Sunday, April 04, 2010

I Want A Geared Head

I want it I want it I want it.

The reason I want it is to do very fluid moves with my video camera when I'm making movies.

The problem with geared heads is that they're freakin' expensive. Like $25,000 worth of expensive. OK, sure, you can get them used -- think $6000. And they weigh like 50 lbs and need special tripods and they're basically overbuilt to handle big, blimped cameras with thousand-foot magazines. So pooh on them.

I want something reasonably priced and lightweight. It can't be too lightweight or the action of panning and tilting will introduce wiggle and vibration and make the image look yukkity. But you know what I mean.

Now, in the still photography world they, for whatever reason, sometimes use geared heads. Those heads aren't generally made for making pretty camera moves however -- they're just made so you can precisely set the camera. Or maybe they're for making panoramas. I have no idea what they use them for, to tell you the truth. But there's this Manfrotto -- the 400 Deluxe Geared Head which, if the gear ratios are right and the action is silky and smooth (both of which I doubt) would just work for a light-weight camera such as the Panasonic GH1 we're using now.

A dude named Ron Dexter has plans for a "practice geared head" online. It's not rocket science, I mean the camera only weighs a couple pounds. Unfortunately I'm not a machinist and even if I were -- the shop I have access to is a fabricating shop, not so good for making/milling small parts.

Gearnex makes a "lightweight" geared head for video cameras. Still, think brand-new for $6000. (I mean, er, $7500.)

Ahh. Forget it. I'll just take one of the new Aaton Penelope cameras with a digital back. You wanna pick one of those up for me on the way home? Oh, and I need a lens set for it. I don't mind what you get there -- Zeiss, Cooke, etc. And I just need two or three: as long as they're f1.4 or faster in 35mm, 85mm, and optionally something very long like a 200mm. Oh, and a closeup diopter. Thanks!


Chance Shirley said...

So is a digital back available for the Penelope yet? That would be pretty awesome.

Of course, I still wanna shoot a 2-perf 35mm movie at some point.

Andrew Bellware said...

It looks like they're announcing the digi-Penelope at NAB. That's just the thing for me. Of course you know it won't cost a penny less than a hundred thousand dollars with lenses and storage.

I'd shoot 2-perf (theoretically) if I could use thousand-foot magazines. The whole point here is to save money AND to have 22-minute reels.

My understanding with a camera system like the RED is that it STILL takes a three-man crew to deal with the dang camera. But the French -- the French know how to go with a "one-man band".

I did some manual focusing while running and gunning on the last night of Day 2. Lucky for me my sensor size is just a bit bigger than 16mm. If it was 35mm we'd have half the footage in focus. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,

You can always lease a GearNex for about $300 a month with a dollar buy-out. It works really well with the SLR's camera's too like the 5D.

Andrew Bellware said...

Who leases the GearNex?

Anonymous said...

CineToys, the company which makes the GearNex is offering a leasing application by requesting one at Once you fill it out and approved, you can notify them what dealer you wish to buy it from and they can arrange delivery for you.