For sharp photos and video, choosing the right option for steadying your camera is essential
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When you need some height to get the shot, the SLIK Grand Pro CF-4 tripod extends to 100 inches. The 8.4-pound tripod can hold camera systems weighing up to 30 pounds while positioned more than 8 feet in the air. To keep the CF-4 light and improve rigidity, carbon-fiber leg tubing is used. You can shoot as low as 9 inches from the ground using a short column (not included), and adjustable Twist-release leg locks allow you to change the angle of each leg individually. Estimated Street Price: $899.
With all the features of full-size tripods, the compact Vanguard Nivelo 244BK and 245BK collapse in seconds and have legs that quickly lock and unlock by simply turning the feet. The tripods are designed for mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras and small DSLRs, with load capacities of up to 6.6 pounds. The legs can be positioned at 25º and 50º angles, while an innovative open canopy lets you invert the Quick Fold Central Column for taking macro shots. The rotating head pans 360º and tilts side to side. Estimated Street Price: $139 (244BK); $149 (245BK).
Capturing smooth moving pictures requires different tools than those for taking sharp stills. While providing balance, video-stabilization rigs add other features and options for recording more dynamic-looking and higher-quality footage without giving up portability. Most of these kits are modular, with a base unit for attaching follow-focus units, matte boxes and other extras that can improve your video-making experience.
The Flashpoint All-Inclusive DSLR/DV Cinema Bundle is a three-part kit consisting of the Flashpoint Matte Box System II, Follow Focus Pro II and DSLR Shoulder Rig with Rails and Quick Release. The matte box's hinged, fold-flat flag system can be angled to prevent stray light from striking the front of your lens. The follow-focus unit quickly attaches to the rig and connects, using a geared system, to your lens' focusing ring. The rig has a modular design that incorporates a dual 15mm carbon-fiber rod system, comfortable handgrips and a cushioned shoulder pad. Estimated Street Price: $599.
Adjusting your shot in the middle of a scene is sometimes tough to do when recording video. The Manfrotto SYMPLA rigging system aims to make this a little easier with self-supporting clamps that stay in place even before they're locked and easy-locking ball-joint handgrips. The steel-and-aluminum rig can be configured in seconds, without tools, and accommodates a wide range of DSLRs, camcorders and lenses. Mounting options include holding it like a "steering wheel" through an optional attachment that allows you to shoot from more creative angles. Estimated Street Price: Varies.
Combining the Novoflex MMR uFLY and MMR BLUEBIRD creates a full video-stabilization kit for comfortably handling your DSLR on long shoots. The three-sided support arm of the MMR uFLY allows you to hold the camera above or below, with long, Arca-compatible camera plates for sliding the camera into the best position for framing and balance. The MMR BLUEBIRD gives you a chest support, which distributes weight evenly, and a neck strap provides more comfort and stability. Two hand-grips help you operate the camera with greater ease and precision. Estimated Street Price: $1,040 (MMR uFLY); $1,399 (MMR BLUEBIRD).
Turning your DSLR into a versatile filmmaking system is possible with the Redrock Micro ultraCage DSLR. Features include industry-standard 15mm bottom rails for accessories such as a matte box, follow focus or lens support. The built-in 15mm top rail lets you keep a camera-top monitor or remote focus motor on your camera at all times, and there are 22 mounting points (1⁄4- and 3⁄8-inch) for attaching other accessories. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $595.
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