Frequently Asked Questions
In general, vibration reduction systems don't eliminate vibration. They only reduce it. That's why they're called "vibration reduction systems." Typically, they are limited to reducing image blur by providing the approximate effect of increasing the shutter speed by about two f/stops. So, if shooting at 1/60th of a second, you would see about the same image (in terms of blur) as you would at 1/250th of a second -- which is extremely helpful. But shooting at 1/250th of a second does not eliminate blur from vibration. It only reduces it.
With quality lenses fitted to high megapixel cameras, the effect of camera shake can often be seen -- often quite easily. Of course, the degree to which the blur is visible depends upon how much you crop the frame and/or enlarge the image. The better the lens you are using, the more easily you'll be able to see the blurring.
Putting your camera and lens on a tripod can all but eliminate the blur from camera shake. So, tripod-mounted photography is always superior -- assuming conditions allow for it.
When taking photos of stationary subjects, photographers often employ a tripod to sharpen photos and cope with low-lighting situations.
What is different about the Hitch Hiker is that it is a very lightweight tripod-head capable of coping with highly dynamic subjects -- especially moving subjects -- or subjects that appear suddenly in a location that is not fully predictable -- or when shifting rapidly between multiple subjects.
The Hitch Hiker allows the user to frame and shoot very quickly and with precision that can't be matched by hand-held photography. When holding a camera by hand, there is ALWAYS some movement of the camera -- over and above what would be called "vibration." This movement creates uncertainty in aiming -- and a hand-held camera will migrate (randomly) while shooting a burst. Moreover, the photographer's attention must be divided between the tasks of aiming and holding the camera steadily. Certainly, practice improves this skill -- but there remains two independent tasks that must be controlled simultaneously.
Using the Hitch Hiker virtually eliminates the task of steadying the camera -- while allowing the photography to concentrate on composition. And the precision of rapid aiming afforded by the Hitch Hiker's smooth, balanced motions allows the photographer to quickly perfect a photo's composition.
A ball-head can't do this. A pan-tilt head can't do this. Even most gimbal-heads can't do as well -- and are too bulky and heavy to match to smaller lenses.
So -- while eliminating vibration is a strong reason for using the Hitch Hiker, a more compelling reason to employ the Hitch Hiker is to take advantage of the control it affords in rapidly composing photos.
Is the Hitch Hiker different than a "gimbal head" used by photographers with large telephoto systems?
Of course, the Hitch Hiker belongs to a class of tripod-head that a photographer would refer to as a "gimbal" mount. But that only describes the general class of mechanism. The Hitch Hiker is not targeted to compete with traditional gimbal heads. The Hitch Hiker is far smaller and lighter -- and has features that are not typically found on gimbal mounts. The Hitch Hiker is intended as an alternative to standard ball-heads, pan-tilt heads, and fluid-heads for smaller camera systems -- say like the Nikon D810 with a variety of lenses up to about 400 to 500 mm. In many cases, the camera body itself might be attached directly to the Hitch Hiker when a lens does not have a mounting ring.
The Hitch Hiker is more of a multi-purpose mount than a typical gimbal mount -- able to carry a number of different types of optical instruments -- and specializing in lightweight systems that might have to be carried by the user over long distances, perhaps on trails. It has the ability to point most instruments straight up or straight down -- and has a guide-handle that is useful when not using the long telephoto lenses associated with typical gimbal mounts.
The camera rotation device is, of course, very handy when you have to mount the camera body directly to the Hitch Hiker because the lens has no mounting ring that can be rotated.
There is an optional side-saddle accessory for the Hitch Hiker that replaces the payload platform. It is intended for use with large spotting scopes, astronomical telescopes, and larger telephoto lenses (to about 600 mm) while actually reducing the weight of the Hitch Hiker to about 2-1/4 pound.
So, while the Hitch Hiker belongs to the same general class of mechanisms as conventional "gimbal mounts," it differs in size, weight, and very strongly in features and function from these mounts.Last updated:
I've seen many tripod heads advertised with absurdly exaggerated load capacities. The thinking seems to be geared towards piling as much weight on a head as possible without it breaking. Such ratings serve no practical purpose. So, in assigning a load capacity to the Hitch Hiker we asked the question, "What is it intended to do -- and do REALLY well?"
The Hitch Hiker is intended for camera/lens systems and other optical instruments that would be used on-the-go -- often on a trail or in a situation where the system must be carried all day, perhaps in demanding situations -- or in travel situations -- or on a sailing vessel or other vehicle -- or whatever. Typically, these camera/lens systems or other optical devices weigh less than seven pounds. An example might be the Nikon D810 with the 80 to 400 mm Nikon zoom -- 6.5 pounds.
Another example of a camera/lens system for the Hitch Hiker might be a Nikon D7200 with 18-300 mm zoom. This lens has no mounting ring -- and so the camera body must be attached directly to the tripod head and can not be rotated from landscape to portrait modes without an added device. The Hitch Hiker deftly handles these requirements in a lightweight, all-in-one solution.
Prototype Hitch Hikers have been routinely carrying loads larger than the stated capacity. But the real question is about the intended purpose of the Hitch Hiker -- and we list a capacity for the Hitch Hiker for which it is highly optimized and supremely efficient. If you want to mount a 25-pound camera and lens with a 2000 mm focal length, I'd suggest getting a large, traditional gimbal mount. But if you want to carry maybe a D810 with something like a 80-400 mm zoom attached to the head and tripod over your shoulder for instant deployment -- maybe all day on a trail -- then the Hitch Hiker is perfect. And large spotting scopes can find no better home than the Hitch Hiker.Last updated:
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