7th Edition

The Camera Assistant's Manual

By David E. Elkins, SOC Copyright 2020
    552 Pages 271 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    552 Pages 271 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Excel as a Cameraman in today’s evolving film industry with this updated classic. Learn what to do – and what NOT to do – during production and get the job done right the first time.

    This seventh edition covers the basics of cinematography and provides you with the multi-skill set needed to maintain and transport a camera, troubleshoot common problems on location, prepare for job interviews, and work with both film and digital technologies. Illustrations, checklists, and tables accompany each chapter and highlight the daily workflow of an Assistant Cameraman (AC), with expanded sections on problems and troubleshooting, updated formulas, tables, and checklists, as well as new information on the differences between working in the United States and UK and additional information on working with digital technology.

    This is a must-have for anyone looking to succeed in this highly technical and ever-changing profession.

    This book features a comprehensive companion web site that offers plenty of useful resources, including online tutorials that ACs can easily access while on location and supplementary downloadable forms and checklists.

    Table of Contents




    Chapter 1 - Basics of Cinematography

    Chapter 2 - The Camera Department

    Chapter 3 - Camera Trainee and Camera Production Assistant (PA)

    Chapter 4 - Second Assistant Cameraman (2nd AC) and Film Loader

    Chapter 5 - First Assistant Cameraman (1st AC)

    Chapter 6 – Film Productions - Problems and Troubleshooting

    Chapter 7 – Cameras

    Chapter 8 - Before, During and After the Job

    Appendix A – Digital Cameras

    Appendix B – Equipment and Apps

    Appendix C – Camera Department Checklists, Production Forms and Labels

    Appendix D – Tools, Accessories and Expendables

    Appendix E – Tables and Formulas

    Recommended Reading



    David E. Elkins, S.O.C., has over 30 years of professional experience as a Camera Operator and First Assistant Cameraman, working on feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, educational films, industrial films, and much more. He has also taught classes and workshops on both the East and West Coasts of the United States. He has been an active member of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 since 1989 and the Society of Camera Operators since 1992.

    "In its seventh edition, David Elkins’ book retains its stature as a Must Have reference – not only for aspiring camera assistants, but all practitioners of the trade. Elkins has impressively updated this quintessential classic, leaving no question unanswered."

    Tom Ackerman ASC

    Praise for the previous edition:

    "This new edition of The Camera Assistant’s Manual blends technical information with descriptive procedural narration that will help you be in the right place at the right time and perform those duties that are expected of you as a member of a camera crew. If you are an aspiring cinematographer, by all means, put this book at the top of your reading list, and if you’ve been in the business for years, but have not brushed up on the latest procedures, it’s time to review and gain new knowledge!"

    Stan McClain, www.filmtools.com

    "The film industry is finding itself in the most dynamic technical changes in its history, yet David's manual continues to keep up with changing trends. I not only recommend this book to the new Camera Assistant, but anybody who wants a real world understanding of what to expect on-set."

    Jim Roudebush, Panavision Inc.


    "David Elkins is an elite craftsman who really knows his stuff! The Camera Assistant’s Manual, Sixth Edition contains all of the essential, up-to-date information on how to fulfill the duties of a Camera Assistant with complete professionalism. If you aspire to a career in the camera department, this is a must own book!"

    Randolph Sellars, Director of Photography and Founder at Reel Pro Mentor


    "Elkins takes the best of the old school–techniques used to craft the best films ever made–and updates them for the digital world. Short of being on a set, this book is a great introduction to the most technically critical job in production."

    Art Adams, cinematographer/educator, ProVideoCoalition.com