Switch your Handle Side to Eliminate Shaking

Left-handed Tripod Technique

My video camcorder, a Panasonic AG-456, has the record button and zoom controls on the right side handgrip. My Bogen tripod, with its 3036 fluid head, has a right side handle. After some time, I came to realize that doing any shots that require starting the camcorder, moving the fluid head and looking in the viewfinder was likely to produce some unwanted camera shake, due mostly from moving my hands from the camcorder to the handle and back during the shot. By simply moving the handle to the opposite side of the tripod, and making it "left side," I eliminated most of my problem. I can work close in to the eyepiece, control recording and zooms with my right hand always on the camcorder and easily turn and/or tilt the fluid head because the tripod handle is comfortably tucked under my right arm.

Glenn Mitchell

Coalinga, CA


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Easy Match for Voiceover

I enjoy making travel videos for my friends and family. The audio from my inexpensive external microphone sounds muffled and unclear in comparison to the stereo sound from the camcorder’s built-in microphone and the stereo background music from my CD player. It was suggested that I buy a more expensive microphone and audio mixer. I’m a frugal guy and decided against new equipment. Instead, I used my existing gear to create good sounding narration using the following method. My recording VCR is a Sony Hi8 EV-S7000 with PCM audio dub. My audio mixer, from Videonics, has stereo RCA connections for VCR audio input and music input. I use my Sony CCD-TR700 camcorder as my stereo microphone. I connect the audio RCA cables from the camcorder output to the RCA inputs on the audio mixer. I connect the output of the audio mixer to the VCR. Then I speak into the stereo camcorder’s built-in microphone to record my narration (see Figure below). During the voice over, the VCR is in audio dub record mode. The result is narration that has the same quality as the rest of the audio on my vacation video, without the need for additional equipment.

Willibald K. Eberl

Ronkonkoma, NY

Uniform Slow Zoom

Many camcorders have rocker-type zoom controls that are difficult to make controlled moves with. To achieve a smooth, slow zooming effect, keep both fingers on the zoom rocker (one finger on the W and one on the T) and apply light, but equal, pressure on both fingers. Slowly increase pressure on the finger sitting on the direction you want to zoom. After you have learned this trick, try slow zooming while panning and/or tilting. Zooming should be used sparingly, but if you must, a slow and steady zoom is less annoying than a fast and erratic one.

Vijay J. Sheth

Mesa, AZ

Using Filters for Better Color

I use a Sony CCD TR65 to document Crow Indian cultural events. I found that while shooting at different times of the day, the colors of the Indian outfits were not always accurately recorded. I found that I had the same problem at night while shooting in different buildings with various lighting conditions. I had experience using filters for still photography so I went out and purchased an 80B blue daylight filter (for evening sunlight or regular incandescent lighting) and an FLD red filter (for shooting under fluorescent light). Now with either one of the filters, or a combination of the two, I get good to excellent color reproduction when I’m shooting in the evening sunlight or under artificial lights.

Joseph Nichols

Lodge Grass, MT

Writing on Spine Labels

Have you ever tackled the callenging task of writing neatly on a VHS spine label when the label is already on the tape? Try this: stand the tape you want to label on its side, resting on the casette door. Then get a second tape and place it parallel to the first, about three inches apart. Use the second tape as a place to rest your hand and stabilize your writing. This simple technique has greatly improved the labeling quality of my VHS library.

Bryan Rudolph

Bethel Park, PA

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