Filming on trail

Julie G.

EOS M50
Nov 20, 2012
39
0
29
Oslo, Norway
I've been debating this for a while now, and still haven't come up with a good solution (or compromise) for my problem. These last couple of years I've been spending more and more time hiking, and have usually only taken stills. This year I really want to film some short sequences while hiking (some while walking, others will just be panning). I've already got a Canon 5D3 and a 16-35 mm F4L IS, so I don't see the need to buy a separate video camera.

What I've been debating is whether to film handheld or buy some sort of stabilizer (?). A motorized gimbal is too expensive, a steadicam will/might need to be balanced every time, a shoulder rig/mount (like the PnC Prime) might not work while wearing a backpack (?). How would you compromise? Would IS+PP stabilization be enough for filming landscapes?
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
7,877
1,206
Canada
Julie G. said:
I've been debating this for a while now, and still haven't come up with a good solution (or compromise) for my problem. These last couple of years I've been spending more and more time hiking, and have usually only taken stills. This year I really want to film some short sequences while hiking (some while walking, others will just be panning). I've already got a Canon 5D3 and a 16-35 mm F4L IS, so I don't see the need to buy a separate video camera.

What I've been debating is whether to film handheld or buy some sort of stabilizer (?). A motorized gimbal is too expensive, a steadicam will/might need to be balanced every time, a shoulder rig/mount (like the PnC Prime) might not work while wearing a backpack (?). How would you compromise? Would IS+PP stabilization be enough for filming landscapes?
I have a hiking pole that doubles as a monopod. I have extended the pole and placed my P/S on the end, and then placed the pole/camera in my pack, sticking out the top, and used an app on my phone to start/stop the camera and change settings.

I have tried a GoPro mounted on my head, but I look around so much that the video sequence is a bit nauseating to watch....

I have also used a gorillapod to hold the camera upside down in the canoe as I portage it and shoot video of the portage trail. Surprisingly, a heavy wooden canoe being portaged makes an astoundingly good steadycam mount, the footage from it is excellent.....
 

Julie G.

EOS M50
Nov 20, 2012
39
0
29
Oslo, Norway
Don Haines said:
I have a hiking pole that doubles as a monopod. I have extended the pole and placed my P/S on the end, and then placed the pole/camera in my pack, sticking out the top, and used an app on my phone to start/stop the camera and change settings.

I have tried a GoPro mounted on my head, but I look around so much that the video sequence is a bit nauseating to watch....

I have also used a gorillapod to hold the camera upside down in the canoe as I portage it and shoot video of the portage trail. Surprisingly, a heavy wooden canoe being portaged makes an astoundingly good steadycam mount, the footage from it is excellent.....
I'll definitely try to use my trekking pole as a monopod :)
 

Julie G.

EOS M50
Nov 20, 2012
39
0
29
Oslo, Norway
Just to clarify: I wasn't talking of making the typical youtube hiking video; the ones with a camera on a selfie stick filming most of the trip. It's hard explain, I guess. But I want to film short clips of the scenery, not myself or some endless hiking video. So my main question would be how to stabilize the footage while walking?
 
A small tripod or monopod would work great for your starting phase venturing into video. Honestly though, if your lens has IS just use that for the time being. It is a learning process (just like photography) and you can learn a lot before you spend a dime since you already have the necessary equipment.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,160
336
IS is deisgned for the small, repetitive movements of camera shake but will not really be effective for the large translational movements of somebody walking.
The best way to reduce camera movement while walking is to practice and after a while the muscles in your arms and hands will 'learn' the sort of adjustments that gyroscopes make. Even if you dive straight into getting a fancy gimbal rig you will still need to know how to use it best.

You say you do not want to have the 'selfie' stick type shots but you may find that holding the camera on a short selfie may actually damp out a lot of the smaller movements as you walk.
 
