Review: The Polester from Longshot Camera Systems

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

I recently had the chance to try out The Polester, created by Longshot Camera Systems. It’s a “camera-on-a-stick” device that allows you to photograph things from a drastically different angle than you could achieve with your own reach (unless, of course, you are Stretch Armstrong).

The rig consists of a camera mount, triggering device with a retractable string (like an extendable dog leash) that extends down to the base of the pole. As you extend the pole, the triggering string remains slightly taut. When I received my review unit, I got a crash course on assembly. In short, you want the vertical portion of the trigger to hug the camera body as closely as possible. The little arm at the top of the trigger is meant to hover over the shutter, and by pulling on the string lightly, you can focus before pulling harder to take the shot.

The camera mount portion of the setup attaches to a double-action locking telescoping pole, which is very nifty. The pole has a handle with a release button, and it allows you to swiftly and easily extend the pole to the height you need.

201005we_polester-parts-shot.jpg

 

Components of the Polester assembly. 

201005we_polester-comparison.jpg

Here’s what it looks like when you have everything assembled. I have to say, the trigger mechanism is a very clever invention. ©Betsy Finn

While I could see some potential to use it at events (i.e., a wedding, sports tournament), I wasn’t exactly sure how applicable it would be for a portrait session. Obviously with a large venue, you could hoist up the camera to get a nice bird’s eye view of the area, as blogger Rob Sylvan did during Imaging USA 2010. But for a portrait session, the applications might be more limited.

I ended up using the Polester to capture an overhead view of my model (below). Yes, I scheduled a special session just to test this out, as I thought it might take some time to get the hang of framing my subject while more than an arm’s reach away from my camera.

201005we_polester-finished-image.jpg

In retrospect, I have to tell you that working with the Polester is easier said than done in some circumstances. When you have a five pound camera setup that you’re supporting at the end of a pole, there is quite a bit of sway; I had to use significantly faster shutter speed than normal to avoid blur. The amount of sway in the fully extended pole also affected my composition. So, it was a matter of trial and error to get the shot I wanted. On top of that, my arms got tired from repetitively extending the pole (to take a few shots) and retracting it (to see if I’d framed it right). 

201005we_polester-pullback.jpg

My conclusion? If you are an event photographer looking for a way to get “the shot” that requires being heads above everyone else, the Polester is a great tool to have. It would be great for evidence photographers, or press photojournalists. But for typical portrait work, it may not be worth lugging around. I might bring it along to a sports event or a wedding in the future in order to get a nice “scene” shots, but I am pretty sure I will not be bringing it on another portrait session.

Depending on the size of your camera, you may need either the point and shoot trigger device, or the larger DSLR trigger device. While both do a good job, it’s a lot easier, physically, to hold the point and shoot up for any length of time than it is to hold a DSLR up in the air at the end of a pole.

The Polester was originally invented to allow contractors and inspectors to easily photograph places that were hard (or dangerous) to get to. There are two version of the Polester, both of which retail for $199. For more information about the Polester, or to watch a demonstrational video, visit Longshot Camera Systems

Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP, has a portrait studio in Dexter, Michigan (BetsysPhotography.com); she shares tips and ideas for photographers at LearnWithBetsy.com.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.ppmag.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/799

Comments (8)

HOW IN THE WORLD DOES ONE ACTUALLY SEE WHAT THEY ARE TAKING A PHOTO OF???

@Jerome -- You can't. It's a guess. That's why it's more suitable for overhead crowd shots than portrait work.

I can see a use for a iPhone mount on this thing for both composition and release, of course you are going to need the wifi adapter for the camera body, but you won't need the doggie leash release system that way!

-Tyler R. Brown

I've used a similar technique but with a boom lightstand. To preview/trigger I shot tethered.

Tethered wireless to the iPhone? I guess you could set the laptop on the ground next to you, but that seems a bit much.

Tyler

Larry Green:

I think this a great idea, except why use a leash to fire your camera? Most cameras have a wireless or a wire remote tigger.
Also you can use a motor home washpole to get it up at half the weight.

Still a nice idea

Matt:

@ Jerome.....many cameras come with a usd to audio/video cable that you can buy an extension for, so you can see what the camera sees and still take pictures and videos

Leslie Shafran:

I think your marketing video is excellent!!! I am impressed with this device and can't wait to find a way to use it!!

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 3, 2010 11:44 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Review: Abie Camera Straps.

The next post in this blog is Review: Nissin Professional Di866 Flash.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


 
Powered by
Movable Type 5.2.7