Handheld Vs Shoulder-Mount Cameras

Shoulder-mount title
A short documentary about the benefits of shoulder-mount design video cameras

When shoulder-mount is the only option

I’ve been shooting with the JVC GY-HM650 for over a year now and it’s become my go-to camera for many assignments. Being of handheld design, the camera is compact yet pro-feature rich, making it ideal for shooting conferences, newsgathering and any event where you need and all-in-one camera with professional connections and performance.

Since its launch the GY-HM650 has been an incredibly successful camera for JVC – a demonstration of which was its adoption by the BBC in 2013 when it purchased over 500 of them for newsgathering in the UK and overseas. But, as good as this camera is, there are still some applications where its handheld design makes it less than perfect. Whilst the camera is light and compact, the handheld design can be very tiring to use off-tripod for any length of time – which is true of any camera in this class.

To address this, at the beginning of 2014 JVC launched the 800 series cameras – namely the GY-HM850/ HM890. The 800 series has adopted all the very best features of the 600 series and designed them into an excellent shoulder-mount solution. All the bits that I really like about the HM650 are included, plus there’s a host of new features which will appeal to a wide range of camera operators.

The GY-HM850 Shoulder-Mount Solution
The GY-HM850 Shoulder-Mount Solution

If you have something to say, say it with video!

Towards the end of last year JVC approached me about creating a short documentary which explains why some applications are better suited to a shoulder-mount camera – and to reveal some of the other less obvious reasons why some camera operators prefer this design type. They also wanted something that would highlight some of the new features which have been introduced into this model to make it even more useful to the professional cameraman.

Once you have used both of these types of camera you’ll have a very good understanding of where one performs better than the other. However, in today’s world of DSLRs and the trend of making cameras smaller and smaller, its not that obvious to the uninitiated as to why a shoulder-mount camera could be preferable. Despite being substantially larger and heavier, the only way you can persuade someone that they are far more comfortable to use, easier to handle and far less fatiguing to operate off-tripod for any length of time is to actually get them to try it out. My challenge for this film was just that – to encourage camera buyers to actually consider the camera design more closely and to explore all possibilities – and ultimately to give shoulder-mount cameras a try. I hope it achieves this!

Video Outline

After an initial consultation with JVC I presented them with a short treatment. Following a few tweaks the format was agreed and I worked on developing the script and coming up with ideas on how to achieve the objectives.

Whilst it would be simple for me to simply talk people through the camera’s features I really believed that we needed to get some other people’s comments and views, so I planned a visit to the Kit Plus event in London and door-stepped a few of the delegates there to get their views on why the shoulder-mount design still has it’s place in video production. Apart from giving the viewer a break from my own on-screen performance, I thought it was extremely important to get other real users to reveal the important and less obvious benefits.

Production Notes

I’ve produced a number of this type of film before here at our studios in Loughton, Essex – so finding the location to shoot the pieces to camera and the studio pack shots wasn’t a challenge. Every shot you see in this film was shot using my GY-HM650, with the only exception being the one shot of the GY-HM650 which was created using the GY-HM850.

HM850 on set
Shooting video cameras with video cameras

The only other material which was not actually filmed with the GY-HM650 was the GUI screen shots. These were created by capturing the camera’s HDMI output via the Intensity Pro card directly into my Edius edit suite.

A huge thanks to JVC for commissioning this film, and also to those who volunteered their time at Kit Plus London to be interviewed.

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