Camera Cranes: The Best Cinematography support tool you need!

Camera Cranes

If you’re into cinematography, you more than likely will own a camera crane or jib crane. Working like a see-saw, one end will have the camera, balanced on the other end with counterweights.

When a cinematographer needs to get close to the action, a camera crane adds length to the reach. The counterweights allow ease of use so the camera doesn’t tend to fall forward and tire the user’s arms. The camera is held steady in the air with the balanced weights.

Imorden Mini Carbon Fiber Jib Arm

Weighing in at around 12 pounds (14.8 pounds with the counterbalance weights included), we have the Imorden Mini Carbon Fiber Jib Arm. It’s considered to be a lightweight and portable cameral crane, but also has many additional features of which a purchaser should take note. It is highly functional for providing cinematic type movements with a camera.

This camera crane is 6 ½ feet long, but is extendable to reach an additional 1.7 to 4 feet from the base of the tripod. It comes with a durable and environment-friendly carrying bag, for ease in transportation. The bag is well-made for use of space and protection of the equipment.

The exact dimensions are 32.2 x 7.8 x 5.2 inches. When folded, it’s about 78 cm, and it can be easily packed up and stored or toted to the next shooting location.

The user may also enjoy the Extra Quick release plate, which allows quick camera installation. Another feature for adding ease of use and rotation is the included bowl adapter. You will also get 3 counterweights. Each one weighs 1 kg, for a total of 3 kg. They are simple to add to the tripod when the photographer needs them. Beneath the base, the 2 female screw holes are ¼ inch and 3/8 inch.

The green chrome and carbon fiber mix on this camera crane does provide a sleek and upscale appearance. The knobs tighten, keeping the crane in place when needed.

Pros

  • Easily added counterweights
  • Compact, sturdy, eco-friendly carrying bag
  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Portable
  • Bowl adapter included
  • Useful tightening knobs

Cons

  • Small adjustments required before use
  • Maximum load of 8 pounds

ProAm USA Orion Jr DVC60Compact DSLR Video Camera Jib Crane

The next camera crane is the 4-foot model of theProAm USA Orion Jr DVC60Compact DSLR Video Camera Jib Crane. It weighs13.6 pounds, with dimensions of 53 x 7 x 10.It extends 3 feet from the fulcrum, and is adjustable up to 2 feet.

It is made in the U.S from lightweight aluminum, with a scratch-resistant powder-coating. The part that attaches to the tripod (not included) is made of steel, so if you choose to mount this piece to a tripod, you won’t have stripping of the threads.

Additionally, it will support a camera on the compact platform of up to 12 pounds, and if needed for larger or heavier cameras, there is an extension plate available (not included). It does have heavy-duty counterweight bars and is equipped with an auto-leveling feature.

One thing that might attract a purchaser is that it comes fully assembled and you can use the crane from the back or mount it on a tripod for direct camera control. This can be done with 1/4 –inch or 3/8- inch screws. ProAm also sells a crane stand that can extend this crane, making it 9 feet high.

More features that make for smooth filming are the auto-tilt, which will reduce un-level shots that should be horizontal, along the friction knob so the cinematographer can adjust the drag on the arm while tilting.

Pros

  • Compact model
  • Made from durable, but lightweight aluminum
  • Scratch-resistant coating
  • Steel mounting threads
  • Fully assembled
  • Auto-tilt
  • Friction knob
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Maximum load of 12 pounds

Cons

  • Does not include counterweights
  • Some adjustments to the base are needed for use to reduce wobble
  • Only extendable by 2 feet
  • No carrying bag included

FotodioxDV Rocker Jib Arm Video Camera Crane

The Fotodiox DV Rocker Jib Arm Video Camera Crane is another choice for cinematographers. This 4.25-foot (51 inch) video crane is made of aluminum and has a black, powder-coat finish to reduce scratching. This one comes with a 75 mm bowl adapter and 3/8-inch – 16 tripod head mount, to allow the smooth swiveling motion if desired for a filming project (tripod not included).

The DV Rocker Jib Arm by Fotodiox does include some weight that can counterbalance the weight of the camera, and it can support a camera weighing up to 9 pounds. Without the extra weights, this piece of equipment only weighs about 8 ½ pounds. The counterbalance weights are 5 kg, or about 11 pounds.

Someone who wants to extend this jib arm higher can purchase a 5-foot tripod, which extends the reach to 10 feet high. Additionally, there is a built-in bubble level. Its job is to be sure the camera is not tilted at all from the horizon.

Another feature that many cinematographers will appreciate is the included carrying case. This will save you from having to purchase that separately. It is easily assembled and operated once removed from the bag, but fits into small spaces when being transported.

Pros

  • Automatically keeps a level camera during movement
  • 24-month manufacturer’s warranty
  • One-piece construction for sturdiness
  • Lightweight aluminum body
  • Comes with 11 pounds of counterbalance weights
  • Includes the bowl adapter for the swiveling motion
  • Maximum load of 9 pounds
  • Includes a bag for transportation

Cons

  • Space-consuming when assembled
  • Some assembly required
  • Lacks paper instructions when purchased

Conclusion

Someone who operates a camera crane may find that their arms are elevated for long periods of time. Therefore, a lightweight jib is going to be one of the top features to look for. The Fotodiox DV Rocker Jib Arm seems to be the lightest of these three choices.

Another feature is the length of the reach. Without any additional accessories, the Imorden Mini Carbon Fiber Jib Arm seems to reach the longest. This is also the only of the three that is not aluminum, as it is constructed of carbon fiber, which is simply a personal preference.

A third feature that could sway the decision of which one to purchase is the bowl adapter. The ProAm model does not include this or a carrying case or bag. The Imorden Mini Carbon Fiber Jib Arm is also the only one that mentions a quick-release plate, which would cut down on time spent with assembly.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, is the amount of weight each crane can sustain. This feature could be an indication of the sturdiness of the construction, as more flimsy jib arms will buckle with too much weight. This would damage the equipment and distort the video quality. Although it is also the lightest, the Fotodiox DV Rocker Jib Arm boasts the highest maximum load capacity.

If you don’t mind a couple of the features that it lacks, the Fotodiox DV Rocker Jib Arm has the lightest construction, while also holding the most weight. You may need to purchase a bag and possibly additional counterbalance weights, but it should meet all other cinematography needs.