The Zamboni belt: keeping everything to hand for news and doc shooters

hipshotbelt

I’ve fielded a few emails from other shooters about my HipShot belt after they catch a glimpse of it in action. Utility belts can be the butt of many jokes (where is Batman to back you up when you need him?) but they are important pieces of kit for news and documentary shooters.

We operate outside the studio environment and often times cannot just pop back to our vehicle to grab an extra battery or a different lens. You need to bring everything you might need with you and be able to access it quickly to catch those moments as they unfold. There is no take two.

The Zamboni belt

I had been using pouches on a standard belt since I first began shooting but it wasn’t until I saw what Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Director of photography Zach Zamboni was using in an online lecture that I started to re-think my own approach.

 

 

Zamboni proudly whips out his “shooting platform” at a Rule Boston Camera Pub Night (TC 39:05-41:40 in the video above) and explains in detail why he “loves it”  and why it helps him when he is shooting.

 

Belt envy? Try this

The Zamboni belt in action
First shoot using the Zamboni-inspired HipShot belt in India for VICE News. (April 2015).

After watching Zamboni describe the build of his belt I started to build a version of my own. It’s been two years since I first assembled mine and I now cannot shoot without it. It has saved my body from struggling to handhold hundreds of table-level interviews and it is perfect for those situations where you need to shoot surreptitiously from the hip.

To save you all a bit of time in assembling your own I’ve put together a list of links where to purchase the core parts of the what I am calling the “Zamboni Belt.”

Spencer’s “Zamboni Belt” kit list

HipShot (HipShot.tv) – $315 US

  • Specialty product invented in 2002 by Andrea Cranach, a ENG/Reality TV camera operator.
  • If you call or email them directly prior to placing the order you can order the HipShot without the belt they provide and save some money off the purchase price.

VTAC Brokos Belt (VikingTactics.com) – $119 US

  • The sizing depends on if you want a three or six inch gap in the front.
  • I bought an XL belt (I wear a 33 pant size) giving me three inch gap in front. This gives me closer to 360 degrees of real estate to mount pouches and accessories and places the HipShot in the directly on my right hip.

Dive Belt (Amazon.com) – $25 US

  • Gives you a quick release in and out of your gear belt and the ability to tighten it around different clothing (winter jackets for example) without having to adjust a traditional buckle.

Newswear Pouches (Newswear.com) – Approx. $25 US each

  • I have one Large Press Pouch (for a Canon 70-200mm) and one Regular Press Pouch (Canon 24-105mm, or fits a full V-Mount/Gold Mount battery) and was given an iPhone pouch last time I placed an order for free which I keep my phone and lens paper in.
  • You can use other pouches but Newswears fold flat and I find they are better for traveling as I can pack my belt inside my tripod/grip case.
  • I also have a Tiffen Filter Pouch (B&HPhoto.com)to hold filters, lens caps, lav mics, etc.

 

The Zamboni belt
The belt in action while filming the dismantling of ”The Jungle” in Calais, France (Fall 2016).

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