P7700 Setup for Stills & Video w/ Rotating Flash Bracket

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John Bricklemyer
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P7700 Setup for Stills & Video w/ Rotating Flash Bracket
5 months ago

Our niece was married this past November and I was asked to shoot candid still photos as well as video during the rehearsal dinner and at the wedding and reception. There were two professional photographers covering the event, so I was asked to get “whatever you can,” with no lofty expectations. I had never used my P7700 to do video, so I purchased a Nikon ME-1 external microphone and did some practicing prior to the event. To make a long story short, everyone was thrilled with both the candid photos as well as the video that I was able to create from what I was able to take during the events. From a photographer perspective, switching between the external microphone and the SB-400 flash on my P7700 was a bit of a pain and caused me to miss some shots that I would have liked to have taken.

Our other niece is getting married in May and I will be taking similar candid shots and video, so I set out to find a solution that would make it easier to take both still photos and video (obviously, not at the same time) without having to switch devices every time and without having to purchase, and carry, a second camera. I also wanted to be able to properly orient the flash for vertical shots and to keep the solution reasonably priced (<$100), so some of the more elaborate solutions for rotating the flash were way too expensive for me, as several were $250 and up.

I settled on what seems to be a very good solution, although a bit odd looking. I purchased a Custom Brackets CB Digital-SB bracket (the "base bracket"), which provides a good solid handle with an accessory shoe at the top to hold the external microphone. I added to this a Vello CB-300 Quickshot rotating flash bracket (the "flash bracket," Stroboframe, and others, sell a nearly identical bracket), which allows me to mount the SB-400 flash on an off-camera TTL cord for proper orientation for both horizontal and vertical shots. I added a Custom Brackets AT anti-twist plate to the base bracket, which prevents the flash bracket from rotating on the base bracket. I mounted the flash bracket onto the base bracket, as shown in the photos, and then mounted the camera on the flash bracket. The entire set-up is relatively well balanced, sits nicely on a flat surface, and cost me less than $90 delivered, as I already had the off-camera TTL cord, the external microphone, the flash, and the P7700.  The flash bracket comes with a locking cold shoe, which I removed to mount the TTL cord, but if you are using a CLS-compatible flash, then you could dispense with the TTL cord and use the commander mode for the on-camera flash.

Complete setup for stills and video with the ability to rotate the flash

Here the flash is rotated for vertical shots

Here is the setup for stills with flash, but no video

Here is the base bracket setup for videos only

This image shows how the two brackets mate up and how the anti-twist plate interfaces with the flash bracket

I tried this setup out last night at my daughter’s birthday party and it seems to work pretty well and meets my requirements to be able to easily switch between stills and video, while also being able to rotate the flash for vertical shots. I would have liked a rotating flash bracket that is a little bit more robust, but the Vello bracket seems like it will be okay for my needs, it was inexpensive, and it is relatively compact. There is no vignetting with this setup, even at 28mm. The flash position can be adjusted higher, if desired, but it seems to work fine at the lowest setting and keeps the overall unit more compact.

Either bracket can be used alone, when I don’t need to take both stills and video, although I probably won’t use the flash bracket without the base bracket, even if I am not taking video, as there isn’t a good way to hold it. The base bracket is great for either video alone or stills and video when the flash isn’t needed and I will probably also utilize it as part of my next project, which will be a macro flash set-up.

 John Bricklemyer's gear list:John Bricklemyer's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Adobe Photoshop CS6 Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Nik Capture NX DxO FilmPack 3 Expert +3 more
Nikon Coolpix P7700
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