Father and son team Charles and Jake Riddel have developed a unique new tripod head. The Hitch Hiker is a “balanced-motion” tripod head designed to provide smooth two-axis panning, precise control, and accurate photo composition. Coupled with their background in engineering, the idea came from their experience with astronomy, where precision movement is key for viewing and research. With a scheduled released of March 2017, the duo is currently seeking to raise money for production and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their project.
The key feature of the Hitch Hiker is what Charles and Jake refer to as “balanced motion”. This allows the unit to perform up and down motions without fighting gravity. To accomplish this, the Hitch Hiker shifts the payload up/down as well as fore/aft. Unlike many tripod heads, this also allows for the unit to not require locking to hold a position. Control is done by levers that allow users to fine-tune the feel of the axes for a variety of situations. The all-around rotation also makes it a potential choice for video enthusiasts, as the rotation mimics the panning and titling common on video-focused tripod heads. The head supports a variety of tools from cameras to spotting scopes, binoculars, and small telescopes. It can accommodate most cameras and lens systems weighing up to 7lbs. The unit itself only weighs 2.5 pounds, with its light weight being attributed to the use of a machined, aircraft-grade alloy.
Other cool features of the head are the ability to aim equipment straight-up or straight-down without gravity-induced flopping, an engraved azimuth scale for spacing panaromic photos, lever-operated quick-plate clamp built into the platform, and additional options such as an ARCA-Swiss quickplate and plate locking mechanism.
While I don’t find myself using a tripod as often these days (or as often as I probably should), I really like the Hitch Hiker’s premise. Precise control is always a plus, and if the head is as light weight and versatile as claimed, I think it will be a great alternative to more traditional tripod heads specifically aimed at photographers.
The Hitch Hiker by Charles and Jake Riddel will release in March 2017. To get more information or to support their project, check out their Kickstarter campaign here.