Miller Tripod to Kessler Quick Release Modification

One thing that really bugs me when shooting is having to change mounting plates on my cameras to make them work with my tripods, sliders, jibs etc. In the past I’ve used Miller Tripods QR system which allows you to use the same tripod plate from the Solo DV20 head on other bits of kit.  Then when I started using DSLR’s I became a fan of the Manfrotto 394 quick release plates and fitted them to everything that I could.

When I started shooting on the C300 and C100 I wanted to use something more heavy duty than the Manfrotto system so reverted to the Miller QR plates for a while. The  Miller system works well but it has a few drawbacks such as having to slide the plate into the mount from the back which isn’t always possible. The Miller QR plates are also not flat on the bottom so they can’t be mounted to everything.

Miller QR

I eventually decided to try out the Kessler Quick Release system and after using it for a few months I absolutely love it. The Kessler system allows you to attach the camera from above and once the bright red release latch engages you know the camera isn’t going to fall off, then there’s also a cam operated locking lever that fully secures the camera in place.

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Kessler provide various plate sizes depending on the usage you have in mind, I have them fitted to my cameras, the bottom of my Stealth slider, and one on the base of my pocket jib traveller. I fitted the receiver plates to my tripods and one to my mini ball head so that I can swap my cameras between any tripod, the slider or the jib without swapping plates. I can also mount my slider or the jib to any of my tripods so whatever configuration I opt for it works without any messing around swapping plates.

One thing that I wasn’t so keen on though was the fact that I had to mount the Kessler receiver plate on top of a Miller tripod plate to then fit that into my Miller Solo DS20 tripod. Setting up that way works okay but it’s one more thing that can work loose and also adds a little more bulk and likely more flexing when the camera is mounted. A much better solution would be to mount the Kessler receiver plate directly to the tripod head.

The Miller receiver can be easily removed from the DV20 head by removing the four bolts that hold it in place. As you can see though this doesn’t offer any way to then mount the Kessler Kwik Release so an adapter plate is going to be needed.

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If you’re good at working with metal it would be a fairly easy process to create a rectangle plate that has the four required holes to bolt it to the head and at least one threaded hole int he centre to allow the Kessler plate to be mooted to that. I don’t have the required tools to do such a job myself but I discovered a work around using the Miller 313 QR system.

If you look at one of Millers 313 Quick Release plates you’ll notice that it’s basically identical to the one fitted to the solo DV head, but in order to make it fit on other devices Miller have attached a metal plate that has four threaded holes in the corners to allow the plate to be bolted to it and a pair of threaded holes in the middle. This plate is perfect for creating an adapter for the tripod.

Unfortunately there are some modifications that you need to make though. The four holes in the corners of the adapter plate are threaded and don’t have the countersunk recesses required so that the heads of the bolts sit flush inside the plate. I modified mine by drilling out enough metal to allow the bolt heads to sit flush. Be careful with this though, if you go all the way through it won’t work. The holes near the recess on one end of the plate do cut through the side slightly but not enough to cause any problems with strength.

You’ll also need to use a smaller drill bit to remove the threads from the remaining part of the small holes in the corners so that the bolts can be inserted and then tightened in to the threads in the tripod head. Please note that these modifications render the plate unusable with the 313 QR plate any further.

No modifications are required to the tripod head itself though, please don’t make the mistake of doing anything to your tripod head!
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Whether you make a plate or take one from a Miller QR system once it’s in place you just have to bolt the Kessler Kwik Release to it. For maximum strength and durability it would be best to have an additional threaded hole cut into the plate so that the Kessler Kwik Release can be attached at two points. For now I’ve stuck with just the one and mine has been rock solid but I’d still like to have another thread cut in at some point.

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So there you have it, the Miller tripod looks like it was created with the Kessler system and it’s super solid and more compact than the original Miller plate. A Miller 313 plate is around $190 so it’s probably not worth buying one just to do this, plus it’s a non reversible modification for the 313.

If you do have a spare Miller 313 plate though or you can have a plate made up it works really well. With Kessler receiver plates on all of my kit mounting cameras to supports or even supports to supports is always easy and reliable.

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The Kessler Kwick Release systems can be found at Kesslers website

The Miller 313 QR plate is available from B&H Photo

The Miller DS20 Tripod is available from B&H Photo

 

 

Tell Me Whom You Haunt

This was another in a series of interviews shot at the Blain Southern gallery in Hanover Square, London.  This was my first shoot with the Kessler  Pocket Jib traveller and it was quite a challenging day where I really felt that my kit was fighting me instead of working with me. I travel to these shoots on the train so the amount of kit I can take with me is limited. That day in particular the production company asked if I could bring along a travel dolly rather than the Kessler Stealth Slider as the subject matter required larger camera runs.

