Blog header background image

5 pieces of gear every DOP must have

Gear up for cinematic brilliance!

Top 5 AV gear for a DOP

As the director’s right hand, being a Director of Photography (DOP) is an exciting and creative role in the world of filmmaking. But without gear, you will have to be, well, very creative… 😬

That’s why we asked Itch Media’s DOP, Ben Yates, to share his five favorite pieces of AV gear to work with on a daily basis. You can find the full video here:

So grab some popcorn (& pull out your wallet 💸), and let's dive into it!

Take your DOP equipment to another level

5. Put it in the spotlight

With a versatile spotlight, you can create the most beautiful scenes and add the right amount of depth to the background. ITCH’s DOP, Ben, is a big fan of the Aputure Spotlight Mount, which was the world’s first Bowens spotlight mount. An even beam of light, sharp cuts, minimal edge fringing; what more do you need?

Use gobos for even further light and color manipulation on your subject, such as a crescent moon. In short, it’s just an awesome accessory to have.

4. Light me up

“As a DOP, lighting is everything.”

A DOP without a good light is like a sandbag without sand. Its soul is empty. Ben loves working with the Aputure LS 600D Pro for a variety of shoots. Why? Because of this professional 600W daylight-balanced point-source LED system’s insane power. Even at 20 percent, it’s already incredibly bright. Whack it up to 100, and you’re practically walking on the sun. That’s also one of its amazing strengths: put it outside to get loads of light coming through the window, mimicking sunlight within a second.

You can add accessories like Aputure’s Light Dome II, which has high-quality diffusion fabric, a rapid build and breakdown system, and comes with a honeycomb grid. “We often call it a ‘cheat light’ because it will always look really nice when you take it out.”

Psst, it’s okay to cheat; we won’t tell anyone. 😉

3. Mental health hack: invest in a camera bag

Invest in a big, qualitative bag for your gear. Just do it for your mental health.

Make sure it’s on wheels and get one with backpack straps when going for a smaller bag. On our way to NAB last year, we were running through the airport when one of the backpack straps ripped. Thankfully, we could easily use it as a carry-on trolly as well. Crisis averted.

At ITCH, they’re using the camRade Travelmate XL. This customizable case on wheels fits all the gear needed for shoots; think of a camera such as the C70, lenses, and audio gear. As a content agency, they often shoot on location, meaning getting in and out of loads of cabs and vans. Of course, you don't want to damage your gear on your way to a shoot. Or ever, for that matter. 🙃

A camera bag can be used as a customizable travel case or as a kit:

  • With a customizable case, you can configure the bag to what you need with foam inserts, for instance. Such inserts protect the gear by putting everything tightly together and by being, obviously, made out of foam. 😉
  • A kit is when you physically group all gear that should be used together in a separate bag or box. For instance, a kit could exist out of a camera body, a lens, a battery and a spare one, a gimbal, and an SD card. When prepping for a shoot you just pick up this kit, and you’re good to go! I kit you not.

    How to have complete equipment kits? Find the best tip here!

In short, our golden tip is definitely to invest in a sturdy travel case because arriving on set with a broken lens is no joke. If you’re not sure which one to get, we’ve selected the best options out there for you. Find out more here!


2. SOS, you need a custom tech pouch

A must-have for every DOP: an emergency tech kit. The Beyonce of gear would say “If you liked it then you shoulda put your name on it”. So, write your name on it, customize it to your needs, and bring it to every shoot. A Leatherman for setting up tripods and cutting tape, a lens cleaning kit for when it gets dusty out there, bongo ties, Allen keys, rubber bands for rain covers,… All the key items to tie your set together. 🥁

SmallRig has a (small) screws plate (SmallRig Screw and Hex Key Storage Plate MD3184) that always comes in handy when you need extra screws for attaching anything to a camera or for putting up a light somewhere.

Screenshot 2023 07 07 at 13 53 09

1. And the Oscar goes to… a high-quality camera

A DOP's best friend is undoubtedly a high-quality camera. The camera you choose can greatly impact the overall visual quality of your footage. Look for a camera that offers excellent resolution, dynamic range, and low-light performance. Remember, a DOP's camera is like an extension of their artistic vision, so choose wisely and make sure it fits your shooting style.

The team at ITCH loves working with the Canon EOS C70. “It’s a great little workhorse that completely changed our workflow for the better.” Without any add-ons, you won’t break your back as it’s light and compact. It has an incredible image on it, coming with all the pro features such as 120 fps, 4K, and it allows you to shoot in RAW.

Filming in RAW is great for more controlled, structured sorts of shoots such as product shoots because even though it heats up loads of data, it also gives you tons of information and the image is incredible.

In the past, the ITCH team used cameras like the C500 and bigger ones, but for what they do, this one hit all the marks. Its ability to capture rich details and vibrant colors enhances the overall cinematic experience. Being so compact, it’s great for super crisp run and gun shoots like documentaries, and you can easily rig it up overhead or onto a rally car. Plus, priced at $6,000, you get more bang for your buck.

Studio setup DOP ITCH media

Product shoot setup with the Canon EOS C70

Even though the Canon EOS C70 is a beautiful centerpiece, you can't do much with only a camera body. For their setup, ITCH selected the following pieces:

  • Battery

It’s a handheld setup all running on v-lock power, so everything’s powered by 1 battery. They’re using the Hawkwood power plate.

  • Wireless video transmitter

ITCH loves the Hollyland Mars; it’s great for directors & clients to get a view of what’s on camera.

  • Camera Handle Kit

The SmallRig moose bars are great for handheld shots, but you can also throw it on your shoulder and run around with it.

  • Video monitor

At ITCH, they love using the ultra-compact and versatile Atmos 5” Ninja monitor for their video productions.

  • Tripod

Even though the team at ITCH has used tripods like Manfrotto before, they prefer working with the Sachtler Tripod flowtech 75 aktiv MS. For one, it’s “waaaay easier to use” (their words, not ours). With the other ones, you have to reach all the way to the bottom to adjust the height, while with this one you just have to open the three clips, adjust the height, and done! No breaking fingers or dropping cameras; you’re just ready to run off and shoot.

For a look behind a product shoot at ITCH (and to see much this setup cost 🤑), watch this video!

How to manage all this equipment now?

If you’re planning on pulling out your wallet after reading this blog post, you’re going to want to keep a clear and updated overview of that brand-new equipment. Manage your AV gear with Cheqroom and know where your gear is at all times. See what gear is available, let your team reserve and check out gear themselves, get detailed usage analytics, and more.

ITCH already uses Cheqroom. See what their DOP, Ben Yates, likes so much about it here!

Discover all of Cheqroom’s features here.

Elke 4
Written by Elke Swinnen Jul 07, 2023

Elke Swinnen is Cheqroom’s video reporter and event queen. Most of the time, you’ll find her out in the world visiting Cheqroom customers and shows like NAB and IBC. She is passionate about sharing the latest gear updates, film industry insights, and top gear management tips and tricks. Her favorite pieces of gear are the ARRI ALEXA 35 and Aputure MC Pro. She’s also a Content and Social Media Marketer at Cheqroom.