The EZ FX Jib is a video crane, boom, and full-motion camera platform all rolled into one cost-effective product. EZ FX is a small, innovative company based in central Florida that I discovered in a small booth at NAB. It's a typical “build a better mousetrap” company, with solid, unique, cost-effective products.
The company has two main products, the EZ FX Jib and the EZ FX Junior Jib, along with lots of options to help you configure your crane and support system the way you want. Extensions can add 4ft. or 6ft. to the height and reach of the arm. The company also makes remote controls, motorized pan/tilt/zoom control heads, dollies, monitoring options, and more.
With this versatility, you can put together a rig that will create cool jib movements — like those you see in major motion pictures — with minimal effort and without any panning, tilting, zooming, or focusing of your camera. And, of course, there's the reasonable price of the EZ FX Jib.
For testing I used the EZ FX Jib and the EZ FX Jib Handle on top of two different tripods and with two different videocameras. I used a professional-strength Bogen tripod and a heavy-duty Sachtler tripod, both with fluid heads. I shot with a JVC KY-27 full-size camera with a Betacam back and a smaller Sony VX1000 three-chip DV camera.
Setup is quick (less than five minutes with practice) and easy once you know what goes where. For one of the tripods, I used the optional 75mm ball adapter so I could fit the jib onto the smaller head properly. There are also special setup steps for those using center-column tripods.
I used some weights from my barbell set for counterweights to help balance the camera. When working with the jib, balance is crucial. If you add an LCD or other type of monitor to the operator's end of the jib, you'll need to add even more weight for balance. If your camera is front-heavy with a large lens, then you'll need to work that much harder to get smooth movement. Your camera will be less tiring to use the better it is balanced, so experiment with various weight settings. But be careful of the dangers of over-tipping! The idea is to achieve a sort of neutral buoyancy so your camera will float easily through each move.
The EZ FX Jib arm itself is rather heavy at 24lbs., but the unit's four-column design results in a camera support with maximum stability and minimal wobble. High-quality internal bearings and bushings ensure incrediblly smooth movement. The construction of high-grade aluminum makes it lightweight but rugged. Covered in textured, non-reflective black, it's ready to go for full-size cameras up to 50lbs. If you're using a smaller DV camera, you'll need the special mounting plate.
With minimal practice, smooth lifts and rotations were easily accomplished. I set up at a local music event, and right away folks were impressed — onlookers as well as clients. I kept the camera lens at its wide-angle setting for best results. Self-leveling jib shots allow a wide variety of camera moves with no panning or zooming of the actual camera. Imagine being able to start from a close-up in the foreground then move up above to an overhead shot (or vice versa). And it's all done smoothly with no shake or roughness due to the well-engineered hardware. Mastering the arm's locking mechanisms for lift and swivel is essential for both smoothness and safety.
Moving low to high and vice versa with the EZ FX Jib is great, but better yet are simulated dolly moves — 360 degrees with no lift. This allows the shooter to follow a subject in a full circle for a very cool shot. I could see charging clients a little extra for its use