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Libec Provides Sole Sport in Bush Country

Steve Mitchell
OLYMPIC VALLEY, CALIF.
I'm a 20 year veteran of travel and adventure programming and recently was given the opportunity to go on Safari in the African bush country—the chance of a lifetime. However, the show's producer was on a very tight budget, which left me as the solo crew member—no sound guy, no assistant to carry my gear—just me and the wild bush in Zulu country in the Pongola region near Swaziland.

As this shooting assignment was going to feature me as a "one-man band" (I did have a guide and a tracker), I needed a lightweight, fully professional, camera support system that I could easily carry, and something that wasn't going to break the bank (or break down on the road).

As things worked out, I really didn't have to look any further than Libec. Their RT30B two-stage legs and RH25 head provided me with a great deal of versatility. The tripod's 33- to 63-inch height range, along with its easily removed (no pins to lose) mid-level spreader allows you to hunker down almost to high-hat level, which is great when you're shooting through the grass at a nearby lion.

TRIPOD EASY TO USE INDOORS OR OUT

The tripod is designed with two angles of foot spikes to grip incredibly well on most surfaces. And when you're shooting indoors, there are detachable rubber foot pads to protect floors from the spikes, and provide a smooth grip on slick surfaces.

The system is very light, weighing only about 11 pounds, which makes it easy to carry with the camera still mounted. I could just fold the legs, lock the tilt adjustment, and put the whole rig on my shoulder like a pair of skis. I can also remove the camera and pick the sticks up by the ball claw, with the leg spread and walk comfortably to the next location.

I'm also very pleased with Libec's fluid head. Its simple pan resistance has two settings. There's "medium-light" for fast moving subjects such as sports, or for capturing a cheetah at full run: and "medium-heavy," which is great for smooth scenic pans with precise starts and stops.

The head has the same resistance control for tilts, but this can be set separately in case you want more drag when tilting than for panning. There's also a nice counterbalance control for fine-tuning the feel based on camera weight.

COULDN'T ASK FOR BETTER LOCKS

All of the system's locks are great. They're very simple, and do their job. They don't require the over-torquing that some do, and they're well placed, making them easy to find and use while the camera is rolling.

The Libec system comes with a nifty travel bag, and is finished in black. I should note that in spite of several rough trips on the open ocean, I've yet to see any signs of rust.

Overall, the Libec pair does everything that you ask of it. It's a trusty companion and provides great support when you're out in the field.

Steve Mitchell is a producer and director at eMedia Studios and has been involved in travel and adventure programming for some 20 years. He may be contacted atemediamitchell@yahoo.com.

For additional information, contact Libec Sales of America at 310-787-9400 or visitwww.libecsales.com.