Sachtler Wins Cinematographer's Praise

Bob Poole
For the last 20 years I've worked around the world, shooting nature, adventure and science programs. Recently, I completed work on "Africa's Lost Eden" for National Geographic. This is the story of the restoration of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique after 20 years of civil war. It features the remarkable wildlife that survived the war, along with the efforts of conservationists who are re-introducing wildlife species that were completely wiped out when they were used to feed the armies.


Over the years, my camera packages have changed, but I've always relied on Sachtler fluid heads. I bought my first Sachtler—a Panorama 7+7—in 1989. Now I own a whole series of Sachtlers: DV 6, Video 20 III, Video 20 SB and a Video 30, and use them all for different purposes.

When capturing wildlife sequences I rely on my Video 30, as it is very stable and solid. I can make smooth and precise moves, even at the long end of my Fujinon 25x super-telephoto lens, whether I'm shooting insects or elephants.

Years ago, I built a helicopter counterbalance mount that was based around a Sachtler Video 20 III fluid head. I used this too on "Africa's Lost Eden," as much of the park is without roads, so a helicopter was necessary to get around. The mount is essentially frictionless in all axes, completely isolating the camera from the motion of the helicopter. I just released all the counterbalance spring weight, dialed in a little bit of pan and tilt tension, and let the precision movement of the head do the work of stabilizing the camera.


In recent years I've been using DSLR cameras for shooting time lapse scenes. My Sachtler DV 6 is the perfect companion for my DSLR, and as a result my DSLR video is even better.

The Sachtler Video 20 SB has just the right amount of weight to support my Sony F900 camera with a Fujinon wide angle zoom lens mounted. In capturing scenes for "Africa's Lost Eden," I worked hard to show the cycle of life in the park throughout the seasons. Crocodiles became the focal point, as they survived the civil war in huge numbers, and were famous for their tremendous size. I was able to capture their nesting behavior and shoot a mother croc digging up her eggs and carrying the hatchlings to the water.

I also wanted to show baby crocodiles from the perspective of a large catfish, which is one of their biggest predators. This was accomplished with a makeshift set specially built for shooting the babies from beneath. This documentary project won several awards, and made a big impact on the success of the Gorongosa Restoration Project.

In my line of work, I'm always improvising and adapting. And my Sachtler fluid heads are always at the core of the camera supports I build and use. Sachtler has made a fluid head for just about every situation.

For the past 20 years Bob Poole has shot documentaries for National Geographic, Nova, Discovery, BBC, Animal Planet and others. He is currently working on another project about the people of Gorongosa. He may be contacted

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