I heard from Cal Mitchener in Charlotte, NC yesterday. First of all Cal reports that his years of hard work focusing on great customer service and quality work are paying off. He says his business is very successful, and he's doing 3 to 5 shoots a day (shoots all day and does post all night). He no longer promotes his business yet, gets a continuous stream of direct referrals. He's raised his prices this year and expects to raise them again at the end of the year.
One thing that Cal was particularly excited about his new Gitzo Series 5 and how easy it lets him shoot elevated exterior shots. Cal also uses the Gitzo Rapid Center Column to get his Nikon D4 w/14-24mm up to 14 feet.
In Cal's words:
This thing is AMAZING! I can now easily do elevated (up to 14’) shots anywhere with the same equipment I always use. Granted the Gitzo sticks and center column are near $2K, but I am generating so much income from the equipment I don’t mind spending it.
I use a Manfrotto 405 geared head in combination. I have been charging extra for 24’ WonderPole shots, but used a extra long Gitzo for up to 8’ as standard equipment. I only charge for WonderPole currently. I can do elevated shots so effortlessly now, I do them whenever I need to at no extra charge. Things like this aren’t lost on my clients, who get concierge level service from me.
The center column is the beautiful part, as you set the sticks to height you can just see bubble level. The column then can extend another 4-5 ft. It does have a bit of flex in it when extended. I let it sit still for 30-45 sec to stabilize before remotely triggering the camera with a pair of Pocket Wizards. I use a D4 w/ Nikkor 14-24 UWZ lens that is very heavy. That may be a contributor to flex issue.
Bottom line, I love the tripod despite the extra weight. The ultimate versatility in tripods and you should see the clients see me unleash this beast!
This is certainly not the cheapest approach to doing elevated shots, but it sounds like it is a really easy, effective method. I'd feel much better about putting several thousand dollars of DSLR and glass on this rig than most poles I've seen. Thanks Cal for the description!