PH-111V by Vanguard

I have been using the Vanguard PH-111V for the last two years and for the most part it has served me well.  I want to start by saying that I am in no way affiliated with Vanguard and I am not getting paid for this review.  This is simply my thoughts on what this fluid head has to offer to the outdoor videographer. 

First and foremost, this fluid head’s price point is very reasonable compared to other fluid heads in the market.  On Amazon, the PH-111V runs at only $70.  The words “Cheap” and “fluid head” don’t belong in the same sentence.  Honestly, this was the best I could find as far as quality and low pricing.  So let’s dive into some of the specs, pros and cons of the PH-111V fluid head. 

Specs

  • Compact and lightweight 2-way fluid video pan head for smaller HD camcorders
  • Dual safety lock and DIN standard quick shoe (QS-36 included)
  • Handle with rubber grip can be installed from the front or back
  • Smooth pan and frontal tilt +60 ~ -90 degrees
  • 360-degree rotation
  • Supports up to 4.4 pounds
  • Product weight: 14.1 ounces

Cons

  • Short Handle
  • Vertical tilt has a tendency to stick
  • Not recommended for larger sized cameras

Pros

  • Smooth panning
  • After the initial stick is out of the way- tilt is smooth
  • Great for DSLR cameras when using a small to medium size lens
  • ¼” and 3/8” fitting on the base of the head, so it is compatible with any tripod and slider
  • Weighs less than 1 lb.- very light weight

 

Overall, I purchased this fluid head for three main reasons: inexpensive price, smooth panning capabilities and its light weight.  I strongly recommend this for any beginning fluid head user. So far I have been happy with its performance, and in my opinion, the quality matches its price point. Thanks for reading and before you go, check out my review video for the Vanguard PH-111V!

 

Sons of the Hunt “Ghost” Documentary [Video]

I was scrolling through my newsfeed and couldn’t help to notice that Huntervids had featured another video on their Facebook page.  I earnestly clicked the link because I have yet to be disappointed with the exceptional stories posted by Huntervids.  There are some great storytellers out there, and Sons of the Hunt’s documentary was no exception.  I enjoy documentaries over “Big Buck Videos” because there is more involved than just the actual hunt itself.  In my opinion, it’s much more meaningful and authentic.  From start to finish I was engaged and their story was well told.  I found myself quite moved by their experiences and I am sure that was their intention when they created the film.  However, and maybe I am alone in thinking this, I found myself mulling over a number of thoughts regarding their process to produce this documentary. After finishing the film, I felt moved and inspired but I had to learn more about the three friends who told an amazing story of their 2014 deer season.

Self-Film

Sons of the Hunt was built on a strong friendship between three friends that had a common goal of piecing together their stories from the field.  Mark Misura’s encounter and successful harvest of a well-known buck in his community sparked his interest in filming his own hunts.  Driven by his passion for hunting and filming, Mark reached out to his good friends Mitchell Pope and Bryan Filarsky with the idea of documenting their deer hunting stories to inspire others.  Both Mark and Mitchell have had great success in the woods and both show the same strong passion for deer hunting.  Bryan, having a major in graphic design, is well versed in videography and photography.  With this background, Bryan was able to successfully advise Mark and Mitchell on what cameras to use and how to use them to tell their story.  With their skill sets combined, they made a great team and managed to produce a noteworthy story.  It is amazing what can happen when talented people work together towards a common goal. 

 

I was very impressed by the footage quality and what they used to film their hunts.  Bryan made a bold recommendation for Mark and Mitchell is purchase DSLR cameras as opposed to a much more user-friendly HD camcorder.   If you have never worked with a DSLR camera, very few are compatible with remotes or zoom controllers; making it difficult to focus or zoom in while self-filming.  However, the quality of the picture is unmatched at a price-point compared to other camcorders, so the team decided to use DSLRs to self-film their hunts. 

 

Mark’s Camera Equipment:MitchBuck

-Canon 70D

-Muddy Outdoor Camera Arm with silent strap

 

Mitchell’s Camera Equipment:

-Nikon D3200

-Muddy Camera Arm with silent strap

 

Crazy right? At least I think so.  I’m sure most of you reading have shot deer right? Cool.  Well try shooting a rutted up whitetail buck AND capture your hunt on film with a DSLR that you can only focus or zoom by manually adjusting the lens.  During the documentary, I noticed that they were using DSLRs and didn’t see any remotes or zoom controllers.  If someone advised me to strictly use a DSLR to self-film my hunt I would be in serious doubt that I could be successful.

 

 Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks that successfully self-filming with a DSLR is nearly impossible.  Mitchell experienced some adversity of his own when an unnamed local hunter and videographer learned that he would be attempting to self-film with a DSLR.  Mitchell told this unnamed person about their task and the unnamed person’s insight was, “You’ll never be able to do it”- ultimately deeming their mission unachievable.  Needless to say, he was proven wrong when both Mitchell and Mark managed to harvest more than respectable whitetail bucks on film. There’s proof at the end of this article- just press play.  I am a huge fan of the underdog in any story.  Mostly because I have often been the underdog myself.  Nothing is more gratifying than defying the negative words of the “nay-sayers”.

 

How they managed to capture these hunts on film is quite impressive, to say the least.  Mark informed me that both he and Mitchell took the time to practice and fully understand how their cameras work.  Prior to the start of the deer season, Mark and Mitchell practiced zooming and anticipating the distance of their desired target.  I think this a great example of getting to know your camera.  Mark and Mitchell saw the importance of this, and with the help and guidance from Bryan, they were able to become sufficient at anticipating the distance of an animal in shooting range.  You will see in the documentary that their offseason dedication really paid off when the moment of truth arrived. 

