Steady-Cams are awesome!
First brought to movie-goers in the movie Rocky, steady-cam shots brought loud cheers from both the technical and artistic sectors. Considered a high-tech marvel back then, steady-cam shots are easy to obtain today.
A steady-cam mount will allow you to get shots that look like the camera is floating. Compare that to simply hand-holding the camera and walking. Even the best photographers can’t help but bounce the camera up and down when walking. (Although if you bend your knees and stick your butt out a little bit it’s a lot easier. Sometimes a good photographer needs to have no shame!)
The simplest steady-cams mounts can be held with one hand out in front of your body. They only weigh about 5 lbs in addition to your camera. You balance the camera on the mount using incremental weights. Getting the right balance can take some time and experimentation but once you get the balance right you can leave the weights in place. A small, inexpensive steady-cam can be had for about $150, maybe less. I bought one for my high school students and about half of them were able to master it. Here’s a picture of three of my very best students!
Most steady-cams are bigger and worn over both shoulders by the camera operator. It takes some strength and endurance but not necessarily a lot. Getting a smooth shot takes concentration but it’s fun.
As with all things, steady-cam mounts can get large and semi-expensive. Decide for yourself. If you’re going to use it a lot, spending $400 to $800 on a great steady-cam would be well worth it because nothing looks nicer than a serenely floating camera.
Then again, the cheap one pictured above made some nice video too.
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Internet Video Gal