comprises of a Sony PMW F5 & Canon CN7 Cine Zoom lens plus a selection of 35mm prime lenses and a sound and lighting kit with LED panel lights that are great for interviews and green-screen. I’m familiar with other broadcast cameras like the Fs7, PMW 500, C300 & XF305.

Audio skills

Pretty pictures are all very well and good but clean sync is essential for good storytelling, especially in hidden camera scenarios. I am an audiophile and have a selection of radio, laveliere and gun mics and I always get better sounding results by routing everything through an audio mixer.

Editing Skills

I cut quickly with Avid, Premiere and FCP and have an office editing kit. The ability to splice footage is useful for development projects, improving my own shooting skills and filtering footage in the edit to speed up the post-production pipeline.Gizmos:


The Sony F5 is a great camera, it’s the same image sensor as a Sony FS7 but it’s more sturdy and ready to go with more pro features like built in audio and timecode inputs. I’ve configured mine for handheld shooting by adding a shoulder mount, hand grips and matte box but it can be stripped right down to just a box. The other thing I love is that it’s made wirth a well engineered lens mount that allows sturdy adaptors to mount PL and EF lenses. I bought this camera just as Sony released them and it doesn’t look like it’ll be superseded by anothery camera soon, the only downside is that it’s heavier than other 35mm cameras like the Canon C300.


The Canon CN7 lens works really well with the F5 camera, at f2.8 it’s got reasonably fast glass and has a zoom range of 17-120mm which makes it ideal for handheld actuality shooting.The images always look sharp and it has a pleasant bokeh making it a good compromise if there’s not enough time to keep changing prime lenses. It’s also equipped with zoom and focus servos so it can be controlled by the handgrip or by using remote controls.

35mm prime lenses have become deriguour for filming TV show, thanks in part to the game changing Canon 5Dmk2 DSLR camera which allowed programme makers to record HD video and experiment with relatively inexpensive photographic lenses. There are several factors that help achieve the prime lens aesthetic. Firstly, they allow more light to pass through them than zoom lenses since there are fewer glass elements inside. This allows a more natural look because it’s possible to maintain focus in relatively low ambient light and use of artificial lighting can be much more subtle. The design of the lens aperture also affects the image quality. This is because, they tend to have more internal blades which determines the smoothness of blurred objects, or bokeh effect. Also, the aperture opens wider than zoom lenses which makes the depth of field much shallower. For example, my 50mm lens is F1.2 which gives it a pronounced F-stop effect. In other words, the background blur more prominent than zoom lenses which tend to be F2.8.

My prime lenses are affordable cine primes and there is a noticeable difference in image quality when shooting with these, the edges of the image are less distorted and the whole picture looks much clearer. My set consist of lenses with a focal range 14, 24, 35 & 50mm focal lengths, they use the EF mount to attach onto the camera and are made by Samyang or Canon. I also have Canon DSLR zoom lenses which are also EF mount and useful for quickly attaching to the camera for longer focal ranges from 55 200mm.

The focal length of a zoom lens can be adjusted by hand but the trade-off is image quality and the main drawback to shooting with primes is the time taken to switch them over to another focal length i.e. a wide angle to a close up. It doesn’t physically take very long to change the lens but it’s time consuming to fetch the next lens from your peli case, remove the matte box and other accessories then reassemble everything.
For stylistic reasons or just to save time on the shoot, everything can be shot on one focal length prime. For example, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese favour the 21mm prime for most of their shots but the 27mm prime is the go to lens for the Cohen Bros and David Fincher. These are both relatively wide lenses so the camera has to be moved physically closer to the subject for a close up shot but once the camera is set up it’ll stay that way throughout the shoot and helps the directors to give their films a unique look.

Whether shooting on a zoom or prime it’s important to prevent stray reflections from hitting the front element of the lens because this can ruin the picture and give it a milky glaze or put tiny hotspots that are hard to see through the viewfinder but really obvious on a big screen. All lenses come with a hood but a more effective protection comes from a mattebox. I use an Oconnor O-box which is really rugged and has a set of 3 flags that stop light coming in from the top and sides. Another advantage of this device is that it has 3 filter trays so you can be really creative in-camera with polarisers, grads and effects; this is particularly useful for shooting GVs and pretty shots.


Most cameras record 2 channels of sound through the XLR inputs but the Sony F5 camera can record 4 separate channels of digital audio from a mixer. This is really handy for self-shooting with complicated sound requirements, such as hidden camera setups when several mics are needed to get coverage. Having these extra channels is also useful for interviews and actuality because mic can be double recorded at both high and low levels. When shooting on the hoof with unpredictable ambient sound, this increases the chance of giving the editor usable tracks of audio.

My simple sound kit can be configured as either 2 radio lavalier mics or a wireless boom straight into the camera or attached to a mixer with 2 extra cabled mics and timecode. Lavalier mics can be hidden in clothing or clipped on and a gun mic can be mounted on a handheld boom or a fixed mic stand. The mixer has an ergonomic harness so the mixer can be carried handsfree. In the past I’ve trained up assistants to use them?


Camera motion has come a long way in the past 10 years and it’s now possible to achieve smooth, cinematic gliding camera moves that used to require a specialist grip team to set up and execute. These days affordable electronic gimbal mounts can give you the sort of 360 degree shots that used to require a specialist steadicam operator. However, these gadgets are limited because they can only support lightweight camera rigs. Another option is to use a slider to allow the camera to move laterally or a jib to mount the camera on a floating arm.

I use the Floatcam system which combines a jib with a slider and has a payload of 16kg which is more than enough to cope with the Sony F5 camera and CN7 lens with a matte box, filters and small sound kit. This also has a unique feature where the camera can slide diagonally and vertically which looks really cool. The Floatcam is very quick to set up and can be done by one person alone because there’s only three main components, the arm, the pivot and the tripod. However, this is also a drawback because there’s three kit bags, one of which is rather long and heavy!

If that does seem like too much load to bare then I’ll mount the camera onto a sachtler carbon fibre tripod and Video20 head which is perfect for fluid pan and tilt movement and can be carried up a mountain or placed into a small room.


Modern cameras are so sensitive that megawatts of lighting power are hardly required for small shoots. This means lamps can be used to create stunning cinematography and achieve specific looks and atmosphere. LEDs have come a long way too and these days panels can be folded and rolled up to fit all kinds of spaces. They’re lightweight, quick to assemble and don’t get hot which makes them fast and safe to use. I have a set of dimmable, roll-flex soft lights that can be powered by battery or mains