Software & Hardware For The Social Media Strategist
MY HARDWARE & SOFTWARE SETUP
I focus on efficiency with my budget, which is not the same as being frugal. I will challenge myself but I won't sacrifice the quality of work I produce for the sake of saving a few dollars. I don't want to throw money away either. I work hard to get the tools I need versus the ones I just want. How does this manifest itself? One example is that all my content is still delivered in 1080p HD. That means I don't need to be worried if my next camera shoots 4k because I won't be needing it. This is just an example of my thinking.
I continue to focus on getting my workflow, hardware, and software setup optimized so I can get as much done as possible, with the lightest digital and physical footprint possible, anywhere and everywhere. This means scaling back not only the hardware, but also the number of programs I use.
In previous iterations of my camera/computing setup, I had sold off all my DSLR, mirrorless & compact cameras and lenses. I spent more than a couple years being 100% iPhone for all my photo and video work. I tested using two FujiFilm X100F's and a Fujifilm X-E3 as higher-quality photo/video cameras, used different Canon compacts, and lots of things in-between. Unfortunately, while I loved the output of the X100F's the most, they were too finicky when working with them for video. The additional steps required to get photos and videos from the cameras into my editing process were their undoing. Of course, now, I realize that this was an issue with iOS, not the cameras.
I don't know exactly why, but when I got the X-E3, it just sat on a shelf in my home office and barely got picked up, much less used. I sold it to someone who might actually use it after I took the X-E3 on a week-long trip and I didn't use it once. Part of the trip included a couple client shoots and the X-E3 sat in the airbnb while I shot the events with iPhones. I didn't even consider taking it to the client shoots. I still don’t know what that was about.
I “switched” to using iPhones exclusively on all my projects back in 2015. While I dabbled in Fujifilm and Canon cameras during that time, I had not used any device other than an iPhone on client work during my switch from 2015 until the fall of 2018. My last shoot performed exclusively on iPhones was the two weekends of the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival. Even with access to “better” cameras, I continued to choose to shoot with the iPhone due to the combined capabilities, consistency, convenience, workflow, and final product the device delivered.
I absolutely LOVE the look of the photos and videos that come out of the Fuji's but my during my experiment, I was looking to achieve balance with overall quality, ease of use, and flexibility. With the iPhone I have been happy enough - and more importantly, my clients were happy, with the video and photos that the iPhones produced. So the experience with this three-plus year experiment had sealed the deal for me. I told myself I wouldn’t have any issues shooting any event without a "real camera" and am happy with the result of this part of my journey. At the time at least.
Today, after moving off the iPad Pro and back to a MacBook Pro, I am running leaner than ever before with my core setup being one iPhone, a canon G1X Mark III, an Insta360 One X, a GoPro Hero 7 Black, and a 13" fully-specced out 2018 MacBook Pro. These go with me everywhere I go. The laptop has replaced my 27" iMac and the iPad Pro. Making this change now gives me the added flexibility to produce complex video for publication during my trips. Even now I am able to carry my entire office and all my photo/video gear with me in a medium sized photo backpack.
With the iPad Pro I had to plan ahead before any trip where I’ll be shooting and producing video in the field. I'd create any elements I’d need for the final edits before I left town. I’d load them up to the iPad so they were available to me during my trip. Of course, this left me with no room for having to make changes when I was on a shoot. All video and photo editing and distribution in the field was completed on the 12.9” iPad Pro which worked out fine 90% of the time. But, that 10% of the time it didn't work out, it was a show-stopper.
And another dirty little secret about using iOS devices: Using the iPhones constantly required that I supplement them in situations where I wanted a bit more functionality out of them. I wanted a bit more reach from the lens. I wanted a wider angle. I wanted better, smoother stabilization. At the same time I wanted to be able to pull out a camera an "just shoot" without having to attach accessories and cages and stabilizers. I found that when you use your iPhone for your camera... you have to dress up the phone to make it perform as a camera in many situations. In the the end, using the iPhone didn't save any time at all as compared to using a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
So - what is different now as compared to the previous three years during my "iOS as computer" experiment? EVERYTHING. I side-graded my 2017 Apple Retina 5k, 27-inch iMac and the third-generation 12.9" iPad Pro to a 13" MacBook Pro with additional video power provided by the Blackmagic Design eGPU and additional screen real-estate provided by a 34" LG Ultrawide monitor. I no longer use iPhones as photo and video cameras unless I absolutely have to for one reason or another. I was back to using Fujifilm cameras for a few months but have switched back to Canon once again. I assumed I was going to need to make a decision on one brand as I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I was maintaining two different lines of cameras (lenses, batteries, etc). After using Fujifilm X-T2’s for a few months along with a couple Canons, I’ve settled on using the canon m50 as my in-studio vlogging camera.. I’m using the 22mm & 11mm-22mm lenses and I don’t think I’m going back. It lives on the tripod behind my ProPrompter and doesn’t required any additional lenses, etc, for the use I have for it. I was using the Canon G1X Mark III for field work (video and photography) for a couple months. For a truly all-in-one camera with the same APS-C sensor that lives in the much higher-end canon cameras, super-small footprint, no fiddling with lenses, and weatherproofing, nothing else comes close to it on the market. I got ride of it after I realized I was starting to go against the whole “less is more” mantra I’ve been preaching for the last several years. I love the camera but if I’m honest with myself, I was such niche use-case that I couldn’t justify having it in my bag.
With all that said: This (below) is the current gear I use on a day-to-day basis to deliver award-winning SEO and social media marketing results to my clients. It's all been tested in real-world situations, on real jobs and, as always, everything on this list is highly recommended by me personally.
I’ve recently gotten rid of the BeastGrip iPhone camera cage, HeliumCore Cinema Cages, the MoonDog Labs Anamorphic Lens, the Shure MV88 microphone, the Moment lenses, the DJI Osmo Stabilizer, the other stuff, and the other stuff, and the other stuff. I’m officially done with shooting on iPhones. All my Moment lenses and iPhone photography accessories have been donated to my oldest daughter as she starts her own food vblog. This is where I am in my journey... and I don't have much more to say about it than that. I feel like I took four years to find my way back to where I began. sigh
My goals with my setup remain the same. Small footprint and efficiency. It’s just strange that after working on this over the last several years, I’ve come almost completely full circle with my set up. I guess I already knew the answer before I started on this quest.
So what am I currently using now? Without further ado, here's the basic list:
Computers / Mobile
Apple 13” 2018 MacBook Pro (2.7 GHz i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) w/ a 4 TB G-Technology Rugged Raid Pro USB-C Hard Drive for daily external storage space, a 4TB USB-C G-Tech external hard drive for Time Machine, a Drobo 5C DAS Array for media file archiving, and a 34” LG Ultrawide Monitor powered by a Blackmagic Design Radeon Pro 580 eGPU.
Apple iPhone X S is used as my daily driver.
Cameras & Gear
Canon EOS M50 is my in-studio vlogging camera and primary event photography and videography camera.
Insta360 One X for event photography and videography (cropped to 16x9)
GoPro HERO 7 Black is my not-in-studio vlogging camera
DJI Spark drone for event videography
DJI Ronin S Gimbal
Web CMS’s - Shopify, SquareSpace, Wordpress
LAST UPDATED: 4/10/2019
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