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First, you need to take a look at your current pan/tilt head and make sure that it is compatible. The Seven Jib works with Cartoni, Sachtler, Vinten, Bogen, Miller, OConnor, etc.

Most shooters have heads with 100mm ball bases. This size is pretty much standard now. Older OConnor heads - even smaller units like the OConnor 50 - had larger radius, proprietary ball bases. If you have one of these, you should call me and I'll specially cut our 100mm bowl on my lathe to fit your head. I once ran into a Cartoni that had a 110mm ball. But these are rare.

You might have a smaller head with a 75mm ball base. Order our 75mm adapter which nests in the standard 100mm bowl.

The largest ball is 150mm. These you'll find on the Sachtler Studio series, Ronford F7 and F15s, Cartoni C40, larger Oconnor, to name a few. You have a head this size if you have a RED One, Arri Alexa, Sony F35, Epic, etc rig with zoom lens, follow focus, monitor, batteries, matte box, another monitor, etc. If you have a 150mm head and sticks, then you need our 150mm kit. It consists of a larger 150mm bowl that bolts on the end of the jib in place of the 100mm bowl, and an aluminum plate that screws to the base of the jib, like a large knob, broadening it so that the jib will rest on top of your 150mm legs rather than falling down inside the bowl.

Your head might have a Mitchell base. It's flat and has a large 3.25" threaded boss on the bottom. Some prefer this base over ball bases and it's been around for a long, long time. The base of the Seven Jib has a dual step, so that it works with 100mm AND Mitchell topped sticks. For the other end of the jib, where you put your head, you'll need our Mitchell Plate.

Bogen Heads

Bogen sells heads in a strange way, like no other company. They sell the heads with a flat bottom. There is a 3/8-16 female tapped hole in the bottom of all the Bogen fluid heads. When you buy legs from Bogen, you simply screw the head down onto the legs and then you have to tighten three set screws to finish. If you buy a still photo type Bogen tripod, then you have no ball base, and your head is kind of permanently attached to your legs. Not great if you want to remove it for jib or dolly or hi-hat or car mount use. If you buy a film/video tripod from Bogen then you get a ball base. This ball base is sold with the triopd legs, not the head! Nobody else does it this way.

If you have a Bogen head but no ball base you can order one from Bogen. Don't let them sell you the #3114 100mm bowl interface as this is exactly the opposite of what you need.

If you have a Bogen or other head with a flat base, then I say, get into the 'Eighties! Yep, that's when ball levelling became standard, like 1982. So you should probably buy a new set of legs, but keep your head if you like it.

Which head do I like?

If cost is no object, my overall favorite is the Cartoni C20s. I might like the new OConnor stuff if I had a chance to try them (though the controls are in weird places but maybe they are in better places than I'm used to) and the Sachtler Video 18/20 stuff is superb as are the Studio series. Miller is right up there too - might be the real bargain. I know guys with Vinten that love them - I haven't tried them. For a lightweight head, I like the operation and value of the Cartoni Focus.

Really, this is like asking, "which is the best car?" Today, all heads are really good and smooth. You just have to find one that suits you.

This brings us to sticks.

Tripod Legs and the SEVEN Jib XL

The Seven Jib XL is designed to work on the sticks - tripod legs - you already have. You don't need to buy a special set if your sticks have a 75mm or 100mm bowl at the top, or if you have a tripod or dolly with a Mitchell top. The base of the Seven Jib has steps and will automatically fit. It rests on the flat top of all these legs. If you have 150mm sticks just order the 150 adapter plate that screws to the base of the jib.

But - will your legs take the weight? If you have a RED One or Alexa or F35 then you will likely have well over 100 pounds on you sticks. The camera and head will probably be about 35 pounds and the jib is another 22 and then you'll need about 75 pounds of counterweight. So, you now have more than 100 pounds on the top of your sticks. So, you have to determine if your legs can take it.

Virtually all 150mm bowl legs, being large and beefy, have no problem. Ditto for Mitchell topped sticks which were usually designed to take big Mitchell BNCs or Panavisions, etc. The Ronford legs are legendary for strength and toughness. Some 75mm and 100mm sticks are kind of faint at heart, especially the two stage, carbon fiber units that are great for mountain climbing but not so great for supporting jibs.

