By Mark Holder
In the fast-paced world we live in, more and more people want to just grab their gear and get shooting. In the past, we were content to simply go out with our handheld and shoot some video. Today, however, people are far more sophisticated. Yesterdays birthday video, with the camera bouncing all around, just doesn't cut it anymore. Even non-professionals want steady shots, better lighting and clear audio. Therefore, the question is, How does one marry the desire for rapid, lightweight deployment, with the reality of achieving steadier shots?
Enter companies like Camtrol, Zacuto and others. You see, the onslaught of DSLRs, small format camcorders, ultracompacts and smart phones into the marketplace, has fueled the rise of an entirely new breed of stabilization and gripping devices. Camtrol is just one of the companies making their presence known in this arena, and so far, their entries have been quite impressive.
The Camtrol Sniper 1080 Shooting Rig retails at $259 and consists of a grip handle with accessory receiver post, stabilizer bar for two handed operation and three variable locking ball joints. Turn the adjustment knob on the ball joints to the left to loosen the joint and to the right to tighten it. A modern day shape-shifter, the rigs configuration can be changed in seconds for high, medium or low shooting with just a few twists of the knobs, one of which adjusts the angle of the camera mounting platform attached at one end.The TROL 4, which retails for $119, is a 4 articulating arm with Manfrotto Nano Clamp that can be attached to the rigs accessory receiver post. The opposite end has screw-in and accessory shoe mounting surfaces for attaching monitors, lights, digital audio recording devices and other accessories.
If your preferred video gathering device happens to be an iPhone 4, the X-Shot iPhone case may be just what you need. The two-piece snap on case features removable tripod adapters, which allow you to mount your iPhone to a tripod, or to the Camtrol rig, in either landscape or portrait orientations. It comes with a mini flex tripod and retails for $35. The next time you want to travel light, try leaving that heavy tripod at home and take one of these new, highly versatile, lightweight devices out for a spin. You may be very glad you did.
Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.