Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Fluid heads are the best choice for smooth panning and tracking, whether shooting stills or video
Labels: Tripods & Support
Now that DSLRs are offering video capture, it’s time to reexamine some of the gear that you may need. For stills, ballheads and three-way heads are great for locking in a shot, but video requires the camera to be able to move steadily as you capture action or follow subjects. With a still, a fast shutter speed will freeze the action, but video is very susceptible to any aberrant movement, and fast camera movements or shaky video can be jarring to a viewer. Fluid heads are the ideal choice for photographers who also are interested in recording video, as they allow camera operators to move the camera evenly while keeping the picture steady, perfect for cinematic pans and tracking shots.
A fluid head contains a viscous liquid, often specialized grease or oil, that’s used to lubricate the mechanics of the head. This fluid offers a uniform resistance to pressure and torque, which means that it slows down movement to a point that it becomes easily controllable. This reduces sudden or jerky camera adjustments, and helps panning and tracking starts to be cleaner.
As you practice with a fluid head, camera movements become more and more precise, especially because most fluid heads have different levels of drag. By setting drag, you can tailor exactly how fast or slow that you’d like to pan or tilt. Counterbalance systems also are an important advantage to fluid heads, as they allow your camera to stay in the same central position when tilting or panning. This keeps your composition and your focus from shifting. In order to control fluid heads, pan arms are ergonomically designed to give you a lot of leverage, which gives a lot more power over slow or fast pans and tilts.
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