Film Making Tools – Tripod

I recently acquired a tripod for use in filming and thought I’d show you how I tailored it for my use. I needed a solid pair of sticks with a ball joint head so that I could swap out heads in the future. I also wanted a decent fluid head for steady pans and tilts. After much research, I settled on the Davis and Sanford Provista 7518B tripod with the FM 18 2 Fluid Head. I only have the DSLR to support for now, but as I add to my camera kit I’ll also have a camera cage, rods, follow focus, extra battery, lens hood and external monitors all balanced on the head. So it was important to make sure I would get a head and sticks that I could grow into.

This is side view of the head. The tripod comes with two handles, one on each side. I removed one handle and reversed the other one to make sure my camera could be mounted in such a fashion as to still be able to work the mount plate lock down knob and the tilt knob. Rather than explain, here are some images of my current set up.

The tripod came with a nice zipper bag with a padded area for the head and an extra mount plate. The overall quality of construction is very high and the tripod looks like it means business. I’ve very happy with the locking mechanism for the legs and the overall solid feel of it. There is a spreader that I could hang a sandbag on for added stability, but so far I have not needed to do so. There is a bubble level on the head for adjusting the ball.

The head is smooth without feeling loose. Even if it’s not clamped down, it won’t move with just the camera mounted on it. Overall the tripod with head weighs in at about 13 lbs so it’s not overly heavy, but still much more than the average still camera tripod.

As long as I’m showing off equipment, here are some images of my external monitor setup. I’m using an articulating friction arm attached to the hot shoe to mount a Nexus 7 tablet. The tablet is connected to the camera via a white adapter cable made by Samsung that goes from standard USB to mini USB. You can find that cable in your local Best Buy in the Samsung display area.

The arm is attached to a tablet carrier that has a quarter twenty mount on it. Very handy. With a spacer of wood, I can also mount my little Moto-X phone using the same setup. This is helpful to let the talent see what the shot looks like or perhaps the Director who is not running the camera. I don’t use this in hand held shots, as the camera has a fold out monitor that works best in most cases.

Another recent addition to my camera bag is a set of ND filters in 67 mm. I went with the largest filter size my lenses have at the time when I ordered filters. So now I just use stepper rings to attach them to my 49 mm and 52 mm diameter primes. I also ordered a bunch of 67 mm lens caps so everything matches.

The business end of the camera with Nexus 7 attached and the Olympus 50 mm 1.8 prime. I love my Olympus lenses and will probably get a set of primes for use in filming. I have a third party 28 mm lens, but I’d like to get a Zuiko wide angle and maybe a 1oo mm long lens. Time and budget willing.

Below is a scene from our latest film, The Rematch. My kids are racing on their roller blades again. This was shot with the kit zoom lens set to 50 mm and the ND8 filter exposed for the bright outdoors. We shot it in black and white just for kicks. I’ll post the finished film when we complete the editing.

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