by Mark Scotton Issue 110 - February 2016
Camera Supports Top Tips
Tip 1 Start with a stable base
No matter how much money people spend on a camera there always seems to be a temptation to try and cut corners when it comes to tripods. I am not sure why this is the case but it€™s a regular occurrence when talking to people and it results in several problems. Yes, a cheap tripod may hold the camera but it will hamper your ability to get smooth movement if the head is of a poor quality and it will restrict your options moving forwards. Your tripod becomes an important base when using sliders or jibs so investing in a better tripod will benefit you in the long run. You may also find you want to use the head on tracking dollies or sliders where again you need a decent head with fluid movement to create smooth shots.
Tip 2 Invest in your equipment
Why spend £200 on a slider when you can get one off Amazon for £80? It's the question we get asked regularly, usually followed by the line it has some good reviews too. That it may, but who is actually leaving those reviews and have they ever used a decent quality system? The likelihood is they probably haven't and as a result don't actually know how they would compare. I am not saying don't look for a good deal, I am just saying invest in quality equipment where possible as it is likely to perform better and last longer.
Tip 3 Quick Release
As you grow your support solutions add a quick release adaptor to each purchase so you can quickly switch between items. With a single plate attached to your camera you can then jump from tripod mounted to stabilizer and then onto a jib without messing about with camera screws.
Tip 4 Buy what you need, not what you want
There are a lot of things I would love to own, but many of them I do not need and when looking at camera supports it is important to analyse what you are actually trying to achieve prior to splashing a wad of cash. It's always frustrating having to tell someone they could have purchased a better solution for their requirements and it is even more annoying for the person on the receiving end. Think of the shots you want, do a bit of research and if needed ask for some advice. Get the right equipment for your camera set-up and the shots you want to achieve.
Tip 5 Future proof yourself
If you are going to invest in something like a jib don't just think short term, think where you may be in 2 or 3 years time as well. If you are looking to grow and are likely to be getting bigger cameras or heavier set-ups over the next 18 months make sure the crane and remote head can support the extra weight. If you want versatility get a jib that can be set-up at two or three different lengths, just don't restrict yourself by purchasing the wrong item.
Tip 6 Test Run
Whatever you buy, get it set-up and have a play with it before you try to do any important filming. This may sound logical but the amount of people who order products because they urgently need them for a shoot the following day is astounding, especially with things like jibs and stabilizers where there is an element of practice required with both setting up the item and practicing the shots. A little bit of forward planning goes a long way.