Spokane, WA—August 2016… As much as photographer and videographer Duane Regehr enjoyed his video shoots in the Karnataka region of southern India, it was hard, hot work. Regehr was especially concerned that the dust, heat, and humidity might cause problems with his cameras and his new TASCAM DR-70D field recorder. He need not have worried.
“Everything worked great. The DR-70D was rock solid the entire three weeks we were in India, and it was a hot, humid environment,” recalls the vice president of electronic news monitoring and TV clipping service Cutaway Media. “I didn’t even have time to update the firmware before I went, and I had no problems.”
A two-time Emmy Award-winning former television news photographer with KTVB (NBC) and KREM (CBS), Regehr now freelances as a video cameraman for the networks and for local clients in Spokane. He was in southern India on behalf of non-profit Clic Aboard, working with producer Dr. Tom Grant of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to shoot a documentary on the conflicts between elephants and coffee plantations and people.
Based on the need for a nimble and portable rig, Regehr knew he’d be shooting the project with a DSLR, “so I needed something that would provide good, solid audio capture in the field. Tom had used the TASCAM DR-70D and was happy with it, so I went to the NAB show and checked it out. It had the right features, it was the right size and weight, and TASCAM has a reputation for quality sound, so I bought one.”
Shooting the elephant documentary required versatile and easily portable equipment. “We were shooting in cities, in small villages, out in the jungle, on coffee plantations, and in elephant camps,” Regehr recounts. “We needed to be light, fast, and mobile, to go where the elephants were. We might be planning to go in one direction and then get a phone call that there were elephants in a plantation two miles the other way, so we’d run over there. I got a light tripod, mounted the DR-70D on it, put my Nikon 810 camera on top of that, and I had the mobile rig we needed. We relied on the TASCAM DR-70D to carry the audio load, especially for interviews. It worked out really well.”
Regehr mostly used a combination of the DR-70D’s internal mics and a couple of external mics. “I used the DR-70D’s two internal mics to get their sound,” he states. “They took the place of my onboard camera mic. Then I had a stick mic for the interviewer and a lavaliere for whoever we were interviewing. So we had two and sometimes four channels of audio. We preferred to shoot multiple-camera interviews, with a tight shot and a medium shot, and we used a phone app for a slate to link everything up.”
Using any electronic device in the Karnataka region’s extreme heat and humidity is hard on batteries. Regehr had a solution to that, too. “We were shooting an interview with a Swami at his compound outside of Bangalore, and it’s gorgeous,” he relates. “But this Swami speaks very slowly, and at great length. I was starting to worry about camera batteries, and then I realized the DR-70D batteries were almost out too. Fortunately, I was carrying a couple of power bricks to recharge the cell phones, so I duct-taped a brick to my tripod, plugged it into the DR-70D, and I had plenty of power. I made it through that interview and the next one.”
Regehr bought his TASCAM DR-70D specifically for the project in India, and he didn’t have much time to try it before he went. “It’s really easy to work with,” he asserts. “You just have to read the manual. I made a few minor technical mistakes at first, as with any new equipment, but I didn’t have any problems.”
Back in Spokane, Regehr continues to rely on his DR-70D. “I’m starting to reach for the DR-70D more often for audio I used to record with my camera,” he notes. “It’s really quick, and the audio quality is excellent. The DR-70D has filled gaps I didn’t know I had before the India project. Now I turn to it all the time. I’m so happy with this recorder; what a great, solid product!”