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Old October 4th, 2002, 03:38 PM   #1
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Shooting from the seat of a car with an XL-1s

Dear all!

Finally, I'm back in the land of DV! Africa is calling, and this time, I'm planning to do lots of wildlife video shooting from the driver seat of a Land Rover.

Previously, I have used a Bogen/Manfrotto Car Window Pod with a small ball head to do still photo with a long lens. While this worked well with my still photo setup, it won't for the XL-1s - the rig is too tall.

The ideal situation I imagine is being able to use the Bogen/Manfrotto 503 head I own with a ball mount somehow attached to the door of the car.

Has anyone done something like this? Or does anyone have experience shooting many hours from a car seat? Any ideas would be very welcome!

TIA,

Ron

P.S. In the above scenario, using the XL-1s' EVF is quite restricting - so I'm in the market for a small external LCD-screen with a sun shade. Any suggestions?
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Old October 5th, 2002, 07:12 AM   #2
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I've never seen anything prebuilt for this type of work. So, I think you're going to have to build your own. Bogen makes a couple of suction clamps that will attach to the door if the surface is flat enough. http://www.bogenphoto.com/ Search for a #3294 suction grip with socket. I guess I invision several of these with a cross member or platform that rises up. Attached to the platform is your fluid head with the camera on it. The camera will mount and dismount via the quick release. The suction cups and cross member would be secured to the vehicle by a safety cable attached to the frame or door handle. The saftey cable prevents the entire rig from crashing to the ground should the suction cups release from the vehicle. The site no longer lists the recommended weight capacity of the grips. I believe they used to spec. out at 8 to 10 pounds each. So I would recommend using at least 2 grips and possibly 3.

Jeff
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Old October 6th, 2002, 06:46 AM   #3
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Re: Shooting from the seat of a car with an XL-1s

Hi Ron

This might sound ammeturish, but it works really well...

If your shooting wildlife (from the DRIVERS seat) space restrictions and quik set up will be the two biggest problems you'll face.

I find that a normal beanbag resting on the window shelve works really well. I rest my XL1s on it which gives me really steady shots, (if your passengers dont move around) plus it is really quik to set up so you can get the shots before the animals runs away.

Panning and tilting of course is a problem with this tipe of set up.

When it comes to the landi, the newer versions backdoor windows do not go down all the way, so you will have to shoot from the front seats.

Didi
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Old October 6th, 2002, 07:21 AM   #4
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Pondering...

Hi Didi,

Thanks for the feedback - I've been thinking about a bean bag as well. But I'd really to be able to pan and tilt, and looking through the EVF while having to steady the cam, focus and zoom all at the same time doesn't work well for me at all in my car (a VW Golf).

I imagine it would be slightly easier in a Land Rover, but I'd still prefer a more comfortable solution...

The Defender we'll be using is a three-door long cab 98. There are two sets of rear windows which open in a sliding-door fashion... The windows aren't very tall, so I don't know how feasible shooting out of them will be...

Here's what I'm planning to do: build a bracket (most likely out of aluminum) that I can clamp to either the window frame next to the diver seat or to that of one of the rear sliding windows. This bracket would have the top piece of a Manfrotto tripod with a levelling bowl attached to it (I'm planning to purchase this part directly from Manfrotto as a spare part - we'll see if they're willing!), lowered down on the inside of the car to about 20 cm below the bottom edge of the window (I hope you can follow me on this one...).

When attaching my Manfrotto 503 head with a half ball mount, the camera mounting plate would then be at the ideal level - just a few centimeters above the bottom edge of the window, allowing me to tilt down enough to film subjects that are near the vehicle.

Combined with a VariZoom LANC-controller and a small LCD screen, I should be in quite comfortable shape for long hours of filming...

What do you think? Does this sound reasonable?

Cheers,

Ron
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Old October 27th, 2002, 01:17 PM   #5
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Hello all!

OK, so my construction is at a mechanic's workshop at the moment, and should be finished by mid-week. After some pondering, I decided to go with Jeff's suggestion, opting for a construction with industrial-strength suction mounts (from Veribor, a German company), a shortened Bogen/Manfrotto 3283/520 tripod leg and a custom made platform that has a bowl for a 75 mm half-ball attached. I hope the suction mounts won't make dents in the Land Rover's door ;-)

I'll post a link to a picture after I pick it up from the workshop...

Thanks to all for contributing! This forum rocks!!

Kind regards,

Ron
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Old October 27th, 2002, 05:14 PM   #6
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Hi Ron,

I don't think you'll have problems with dents in the sheet metal. They may scratch the paint if it's not kept clean (hard to do in Africa). I'd love to see pictures when your done.

Jeff
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Old October 27th, 2002, 06:32 PM   #7
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Look for a Monfrotto Super Clamp and accessories. I have used it for attaching it to car doors and windows to hold a video camera many time. Monfrotto has MANY attachments to go with the super clamp such as goose necks and ball clamps that will attach securly to the clamp to allow you to put the camera in MANY positions. I have one setup with it that will allow me to drive while running the camera (in the field) with a 5 inch TFT display on my dash so I can see everything it's seeing as I drive. This is a great way to drive up and capture wildlife when you can. With the super clamp, you can take it off quickly with one push of a button and your ready to go. You can get a good TFT display and then get a "Hoodman" to shade it from the Sun. Good Hunting.

Hope this helps!
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 03:01 PM   #8
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Feedback...

I was unable to post a picture before leaving for Africa, so I'd like to do this now:

http://www.halimedia.com/downloads/dsc03424.jpg

This pic shows the rig in action, attached to the door of a Land Rover Defender 110. It worked very well and provided much more flexibility with regard to panning/following animals than a rig inside the car would have.

Here's a sample frame grab of footage of a resting leopard at Dombo Pools in Moremi Game Reserve:

http://www.halimedia.com/downloads/leopard_dombo.jpg

This was taken with an XL-1s, using the Canon EF Adapter and the EF 100-400 mm IS zoom lens.

I'll post more detailed images of the setup when I find time...

BTW: Is anyone interested in a rig of this sort? The reason I'm asking is that this first incarnation is made of stainless steel, and is thus extremely heavy. Therefore, I'm considering a next version constructed of anodized aluminum. The whole setup including suction mounts, tripod leg and 75 mm or 100 mm bowl would cost approximately US$ 500.--...

More later,

Ron
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 04:14 PM   #9
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Nice work Ron. Great shot too.

Jeff
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 04:55 PM   #10
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I second that, Ron. Very nice shot.
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 06:17 PM   #11
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Nice kitty, good kitty! Drop the XL1, kitty!

With that lens setup, how far away can you take a shot like that?
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Old December 12th, 2002, 04:34 PM   #12
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Wow, that's an amazing shot. Nice work. Makes me wanna see the rest!
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Old December 13th, 2002, 05:11 AM   #13
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Old January 10th, 2003, 01:12 PM   #14
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Hi Ron

Just had a look and I really like what I see.... are you planning on making more than one rig and selling them???

It really looks like something I could use out in the field!

By the way, awesome shot, hope you're going to post some more!

Didi
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