Compact option for adding cinematic movements to your videos.

In recent days, I have been enamored with technology innovations in video equipment. It’s an interest to me not only because I am trying to build up my own video equipment inventory, but also because it’s an area that is seeing some great improvements in design and function. As video cameras become smaller and lighter, so too does the equipment that supports it. One piece that I thought would be a benefit to our video efforts is a crane.

Crane shots are popular ways to end movies and you have probably seen them many times even if you didn’t know that is what it was called. Crane shots are made with the use of a crane, or jib, and are used to make a shot that moves up and away from a subject. Crane shots were actually used as early as the silent movie era and were used to enhance the nature of a large set and massive crowds.

iFootage Mini Crane M1 III REVIEW

For our purposes, we like to capture our product videos in various locations – sometimes in outdoor settings – and a crane can come in very handy with those set-ups. Fortunately, the crane has been modified and shrunk from it’s larger film predecessors for use in more compact situations.

iFootage has a wonderful mini crane option that I have been privileged to test out for this review. There are three models of the mini crane M Series from iFootage – M1 II, M1 III, and M5. I have been using the M1 III.

The iFootage Mini Crane M1 III has some rather impressive innovative features. For starters, the crane has a square tube design. The tubes are made from 20-layer high impact carbon fiber and square in shape to ensure strong rigidity. This is important for many reasons, but the main reason is because it will ensure the best shot possible.

iFootage Mini Crane M1 III REVIEW

The M1 III also features a tilt and hold function to maximize in-focus shooting. There is also a damping adjustment that allows you to adjust for your personal strength. This ensures that you can have the smoothest camera movement possible according to the weight you can bear.

The M1 III is compatible with any tripod. iFootage engineers designed the crane so that you can use it with a tripod that has a ball head, or a flat tripod. This is a big plus for people who already have a tripod to use with this crane (I would recommend a professional grade tripod that can bear the weight of the crane). I was able to test out the M1 III crane with the iFootage Wild Bull T5 tripod, which is a match made in heaven.

iFootage Mini Crane M1 III REVIEW

The M1 III offers the flexible tilt-up or tilt-down option with an adjustable locking sleeve. It’s actually a really nice feature because the locking sleeve is in the shape of a hand grip and iFootage made it possible so that you can adjust your level of tilt (25-degree angle possible) with one hand as you operate the crane.

With the M1 III crane, you can also mount your camera upside down to capture some really awesome low-angle shots. This is made possible by the low profile quick release adapter and ball head bowl (purchased separately from the crane package).

iFootage also included the locking buckles for quick tightening and adjustments. You can tighten the buckles on tubes if they become loose by using a wrench. I found this to be a very helpful option. It makes it possible for you to make adjustments on the fly if needed.

iFootage Mini Crane M1 III REVIEW

One of the elements of the tripod that ensure smooth movements is the high-quality bearings on the inside. These bearings also make sure that you can have a high loading capacity, too.

One of the elements of a crane that is very important is the counter balance weights. The M1 III crane has a couple of pieces included in the design help to ensure you can use weight safely – counterweight locking clamp, stainless steel fixing bolt, and a stainless steel hook. iFootage does offer a water bag as a counterweight, but it’s sold separately. Given that it’s such an important piece to the crane puzzle, I hope they reconsider how the crane is sold and begin to include the water bag, too.

I think one of the most surprising things to me with the mini crane is its weight. It weighs 3.5 kg (around 7 pounds). For its size, it seems as though it would be a lot heavier. Again, this is an important detail to consider when you add it to a tripod. You need to make sure your tripod can handle both the weight of the crane and your camera along with any other accessories.

iFootage Mini Crane M1 III REVIEW

From the moment I unwrapped the mini crane, I was impressed with the M1 III crane. It’s a very solid piece of equipment and it comes with a very well-made carrying case. The crane comes mostly assembled, but you have to put it together with your tripod and then add your camera. For me, being somewhat of a beginner with a crane, this was a new venture for me. I stumbled through the instructions, which could have been written a bit more clearly. But, once I had the apparatus assembled, standard use of the crane was fairly simple.

The M1 III crane provides very smooth, even movements as long as your operator doesn’t have a jerky arm movement. It does take some practice to be able to get the correct motion embedded into your muscle memory, but once you do, you end up with some remarkably beautiful shots.

The Mini Crane M1 III by iFootage is a wonderful investment in your production gear. It will help to enhance your video shoots and provide more options for you to use.

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