In September 2020, amidst the restrictive backdrop of COVID-19, I embarked on a unique video project that would test both my technical skills and creative vision. Armed with a Canon 5D MkIV and a first-generation DJI Ronin video gimbal, I set out to capture an unrehearsed dance performance, a task that proved to be both challenging and enlightening.

The Challenge of Calibration

One of the initial hurdles I encountered was understanding the calibration behavior of the gimbal. The DJI Ronin, with its manual slides on the standards and rails, required precise adjustments to achieve optimal balance. This process was intricate, demanding patience and a steady hand. Despite referring to the manual and online resources, it took several attempts to fine-tune the gimbal’s settings. However, this learning curve ultimately improved my understanding of the equipment, enhancing my overall capability to manage it in future projects.

Embracing the Flashlight Mode

I quickly developed a preference for using the gimbal in flashlight mode. This mode, where the gimbal is held horizontally like a flashlight, allowed for greater flexibility and creative angles. Tracking the model’s fluid, spontaneous dance movements was a thrilling experience. The unstructured nature of the performance demanded constant adjustments and quick thinking, pushing me to stay fully engaged and adaptive.

Navigating COVID-19 Constraints

The project came together under tight constraints. With only a week from inception to the actual shoot, prompted by a last-minute cancellation by another photo studio, the pressure was on. COVID-19 restrictions further complicated the planning, limiting our access to locations and requiring strict adherence to safety protocols. Despite these challenges, the shoot proceeded smoothly, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of everyone involved.

Technical Adjustments and Considerations

To maximize the dynamic range of the dance movements, I set the camera lens wide at standard HD resolution. This choice allowed for slow-motion and speed-up effects during post-production, adding a layer of visual interest to the final video. Although the Canon 5D MkIV offers 4K resolution, it was not a feasible option for this project due to resolution limitations and the camera’s 30-minute video clip restriction. This limitation, while sufficient for social media content, posed potential challenges for longer events like weddings.

The Weight Factor

One of the most significant physical challenges was the combined weight of the camera and gimbal. The setup was notably front-heavy, leading to considerable back and arm fatigue over the course of the shoot. This experience underscored the importance of considering the ergonomics of the equipment, especially for extended filming sessions.

Post-Production Reflections

Reflecting on the project, I realized that this type of video work might be better suited to lighter video cameras, such as those found in high-quality smartphones, paired with gimbals designed specifically for them. These setups not only reduce physical strain but also offer advanced features like 4K and 8K resolution, which provide greater flexibility in post-production cropping and editing. Additionally, these devices often handle heat buildup more effectively, making them more suitable for longer shoots.


This project was a valuable learning experience, highlighting the importance of equipment calibration, the benefits of different shooting modes, and the necessity of considering both the physical and technical demands of the gear. Moving forward, I will continue to explore lighter, more efficient setups while applying the lessons learned from this unforgettable shoot. The blend of technical challenges and creative freedom made this project a true test of skill and adaptability, reinforcing the idea that sometimes the most constrained circumstances can lead to the most rewarding outcomes.

Fashion design by Mila Solonnikov of Poshfair, Orleans Ottawa at the Orchardview wedding venue. Videos moved to Vimeo web server on June 20, 2024. Video was not used in social media promotion.