Part 3 - Camera Arm Selection
In part 3 of the SELFILMED 101 series, we will be discussing another important accessory in your SELFILMED journey, the camera arm. Like the fluid head, a camera arm is a must when it comes to capturing silky smooth footage. It is the foundation if you will, that holds everything in place while you film. You can certainly get away with a stationary mount, but the addition of a camera arm to your video camera setup will allow for much more creative shots, not to mention that it will drastically increase your ability to get your shot on film.
When self-filming and carrying in all of your gear to the field by yourself, weight is going to be one of your top concerns when we make our camera arm selection. Often times, a camera arm can weight upwards of 8 – 10 pounds (arm and base combined weight). This is a lot of extra weight to lug around with you all season long, and especially if you are one of those run and gun hunters that frequents public land. There are several lightweight camera arms on the market, and several of them come in under 6 pounds. This is a good benchmark for weight I feel, but the total weight is not really the whole story.
Portability is also a major factor in a SELFILMED camera arm. We discussed weight briefly above, but a considerable amount of the weight from most camera arms is in the base needed to mount the arm to a tree. For the public land hunter, carrying your entire camera arm setup might be unavoidable, but if you have fixed stands, the ability to put up multiple bases can further decrease the amount of weight you carry back and forth to the stand each hunt. Furthermore, having your bases already attached to the tree when you climb up allows for a quicker setup, and allows you to be much quieter as well.
A camera arm must also be stable when in use. It is important to pay attention the weight capacity of any camera arm that you purchase. When doing so, add up the weight of your entire camera setup, including accessories, and make sure it is at or under the limit specified for the camera arm you are looking to get. I like to make sure I am a few pounds under the specified weight limit. Some might consider this overkill, but I have found from previous experience that while a camera arm might be rated for 10 pounds, it does not mean you should stack 10 pounds on it when fully extended. We aren’t concerned with the arm breaking so to speak, we are more worried about what the footage will look like. You don’t want the footage to come out looking like your camera was mounted to a kangaroo when you are done. At full extension, it is almost impossible to keep your camera from bouncing a little bit, but it can be greatly reduced by keeping your camera equipment less than the published weight limit of the camera arm.
Adjustability is also critical when selecting a camera arm. You can control many things when you hunt, but the game animals we are after do what they want – when they want. It is important to be able to maneuver your camera into any position to capture the shot when it presents itself. If your camera arm is not long enough, it is nearly impossible to record anything on the opposite side of the tree your base is attached to. Because of this, you need to pay close attention to the overall length of your camera arm, or purchase one that allows for extensions to be used. Depending on the stand I am hunting, I often times find I want my camera arm to be different lengths based on where I am able to shoot. Additionally, not all trees that are perfect setups to hunt in provide us with a perfectly straight/level surface to mount our camera arm base to. Being able to adjust the base of the camera arm so that the arm attached to it is level helps tremendously when you are forced to use a nearby limb to mount it.
Considering all these factors, we at SELFILMED are firm believers in the camera arms offered by Fourth Arrow Camera Arms. They are not only affordable, but we believe there are no other companies out there better suited to accommodate the needs of the SELFILMED hunter. I recently did a review on the Fourth Arrow Stiff Arm which you can read (here) which outlines some of its great features and how they relate to the tips details in this article.
Below is a list of a few camera arms available on the market today. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but will serve as a starting point for your search.
If you have any questions or would like further clarification on the information from this article, please visit our contact form and let us know. We love hearing from our readers, and as always, we welcome any feedback or tips you have to offer.
SELFILMED 101 Series:
- Part 1 – Camera Selection
- Part 2 – Fluid Head Selection
- Part 3 – Camera Arm Selection
- Part 4 – Camera Remote Control
- Part 5 – Camera Setup and Placement
- Part 6 – Importance of 2nd and 3rd Angles
- Part 7 – Interview Strategy
- Part 8 – Shot List
- Part 9 – After the Shot
- Part 10 – Putting it all Together (Editing)