Best Crane For XHA1 - Under $1500 - Quality & Portability Important at DVinfo.net

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Old October 21st, 2007, 12:05 PM   #1
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Best Crane For XHA1 - Under $1500 - Quality & Portability Important

Hey Everybody --
I'm looking to purchase a jib in the next few weeks for a project I need to complete. I currently shoot with 2 XH-A1 cameras -- I do not have a tripod that will be compatible with a crane. I would prefer to stay under $1500. I'm looking for a quality crane that is portable, because it will be used at multiple locations in a day. I've looked at a few options, but wanted to see what everybody's input was.

Here are a couple that I have looked at:
Turn-Key ProAm Camera Crane Package
http://www.bargain-camera.com/store/...e-p-16277.html

The Kessler Crane:
http://www.kesslercrane.com/index.ph...d=26&Itemid=51

Does anybody have any suggestions for me? I would really appreciate it!
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Old October 21st, 2007, 01:02 PM   #2
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I've used the bargain camera crane, actually my last roommate bought it from bargain camera....

1 major downside is the inability to pan left-right. However, if you remove certain pegs, you can control the tilt with a nice handle. All in all, for portability and the pricing, I loved it. I had a z1u & gear in a pelican, bogen 503, misc accessories case, light kit, that crane, an xl1 & gear in a pelican, a sony dvcam in a case, 2 steadicams, and a videographer with me. In a Nissan Maxima, without anything protruding into the front seat. Oh, and the trunk was almost full before packing this stuff in.

The portability is 5 star. :)

C
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Old October 21st, 2007, 04:19 PM   #3
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Do you already have a portable HD monitor to use on the jib?
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Old October 21st, 2007, 07:49 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input on that crane Carl! I really appreciate it! I was wondering how good it was because it seemed a little low price-wise! Would you recommend any other crane for under 1500 that has better features?

David -- No, I don't have an HD Monitor... :(
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 08:05 AM   #5
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Then how are you going to focus your XH-A1 on a crain / boom / jib without an HD monitor? There goes your $1500 budget right there.
If you are an amateur and the footage doesn't really matter, then get a low cost SD monitor and have fun. If you are a professional who would be embarrassed by showing a paying client out of focus footage, then an HD monitor is a must.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 10:32 AM   #6
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Then what do you suggest David? I appreciate the information, but I'm looking for a solution as well...
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 01:49 PM   #7
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Be aware of an issue that apply to low-cost cranes: starting and stopping a camera move.

The laws of physics say: an object rest stays at rest, an object in motion stays in motion. Starting or stopping the camera on a crane without dampening controls means you have to overcome momentum/intertia (directly related to mass) working against the counter weight.

It can be very difficult to do a shot that requires the camera to move and then come to a solid stop. You have to really practice and have the balance very well tuned not to produce a jerk as the camera comes to a stop. The more the counter weight the the harder it is to stop. Starting is easier, but it's still easy to produce a jerk at the beginning of the move. Again, a lot of practice is required.

If you don't need the camera to start or stop smoothly then the low-cost cranes can produce great effects, but don't expect to be able to do what you can do with a Chapman Super Pee Wee (http://www.chapman-leonard.com/produ...eewee%20ii.htm )-- it's not gonna happen.

I have a Kessler Crane and it's OK, but the design makes it prone to torsion that can amplify the start/stop jerk in certain situations. If you have a rental house with a good line of grip equip available consider renting.

Last edited by Peter Wiley; October 22nd, 2007 at 03:45 PM. Reason: edit url
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 03:22 PM   #8
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Jordan,

I have the Kessler Crane and like it a lot and was in the same situation as you with my budget. I also use it with the A1 and it produces some very nice shots, you just need to learn it's limitations.

First the Tripod. I bought the LIBEC TH2000. I shoot 90% outdoors with it and it's very sturdy. I have had it in the woods, fields and even in a stream and it is very Heavy Duty and is all you will need. The only downside is that the only leveling capabilities are in the legs. It was around $600.

For a monitor I went to Best Buy and purchased an Insignia 7" TV widescreen monitor (model # NS-7HTV) that has a rechargable battery and lo and behold on the bottom there is a tripod mount screw. $179 Bucks.

From Kessler Crane I bought a monitor mount ($39 I think) that mounts the monitor to the crane and I also bought a a zoom controller for $159 which you need.

For $40 bucks I went to the local sporting goods store and bought a set of weights that came in a handy carrying case.

Now I know most professionals would never recommend leaving your camera in auto focus mode but the truth be told, on the Canon it's not half bad and if you limit your crane shots to non-critical subjects or pre focus you will be just fine. The monitor is used for framing purposes only.

A couple of tips. Get the crane balance as close as you can to neutral. Use a very light hand and slow moves and as you move the crane up and down practice letting go of it and letting it come to a stop on it's own. After a while you can become very good at having it stop on your subject. When you get good at that do slow zooms in and out while moving the crane, it can create some very dramatic professional results.

Clients of mine have seen the set-up in action and to a person, were impressed with the results and not one of them cared I bought the monitor at Best Buy, nor did they ask.

Good luck!
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 07:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by David Chilson View Post
Jordan,

Now I know most professionals would never recommend leaving your camera in auto focus mode but the truth be told, on the Canon it's not half bad and if you limit your crane shots to non-critical subjects or pre focus you will be just fine. The monitor is used for framing purposes only.
Good luck!
There is a good reason why pros shoot manual focus.
Because nothing screams amateur shooter louder than having auto-focus hunting during a shot.

