When I started shooting skateboarding photos and videos I realized that the conventional way of looking through the viewfinder, even a nice articulating viewfinder like on my Lumix GX8, just wasn’t ideal.
I needed something that would be easier to follow the skaters with.
- Something that would work for both still photos and videos.
- Something that wasn’t so close to my body.
- Something that had the reach of a selfie-stick, but for a bigger camera.
I found this cheap plastic Opteka X-Grip on amazon. For $20 USD it was worth the risk to test it out. And it comes in many colours, so of course I had to get the orange one!
Here are some of the features of the X-Grip:
- It’s light and sturdy
- It will work with any camera that has a standard tripod mount
- Foam handle with grip pattern
- Rubberized pad – for shock resistance and so your camera doesn’t slip
- Your camera can be positioned anywhere along the grip
- The grip itself can also be mounted on a tripod or monopod
- There are rubberized pads on the bottom base. I have used this base to take selfie videos and photos as well.
- Removable cold shoe on the top for mounting a small light or microphone
- Three extra mounting points to tie other accessories onto
How I hold it to shoot video
Once your video is recording, you can go one-handed with the grip. You can follow your subject along in a panning motion. If you’re skateboarding you can ride beside the skater and get a nice low point of view.
How I hold it to shoot stills
For still photos I tend to hold it at waist level, with my right hand index finger on the shutter button. Yes, I could get a remote shutter, but I’m a keep it simple kind of gal, and this works just fine. I view the image area in my LCD screen and keep the subject in frame.
Whether shooting stills or video, you’ll get used to holding it. If you have a mirrorless camera, you won’t have a lot of weight to deal with either.
I use this grip with my Lumix 7-14mm wide angle lens. It’s ideal for shooting those sports where you can get up close to your subject. With a short focal length lens, you don’t really have to worry too much about focus, because you’ll get deep depth of field. Plus with my Lumix GX8, the focus is super fast and accurate.
I wouldn’t use this type of set up with a long lens, as you’d likely get some camera shake. A long lens is more suited to a monopod or tripod.
For comparison, I also tried the HitCase selfie stick and extra wide angle lens for my iPhone 6s. I personally found holding a camera steady at the end of a stick much harder than holding onto my X-Grip. Plus the video and photo quality is much better on my real camera, so I soon abandoned the iPhone option.
The HitCase package I got cost $100, so for $20 the X-Grip is a steal.
If you’re looking to change up and improve your sports and action photography, give this $20 piece of plastic a try.
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