Indispensable Kit

Ask any wildlife cameraman what their favourite item of kit is and you will probably receive a different answer each time.  For some it is a lens, for others a tripod head, and for many it is a camera.

This is going back a few years to when the BBC NHU organised a series of HD courses for wildlife camera people.  Akin to most courses, this one came with a pile of paper to take home and forget.  There was one piece of paper that I still hang on to though, for sentimental reasons.  It was a list of items that a cameraman might like to own personally, on the assumption that everything else would come from a hire shop.  On the list was this little item: –

Zoom demand, on-off and review.

This is the Libec ZC 9 Pro.  It is one of my favourite kit bits.  It is simply a unit that clamps very firmly to a tripod handle, plugs into the zoom demand connection of most HD lenses (adaptors are available), and allows your tripod fingers to operate the zoom, on-off, and return functions of the camera and lens combination.  There is a switch so that you can select either Canon or Fujinon lens operation.  I think the price has remained around £160 for as long as I can recall.  Now I have two of them, one of which only does the on-off bit, as I seem to have strained one of the intricately soldered wires at the connector end.

There are other zoom demands, but I have grown to like this little unit.  When you are using a telephoto zoom in a rapidly changing situation it is a definite bonus not to have to remove your left hand from the focus ring.  Removing then replacing that hand to change framing via the zoom ring or simply to re-find a subject almost inevitably causes unwanted vibration.  In my experience it’s best to leave it there when subjects are moving around.  It’s a different matter when the subject is stock still.  The ZC 9 also prevents groping around for the on-off switch, which can save vital micro seconds at crucial times.  £160 does seem a lot for a small switch, but it is extremely well made and well worth the money.  I think the connector itself is called an 8-pin pro ENG connector, and I would like to find a supplier for one as I can see a soldering job coming up.  I can’t blame the unit for failing, sometimes I forget that it is connected as I yank the camera off the tripod and the connector takes the full brunt of the tug… can’t be good for it!