Should panning be stiff or loose? at

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Old October 10th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #1
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Should panning be stiff or loose?

How do I know if panning resistance is correct? Should it be easy to pan with just a light touch, or do I add more resistance? I have an HDV501, but I don't view this as a model specific question.
Paul Cascio
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Old October 10th, 2010, 07:42 AM   #2
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My short answer; It depends. OF course other will have differing opinions.

Seriously, for me it depends on what camera I've got on top and what I'm supposed to be shooting.
For example when I run a camera for a seminar, if say I'm running a Sony DXC50 with a long lens (because I'm back center of house and the A camera) and I'm on a honkin Cartoni pod I might loosen up the pan a bit in case the person speaking on stage is a runner. I like a bit af a looser feel. If I'm shooting a wedding with my small cams on my Mafrotto pod I generally tighten it up a touch because I know I'll be doing very little panning and don't want th ehead to move if accidently touched. No I don't lock the pan simply because when I need to pan I don't want to be tugging on the handle and forgeting to unlock the lock. When I did the remote cameras for auto racing since I had to follow the action thru the turns until the director called the next shot I again kept the pan adjustment loose, there are some hard and fast movements of the remote cam controls that show as very controlled on the TV.
I guess I would say based on my answer that I prefer the pan a bit looser. Hmmm, never really thought about it before.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old October 10th, 2010, 01:51 PM   #3
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Pretty much what Don says.

I use higher drag settings if I am tracking something at full zoom and it won't move very far. For example, a bird feeding roughly in one spot or walking slowly. I want the movements to be controlled and precise, and not be spoiled by the slightest movement of my hand.

If I'm at a wider angle and am following a person or vehicle, I'll want a lower drag setting.

If I'm not sure, I'll stick to a mid-level drag, particularly on the Sachtler when I know I can rely on it.

So it does depend. Of course, there are exceptions!

I have a Manfrotto 501HDV and a Sachtler DV6-SB. I find the Sachtler much smoother and easier to control, and use a lower drag setting. The 501HDV requires a lot higher drag and a lot more effort for me to keep it smooth - so it IS tripod-dependent, at least in my experience.

Of course, the 501HDV can be carried easily up a mountain and the Sachtler is a hernia-giver. You gotta compromise sometimes.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 05:51 PM   #4
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As Don said, it has a lot to do with your rig and what you're shooting. Shooting single person interviews with my A1 on a Cartoni Focus, I keep the drag rather high because I'm not going to move very much. If I'm shooting two people, I'll keep it looser.

Now on a manned camera shooting motor racing from atop the sky boxes, I'll keep it fairly tight to keep the pans smooth. If I was closer to the track, I'd keep it much looser because the pans would be much bigger and faster.

So, my answer is that there's no single right answer. Do what feels good to you. A little practice after you set up the camera but before you start recording will help you get it right.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 09:46 PM   #5
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It should feel effortless for the shot you are trying to accomplish.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #6
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Sareesh sums it up well. The idea is that you should never have to fight the head or be forced to "make it smooth"--a good head properly adjusted will do that for you. If the subject moves faster in a given shot to where you are pushing against the resistance of the head, dial it back. If you can see erratic motion in the frame, especially in telephoto shots, dial it up.

The better the head, the better the results and more natural it will feel. It's why I always encourage people to buy the best head they can possibly afford, and to consider it a long-term investment when budgeting. My O'Connor 1030 is a good 15 years old, in flawless operating condition and is the only head I'll use for smaller cameras as I feel it is the most "invisible" product out there. While it costs a lot more than most heads, again, it's a long term investment and the results are apparent on screen.
Charles Papert
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