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is so much cheaper and quicker than driving in it normally means stripping my shooting kit back to the absolute basics. However, the iFootage crane is so compact that I would barely know I was carrying it with me. Supplied in its own carry case it’s no more hassle than carrying a two-piece snooker cue – not that I’d be doing that but it gives you some perspective. The crane achieves its incredible low weight through the use of high-grade carbon fibre engineering. Breaking down into two sections for storage, the system can be deployed single- handedly in a matter of moments. The central pivot section is quickly attached to a standard tripod head plate with a single screw and a locking pin system that prevents any shift between crane and tripod plate. The rear handle section then slips into the main crane section and tightened into place. This can be moved back and forth to achieve fine balancing once the entire crane is assembled and camera attached. Additional accessories, such as a remote monitor, recorders or lights, can be mounted to the unit using eight threaded holes located within the side plates of the central pivot and camera- mount end of the unit. The front section of the crane is extended up to its full length by loosening and tightening locking collars on both the upper and lower carbon fibre poles. This independent adjustment enables you to adjust the camera’s angle to the subject which is maintained through the craning action. You can of course alter the camera’s angle during a craning shot by applying a tilt to the tripod head that the system is attached to. Whilst this does take a little practice to get right it will give you the effect of having a remote pan and tilt head attached to the end of the crane – so as the 70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 83 NOVEMBER 2013 crane rises the camera’s angle of view changes to keep the subject in frame. The camera mount end to the slider includes a quick release plate system and an inbuilt left/right spirit level. This is an important feature of the unit and should be checked and adjusted once the entire system is fully configured by loosening the collars on the poles and levelling off the head before tightening them again. The only additional thing you’ll need (that is not supplied in the price) is a small collection of dumbbell weights that slip on to the handle section of the crane (I’ve got myself a 2.5Kg and two 1Kg weights which seems to cover my requirements). The number of weights will depend on the camera used and the length the crane is extended to. In addition the unit also has a hook system at the handle end of the crane so that you can use your kitbag (or something else) as a counterweight as opposed to the dumbbell weights – again adding to the unit’s portability. Even better, and making the crane even more portable, iFootage make a water-filled counterbalance attachment called the Aquadrop. Retailing at £18.95 plus VAT this deep doughnut shaped bag is mounted on the handle end of the crane just like the standard dumbbells – and can contain up to 4.5Kg of water. When emptied it folds down so small that it can fit into the crane’s carry bag. Mini Crane Conclusion With a maximum payload of 5Kg you could use this crane with quite a wide range of traditional video cameras and not just DSLRs. UK sole distributors, Proactive of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, recommend it for use with a whole range of popular compact video cameras (including the Sony PMW-100, NX30, MC50, NX70, Canon XA10, XF100, XF105, C100, JVC GY-HM100, GY-HM150, Panasonic AG-HMC41 and any similar size cameras/camcorders). Having said this, I found that the lighter the camera and counterbalance was the more stable the crane became. Stripping the camera down to the bare essentials certainly gave me my best results. As mentioned, the ability to create a crane movement is just one of the benefits of the iFootage M1 Mini Crane. Fully extended the crane has a total tilt length of just over 2 metres which, in practice, allows you to get your camera at least 1 metre higher than the fully extended height of your tripod. In a crowded situation this is quite a vantage point. The crane has now become part of my standard shooting kit and is taken everywhere with me. It might not always be used but its so compact and light that I might as well have it with me in case I see a creative opportunity to use it. I don’t like using the word “cheap” but, for what you get for your money this product it goes beyond being “great value for money” and into the realms of costing a lot less than what you would expect for something of this quality. Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.) More information on the iFootage M1 Mini Crane is available from www.proav.co.uk