I haven't worked for 9 and a half months in the past 12.
I've had doctors' appointments, MRIs, x-rays, surgery on my shoulder, exercise therapy, physiotherapy, water therapy, forms to fill in, light duties [joke]... a lot of stress and aggravation. At one stage there were 5 medical professionals hovering around in the background of my life!
Reason- our gear is TOO HEAVY!
In Australia there's a national code of manual handling which most industries and companies seem to adhere to. The code stipulates that a person shouldn't lift more than 16Kgs without help.
I work with a Panasonic DVC Pro and Sachtler sticks which all up is around 18 Kgs. That's the every day situation. But sometimes a sungun gets put on the camera or a Lectro radio mic receiver or an extra battery. Now we're talking closer to 20Kgs.
When I covered the tsunami in Thailand 5 years ago, I was regularly loaded up with about 25Kgs.

It takes its toll!

What I want to know is, can anyone suggest alternative gear that isn't so heavy and will do the job?
I wonder why I'm using a 9kgs DVC Pro shooting at 25Mbps and not 50Mbps which it's capable of. Will another camera give me the same results as my Panasonic if it's working flat out rather than at half speed?

I've already found the Sony PMW-350L
which is 6.3 kg (13 lb 14 oz) (with LCD VF, AF lens, Mic, battery)

and legs by Cartoni with a fluid head with a 100mm ball base supporting up to 10kgs coming in at 5.4kgs.

So, that gets me from 18kgs to 11.7 [and probably way out of injury range]

If you're older you'll know what I'm talking about [I'm 55], if you're younger, you should be taking an interest in this as well because it's gonna turn around and bite you one day!

If you think cameras have to be heavy to give you a nice steady shot off the shoulder, I say that's bull****.
One of my first cameras back in the 70's was an Eclair ACL. With a 200ft magazine this thing was tiny and the favorite camera of all time for me. Nothing better for shooting news and current affairs which is what I do! That camera weighed a tick over 4.5Kgs....
didn't record sound but I'm not a sound man! The networks have been enjoying the benefits of loading up one guy to do everything but I've found out that it comes with a price.
You're knackered with nowhere to go before your time!


A friend of mine who's 47 has just been paid out by his network because his elbow is stuffed.
13 months off work, surgery etc. and shown the door. And , no, the payout is not great!
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I've known this was in my future since I was an intern. I still remember sitting down with the Cheif Editor while he pointed out all the photogs that just got back from surgery. One guy's knees, another's lower back, yet another's shoulder (or maybe it was his elbow). And those were just the guys who had recently gotten fixed.

But I'm looking for the other side of the solution. I realise that It'll be a long time before I have much control over the gear I use, so what I want to know is if there's any work-outs or exercise routines I can do that will help prevent these injuries. Have any of you folks who've been at this for years found a regimine that would postpone, if not prevent, the need for costly surgery and painful rehab?


Active member
Sorry to bear difficult news, but its likely that management will get past those rules by saying carry one item at a time. We know its not practical, but that's the way management thinks. There are other cameras and gear, but you'll loose some of the things bigger cameras bring to the table. (ie: bigger imaging chips, better lenses, etc.)
You could always ask your producer or reporter to help out by carrying the sticks, or run bag. If all else fails get a cart. You might even be able to talk your bean counters into paying for it, with the right approach. We use the Blue Max from these guys.
With respect, I think your attitude is part of the problem. Let's bend over and take it!
As I said, most industries in Australia adhere to safety regs like the 16Kg rule. Couple months ago I was on a mine site. They are anal about safety. Which is probably better than not being anal.
I would love management to tell me to carry one thing at a time. Because that would last about a day and a half.
Reporters carrying gear? They help out a bit but they can't shoot for you. It's the hundreds of lifts a day that do the damage. If you think I'm exaggerating, I once counted the times I picked up the camera and sticks on a simple shoot to get some file vision of a shopping centre exterior.
27... that's 27 times 18Kgs= 486Kgs, and the day was only just beginning! A gym junkie would love it!

