Smith-Victor Shines in Crowd Situations

by Tony Papa

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. The Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the major outdoor events in the United States. This year it celebrated its 50th anniversary, with more than 3 million people attending.

Tony Papa demonstrates the New Smith-Victor carbon fiber monopod.

I was contracted by Det-Chi Video, who were filming Webcasts of the event. My duties were to archive the Liquid X freestyle Jet Ski tour performance, along with shooting team and spectator interviews, and providing background and human-interest footage.


I knew that more than 300,000 spectators would be crowding the beach where I was shooting at any given time. I also knew that I would be covering the show on foot across a one-mile stretch of sand.

All this meant that my camera support gear had to be tough, lightweight and small enough to maneuver through the crowd. I chose the Smith-Victor CS-1 Camcorder Stabilizer, along with the Smith-Victor Black Diamond carbon fiber monopod for my two primary camera supports.

The Smith-Victor CS-1 is an over-the-shoulder camera support that weighs in at only 2 pounds. It features two-point stabilization at both the shoulder and chest. The high-density non-slip chest and shoulder pads provide comfortable shooting for long periods of time. The ergonomics include three different size camera mounting plates that are designed to personalize camera fit and operation. No matter what size camera you have, one of these plates will conveniently secure it to the CS-1. The 2-inch wide strap firmly holds the CS-1 to your body and prevents the camera from being accidentally dropped. When I'm on the move, following the action and working in crowds, the sturdy, lightweight CS-1 is a valuable low-cost accessory.


The Smith-Victor CS-1 provides camera stability in situations where a tripod or monopod is impractical. Most people don't think about monopods for video applications, as they are generally not as stable as tripods or over-the-shoulder camera supports. Since much of my work is in crowded situations, a monopod helps me get shots that I wouldn't have gotten any other way, by putting my camera above the crowd.

My favorite monopod is the Smith-Victor Black Diamond CFM500 carbon fiber model. It weighs 18 ounces, extends to 67 inches and is rock solid. And it collapses to 21 inches, so I can easily carry it on my battery belt or backpack.

One of the highlights of the Air and Water show was Bill Murray, the comedian, making a parachute jump with the U.S. Army's Golden Knights parachute team.

I had to get a shot of him after the jump, and when I got to the landing site, he was already surrounded by a forest of news cameras and lights. I couldn't get close enough for a standard shot, so I put the camera and mike on the monopod, extended the leg and got great footage shooting over the heads of the other reporters and video shooters. I never go anywhere without this really valuable tool.

Tony Papa started his freelance business in 1999 and shoots virtually all types of assignments. He may be contacted at

For additional information, contact Smith-Victor at 630-830-9200 or visit