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Camera Assistant essentials, and starting out


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#1 Amber Sherman

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 12:25 AM

hi everyone,

I just moved out to LA a couple weeks ago and looking to get started in the camera department.

I am looking into getting my kit together as well. I know a few things for being a 2nd AC. I was one for a low budget feature.

these are some of the items I have on my list:
-belt pouch
-leatherman tool
-lens cleaner
-lens tissue
-slate
-mini slate
-dry erase with eraser tip
-tape measure
-can of air
-small flashlight
-1" couple of colors of gaff tape for marks
-2" black paper tape
-sharpie,pencil, pen


let me know if I'm missing anything.

I also am trying to figure out to network out here in LA since I am from western NY. I am the camera PA for a music Video this upcoming sunday. And I am looking into rental houses to work at. if anyone knows of any in the LA area that needs someone let me know :rolleyes::-)

Want to know as much a possible. thanks again!!

Edited by Amber M, 27 October 2009 - 12:25 AM.

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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 03:07 AM

Check Annie Wengenroth's post in the classifieds here. She's selling a lot of the things you'll need and they'll be cheaper than buying new.
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#3 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 11:41 AM

Hi Amber, I saw your post after I already spoke with someone in Philly about selling my kit. But I'm still kicking around these forums if you ever need advice about where to get some of this stuff or who to talk to. When I first bought all my stuff, I spent about $150 on Filmtools to get the tool belt and everything I could think of to put in it. I didn't buy a lot of tape and things like that (expendables) because I knew that would generally be provided on the job, but I did get a few rolls just to have something.

Doug Hart's book has a really good (and really long!) list of things you might need. Basically, just think about the job you're doing, and the list takes care of itself. There are some items which are kinda "survival" things, like flashlights, work gloves, and so on. Then you want something to clean the lens. I got a couple of Lens Pens... I never use the end with the cleaning fluid in it, but the brushes are good because of the way they retract into the Lens Pen and stay clean. Those microfiber clothes are really good. I got these things at an outdoor supply store intended for ski/snowboard goggles that I think are "Snow Erasers" or something like that...it's like a sponge on one side and chamois on the other. Obviously, no good for a lens, but good for filters if you're in the rain.

As far as lens cleaning fluid, more importantly, get a decent-sized bottle for it with a good top, so that it doesn't come open in your set bag or pouch....that way you can buy the lens fluid in bulk and save some money.

For tape measures, I would say that you don't really NEED one of those electronic range-finder types unless you intend to be doing a lot of crane work or sports stuff...situations where longer distances come into play. Otherwise, one soft tape (they're on Ebay for cheaper than Filmtools prices) and a Stanley Fat Max 25-footer should be good.

The other thing I wanted to mention is canned air...I made the startling discovery recently that for me personally, it's easier to just get the disposable cans from Staples or wherever, and keep the plastic tops around, than to buy a nozzle which tends to either break or disappear after some time. I only use canned air for the insides of magazines anyway...you really shouldn't use it anywhere else and I cringe whenever people do! A blower brush picks up where canned air leaves off. And you can get that at any photo supply store...it doesn't have to be Filmtools.

And finally, I would venture to say that you should travel light when it comes to what you keep on you. I was working on a feature and started to have this weird pain in my hips... I couldn't figure it out until I realized I was carrying around 10 pounds of crap every day on my belt. So lighten it up when you can.

Uh, I think that's it...let me know if you have any other questions.
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#4 Rob Vogt

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 04:25 PM

Also I would add a changing bag or tent. For some reason people don't take them out with the camera sometimes- as a second you might not be at checkout. PS Annie if you're selling any more of your AC stuff PM me. The last gig I was on when returning equipment someone leaned into the car and didn't realize they were putting all their weight on my slate and snapped it in half, plus I'm lookin for some other gadgets myself.


I like the flashlight, magnifier combo thingy, it came in handy when checking the gate.

Also some batteries, AA, AAA, 9V and CR123 batteries for flashlights, lightmeters and still cameras might help. Don't advertise you have them b/c everyone will hit you up for them.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 07:51 PM

Don't advertise you have them b/c everyone will hit you up for them.


This is such good advice! Everyone already always looks for camera if they want tape, canned air, or need to clean their glasses. I'll admit to looking for sound when I need a 9V. :lol:
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#6 Amber Sherman

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 02:08 PM

thanks for all the advice. I didn't go through film tolls little too pricey, but i did get a lot of the stuff I needed at home depot and spent half as much, and than went to a camera store for the other things i needed. a lot cheaper. I guess good to start out and i'll add when needed.

thanks again!!
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#7 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 06:33 PM

On some of the items I've found it's best to initially put out a little more money for an item you won't end up replacing- like a leatherman (the Wave is my favorite), a good flashlight (surefire), and a good soft tape and steel tape. It might hurt a little more in the beginning, but you won't have to spend the money again (or for a long time anyways) if something breaks or fails.

I like the 16' fat max tape because it's a little less weight when hanging off my belt and it's a little more compact- and I don't find myself going beyond 16' with my steel tape- but your mileage may vary.

I would add a good HEADLAMP to the list. I have a Petzl one that uses AAA batts. Princeton tech also makes good ones.
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#8 Marque DeWinter

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 02:49 PM

On some of the items I've found it's best to initially put out a little more money for an item you won't end up replacing- like a leatherman (the Wave is my favorite), a good flashlight (surefire), and a good soft tape and steel tape. It might hurt a little more in the beginning, but you won't have to spend the money again (or for a long time anyways) if something breaks or fails.

I like the 16' fat max tape because it's a little less weight when hanging off my belt and it's a little more compact- and I don't find myself going beyond 16' with my steel tape- but your mileage may vary.

I would add a good HEADLAMP to the list. I have a Petzl one that uses AAA batts. Princeton tech also makes good ones.


It may go without saying but a few BNC barrels, Ts, etc.
Also order a few of the dry erase maker erasers that go on the markers.

For that Fat Max..throw a 1" plastic washer on the end and cover it with bright gaff tape (the hot pink color or chroma green is good). It makes it easer to see where the end is.

~Marque
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#9 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 02:57 AM

I've also coated mine with that "plastidip" stuff to good effect.
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