Aug 23, 2013
2,295
17
Bahia Brazil
Julie G. said:
Just to clarify: I wasn't talking of making the typical youtube hiking video; the ones with a camera on a selfie stick filming most of the trip. It's hard explain, I guess. But I want to film short clips of the scenery, not myself or some endless hiking video. So my main question would be how to stabilize the footage while walking?
When walking, only a steadycam can make perfectly smooth movements. As our friend Don Haines has said, a camera fixed on a large object such as a canoe will have good stability. In fact, the creator of steadycam got the idea by observing a workman carrying a large ladder that was NOT swinging sharply.

In practice, a shoulder mount added to the Image Stabilizer on the lens should be sufficient to "mimic" a steadycam while walking.
 

Julie G.

EOS M50
Nov 20, 2012
39
0
29
Oslo, Norway
Don't worry, I'll definitely do my fair share of practice before heading out on a longer hike (which will be in July-September). But as I'm pretty sure I'll need some sort of stabilizer to do this, and it is going to cost me a bit, I wanted to know my options and figure out how much money to set aside. First thing is just going to be a bigger CF card, and then I'll start practicing hand held to learn how to move properly.

I've been looking mostly at shoulder rigs. I think that might be a good compromise. Any recommendations? I've looked at PR-1 Prime.

An alternative could be a steadycam with a QR mounted on top (to reduce the amount of balancing needed each time)? Or am I wrong?
 

mnclayshooter

I love shooting - clay pigeons and photos!
Oct 28, 2013
314
0
Minnesota, USA
I hate to point what sounds very obvious, but this is the application that steady cams were made for. I am in agreement with the others - IS won't get you what you want/need - it's meant for millimeters/fractions of inches of movement/vibration, not the several inches/cm of jostling/sinusoidal rhythms of human gait.

As mentioned previously by MikeHit that for short usage, you can probably train yourself to be pretty steady - putting a relatively heavy counterweight on the bottom of the monopod and then hand-holding it by the shaft/grip will help quite a bit both from an ergonomics standpoint but also from a steadiness standpoint. It will make hiking with it a bit more cumbersome though. Another thing that will probably help is to have a video grip on the camera and a hot-shoe mounted bubble level as you'll probably find that you don't keep the horizon very straight when you put the cam on a mono/tripod etc and then put it in your backpack without keeping an eye on a bubble level or through the lens. That can be very distracting when viewing. Not impossible to correct in post, but it definitely makes the process more difficult/time consuming.
 

Besisika

How can you stand out, if you do like evrybdy else
Mar 25, 2014
633
21
Montreal
My opinion you are on the heavier side of gear.
If you are willing to get a lighter prime lens, I would suggest a beholder DS1 or the newer Zhiyun crane.
I do not own any of them, as I am on a monopod still but a friend is using mirrorless and the Zhiyun. Fast setup.
Go on Youtube or rent one if you can. September is still far away and newer models come up quickly.
 

unfocused

EOS 5D SR
I'm just curious. Why not use a GoPro? It seems like that is what it is designed for. I get Don's helmet-cam concerns, but you don't have to strap it to your head or use it all the time. It seems to me that a purpose-built product like that would make more sense than trying to Franken-Rig a DSLR on the trail.
 

dadohead

EOS M50
Dec 3, 2011
33
2
A Steadicam Merlin might work for this and is probably on price point. It's handheld but works better than you might expect. It's small and pretty light, and could go in a backpack. It's a little fiddly, though.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1088480&gclid=CNC9lvvR2NECFYdrfgodXVIMGA&Q=&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876%2C92051678882%2C&is=REG&A=details

There are backpack rigs that reach over your head and dangle the camera in front via various methods (springy bar of metal, wire, etc.). Google is your friend. Following is a home brew solution. I can't attest to how well it works:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Msw3bYp4qEg

As for doing it in post, the best way would be to shoot wide (like, very wide) at a higher resolution than your delivery size and then crop. So, shoot 4K for a 2K delivery. Or 1080 for a 720 delivery. The software essentially uses trackers to crop and/or enlarge the frame while rotating it to remove movement. If you shoot at your delivery resolution expect some degradation of image.

