The ProAm USA Orion DVC210 crane is a $299 camera crane available in 8′ or 12′ lengths. It works exceptionally well for the price and form factor.
The Orion assembles in just a few minutes with no tools. You’ll need some counterweights to put on the opposite end of your camera in order to balance the load. I added a couple of plates from my weight set, which work very well. If you don’t have weight plates, you can use sandbags or you can pick up some five and ten pound plates for cheap at a local Wal-mart or Target. You can also find them on Amazon.
The camera can be mounted directly to the crane or you can attach a tripod head and then mount the camera to the head. It can handle cameras up to 10lbs, so it will accommodate some fairly large packages.
The feature that I love the most about the Orion DVC210 is the available 360° panning bearing base mount, which attaches directly to a 3/8″ screw commonly found on tripod legs. This base mount ships in some of the DVC210 packages (but runs $60 if not included) and eliminates the need to mount the crane on a tripod head unit. Because the base mount only pans (and it pans very smoothly), there is no concern with locking the tilt of a tripod head. Just drop the crane onto a tripod equipped with this base mount and you are ready to roll.
In fact, anyone using other of the cheap cranes out there will find this panning base mount very helpful as well. You can pick up the mount by itself here on Amazon.
Overall, the crane functions quite well. It is plenty sturdy for working with DSLRs.
I mounted it on a Vanguard Auctus Plus tripod, which handled it with ease. Of course, the Vanguard can handle loads up to 40lbs, so it doesn’t have to be mounted on such a heavy duty tripod since the max camera, crane and counterweight load is going to be in the 30lbs range. Of course, if you’re using a lighter camera and lighter counterweights, it will be even less.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwyXzHMP3pM&w=700]
You can maintain a level camera throughout the range of the crane’s movement, or use the built-in tilt handle to change the camera’s tilt in order to keep a subject in view as you jib up or down. The tilt handle has no dampening, so it definitely takes some practice to get accustomed to. Even after you have practiced with it, you probably won’t pull a perfect tilt every time. However, the fact that a $300 crane has a tilt handle at all is a big plus.
There is not much to dislike when it comes to the price and performance that the Orion DVC210 gives you. ProAm offers a lifetime warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you have wanted to start using a crane in your video work, the Orion DVC210 is a great crane to consider. Learn more about it here on ProAm’s website.