The arrival of the Kessler Pocket Jib traveler from across the Atlantic was a moment of excitement at the possibility of a new piece of kit to open up some of the creative cinemagraphic potential of the Forest film – particularly as the land evolves into the moving energy of Spring. Perhaps partially tarnished by the substantial duty that has to be handed over at the point of delivery although the object itself is certainly a product of beauty – if you have an eye for engineered aluminium!
Unfolding this device from its dormant compact stage has a certain magic as it is clear that, like other Kessler products I have used, it is an extremely well thought out design – it comes with no instructions and although there are a number of procedures to getting it set up, it just seems to unfold itself. Initial setup involved a old and very solid Manfrotto 055 set of legs and a 503 head that was mounted on the jib arm – fortunately a 3/8 bolt was at hand to attach the head as this was not supplied. Counter-balance was provided by 3 x 1.25kg weights that were held in place with a specially designed clip.
Having established all the requisite components and having gleaned some sense of the way the whole kit worked together it was simply a case of finding a couple of hours to test it on location. A misty morning offered just the opportunity to stop in the forest and try it all out – the jib itself is incredibly compact and light but when you add a strong tripod camera kit and weights it is not something that you want to stray too far from a car to work with unless you have a willing assistant – but that would defeat the key benefits of this piece of kit.
This was an initiation into the world of lightweight jib arms, a small industry has spawned with the advent of DSLR shooting and there are a few on the market, but I’m not in the position of being able to make comparisons and the results are from this first shoot reflect no experience using this type of equipment. The test was carried out under a considerable time constraint as there was approximately only 2 hours available to get as many shots as possible – to give some sense of the logistics all of the shots were within 200m of the car park and the kit was carried around for most of the time with camera mounted which was quite workable as long as you are careful not to put you fingers in a potentially crushable position (which I did at first!).
Moving the camera in such a way in 3D space has its own peculiarities and confines – the arm itself has friction controls although I found it easier to rely on the inertia of the counterweighted arm and to control camera movement speed in that way – although more familiarity with the set up may well change that. The weight holder did not quite hold the weights in a snug position so that there was an annoying clunk as the weights slid across the 5mm gap – will try out a mod fabricating a washer from a bicycle inner tube or such like. The movements were smooth and generally had a pleasing quality although all the shots were with the wide end of the 17-40 to mitigate any unwanted vibration – the downside of this being some ugly distortion of perspective as the camera moves over surfaces.
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