People say gear doesn’t matter and in terms of capturing pictures, I agree. You can honestly use anything, a smartphone, a point & shoot camera… a huge DSLR if that’s what you have. We live in a time where technology is so advanced and it’s so cheap, you know, compared to 20 years ago. People often ask what camera I shoot with and rightfully so, I change them every few months.
Lately I’ve been more vocal about my setup, letting you guys know what I use, what I no longer use and everything in between. However, there is one question that I’ve kind of held back from answering and that’s because I didn’t quite have the answer… until now.
What Didn’t Work
Before we get into my current setup, lets talk about what didn’t work for me. Why you ask? Because, the setup that I settled on may not be the right one for you, but the ones I ditched, the ones that failed me, they may be perfect for you.
So let’s start with the obvious…
My first initial setup was rather simple. I took a ball head and mounted my GoPro to it and inserted the setup into the camera’s cold shoe. This setup will give you the most authentic point of view. I loved it mostly because it really showcased my confidence. You could see if I was reluctant to take a shot by how fast I switched my camera from my side to a shooting position, if I was scared I’d quickly take a shot and then put the camera down, if I was confident I’d take several shots.
Another rendition of this setup is mounting the GoPro to the camera’s tripod mount. I mostly used this when I’d be shooting with a point & shoot camera or when I’d have a flash attach to my camera’s cold shoe mount. This setup worked, but it wasn’t a favorite of mine.
I used these two setups for the majority of my videos, I’d say about 95%, but unfortunately I had to let it go, because my audience absolutely hated it. Watching my camera sway from left to right just wasn’t working for them. Some people would even report motion sickness, not sure if they were being dramatic or not, but after playing a few back myself I could see how a weak stomach could be affected… I’m not trying to have people watch my videos with a trash can next to them.
They wanted something more stable, something more consistent. So I moved on to something else… Spoiler alert, this one didn’t last long. Mounting a GoPro to my head is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done. It’s stable and it worked, but you just feel like an idiot. Especially when you’re taking pictures of other people. It really takes you out of your element, I spent the majority of the time thinking about the GoPro. Is it straight? Is It recording? Is it tilted far enough? There were one too many options that I couldn’t control with ease and again, people just stare at you the entire time, it’s not the best tool when you’re trying to take candid photographs.
The final straw for me with this setup was when I did a session and I kept looking down at my camera. I didn’t even record my subjects, I just record me looking at my camera. Because the GoPro was mounted on my head it saw what ever my eyes saw, not whatever the camera saw, during shooting I guess I forgot about that. This is where all the stress camera from… This is where every session became less about people and more about the GoPro.
The Perfect Setup
I was pretty bummed out that none of these worked for me, however, I was determined to find a solution. I went over to my box of camera stuff, I’m sure we all have one, it’s the box full of gear that you thought you needed, but you actually didn’t… Yeah that one. I dumped it and inside I found something that would make me smile, legit from ear to ear.
A while back I picked up Peak Design’s Capture Clip, this was the perfect tool I needed to have a stable POV. After a little bit of research I found out that I needed to Peak Design’s POV mount to make it work, so I grabbed that too. I took it out for a spin and it worked rather well, the only downfall was that the GoPro would sometimes be angled poorly, I’d screw it in and it just wasn’t centered, that really bothered me.
The solution for that was simple, I just needed to mount a ball head to it, not only did this give me the ability to rotate the GoPro however I wanted, but it also allowed the setup to stick out a bit, this gave me awareness that it was there, so when shooting, I’d never block the GoPro’s POV on accident. Once I apply the get the mount all setup I simply attach it to my backpack’s should strap. What I love most about it is that once it’s on, I never really have to take it off. Peak Design’s Capture comes equipped with a quick release, so I can quickly remove the GoPro when needed without altering the setup.
What I found with this setup is that it also took the pressure of capturing the POV off of me. I just hit record and go about my day, during most sessions I forget it’s there. It also allows me to shoot confidently with point & shoots, as well as mobile phones. In the past I’d attach my GoPro straight to these cameras and ergonomically that didn’t also work, especially with the iPhone, it left such little real-estate on the phones body.
Before you go and grab this setup I do want to warn you about one thing… Ball heads suck. I’ve been through so many of them, like literally 50 of them. I find that when I take them on and off the gears eventually break down and the thing just breaks. It’s so frustrating, especially when it happens mid shoot. After a few years though I’ve come across the perfect one, it’s a ball head from Small Rig. It’s legit the most durable unit you can find at the price point and after months of testing it has yet to give up on me… With that being said I always buy them in multiples and keep a spare one in my bag. It’s just better to be safe than sorry in these type of situations.
Below you can find the complete list of everything that I use to make these POV happen. It’s a rather simple list, but only because I’ve refined it 100 times. I hope you all will start producing similar content, it’s exciting to see how people shoot, I think the best way to demonstrate that people are mostly nice is to capture the interactions on camera. These type of videos are what we will need to further grow this genre, I strongly believe that.