Limit your shots to non-critical subjects?
In my book, every shot that makes the screen is a critical shot!
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 10:22 AM   #10
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Dave,

Let me explain what I meant by a non-critical subject. Last month we were shooting a segment with the Kessler crane where the subject was a tractor in a soybean field. We lowered the crane so it was below the level of the soybeans and the base was actually setting on the ground. We were using an XHA1 with a 16X9 .75 wide angle converter lens.

There are two auto focus settings on the A1, Instant and normal (page 35 of the manual) and we set it to normal. We had preplanned the route the tractor would take that would bring it within 2 feet. As the tractor came directly in front of the camera we slowly raised it up and the auto focus smoothly went from a close up of the soybeans to focusing on the tractor. We followed the tractor while continuing to raise the crane to itís full height which by pure luck was about the same height as the tractor driver. It took one take. The camera focus was perfect and when shown to the client his response was ďHow the hell did you do that!Ē

The tractor was big, no huge hence the term non-critical. With the A1 and using the normal auto focus setting, focus changes were made very smoothly and I dare say as smooth as anyone could have done it manually. There was no focus-hunting during the shot because we set the shot up with what we knew would work.

Being creative and knowing what your equipment can and cannot do can go very far and with proper preplanning you can create professional results without an HD monitor.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 05:43 AM   #11
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an amatuer question here, how do u control the focus on the move? Is the only way with a LANC controller?
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Old October 24th, 2007, 07:42 AM   #12
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an amatuer question here, how do u control the focus on the move? Is the only way with a LANC controller?
Using the stock lens, yes!
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Old October 25th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #13
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Maybe Iím missing something here, but on that move that I described in my previous post the camera was in (gasp!) auto focus mode. Iím getting old and my eyes are not what they used to be plus operating the crane and taking care of zooming out and framing are all that I can handle at one time! (The only video game out when I was a kid was Pong)

I did use a LANC controller but my fingers only touched the start-zoom out and stop buttons.

I do have an HD monitor, (actually three) and it does make things easier is some situations. The last time I used the crane in a studio setting where the crane was locked in a straight down position to catch the details of fly-ting, I used a monitor. But if the HD monitor spontaneously combusted I would have dragged a chair over, taken off my glasses and used the viewfinder.

I guess itís time to come clean; I no longer take my HD monitor with me on outdoor crane shoots. When I use the crane I am going for a dramatic shot. Either from a high or low vantage point to a wide or specific subject and I always use (gasp again!) auto focus. But Iím very careful to set up the shot and I have adjusted the speed of the zoom on the LANC controller so that the auto focus on the camera can keep up. Let me explain.

Last Spring I was doing a spot for catch and release fishing in a very nice location. The crane was placed right smack in the middle of the stream. The camera was zoomed in and focused on the fisherman who was about 30 yards downstream kneeling in the water and the camera was right above the water. After he released the fish I started the slow zoom out and started raising the crane and moving it to the right to follow the contour of the stream which the auto focus could follow with no searching. I knew because I checked beforehand. Within two or three seconds the camera was at infinity and my only concern was composing the shot.

A nice feature with this type of crane is that all you have to do is walk to the business end and you can make camera adjustments till the cows come home. I do that then use the wide format monitor just for framing. Heck, you can even operate it from that end when you find out your battery is dead on your portable monitor. (Donít ask me how I know)

Maybe Iím the only guy in this forum who hasnít filled in the detent on the power dial of my A1 under the A or super glued it to M, I donít know. But I suspect I am similar to a lot of other ďcrewsĒ out there which consist of one. If you can operate the crane, pull focus, do a consistent zoom and frame at the same time as your monitor is swinging from above your head to below your knees and four feet to the right or left, my hats off to you. I canít but I love the portability of the crane and the dramatic shots it produces so I let the camera pick up my slack. Good Luck!
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Old November 24th, 2007, 01:00 PM   #14
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I do both.. auto.. manual

If I'm doing an interview or shooting in a controlled range, I kick everything to manual.. but if anything dynamic going on.. I'm the same as you, I can only keep track of so many things at a time, and like you I'm usually a 1 man or 2 (my wife on second camera). I've done a number of two camera interviews by myself.. frame an XH-A1 get the lights right and let it go.. my primary camera is an XL-H1 which the auto focus, to use a technical term, sucks. If you look in the users manual in the XL-H1 it defines the "A" detent as a feature to make your picture out of focus ;-) The XH-A1 is far superior (means it works most of the time) in autofocus..

I think people who have the luxury (or curse) of a crew, don't have an appreciation for this, and how much redundancy and a bit of creativity can fill the cracks so well that no one notices that there may have been a problem..
So.. I think that the "law" that you should always run in manual is pretty stupid, and thought I do it most of the time, I would get worse results if I did it all the time.
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Old November 24th, 2007, 01:02 PM   #15
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I do both.. auto.. manual

Yes.. in this case I swing both ways ;-)

If I'm doing an interview or shooting in a controlled range, I kick everything to manual.. but if anything dynamic is going on.. I'm the same as you, I can only keep track of so many things at a time, and like you I'm usually a 1 man or 2 (my wife on second camera). I've done a number of two camera interviews by myself.. frame an XH-A1 get the lights right and let it go.. my primary camera is an XL-H1 which the auto focus, to use a technical term, sucks. If you look in the users manual in the XL-H1 it defines the "A" detent as a feature to make your picture out of focus ;-) The XH-A1 is far superior (means it works some of the time as opposed to almost never) in autofocus..

I think people who have the luxury (or curse) of a crew, don't have an appreciation for this, and how much redundancy and a bit of creativity can fill the cracks so well that no one notices that there may have been a problem..

So.. I think that the "law" that you should always run in manual is pretty stupid, and thought I do it most of the time, I would get worse results if I did it all the time.

Brian
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