TV shooter Simon Lee travels in Burma with the 5DmkII

How DSLR allowed Simon to make great video while keeping a low profile in a country that is largely out of bounds to western media.

I have been involved in production and post production and taking photographs for over a decade now. When I saw the videos shot by Vincent Laforet and Dan Chung on the 5DmkII it was immediately apparent that I should invest in one.

After testing it out on a low budget video production, where it happened to save the day, I wanted to put the 5DmkII through its paces and I conjured up the idea of traveling through Myanmar.

Low profile shooting in Myanmar

Low profile shooting in Myanmar

Without delving into the intricacies of the situation there, what really set the tone before I went was the advice of an acquaintance who had set up an NGO in Myanmar. In essence, I ought to be wary approaching people and broaching sensitive subjects as this could seriously compromise them with the powers that be. They would be the ones to bear the consequences of the exchange, whether or not they imparted anything that might rattle the established order. I also heard that the military were less than fond of people taking pictures of them. Actually, I didn’t have a pressing journalistic agenda for this trip but I wanted at least to have a good look and get a feel for the place.

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I had reason to suspect that my luggage would be checked on arrival so I purposely limited my equipment and decided not to bring any professional audio gear. I thought too many accessories would make the 5D appear more journalistic – otherwise it appears like any DSLR carried by tourists enthusiastic about photography. Light and low profile was the order of the day.

I took 3 Canon L lenses, an essential ND filter for shooting video, a polarizer screw on, step down rings for all the lenses and the very light and compact Gitzo traveler tripod. I also had a rain cover, which came in very handy when riding around in a powered boat. Finally, I bought an Archos 5 Internet Media tablet, to which I could connect a CF card reader and transfer files. I could also view jpgs on the Archos, though it wasn’t quite up to playing 1080p. All my equipment, except the 5DmkII body with lens, fitted comfortably into a small backpack and could go with me wherever I went.

Shooting with the raincover on

Shooting with the raincover on

I used a simple guidebook to help navigate my way around the country. I was on my own time and could ramble around, seeking out things that interested me, choosing favorable shooting positions and waiting for good light. It was an enjoyable process. I could happily labour over composition, exposure and the use of filters. I could easily go around on foot or bicycle, even trek through forest and traverse hills with all the equipment. I could walk up hundreds of steps and then shoot the emerging vista in HD. The limitation with camera support meant that I had static camera the whole time, but I’m quite happy with what I achieved.

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Myanmar is very hot and I would say that the most useful equipment I had – second only to the more technologically advanced sun block – was a hat. Luckily, I didn’t have any problems with the camera overheating. The equipment was very light and performed admirably and did not impede my travels at all. The Myanmar I discovered was a friendly one; certainly a place that seems wealthier in spirit than in anything else.

You can contact Simon and see more of his work here

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Posted on March 10th, 2010 by Simon Lee | Category: Canon Eos5DmkII, DSLR video news, Journalism |

8 responses to "TV shooter Simon Lee travels in Burma with the 5DmkII"

  1. Fridrik Pall Fridriksson Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Sounds like an exciting trip! He shows through his work that simplicity and minimalism when it comes to gear can create amazing results!

  2. Contact Lenses Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    After his convalescence, Marco Polo resumed his travels visiting China where he served as translator at the court of Kublai Khan. Contact Lenses

  3. Orlando de Guzman Says:
    March 12th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I am still not convinced that DSLRs are the next revolution in video journalism. They take beautiful pictures, yes, but the real meat in the cinema verite work that I do is the story. Why get caught up with shallow depth of field and color sampling ratios when narrative and real reporting is so much more important?

    And to make the DSLRs work for run and gun shooting, you need to jerry rig them so much that they call so much more attention than a prosumer video camera I’m using now (Canon HX A1S). Add the problem of sound (need to jerry rig that too) and focus try manual focusing the 7D while walking backwards and not falling over or stepping one’s foot? Okay in a filmset if that foot belongs to the intern or lighting guy, but not okay in the real word when that foot belongs to some Filipino politician’s bodyguard with a .45 tucked in his jeans.

    Why can’t Canon put that full frame sensor on a video camera body, with all the built in audio pro audio inputs, fast autofocus, ect… and then still be able to use all the great lenses for stills?

  4. scottkarlins Says:
    March 30th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    What rain cover is Dan using here??

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