Gimbal tripod heads make using big super telephoto lenses very easy.
With a level tripod under them (and the lens collar tightened at precisely 0° or 90° rotations), gimbal heads allow a neutrally-balanced camera to be easily panned and tilted up or down with the camera always remaining level.
All of the gimbal heads I've used provide an adequate range of motion for most of the subjects typically encountered, but occasionally, there is a need to shoot at a strong upward angle.
For me, those occasions seem to frequently have the word "eclipse" associated with them and fresh on my mind is the Jan 2019 lunar eclipse.
When shooting at a strong upward angle with a gimbal head, the bottom of the camera will typically impact the tripod apex and that impact will solidly prevent any further upward angle to be achieved.
Most of us photographers will not let gear get in the way of a good image and there are some work-arounds for this one.
Remove the Battery Grip
When the bottom of a camera impacting the tripod is the problem, a battery grip compounds the problem.
Remove the grip to gain some extra degrees of upward rotation.
If battery life is going to be a problem, periodically swap out the drained battery with a fresh one.
Before reading any further, I need to raise a very important point: using any of the strategies discussed below will destabilize your tripod and the entire setup tipping over will be a real concern.
Use extreme caution if implementing any of these ideas and be ready to catch your rig if tipping happens.
Highly recommended is the use a very strong tripod (the UniqBall IQuick3Pod 40.4 for example).
Extending one or more of the tripod legs longer while using the next-higher leg locks can provide a larger, more-stable footprint.
The orientation of tripod legs relative to the camera's weight can make a difference in stabilization.
Also wise is to strap/stake the tripod down, add weights to the tripod feet and/or to use counterweights.
Pressing long, spiked tripod feet deep into the ground can also aid tripod stabilization.
Tripod Leg Orientation
Orienting the tripod legs so that the camera is centered between two of them usually provides the camera the most range of vertical motion.
If the subject will be moving horizontally (solar and lunar eclipses check this box), the tripod may need to be repositioned to keep the camera centered.
Lens Plate Position in Clamp
Observe your setup and determine if adjusting the lens plate or tripod foot dovetail's location within the gimbal head's clamp will provide additional clearance.
Remember that longer lens plates offer a greater range of adjustment.
Raise the Gimbal Head Cradle
When using a gimbal head with a height-adjustable cradle, such as some of the excellent Wimberley Gimbal Heads, typical is to place the center height of the lens at the axis of the tilt pivot.
This position provides ideal balance and handling.
However, raising the cradle higher will raise the camera higher above the tripod apex, providing more clearance and allowing a greater degree of camera tilt.
The cradle is raised only partially in the above image, but this height provided enough angle to photograph a high-overhead sun (important: solar filter in use).
This tactic also moves the center of gravity of the camera and lens combination when the lens is not positioned level.
Tilting up will then make this setup back-heavy.
Use a Tripod with a Narrower Apex
Tripods designed for big camera and lens combinations often have big, broad apexes.
While a large apex is great for strength and rigidity, it can impact cameras at lower angles than narrow apexes.
If a strong-enough tripod with a narrower apex can be used, a few degrees of upward angle may be gained.
Note that the tripod legs can also be the first-impacted.
The top of the legs being positioned tighter together can be helpful in this regard.
Tilt the tripod Apex
If the tripod and head combination will not provide enough upward angle, it might be time to tilt the tripod, or more accurately, tilt the tripod apex to move it out of the camera's way.
This may be as simple as extending a leg or two by a short amount or it can be more involved such as using far-rear-extended legs positioned in the next-up angle lock (reaching back like the wheelie bars on a dragster) with the front leg angled more sharply toward the ground and raised higher.
Tilting the apex of course eliminates the level base that is ideal for gimbal head use.
One solution is to use the camera's tripod collar to level the camera each time it is repositioned.
Much better is to use a leveling base or a tripod that has a leveling base built in.
Use great caution with the tilted-apex strategy as the tripod can become strongly unbalanced.
Both of these rigs are shown with the reversed vertical arm as close to the center of the head as possible.
Moving this arm toward the other end of the horizontal panning base would permit even more rotation, potentially 360°.
Assuredly, this technique is going outside of the manufacturer's intended use for this gear and tipping of the tripod is a serious risk.
Consider positioning a longer-extended leg locked into the next-up angle lock under the camera and lens' center of balance.
Also note that the right hand (or a reaching-over left hand) will be needed to access the gimbal head's now-right-side-located tilt angle lock.
Use a Ball Head
With the tripod foot raising the camera up and a drop notch likely available for use, a very high upward angle can often be achieved when using most ball heads.
