The end-all-be-all of steady camera movement?
Here at 16 BY 40 we recently got our hands on the DJI Ronin and wanted to quickly familiarize ourselves with the system and how it handled each of our cameras. Initially we began with our heaviest and most daunting combination: the RED Epic with an Angenieux Optimo DP Zoom.
When we initially set up the camera and lens we noticed that the total weight of the rig came in at 16 pounds and 6.3 ounces. The DJI Ronin is rated for roughly 16 pounds. Add on the fact that we had an Arri dovetail plate already attached to the Ronin that weighed roughly a pound, we needed to find a way to cut down on our camera's weight.
By removing both the top handle attached to the nato rail, and the side handle of the RED Epic, we were able to drop the weight just under the 16 pound limit.
Now all that was left of setting up the rig was to attach the camera to the DJI Ronin and begin balancing.
Definitely easier said than done.
Finally, we had a balanced, 16 pound, RED Epic and Angenieux Optimo DP rig on our DJI Ronin and it was time to take it for a test.
And it didn't do so well...
I should have prefaced this article by saying that we could have powered the camera with the Ronin's integrated P-Tap, but adding a full battery on the back to max out the weight seemed like a good test. Also, we are in the process of getting shorter Arri dovetail plates for the Ronin as well, which should cut down a few pounds. All of this would lead to a much smoother operation when using the RED and Angenieux together on the DJI Ronin—the heaviest plausible combination, but maybe not the heaviest imaginable.
Despite these problems, the Ronin was still able to keep the very heavy RED rig level as we used it throughout the day. In fact, much of the vibration we were getting in the footage was simply because we were struggling to hold the heavy rig up.
With tired arms and fleeting daylight we decided to throw the Canon C300 on the Ronin with a 35mm Zeiss CP.2, which was balanced and ready to go in no time at all.
Ultimately, the DJI Ronin is a tool just like any other that needs a fair amount of time spent on familiarizing yourself with its strengths and weaknesses in order to get the perfect tracking shot for your film.