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Old February 15th, 2010, 12:16 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Supporting DSLR Camera on a budget

As some of you may know (from the posts I make on this forum) I'm getting into filmography as a hobby; a step from my current photography hobby. And I'm looking into equipment so that I can go out and buy the perfect package for my needs.

Due to my photography hobby I will be going with a DSLR camera (a big Nikon D300s or higher, so around 1kg in weight), which means I need to get a system to support it while filming. Now most of my filming will be two camps - non-sporting event videography & filmmaking. And I will be using older pro-glass which has two main features on needs to consider for support - heavy (up to 5lbs just for the lens) and no VR (or IS, etc).

Now I'm looking for a few items:

1. Tripod Head
I have several manfrotto professional photo-tripods and ball-heads and grip heads for photo-shoots, but what kind of head should I get for use in video? I would mainly use this for panning shots where I want to move on one axis (initially I was thinking of using an old telescope mount).

2. Stabilizer
I would like to get a stabilization system something that can handle the DSLR & Lenses and be small form factor, quick and easy to use, and inexpensive (but not cheap, unless cheap works really well).

3. Dolly
I'm thinking of adding wheels to the bottom of the tripod, but I'm not sure that would be the right way of doing it. Again I want it to work well, but be easy to use without having to lay down massive prep work.
Independent Filmmaker in Canada's Capital
Graeme Hay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15th, 2010, 02:11 AM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 1,200

Tripod Head - I believe it's the Manfrotto 701hdv head that I have (it's in the car, and I don't feel like getting up to go look). It's more than adequate, a fluid head and reasonably priced. I also have the 503 but that is overkill. There are better heads for sure but you said you were looking for a budget head.

Stabilizer - The Glidecam 2000 pro can be picked up quite affordably (Used) and works well with wide lenses, if you get it set up right. It takes practice to get good. I'm still working on it but here's a clip I shot awhile back.

Dolly - Wheels on the bottom of a tripod are only intended for work in a studio setting as they will show every bump or grout line that you run over. Dolly systems have track so that the dolly runs smoothly on rails, and typically these are cumbersome to set up. I have built a DIY dolly that works reasonably well but is kind of squeaky and as I mentioned is little awkward. That is why 'sliders' have become popular, especially with the smaller, lighter Dslr cameras (compared to my 12-pound XLH1 - a 2-pound DSLR is nothing). Dolly's seem to work better with more weight (at least mine does).

A slider can make a dolly move of varying distances, and usually sits on top of your tripod or (if it's longer needs to be supported at each end. You could probably go up to 3' on a tripod with a single tripod underneath. Look in this "support your Local Camera" section for more on sliders. I think you'll find that this is the better way to go for Dslr dolly work. I don't yet have one but as soon as funds allow. I plan to get one. They can really add some high end production value for a relatively cheap cost. There are more and more types popping up. Alistar Brown makes the Glidetrack, and Olof Ekburg is making some as well as the bigger manufacturers.
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Ken Diewert is offline   Reply

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