The downside to this option is that using a big, heavy lens over a ball head is not ideal and such a lens tipping over can cause an entire tripod to crash to the ground.
Finding the sun and moon in a 1200mm angle of view while using a ball head is very challenging and keeping that setup level increases the challenge.
But, it can work.
A strong ball head is needed if the lens is substantial in size.
I don't shoot at strong upward angles with my big lenses very often, but when I do, I quickly remember that camera or lens contact with the tripod quickly becomes an issue when using a gimbal head.
While perhaps none of the above strategies may be the perfect solution, hopefully a combination of them can get your upward shooting angle job done.
Do you have a strategy for photographing upward with a gimbal tripod head that I missed?
Please share it with us!
MELVILLE, NY, January 25, 2019 – Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, returns as a Sustaining Sponsor to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival (January 24 - February 3) in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance, Utah.
Canon will celebrate filmmakers with programming at the Canon Creative Studio, located at 592 Main Street.
At least 61 of the 241 films and projects that will screen as part of this year’s slate – over 25% percent -- are shot using Canon equipment.
Festival projects filmed using Canon cinema cameras include Paddleton, Tigerland, This Is Personal, Ask Dr. Ruth, Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, American Factory, Hail Satan?, Lorena, The Great Hack and others.
“The Sundance Film Festival is home to bold filmmaking, driven by filmmakers who push the boundaries of technology to better the art form,” said Kazuto Ogawa, president and COO, Canon U.S.A.
“We take great pride in celebrating the incredible talent behind the lens, and leave Park City every year inspired and honored that so many select our products when forging new expressions in visual storytelling.”
Canon will host Sundance Film Festival attendees for hands-on, interactive displays of Canon equipment, panel discussions curated by American Cinematographer, and refreshments at the Canon Creative Studio (592 Main St; Open Friday, January 25th - Monday, January 28th, from 11am-7pm).
Inside the studio, guests can touch-and-try the latest Canon gear, including the EOS C700 FF cinema camera, CN-E 20mm lens, and the new EOS R, which is Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera.
Also on hand will be the EOS C200 Cinema Camera, which features Canon’s innovative Cinema RAW Light 4K technology as well as Canon’s CINE-SERVO, COMPACT-SERVO, EF and RF lenses.
Guests can have their headshots taken by professional photographer Michael Ori, who will be shooting with the EOS R.
Canon will provide guests with an 8” x 10” copy of their portrait, printed on-site with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Professional Inkjet Printer.
All portraits will be available online at orimedia.com/sundance after February 15, 2019.
On Sunday, January 27th, Canon will toast creativity behind the lens at the seventh annual invite-only Raise Your Glass with Canon cocktail party.
The Canon Creative Studio will feature three nights of Magic Hours, co-hosted by the AFI Conservatory (January 25th), Francis Ford Coppola Winery (January 26th), and Adorama (January 28th).
Each event presents opportunities to network with companies and organizations that share Canon’s mission to support filmmaking.
Canon will also continue its partnership with American Cinematographer, the world’s leading publication dedicated to motion imaging and the art and craft of professional cinematography.
The monthly international journal published by the American Society of Cinematographers marks its centennial this year and Canon will honor its history and industry expertise with several on the ground partnerships.
The magazine’s editors will be on-site at the festival and several of its contributors will moderate a series of six in-depth panel discussions at the Canon Creative Studio.
The panels will be streamed through Facebook Live via American Cinematographer’s page, allowing viewers the opportunity to engage with the panelists.
American Cinematographer’s website, ascmag.com, will also feature a series of online interviews with Sundance cinematographers, along with additional articles exploring cinematography trends at the festival, all sponsored by Canon.
On Wednesday, January 30th at 3:00 pm MT, Canon will present a panel titled “Demystifying the Technical Process: Where Art Meets Technology,” featuring experienced filmmakers and Canon U.S.A.
During the discussion, panel participants will share how Directors of Photography and directors can best collaborate to craft the visual aesthetic of a film.
They will speak to their experiences on recent films to lend real-world context to their insights.
The panel will take place at The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave., Lower Level.
For a full schedule of events for Canon's activities at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and to request access to attend, please visit canonatsundance19.splashthat.com.
Santa Fe Springs, CA - January 2019 – TASCAM has introduced the next generation of their acclaimed line of professional grade handheld recorders, the DR-X Series. The natural evolution of TASCAM's highly successful handheld recorders, the DR-X Series marks a dramatic update to these recorders' already robust feature sets.