While regular Steadicams are great, walking with one on uneven ground and not breaking your neck can be quite challenging. And they require quite a bit of practice, both to learn how to use and how to balance one. And you breathe on one and it goes out of balance. Also, I think you would quite limited in how far you could walk with one. A mile? Two miles, maybe?

If money were no object, this sounds like a perfect job for a Movi Firefly. These things are awesome. There are many varieties and price points.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=1057615&gclid=CInWo8LT2NECFUtqfgodcykGgQ&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876%2C92051678642%2C&Q=&A=details

Have fun!
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
366
20
I know this is a totally foreign direction, but have you considered using a lighter, more compact camera system which combines both in-body stabilization and in-lens stabilization? Examples of walk-around footage from some of the newer m4/3 systems is excellent. Also, having 4K available should give a lot more margin for PP stabilization. It would give you far less burden while hiking. OP didn't mention the intended final use for video, that may impact the level of quality/stability needed.
 

bhf3737

---
Sep 9, 2015
370
223
Calgary, Canada
www.flickr.com
If stabilization and light weight are requirements, perhaps DJI Osmo handheld 3-axis gimbal can be a solution.
It is a small handheld stabilized device with a camera. I usually use it when hiking and shooting short clips of the scenery. There are other versions that you can mount a cell phone or small cameras on them. Below is URL of the DJI Osmo gimbal that I could find (in Canada):
https://www.vistek.ca/store/ProVideoCameraStabilization/401291/dji-osmo-handheld-3axis-gimbal-zenmuse-x3-4k-camera.aspx
 

Julie G.

EOS M50
Nov 20, 2012
39
0
29
Oslo, Norway
Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it! I've barely done any filming and wouldn't know what type of stabilizer will work on a hike without being too heavy or too fiddly. That being said, my thought process is kinda like this:

1) I already have a camera which I love and wouldn't want to replace it. Concidering that its only occationally used I think getting a second camera would be a bit too much and really expensive.

2) As for the GoPro: While its 's light and small, the cost of it and a gimbal would cutting it close to the price of a Beholder EC1. But that being said, I wouln't have to get an expensive CF card, and I could easily take it on summits...

3) A steadycam would probaby not work well in the wind? Didn't consider that..

4) A shoulder rig would probably be the most budget friendly, option after the steadicam, but on uneven ground it probably wont give smooth shots, but still not as bad as handheld = good enough?...

5) 3-Axis motorized gimbal, like the Beholder EC-1, best option for dslr if ignoring price?

Hmm, this is not going to be easy, but I think I've narrowed it down to Beholder EC1 or GoPro+gimbal.
 

unfocused

EOS 5D SR
Just another comment:

I've used the Merlin. It's light but it is certainly more than a "little fiddly." You need to set it up for your specific camera/lens combination, which can take some time. And, it takes a lot of practice to get it right. On the other hand it is fairly inexpensive and even if you don't get it set up perfectly, it can help a bit. However, on rough or unfamiliar terrain it may not help and may actually be a hazard.

One thing I learned from using the Merlin is that if you have any kind of handle that allows for two-handed holding you can get a lot more stability.

Before investing a lot of money, I'd suggest you just try the 5D out on a trail alone. I'd also suggest renting before buying. Looks like lensrentals has GoPros and lots of different stabilizers.
 

sanj

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 22, 2012
3,131
25
You already own the camera and lens. Walk around with it with IS on and see if you like the results. If not, then decide next step.
Most likely for your end result, IS on lens will help a lot.
 
Jan 11, 2017
3
0
I'd like to add my twopenneth' as I have had great success with my 5Dmkiii and the 24-105mm kit lens.

I use a Manfrotto Automatic Monopod Neotec 685B in it's unextended mode. This adds a good vertical weight to help stabilise the camera. And I disagree with everyone that says that the IS is of no use while walking. Just keep the lens as wide as possible and hold the grip of the monopod in front of you. It's best to keep it short as you may walk into the monopod if it's extended too far.

Good luck and good hikeing!