in the field
We’ve been using Really Right Stuff rigs with DSLRs for many years now – particularly for macro and panoramic photography. Really Right Stuff kit is both beautifully built and incredibly reliable – it is simply rock solid no matter what you put on it! They also have a vast range of accessories – so you can generally rig up something ideal for any specialised shoot and have it integrate seamlessly with all your other rigs and quick releases. Most of our cameras – and a lot of accessories – are fitted with Really Right Stuff plates (or clamps) so they can be easily added / removed via the very robust quick release system.
The full size BH-55 ballhead is our standard head for all tripod work (stills) – and combines with the TP-243 Ground-Level Tripod (the ‘Ground Pod’) and macro focusing rail components to form a compact but amazingly solid macro rig. This rig is ideal for getting the lens really low to the ground – even with tall cameras like REDs. We also use a BH-55 / pano-gimbal rig combination for panoramic photography with Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
Really Right Stuff pano rigs – left | Canon 5D IR mod – right | Nikon D800 IR mod.
RRS + RED | in the field filming BRINDABELLAS
With the BRINDABELLAS project a lot of the larger panoramic stills were shot with Canon and Nikon DSLRs on the pano-gimbal rig. When we started to expand the film component – shot on modified full-spectrum RED Epic-X – we needed to find a tripod set-up a little smaller and lower to the ground to film the macro components of the film. This rig also had to be strong enough to lock down the heavier RED cameras. So we went with what we knew and trusted (and already had in the shoot bag!) and adapted our Really Right Stuff macro rig to handle the REDs in the field.
For this we used the Really Right Stuff BRE-1 plate – which is specifically designed for the RED system. This can be mounted to the base of the camera in stripped down rigs – or to tactical cages when things are a bit more built up. We also often used our Genus Sherpa dovetail base-plate which slotted into the Really Right Stuff clamps perfectly. This provided us with a lot of integration between different rigs and set-ups – plus a reliable quick release option across the system.
Getting in close
The Really Right Stuff macro rig proved to be ideal for getting in low to and shooting macro for BRINDABELLAS. We didn’t need to tilt or pan on these shots so a ballhead was a good option – we just needed it be strong enough to lock down some fairly ambitious rigs (and shooting angles!) The BH-55 turned out to be ideal – particularly combined with the TP-243 ‘Ground Pod’. This combination was small and light enough to to hike into more remote locations but still easily strong enough to lock down the RED rigs.
It was also flexible enough to be adapted to some specific shots in the field – like rigging the Epic-X IR mod upside down to film extreme close-up shots of frost and icy water (with the Canon MP-E 65 mm literally touching the water). Without the low angle created by this rig the camera would have been right on top of the subject and shading the shot.
Epic-X IR mod on the BH-55 ballhead (via Genus Sherpa dovetail) filming brindabellas.
Second tripod (and sliders)
The TP-243 ‘Ground Pod’ also proved handy as a second tripod when on foot in more mountainous locations. More than one important cloudscape sequence was captured with the second camera happily sitting on the G-Pod.
The BH-55 also found itself on standard tripod rigs on many occasions when macro shoots turned into impromptu landscape shoots as clouds rolled in. Both the ‘Ground Pod’ and the BH-55 handled the weight of our RED rigs with no problems. If panning is not required they can be ideal lightweight, locked-off solutions.
The other important role the Really Right Stuff ballhead and accessories played in filming BRINDABELLAS was the mounting of the rigs onto our Trost Motion (and Kessler) sliders. The solidity of the BH-55 allowed for the deployment of even large rigs at challenging angles without anything slipping or moving (which was reassuring while filming over water!) And the uniform quick release system across the system allowed for rapid deployment and break down.
RED Dragon macro rig filming Interface | a journey between worlds with Natalie Maras.
Outside of shooting infrared footage on projects like BRINDABELLAS we often use the RED / Really Right Stuff macro rig combo on nature and documentary shoots. During the recent Crust / Interface collaboration with artist Natalie Maras this combination proved ideal for filming lichens and mosses – as well as the artist in the field!
Having a shared quick release system across our Nikon/Canon DSLRs and REDs means a lot less gear to lug around and fast deployment in the field when conditions change and we need to go from 1:1 macro to 6K cloud-lapsing – fast! In this respect the flexible Really Right Stuff system – and its incredible solidity – is a perfect match for how we like to shoot.
Note | We’re not really gear reviewers – and definitely not paid gear reviewers. We purchased our rigs from Really Right Stuff just like anyone else! This is just an outline of some of the stuff we like to use and an excuse to post a few gratuitous rig shots.
More | see the Really Right Stuff website | www.reallyrightstuff.com