By Chris A.
Image ©Court Leve
Recently I photographed a wedding at a beautiful, historic New England church. While the setting was perfect for romantic, sophisticated wedding images, I found myself faced with two church rules about photography inside the building. First, strobes were not permitted (which isn't uncommon), but the second and most disconcerting was that I was restricted to photographing the ceremony from the balcony only. This was apparently so my presence wouldn't distract the participants and guests during the wedding ceremony. Not being able to shoot from the main floor of the church was frustrating. Typically, I carefully, quietly, and discreetly move all around the wedding venue to get a variety of angles and perspectives. But not that day.
It was there, stuck in the balcony, when I wished I had my GoPro HD Hero2 camera with me.
The GoPro HD Hero2 has taken the video world by storm. From the X-Games, pro sports and Olympics, to television shows and rock n roll concerts, clever and creative applications for this diminutive professional video camera seem endless. But the Hero2’s video prowess is only half of the story as the pocket-size powerhouse offers versatile still photo capabilities as well.
As a still camera, the Hero2 is a well thought out, auto-mode point and shoot, offering minimal setting options for photographers. However, the lack of a pure manual mode shouldn’t dissuade a creative photographer from seriously considering adding one of these amazing cameras to their image-creating arsenal. While designed primarily for shooting video of action sports, put all of the HD Hero2 capabilities into the hands of an innovative professional photographer, and opportunities to capture amazing, dynamic images are sure to follow.
By Ron Dawson
One of the tell-tell signs of a rookie DSLR filmmaker is a hand-held video that is so shaky you get sea-sick from watching it. A big drawback to DSLRs for shooting video is that their small size combined with the "line skipping" aspect of the CMOS sensor (every other line of resolution on the sensor is skipped in order to get that much data on a small card) makes hand-held video look awful.
Unless you're going for a very specific kind of cinema verité look, you absolutely should be using some sort of stabilization device when shooting video with DSLRs. The most basic and simple is your tripod. If you need to move around and get hand-held shots, you may want to use a rig. These create multiple points of contact from the camera to your body, thereby reducing the shakiness.
The game totally changes, however, if you need to walk or run with a DSLR while shooting. In that case, your only option to get steady, fluid shots is some kind of tracking stabilization device. One of the most common questions I get from my photographer friends looking into such devices is which one to get. There are two that I generally recommend: the SteadyTracker or the Glidecam.
The SteadyTracker Xtreme and a Sony HD camcorder.
For over six years, the stabilizer that has served me well is a CobraCrane SteadyTracker. I own the Xtreme model because I purchased it when a larger, traditional camcorder was my main camera. But the UltraLite model would be perfect for DSLRs (retails around $190). The first thing you may notice about the SteadyTracker is that unlike most other popular tracking devices, this one does NOT have a gimbal. The plate that attaches to the bottom of the camera allows you to slide it left to right, and forward and backward. This helps you find the perfect center of balance. It also makes it exponentially easier to balance than a gimballed device. You will literally be up and running in under 10 minutes the first time using it. (Click here to see someone putting it together and balancing it in 3 minutes.)
By Ellis Vener
The Arca-Swiss d4m tripod head is one of the more beautiful photographic instruments I’ve seen as well as being a pleasure to work with—the movements are smooth and there is virtually no head creep even with heavy off-balance loads.
Starting at the top, the head mount: You can order the d4m with a variety of mounting systems—a standard 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch screw, or several variations on the open-ended channel quick-release system Arca-Swiss pioneered back in the 1980s. The clamp that came with the d4m I was sent to evaluate is a dual-level model that tightens with a knob, which I recommend over the Arca-Swiss lever-locking design that is also available.
While Arca-Swiss’ original QR design is now the most widely copied quick-release design available, the problem is that not all brands that make "Arca-Swiss standard" quick-release components strictly adhere to Arca-Swiss’ specifications: some plates are a hair wider, some slightly narrower, and some use a different bevel angle. In my tests, the wider upper channel worked securely on every brand I tried with it: Really Right Stuff, Kirk, Novoflex, Acratech, Induro/Benro, Foba, Sunway Foto, Graf and Markins plates, brackets and rails all were secured with no slipping or binding.
The lower level in this clamp is narrower and works with Arca-Swiss’ new lighter Slidefix plates. I like the way the Slidefix system works, especially with smaller cameras and for keeping weight and bulk down when hiking long distances. The d4m camera platform also features two half-inch long bar type levels that are easy to read at eye level. One is on the back and one is on the left side of the round platform.
This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in October 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.
September 2012 is the previous archive.
November 2012 is the next archive.