 

The guys at “Sons of the Hunt” took on the challenge of self-filming and overcame the many obstacles that come with it.  This team is a perfect example of what three friends can do when they work together and feed off of each other’s strengths.  Like many others, I truly enjoy reading, listening or watching the stories of other hunters.  The storyline of their deer hunting season alone is something to appreciate.  But as a fellow self-filmer, I really admire the work and talent behind a production such as “Ghost”.  I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the Sons of the Hunt’s work and if you have any questions for these guys you can look them up on Facebook. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this featured production just as much as I did.    

 

 

Solo-Cam Profile: Greg Litzinger’s Self-Filming Success On Public Ground [Video]

Very few accept the challenge of self-filming, and even fewer hunters become successful at it.  It requires a unique mindset and approach to hunting.  The process splits you right down the middle; focus on the hunt and give precedence to the camera.  I enjoy the challenge and I really enjoy hearing from others about their experiences with self-filming.  I managed to stumble across Greg Litzinger, a New Jersey native and die-hard solo-cam hunter, on Instagram and I started going through some of his photos.  Greg goes by @bowhunting_fiend on Instagram and he has been filming his own hunts for five years now.  His most recent harvest captured on film, which is featured in this article, really caught my eye and moved me to connect with him; and I am glad I did.

Greg not only managed to achieve the eminently coveted goal of killing an exceptional buck in frame, but he also did it on highly pressured public grounds.  After watching the video, I wanted to know more about Greg’s self-filmed hunt and his background.  I am so glad I had the chance to talk with Greg because I not only learned more about self-filming, but I also learned that you do not need a ton of money to get into this sport. 

Before diving into the facts of the hunt, I asked Greg to describe the equipment he uses.  His camera and hunting setup is listed below:

Camera Equipment

Hunting Setup

I have to give Greg some serious credit for his resourcefulness.  When Greg first got into filming his own hunts he did not want to spend a lot of money.  He bought a relatively inexpensive camera for $250, which the Canon Vixia HF 100 right now can be bought on Amazon for $79 used and $335 new, and he bought a used Lone Wolf Camera arm for $70.  In total, he got his filming career started with under $350 of camera equipment. 

Through the years, Greg made improvements to his setup after noticing some minor flaws in his equipment.  He purchased square aluminum tubing to serve as an extension for his camera arm to optimize his reach; which only cost him $3 at Home Depot.  In addition, Greg noticed that the head of the camefilmingra arm would often stick since it was not a fluid head.  So he took the camera head apart, sanded the swivel sockets and coated them with grease and- Voila! DIY fluid head.  With this simple modification, Greg turned his standard pan head into a self-made fluid head.  I was amazed at Greg’s ingenuity.  I now believe that many of the standard pan heads out on the market can be improved by simply using Greg’s clever tip.

If you are not familiar with the “run and gun” style of hunting it basically consists of throwing a stand on your back and moving in on deer aggressively.  Greg is a very aggressive hunter and it has paid off for him- he has the footage to prove it.  He is a student and follower of hunting
styles taught by guys like Dan Infalt, John
Eberhart and Greg Miller.  Three out of the last four years Greg has been able to harvest impressive public land whitetail bucks.  There is a lot of work that goes into hunting whitetails,  but there’s more work that goes into a successful whitetail hunt on public land.  Greg makes it look easy, but I can attest to the difficulties and frustrations of public land hunting. 

The name of the game is, “Go where no one else wants to go”; and Greg is very proficient at this.  For this hunt, Greg hiked for over an hour up to 1400 feet of elevation with all of his equipment into a buck bedding area.  The previous spring he had found a few buck beds with several rubs in this area.  It is not a popular tactic for hunters to move in aggressively on buck beds. But Greg gives credit to this tactic for his most recent successes in the deer woods.  “I like hunting right on top of beds”, says Greg. “When you’re hunting public, you can’t wait for perfect.”  Some might gawk at this high risk, high reward approach to hunting deer, but its effectiveness has been proven by many.  Starting off Greg made a lot of mistakes and he admitted that he didn’t spend as much time on strategy as he should have.  As time went on he got more methodical with his aggressive approach and it is now a tactic that he uses exclusively.  Getting in close proximity to where a buck spends most of his time is very difficult to do let alone capturing the entire experience on film.     

After filming for five years now, Greg voiced to me that filming is something he takes a lot of pride in.  “If I don’t bring a camera with me I feel naked”, Greg admitted.  It takes a strong commitment to bring a camera to the woods for each and every hunt.  Not many people fully understand this until they actually try it themselves.  Many people wonder why anyone would want to bring a camera to the woods.  When I asked Greg this he responded, “I want to create a timeline for myself- I want to build my story so I can show people what I did.”  I think there is a lot to be said about storytelling and creating memories.  Filming your hunts is a lot more than a bow and camera.  It’s about crafting YOUR story and inspiring people now and in the future.  Greg’s passion really shined through when we talked about our purpose and I am really glad I can share this passion with someone else.   

I learned a lot from this interview with Greg. I came away inspired and stimulated with ideas for my next public land hunting adventures.  I hope you enjoyed reading about Greg’s background and his most recent self-film success.  If you want to find Greg follow him out on Instagram @bowhunting_fiend.  And if you have any questions or feedback about the video or article use the comments section below.  Thanks for reading and enjoy Greg Litzinger’s 2015 self-filming success!

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