This is a guest post by Jeff Berlin, a Los Angeles based photographer and cinematographer. He is a Sony Artisan and an experienced aviator.
A few years ago, I was flying an airplane called a Cirrus SR22 from Los Angeles to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras for a project. If you’re unfamiliar with this airplane, I’ve found the best way to describe it to non-pilots is to ask them to picture a 3-Series BMW but with wings. The SR22 is the best-selling single-engine piston aircraft in the world, and rightly so. And it’s a lot of fun to fly. On this one leg of that trip however, it was less fun.
I was at 9,500 feet flying from Brownsville, Texas to Veracruz, Mexico, where I was planning to stop for fuel before continuing to Merida on the Yucatan. My friend and I were admiring the view from our lofty perch… well, I was in between scans of the instruments and planning our descent into Veracruz, when I noticed an electrical anomaly annunciation on my flat panel displays. I was having an alternator failure. Having trained for instances like this, however rare they may be, I went through my memorized routines and backed my actions with checklists. I had been flying the SR22 for about five years at the time of this trip, so I knew the plane and its systems pretty well. And as we descended for MMVR, the airport at Veracruz, with the alternators disabled by their circuit breakers, and having shed as much electrical load on the airplane’s battery, we made a normal, uneventful landing, taxied to parking, and spent a couple days in Veracruz getting new alternators and a mechanic flown in so my friend and I could get on our way and continue to meet our friends in Honduras and Guatemala.
Granted, when I’m shooting a video or film, I’m not usually troubleshooting aircraft systems at 8,000 feet and trying to get safely back on the ground. But no matter, whether I’m flying an instrument approach, or working with a great crew on a creative production, I want to be conversant with my equipment to where I don’t really have to think about how to use it, I just do.
Indeed, I want to be as familiar as possible with my gear and my airplane, so I use the best gear that I’m able to own, rent, borrow, hire, whatever, and that’s why, for my Sony Alpha a7R II and a7S II cameras, I bought Tilta camera cages.
When I sit in the Cirrus, it’s very apparent that the company spent a lot of time on the ergonomics and human factors of how a pilot interacts with an airplane. It’s the same when I shoot with my camera in a Tilta cage. Ergonomics and usability matter and that was obviously not lost on the designers at Tilta. The cage is well built and finished. It’s got no sharp edges like I’ve found on cages that I’ve owned by other manufacturers. The integrity of the cage is solid when it’s loaded up two Noga arms and the two Atomos Shoguns that I often record to and use for 1st AC monitoring. Add to that the Fujinon 19-90 Cabrio that I recently mounted to my a7R II for a music video project and my rig can get pretty heavy. Now I’m not going to say that we were swinging the rig around by the top handle on the cage, we weren’t, but I was comforted by the solidity and security of the cage and on set, really appreciated the Arri rosette attachment point and the nicely carved wooden grip that sports a Run/Stop button. Great button, that!
Whenever I’m flying, or shooting, I want my gear to work, every time. I want to trust and know my gear well enough that it disappears in my hand and I can focus on the creative, or on making a perfect touchdown. With my Tilta cage, I get that perfect touchdown. — Jeff