Here's a good test - take your head off your sticks and sit on your legs. This will give you an idea of how the legs are doing, and if one of the leg locks starts to slide you can hop off before any damage is done. How'd it go? Did it feel nice and solid or like your grandma's rickety old dining room chairs? If it felt loose, if your leg locks aren't strong or you have a two stage set of sticks with 6 leg locks total and things are kind of iffy with your behind up there, then you might want to get a strong or set of legs, try our Jib Stand. This is our modification to an Ultimate Speaker Stand, and it has a 150 pound rating.

Now, a word about weight. One hundred pounds up on your sticks sounds like a lot, but this isn't bad, as the weight is perfectly balanced on top of the sticks - the center of the swing axis of the jib, and where all the weight is, is right in the very center of the sticks, if the top of your tripod is close to level. Nothing on the tripod wants to tip the rig over, like when you have your camera tilted forward on the fluid head without the jib, because everything is balanced with the jib.

So, this is the first thing:

Level Your Sticks

Get a shorty carpenter's level from Home Depot or Lowe's or wherever and decide where you want to set up the jib. Spread out the sticks, remove the head, then eyeball the top of the tripod. Adjust the legs until the top is pretty close to level, then check with the carpenter's level. It doesn't have to be dead on, remember, because you can fine level the head at the end of the Seven Jib. Watch out! Other jibs don't have ball levelling - they expect you to get your sticks perfectly level. The head just sits flat on their cheap end plates. The Seven Jib has a cast/machined T356 aircraft aluminum bowl on the end that lets you level your head just like on your sticks.

Now, why don't I build a bubble level into the jib? Because it's much easier to level the top of your sticks before you put the jib on them. So you need a separate level. I could sell you one for $10 but you would then go to Home Depot some time and see it for $5.50 and get mad at me. So, just buy one yourself. Then you can get a lot of other stuff you need, like some A.C. cords, and some moving blankets ...

So now your sticks are pretty much level. Unfold and mount the jib. You can see my friend Dee Dee do this in our demo video.

One tip: use a chair or apple box to rest the camera end of the jib on when you set it up. You can put the bowl end on the floor but then you have to bend over to mount the head and camera and level the head and it's harder when you have to bend over.

Put a 20 or 25 pound barbell weight on the weight bar, and tighten the nuts to it. This will pre-load the jib and keep the hinged main bar rigid while you mount the head and camera. Make sure that the pan and tilt locks on the head are tightened. Then add more weights until you have the rig balanced.

The Seven Jib uses standard barbell weights - not the Olympic kind with the larger hole, but the standard kind with the 1" hole that you can find at sporting goods stores for about 35 cents a pound. Get three 25 pounders for the average full digital cine camera. For a Canon 5D, 7D, Panasonic GH1, etc you might only need a single 25 pounder. You can fine balance by slowing rotating the whole weight stack on the main bar. It has an Acme thread and by turning the weights like you would a steering wheel you can perfectly fine balance the rig.

Now you can shoot. But first, you can re-level your tripod head if needed. Sometimes you need to make the head un-level to make the shot look right, usually because of lens distortion. Or maybe you want things to look funky.

A few tips: the Seven Jib is smooth as silk. The new radial needle bearing in the base and sintered bronze tilt bearings assure this. You'll float your camera around with the sligtest touch. Set your couterbalance on your fluid head as you normally would, then set your tilt and pan drags very light. If you set them heavy you will move the whole jib when you try to pan or tilt instead of just the head. I like a 2 setting on a 7 plus 7 type head, usually.

Shooting Ideas

After spending a few years with the Seven Jib, I have come up with a few shots that really pay off. One is to set the jib to fly over or past something - I adjust the jib so that the camera lens just about hits the subject, but not quite. Then I push the jib past it, back and forth, untill I get the lighting right and the focus pull figured out. I lock the tilt so that it stays where I put it. Then I hit record or the runbutton and push the jib past. It goes right where it did the last time, in practice, and is very dramatic.