Videomaker tips 001: How to use a rubber band for smoother tripod pans [Video]

I use a pair of trusty Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs combined with a 701HDV Manfrotto fluid head for video work. While both of these items have been replaced with updated versions, this tripod setup has remained a workhorse for me for almost a decade.

Tripods are useful for all sorts of things, but at their core, they’re an essential way to stabilize a camera for photos or video. Combined with a video-centric fluid head, a tripod can be used to to pull off smooth pan and tilt moves, things that can add a dynamic element to your videos. Although fluid heads can do a decent enough job on their own, there’s one trick that I’ve used consistently over the years to improve my pans, and it involves a simple and inexpensive rubber band. Watch our brief hands-on video for more details.

You can use any sort of rubber band to pull this off, but it’s better if the rubber band has some length to it and is stretchy. If you don’t have any longer rubber bands, you can tie several together.

I like to tie the rubber band to the fluid head handle so that it’s available to use at any time. From there, the technique to pull off smoother pans is straightforward. Simply pull the rubber band until the resistance causes the fluid head to move at the desired speed, and keep it there. You can slightly move your hand to add or lessen resistance in order to adjust speed.

Video walkthrough

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Indeed, it’s a very simple and somewhat rudimentary technique, but it’s effective. Do you have any tips or suggestions to add? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts.

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