Hi-TechStudio: You Need Your Fluids

Vinten Vision 100

The OConnor 1030HD midsized fluid head includes the company’s sinusoidal counterbalance system for accurate balance throughout the tilt range. The pan and tilt fluid drag can perform tracking with just the fingertips, and a tilt-locking pin holds the head still for camera changes. The head can be configured for left- or two-handed operation, and it will support up to 39 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $5,600. Contact: OConnor, (818) 847-8666, www.ocon.com.

Sachtler’s Video 18 S1 and Video 20 S1 100mm fluid heads are designed for high-end video and motion-film professionals. The Video 20 S1 has a capacity of up to 55 pounds, and the 18 S1 can handle up to 40 pounds. For HD DSLRs, the minimum capacity has been reduced from the previous incarnations to accept camera/lens setups as light as 4.4 pounds. There’s a 16-step counterbalance system for exact alignment of the camera and smooth panning and tilting, thanks to Sachtler’s Speedbalance technology. Estimated Street Price: $9,465 (Video 18 S1); $11,685 (Video 20 S1). Contact: Sachtler, (845) 268-0100, www.sachtler.com.

The Vinten Vision 100 Fluid Head with 100mm Ball Base will comfortably support a rig up to 44 pounds. The drag mechanism uses non-contacting, thin film technology to achieve consistent drag and performance, even throughout a temperature range of -40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The drag knobs are backlit with grooves for locking in precise settings. The head also uses an infinitely variable spring mechanism that Vinten says gives it Perfect Counter Balance throughout the tilt range. Estimated Street Price: $4,700. Contact: Vinten, (845) 268-0100, www.vinten.com.

Other Camera Stabilization

There are plenty of times when a tripod just isn’t going to work for your shoot. These devices look elaborate, but once you try them, you’ll find that you quickly get accustomed to their use. In this article, we’re looking at lighter-duty models, but all of the companies below also have a broad variety of products to handle any camera and lens rig.

The Steadicam Merlin is a lightweight, handheld video-stabilization system that will balance camera rigs from a half pound to 5 pounds. The Merlin weighs only 12.8 ounces itself, so it doesn’t wear on your arms. The caliper hinge folds for easy stowing, and there’s a Merlin Arm and Vest available for long shooting days. List Price: $895. Contact: Tiffen, (621) 273-2500, www.tiffen.com.

The FlowPod from VariZoom offers a handheld stabilization system in three setups that you configure. In Monopod Mode, it works like a conventional monopod, the Stabilizer Mode steadies your handheld video as you move around, and the Low Mode is ideal for ground-level shooting and working up close to your subject. List Price
: $399. Contact: VariZoom, (512) 219-7722, www.varizoom.com.

Culminating with the FLYPACK1 DSLR Bundle, ikan has an assortment of gear available to turn your HD DSLR into a fully realized video rig. The Starter Fly kit includes one handle, one arm and a “cheese plate” (for attaching to the camera). The Elements series includes modular parts that you can put together as needed. The Basic Fly kit gives you a two-handled tracking kit, and the Deluxe Fly and Super Fly include extra attachments for adding an auxiliary video monitor, microphone, light, power supply or other gear. List Price: Begins at $119 (Starter Fly); $1,845 (FLYPACK1). Contact: ikan Corp., (888) 556-9331, www.ikancorp.com.

The Norbert from K-Tek introduces a flexible camera accessory-mounting system that frames your HD DSLR while it sits on the top of a tripod. It also can be used as a handheld device by attaching the optional Dual Handle Kit, and the lightweight frame contains numerous threaded holes in the standard mount sizes of most popular camera accessories. K-Tek also offers a selection of clamps, mounts, brackets and other extras for completing the kit as needed. The frame is quick-release, and the angled design is built to keep the setup balanced even with heavy attachments. Estimated Street Price: $385. Contact: K-Tek, (760) 727-0593, www.ktekbooms.com.

Redrock Micro manufactures a broad variety of stylish pro accessories for HD DSLRs. The Cinema bundles are modular, so parts can be added and removed as needed. These kits include add-ons like follow-focus units for keeping subjects sharp even when in motion and matte boxes for managing lighting situations. Available in two packages, the Cinema Bundle comes with a baseplate with 12-inch rods, quick-release plate and dovetail, microFollowFocus, microLensGears pack, a top microHandle, DSLR cage with side arms and top rods, and a microMatteBox Deluxe Bundle. The Field Cinema Bundle includes the same options, but drops the MatteBox in favor of a Micro Shoulder Mount Deluxe Bundle for handholding. Estimated Street Price: $1,995 (DSLR Field Cinema Bundle); $2,445 (DSLR Cinema Bundle). Contact: Redrock Micro, (888) 214-3903, www.redrockmicro.com.

Zacuto’s HD DSLR offerings include three DSLR Gunstock Shooter rigs, as well as a wide array of add-ons and modular products. Targeting the on-the-go, run-and-gun photographer and videographer, the kits fit snugly against your body, stabilizing the camera while allowing you to compose through the viewfinder. The Rapid Fire, Quick Draw and Tactical Shooter brace against your shoulder or your hand, leaving the free hand to adjust the lens for focus and zooming. List Price: Begins at $580 (Rapid Fire). Contact: Zacuto USA, (888) 294-FILM, www.zacuto.com.

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