The perfect companion for videographers, voiceover artists, songwriters, and podcasters, the DR-40X's integrated unidirectional stereo mics with scalable A/B or X/Y configuration, dual XLR/1/4-inch combo inputs, built-in phantom power for condenser mics, integrated 4-track capability, and wired remote control option make it an essential tool for DSLR video, music recording, sound design, and more.
DSLR filmmakers will love the DR-40X's Auto-Tone function, providing an audio cue tone identifying each recording take.
The new DR-X Series now adds a new model, the powerful yet affordable DR-07X, designed to deliver professional performance for musicians and voiceover artists.
With its dual integrated scalable unidirectional A/B or X/Y configurable mics and crystal clear sound, the DR-07X is great for music recording, spoken word, and more.
Incorporating all of the DR-07X's features minus the scalable microphones, the DR-05X is equipped with a pair of omnidirectional condenser mics, making it the ideal tool for recording music, meetings, dictation, and more.
The DR-X Series also taps into TASCAM's decades of innovation in computer-based recording, incorporating a studio-quality 2 in/2 out USB audio interface that makes all DR-X Series recorders a perfect fit for live streaming, podcasting, and digital audio workstations.
All DR-X models boast a totally revamped user interface, making it easy to access recording, adjusting levels, deleting takes, adding markers, and other common functions with just the click of a thumb.
Multi-language menus in English/ Spanish/ French/ Italian/ German/ Russian/ Chinese/ Korean/ Japanese/ Portuguese are included.
And with increased capacity for microSDXC cards up to 128GB, DR-X Series recorders can literally record for days on end.
Other features in the DR-X Series include a new powerful bright white backlit display that's easy to see even in the brightest sunlight, as well as Dictation Mode, which enables the user to instantly jump back audio playback in preselected increments including speed control and a special dictation EQ, and Overwrite Mode, which allows users to select a precise Record drop-in time for replacement recording with one level of undo.
The DR-X Series' Auto-Recording function can be set to begin recording when a sound is detected, and its Pre-Recording function delivers fail-safe recordings with up to 2 seconds of pre-record time.
DR-X Series recorders are available now.
The DR-40X carries an estimated street price of $199.99, the DR-07X $149.99, and the DR-05X $119.99.
In his video, photographers Jay P. Morgan and Ed Rudolph discuss several of the clamps Rudolph uses for professional food photography.
Note that all of the products discussed also work well for general product photography and the beefier items work well for all types of studio and on-location photography, including portraiture.
The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III Lens is all about speed and fast-moving subjects ideal for the 400mm focal length are scarce in my location right now.
The race cars are all being re-built in preparation for the next season.
With a layer of snow on the ground, outdoors sports are in the off-season.
The ski slopes benefit from the snow, but the closest is hours away.
The horses, however, are always ready for some galloping and provide a convenient subject for an AF performance testing session.
This American quarter horse's name is "Nugget", as in "gold nugget", referencing the coat color.
"Gold" also reflects the parent's perspective of what it costs to keep a horse.
The positive in this investment is that the kid's have had to do most of the horse maintenance work, teaching them responsibility and how to work hard.
The horses are of course fast and fast makes them good focus performance test subjects.
An added benefit of such testing is some nice pics of the kid(s), as long as the camera and lens perform well of course.
And to that matter, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III Lens combo performed stellarly.
They performed so well that they created a bit of a problem.
It took forever to go through the well-over-2,000 images captured in this session as most were keeper-grade.
With a great camera and lens, one's brain needs to be retrained to be OK with deleting really nice images.
I keep telling myself that.
With steady lighting conditions (solid clouds), the setup for this shot was easy.
Using manual mode, the shutter was set to 1/1600, a setting that I know works well for freezing galloping/cantering horse and similar action.
The aperture was set to f/2.8 to let in as much light as possible and to create the strongest background blur possible.
Having the shallowest depth of field possible also emphasizes the AF precision.
The ISO was then adjusted until the snow was slightly overexposed, causing the brightest areas to blink while reviewing test images on the LCD.
With the exposure locked in, I could concentrate on composition.
The AF mode was of course set to AI Servo (continuous) and the top-center AF point was selected with the surrounding points assisting (the horse bounces a lot, making it difficult to keep a single point on the rider's head).
While this camera and lens combination is handholdable, shooting it from a monopod is still more comfortable (especially for long shooting sessions) and doing so made tracking the subject easier.
Nugget was not moving very fast in this frame, but I liked the heavily-clouded sky in the background, making the subject pop with a bit of a high-key look.
Note that snow is a great reflector and gives images a different look, usually in a positive way.
I'll share other images of this horse in fast motion in the review.
Some of these images will show another way this lens can make the subject pop – by strongly blurring the background.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.