July 23, 2024


Nikon D600 - video capable
Nikon D600 – video capable / photo by Nikon

Let’s face it.  Lots of still photographers are becoming fascinated with videography.  Why? Well, because more and more DSLR (that’s Digital Single Lens Reflex) Cameras are now being produced with built in video capability.  So today  many  photographers who have earned their stripes with still photography are now beginning to experiment with videography.  After all – their cameras have a video mode – the customer wants video – why not use it?

Interestingly, successful videography  involves a rather different skill set than still photography.  The transition from successful still photography to successful videography is by no means as simple as it might appear at the outset.  It is way more than simply arming yourself with a camera that is “video capable.” Shooting  DSLR video well is a challenge.

photo by Nikon
photo by Nikon

One of the main, and obvious features that comes with shooting video is the emphasis on movement.  Live zooming and panning, as well  as actively  moving the camera through the scene during the shoot are techniques that bring video to life.  And you don’t do these things with still photography (Well, maybe you could argue that you approximate these qualities  –  but it is no where near the same.)

Have you ever tried to zoom, pan, or move while shooting live DSLR Video?  If you haven’t, you are in for a surprise.  If you have, you know what a challenge it can be.  Moving the DSLR smoothly is no easy task.  You really have no idea how “unsmooth” your movement is until you view the results of your handheld DSLR videos.  Minor movements while shooting translate into very annoying shakes, bumps, and jumps in a video production. Yes, you could eliminate some of this by shooting from a tripod.  But that type of set up means you are shooting from a stationary position and requires that you constantly “set up” and “take down” you shooting position.

What is the solution?  It’s an interesting concept.  You have to learn to “fly” your DSLR.  Using a camera stabilizer you can eliminate most of those bumps and jumps.  The stabilizer allows you to move or “fly” your DSLR in a smooth and eye pleasing manner. There are a variety of  stabilizer products out there.  And none are really cheap.  But if you are serious – or even semi-serious – about videography, you might want to consider adding one of these items to your kit.

The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer (check this link )by Camera Motion Research is one well respected option in this field.  Priced in the $600 to $700 range it presents a good balance between cost and performance.  As with most tech – you can spend less and get less, or spend more and get more.  How deep are your pockets?

Blackbird Camera Stabalizer by Camera Motion Research / photo by CMR
Blackbird Camera Stabalizer by Camera Motion Research / photo by CMR

(Above – The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer systen shown with a large video camera attached.  The system works equally well with a smaller, video capable, DSLR.)

There are a variety of You Tube videos showing examples of the Blackbird in action.  Here is one that provides a fairly good overview (click demo)

I’m just at the research stage on this type of device.  I think the Blackbird shows promise.  For disclosure – I have no connection with Camera Motion Research in any way , directly or indirectly.  What do you think?  Share your experience.

Shoot Smooth   ……………….   And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

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