I've heard the bigger camera argument. I don't think it washes for news and current affairs. As I said, I shoot with a camera that can record at 50Mbps, we only ever shoot at 25Mbps.
And if you think you need a bigger camera to have all the nice chips and lenses..... PMW-350L

That weighs 6.3Kgs, our managemnt is looking at XD 510, closer to 10Kgs. And why is that? Because engineers who never use the gear, get out their slide rules... sorry, scientific calculators.... and decide what's best for us!

As damn near every doctor I visited said, "How come everything else is getting smaller and your gear stays the same?"


Always shoot with the camera on a tripod! It will help save your back and shoulder, not to mention it just looks better. Don't listen to any dumbass managers or reporters who tell you they want "active" standups and live shots.

You could also get a collapsable pull cart for your gear. Those come in quite handy for those airport, hospital type shoots where you have to park and lug everything around great distances. Of course, you'll probably have to pay for the cart out of pocket, but your back will thank you 20 years from now.


Well-known member
I've always thought I was immune to injury because I am in good physical condition. I was a competitive rower and cyclist for a long time. Now, I'm mid thirties and have a kid. I work out less. And, these last two years started shooting a lot of reality programming. It is all shoulder, all day.

The cameras are heavy, the directors don't want you on sticks, and you are running to keep up all the time. It is a good workout but it takes it's toll. I've two muscles on my right side shoulder which are giving me problems now.

There are two remedies (besides not shooting on the shoulder): work out more and insist on rest if tired. I have a need to keep in the gym... I'm seeing that as truly essential to my physical health in this industry.

Insisting on rest is using sticks if you need to, setting the camera down for 10 minutes and stretching, not standing in one position for too long. Most people I work with understand the need and want you to be ready when needed... so they sometimes insist I rest.

Maybe this applies to your situation, maybe not. But it helps me. I feel the number one thing you can do is stay in good shape. Hauling around a gut and a camera is not the answer...


Well-known member
Have any of you folks who've been at this for years found a regimine that would postpone, if not prevent, the need for costly surgery and painful rehab?

Shouldering a camera puts strain on your back because the weight isn't evenly distributed. I find that swimming tends to work all the muscles in my back evenly and get all the kinks out. It also works ALL the muscles, whereas weight training tends to isolate muscles and can give you an uneven workout if you don't know what you're doing.

I think butterfly does the most good for my back, but not everyone can do it. The trick is to use your whole body to wriggle through the water rather than just your arms. It can be a hell of a workout. Freestyle (crawl) works fine if you concentrate on making long strokes that are the same on both sides, not lopsided.

One warning: You don't want to trade one injury for another. If you have shoulder problems, such as a rotator cuff injury or bursitis, you will want to be careful not to overdo it in the pool. You can mess up your shoulders if you're careless. Don't try to swim with paddles or gloves on your hands, because those just beg for inflammation in the shoulder joints.


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I agree about the weight taking a toll. My knees suck. To alleviate the pain I workout doing cardio that uses my knees and I work the back. I also will not push myself very hard, two trips is better than a pulled back. When shooting handheld I rest and stretch when I can. I think part of the problem is we always seem to be in a rush. Forget the rush. So you shoot 2 stories instead of 3. Your back and knees will thank you down the road.


Well-known member
Come to my neck of the woods, Grasshopper. Lug all that gear up a ski slope, with half a foot of fresh powder, at 11,000' elevation, because the ski patrol has all the snowmobiles tied up hauling Texans to waiting ambulances.

PS: Thank you, Sachtler, for carbon fiber sticks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Active member
Thank you for your respect. You're right, management expects us to take it or they'll hire somebody cheaper. That's been a long time argument in the US for years. Review the many posts on VJ's or OMB's, etc....
We too are governed by rules set forth by OSHA. After more than 20 years shooting, running trucks, and being around high RF, I can't even tell you where the safety manuals are or the last time we had a safety seminar. I do remember, almost 10 years ago, all our computer monitors were "raised" to eye level. We were told it was an OHSA requirement. Do you know how they raised those computer screens? They bolted old, empty 3/4" large format tape boxes together and placed those fancy monitors on top!
As for reporters, remind them you are a team. You need to work together. I'm not saying they should shoot(that's why we have VJ's, OMB's, BBJ's, etc.....), but just grab the sticks till we get to where I need to shoot. I'll take it from there, while you round up your sound. Do they want nice 3 point lighting? How are "WE" going to get the lights, tripod, camera & gear there? If they still refuse, ask them to be patient while you make a few trips to the car to get the stuff. By the way, remind them to keep up the small talk while you break down after the shoot and make several return trips to the car to stow your gear.
We use those carts, and I've never had a reporter tell me they couldn't or wouldn't carry something.
Keep positive. Its a difficult burden when others don't seem to care. The posters above have some great advice. This is why we all love Open discussion, peer pointers & awesome adventures.
cheers FEEDING
to qualify
when I said "your" attitude, I'm pointing to industry attitude....
but I think you got that :)
To be honest, I used to be the same before things started going pear-shaped.

