Tripods & Supports
The best gear for getting stable shots and smooth video
Labels: Tripods and Supports
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Now that video is a standard feature on most new DSLRs, it's important for photographers who wish to work with the medium to consider a tripod system that will work with both stills and video. Fluid heads are an ideal choice for DSLR filmmaking systems because they allow smoother movements during tracking and panning. Also, the more serious you are about taking high-quality video, the more you need to consider the amount that a head can potentially carry because a variety of extra tools can be added to the camera for better sound, lighting and more complicated options like follow-focus units and matteboxes.
BushHawk's gunstock shoulder supports are great for tracking and panning subjects in steady, controlled movements. The Low Profile Foldable Bipod Assembly for BushHawk supports adds extra support for long lenses and more options for steadying your setup with a front bracket and handle that secure solidly to the rigs. This allows you to shoot steadily from a prone position along the ground or from windows, tabletops and other obstacles. With a posi-lock feature that keeps the device from tipping, the Bipod Assembly also keeps the BushHawk supports standing upright so you won't have to worry about detaching gear when you set it down. List Price: $99
Daiwa's broadcast video tripods are heavy duty for big cameras and large accessories. The DST-43 and DST-73 tripods include a true fluid pan head, a pan handle and two mounts for use of two pan handles when needed. For more compact camcorders and video-capable still cameras, the DST-43 holds up to 8.8 pounds, while the larger DST-73 supports up to 15 pounds for larger lenses and accessories. A built-in midlevel spreader and three-stage legs with dual rails add stability. List Price: $349 (DST-43); $599 (DST-73).
The Davis & Sanford FM18 fluid head can hold up to 18 pounds, enough for a full-sized camcorder or a DSLR loaded down with plenty of accessories. Drag can be set and locked independently for pan and tilt, and a sliding quick-release plate can be adjusted for the best central balance on the four-pound head. Estimated Street Price: $105.
Sachtler's Cine DSLR fluid head has a payload range of 2 to 11 pounds, plus a 10-step counterbalance with three vertical and horizontal grades of drag for precision panning and tilting with soft, finely graded damping. The head has a durable build with a metal exterior housing to protect from the environment and oil damping for use in extreme temperature ranges. The Cine DSLR fluid heads are available with the TT 75/2 CF three-section, single, carbon-fiber telescopic tripod or a two-stage aluminum tripod with midlevel spreader or ground spreader. List Price: $1,250 (Cine DSLR head 00350); $1,500 (Cine DSLR head with tripod and spreader).
The VideoPro M2 tripod from Sunpak offers an affordable true fluid head in a kit that also includes a quick-release platform and a tripod chassis with a floating ballhead system with a knob underneath the head that allows you to balance the head rather than the legs. The legs also house retractable spikes, and there are quick-release leg locks. Estimated Street Price: $115.
DSLR rigs are modular kits that provide a base unit for attaching a number of photography and video accessories to a camera while also providing an easily portable stabilization system for DSLRs. A few of the more popular models in the space include ikan's SUPER FLY Super Kit, the Norbert from K-Tek, Redrock Micro's series of DSLR 2.0 rigs, Zacuto's extensive lineup of rigs and accessories, Cinevate's DSLR rigs and the Camtrol Prime with its unique cage-free design, best for handholding and low-to-the-ground shots.
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