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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brace Yourself


A travel photographer’s view of stabilizing options for DSLR motion shooters

And, thirdly, while the design of this fluid-based tripod foot is ingenious, you can't say the same for the monopods that rest on it. One model is way too big and heavy, the other is way too flimsy, and even then, doesn't fold down small enough to be really compact, and they're both made of old-school aluminum. Hopefully, Manfrotto (or some other tripod-maker), will put a strong, lightweight, compact carbon-fiber monopod into this clever tripod-foot design.

Until this happens, these are your best bets for the time being, and it's a great way to stabilize your camera for video work without going the full-tripod route.

Bag It. I've always owned a couple of beanbags that I used primarily on safari in East Africa. Because of the pop-up roof design of game-viewing vehicles in Tanzania and Kenya, a beanbag proved to be the easiest, quickest and most versatile way to steady the long glass we all use when shooting wildlife.

My beanbags have a new lease on life now that I'm shooting video. Although I've gotten pretty resourceful at finding places to perch the beanbag to brace my camera (tabletops, bookshelves, mailboxes, car roofs, my own knee when crouched, etc.), there are simply some times when you have to rest it on the ground.

But the good news is, that very low angle is often an exciting composition for a lot of video work. It turns out that the ground-level eye view is much more of a useful perspective in motion work than it is in still work, and adds an edge of dynamism to a lot of compositions. And kneeling down isn't really a problem for me (although getting up again isn't getting any easier).

You can make your own beanbags, but I like a couple of the commercially available designs, like the Steadybag from Visual Departures and THE pod from Pahmer Enterprises. The latter offers designs with 1⁄4"-20 mounting screws either in the middle or the edge of their different-sized beanbags on which I put a quick-release clamp so I can mount and unmount my cameras from THE pod very quickly and easily.

While the tripod is still my go-to device for shooting video, in those instances where I can't spread out those three-legged things, I find that the above alternatives serve as a worthy stopgap between you and shaky HDSLR video.

For a schedule of Bob Krist's workshops and seminars, visit www.bobkrist.com and go to the "Teach and Talk" heading.

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