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Steadycams for DSLR cameras

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Don Scrams
Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:06:47 pm

I have a 60D and am looking to try and shoot some steadycam style shots. I went in to rent one today and the gentleman told me that steadycams don’t work with DSLR’s because they don’t auto-focus to account for the movement, changing focal length, etc… of the material you are shooting – and that whenever you would touch the lens t re-focus/adjust that it would cause camera shake (as thus lose the smooth glide feel of the shot).
But I see steadycam rigs online (http://www.steadydslr.com/) that look like they are built for DSLR’s and have seen a lot of steadycam footgage that looks like it’s been shot on a DSLR – so I am a little confused.

What the camera guy told me about the camera needing to re-focus as you move it/follow something makes total sense but the footage/gear I see online makes me think there are workarounds.

Can anyone help me understand the best way to get the steady/glide/dolly look with a DSLR?

Much appreciated.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:05:06 am

[Don Scrams] "the gentleman told me that steadycams don’t work with DSLR’s because they don’t auto-focus"

While it is true that DSLR's don't autofocus well in video mode that doesn't mean you can't use them with a steadycam. Did this guy actually talk you out of renting one? The higher-end rigs will use a remote follow focus with a dedicated puller. What most lower-budget users do is use a wide lens and keep their subject beyond the infinity focus point.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Sohrab Sandhu
Re: Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:00:30 am

Don

I use a glidecam HD-4000 with a Canon t3i and it works great. It is true however that focusing is a little difficult with a steadycam, but not totally impossible.

There are a couple ways you can handle this issue.

1. You could set your camera to a higher F Stop so that you get deep depth of field. That ways your subject wont be out of focus too often.

2. Plan your shot. By this i mean, you got to know how far is your subject and then maintain the distance between the camera & your subject.


But it all takes practice. However its not impossible.


Sohrab

2.66 GHz 8-core, ATI Radeon HD 4870,
FCS 3, AJA Kona Lhi



"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen." -- Carl Ally


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:40:47 pm

You can fit a HDSLR to almost any steadicam.

You need a remote focus device to control focus as you can't touch the camera itself during operation. If you do you will disturb the delicate balance of the steadicam. If you don't have a remote focus you need to set a deep depth of field (f11 / f16) and work within the depth of field range of the lens / camera settings.

However if you haven't used a steadicam before you need to to know that you don't just bolt a camera onto it and then operate.

First you need to know how to trim balance and adjust the steadicam for your camera.

Secondly you need the coordination skills to operate the rig. This is akin to learning to ride a bike, ski, a surfboard etc. At first you're probably not going to perform very well. Ideally you need someone to show you the basics, then you need to practice and then more practice. Most highly skilled steadicam specialists started out with an intensive workshop.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://philming.com.au
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Bill Davis
Re: Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 10, 2011 at 11:01:19 pm

To support what Phil said...

Renting a steadicam rig for the very first time and going to do a paid job is a little like buying a harmonica then going directly out to give a concert. Really good results pretty much depend on having the time to learn to play it well!

Drop back and let us know how things go.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Don Scrams
Re: Steadycams for DSLR cameras
on Jul 11, 2011 at 2:28:34 am

Thank you for all of the feedback. The setting of a deep DOF makes a lot of sense and is a great place for me to start. I will give it a try and see what happens.

Thanks again everyone.


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