I have one of those Hague dolly’s that runs on plastic tubing so I took that with me and ended up battling with it all day. I’ve used that dolly in the past and with enough time and a few extra hands it can produce good results, but in an environment where time is of the essence and your working with minimal help it’s a challenging thing to use. I’d much rather take along my Kessler Stealth slider which produces much steadier results with less effort, although over shorter distances. As it turned out the slider would have been much better suited to the subject matter that day anyway.

I think the final results look really nice so well done Archie Campbell for finding the good shots. It does show that the little Pocket Jib Traveller can deliver the goods if you’re careful enough with it, just don’t try and run it on a travel dolly at the same time!

Bill Viola

I had the great pleasure of shooting an Interview with Bill Viola at the Blain Southern gallery in London earlier in the year and found him to be a very inspiring artist. I found his series titled “The Dreamers” to be particularly interesting as he made great use of slow motion (high speed) shooting of subjects underwater which produced images that almost made the subjects look as though they had drowned, yet there was still a small element of life remaining.

I very much liked the use of Plasma Screens in a portrait orientation to present the works too, and with the piped underwater sounds it was a very inspiring, maybe I’ll have to look at doing some portrait work of my own.

The shoot itself proved quite a challenge as the bright plasma screens were placed in almost totally dark rooms and having any additional lighting present would have effected the way the artist wanted to present the works. Fast lenses like the Canon 24mm 1.4 and 50 1.2 were a big help and then relatively clean image at higher ISO ranges on the C300 and C100 came in very useful!

The video was also shot in Canon Log to give as much dynamic range as possible but for some reason the producers decided not to grade it at all during the edit so it still looks very flat.

Harley-Davidson 110th Celebrations

To celebrate 110 years of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and 30 years of the Harley Owners Group®, riders have gathered and partied in cities around the world. In Europe, Rome became the home of Harley-Davidson® for four days in June – an epic event that I had the pleasure of filming. I wasn’t working alone on this one though, I had help from Will Middleton, a camera operator that I met working on a project in London last year.

The Rome event was set on multiple sites, including the Vatican City and nearby beach resort Ostia, hundreds of thousands of passionate Harley-Davidson enthusiasts flocked to this beautiful part of Italy to commemorate 110 years of the legendary motorcycle. I’m not at all a religious person but none the less I was really honoured to be allowed to film inside the Vatican during a special Mass for the Harley Owners Group and also to film the Pope himself  when he was paraded in from of the thousands of Harley riders in the Vatican Square.

The rome event did however throw up a few extra challenges. The police and security people in Rome and especially those surrounding the Vatican are a tough bunch to deal with. One moment I would be told that it was fine to stand in a particular location and the next another security team would tell me to stop filming and move on, it was probably one of the most stressful places I’ve worked as yet, especially as many of the security people didn’t speak english.

One of the photographers that we were working with also had a Nikon D3 stolen on the train, he thought nothing off an old lady asked him a question but didn’t realise until 15 minutes later that at the same time his back pack had been unzipped and the camera body removed. It’s never a good idea to carry camera gear in a back pack, especially on a cramped train! Luckily the photographer was insured and ended up with a shiny new D4 body but the shots that he’d taken were lost forever… well maybe until the scrote who stole it posts them on facebook!

Here’s one of the videos created from the Rome event.

Moving on from Rome I shot again for Harley at the European Bike Week event in Faaker See, Austria. I’ve shot this event many times now and it becomes increasingly difficult to make it look different as in reality the event is pretty much the same each year. The addition of some shots with the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveller and the fact that I was supplied a rather excellent Jeep for the duration did however give me some new options.

Still around

I should be ashamed of myself for not posting anything for so long, I wish I had a good excuse but I haven’t really other than my interests in other things have been taking up more of my time recently. That’s not to say that I haven’t been busy on the film making front though, I’ve been busy working shooting various projects over the last few months including my usual work for Harley-Davidson. It’s been a huge year for Harley as 2013 has seen them celebrating 110 years of Harley-Davidson and 30 years of the Harley Owners Group.

I guess the main reason why the blog has suffered is that I’ve been spending most of my free time playing guitar and getting involved in music projects. I play in a band called Liberty Gene which due to some recent line-up changes has taken up a lot of my time with getting back up to the level where we can perform shows. That’s not to say that I’m no longer interested in the video side of things though, it is after all my bread and butter.

Anyway, after treating the blog so badly for the last few months I’m going to make a real effort to dedicate more time to it again. To start things rolling here’s a video that I produced for the Harley-Davidson Euro Festival back in May. This was the first event I took the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveller too and as you can see in the video it was used way too much but that’s with new toys!

The most challenging shot was one shown at the end of the video as I carried the jib along with my miller tripod and C100 through a crowd of thousands on the beach watching Status Quo perform. It was dark by that point too so I had to use the light on my iPhone to see the camera but I think the results were worth it.

I’ll post more info about my experiences with the pocket jib and the rest of my kit along with a few other stories from my travels over the coming days.