I use a cart to transport gear from the car to location. And journos generally carry sticks or whatever to the location.
I think the problems are caused by all that is involved in shooting. Yes, the rushing doesn't help. You drop concentration on good work practices.
Good to hear some feedback on this issue here.


Well-known member
Smaller cameras aren't the answer. I never had a problem with the larger cameras. They are so well designed and ergonomic that as long I paid attention and used common sense when lifting stuff - lift with your legs not your back, etc., that I never had an issue.

It's the damn smaller cameras that have been causing me problems. Because, they're "hand held" all the weight is on your arms. Shooting for extended periods of time is just killer. I ended up having to be treated for some severe tendonitis.

Why can't someone put the smaller camera technology in a shoulder mount design?
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Well-known member
+1 Swimming.
It is a great video photog fitness exercise. Strengthens every muscle you use to shoot with the bonus of strengthening all the other ones as well. I sawm for 16 years.
I however quit swimming around the time I got this corporate gig. I am really starting to feel it in my back again so back to the pool I am going. However, you can jack your shoulders swimming but that takes years of doing it wrong.

edit: I should have just +1 cameradog's entire post


Well-known member
While I've never had an injury as a result of a shoot, man shoots can get challenging as a result of multiple injuries. I ddon't think about it when shooting. Maybe it's a defense machanism against pain or maybe it's just the fact that I know I'll be shooting all night ragardless. It's the drive or flight home that I start to feel it. I have a baaaaad back from 10 too many car wrecks and a bum knee from, well from being hit by a car. While my back kills, I'm use to suckin' it up then whining to my wife for a rub down later. When the knee goes though, I really hate to say I'm really close to done. I'm simply imobile when it goes and that's usually about hour 10 of a shoot, depending on if I have to run and on what terrain. If shooting drag racing, I know it's a short day because I tend to run down the quarter mile and back too fast too much. I know only one speed (hence all the injuries) and tend to over do whatever I throw myself into. I just seldom know it until after the fact. ;)
I'm always hand-held and find I brace myself on various items around me much of the time. The pillar in the bar, the wall at the track, whatever stationary object is around me. No template... just a natural instict to lighten the load.


Active member
I was on a feature piece about snowboarding a few winters ago and was placed on skis to get some movement shots with a Panasonic DVCPro on my shoulder. Threw out my back, did a month and a half of physical therapy while out on med. leave, and was fired the day I was cleared to return to work.

I think the small P2's are just as good as the big ones (in my experience anyway) for every day news gathering as long as you don't have to shoot at night. Most of the older, more experienced shooters get day shift, maybe make the small cameras the day cameras?


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I'm on my 10+ year, the biggest issue was the pod, I mean some of these things are monsters. I just took the strap from a golf bag and bang. The camera, is heavy but it's more uncomfortable to shoot on a mini. It's rough out here and out bodies will only take so much. I'm good for another 10 more. lets see


Well-known member
Don't listen to any dumbass managers or reporters who tell you they want "active" standups and live shots.
But those "dumbass" managers are the boss, and within reason, what they say goes. If the ND, or a producer, or a manager says they want movement, then you give them movement when you can. I don't know anyone in any other profession that tells the boss "no" when asked to do something.

You could also get a collapsable pull cart for your gear. Of course, you'll probably have to pay for the cart out of pocket, but your back will thank you 20 years from now.
All of our trucks have a collapsible cart, but we're more safety conscious, often to a fault. They're not that expensive. There's no reason a station shouldn't be providing them. Oh wait, that's right, stations are cheap.