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|| News Item: Posted 2005-10-31

Getting Ready for Basketball
By Shawn Cullen

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Sports Illustrated staffer John McDonough tears down after shooting an NBA game.
Are you sure you are ready for the new Basketball season? With so many details to think about, there are always a few that get over looked. So here are some suggestions to consider in your preparations for the new season.

If you use Pocket Wizards, check to make sure you have not left old batteries in your Pocket Wizards, the last thing you need deal with are old leaking batteries. Make sure you install new ones.

Also reset your MultiMAX units to factory settings and check all cords and cables. To reset the MultiMAX to its factory settings, hold down the "C" key when turning on the unit. When the MultiMAX screen lights up it should say "CLEAR/RESET" right at the top.

With the growing number of photographers using Pocket Wizards, this might be a good time to get Custom ID's installed in to your units. For more info on getting a Custom ID programmed into your units (aka: a private channel) contact the distributor via its website:

If you set up remote cameras you should check your Super Clamps and Magic Arms to make sure they are in good working order for the new season. Super Clamps are notorious for cracking and breaking when over tightening, so make sure to check them very closely.

Also check your Magic Arms to make sure they still have the right amount of tension to hold your remote cameras, you may need to replace the washer between the arms. The washer should be the fiber material not the metal one. If you have noticed that your Magic Arm squeaks when tightening, you may need to replace the handle and/or the carriage bolt.

Both of these items can be ordered from Bogen for less than you would expect. Also check the ends of the Magic Arm to make sure the camera plate fits tight. If the ends have ware marks and the camera plates slip or do not fit tight you can order these part as well.

Simply call Bogen's part department and ask to have a schematic of all the parts for the Super Clamp and Magic Arm faxed to you, then simply order the part you need using the part numbers on the schematic. Contact information for Bogen can be found on its website:

Photo by

Mamiya rubber lens hood
Another thing to keep in mind with basketball season just around the corner: Some NBA and college arenas require rubber hoods to be on your lenses for both your handheld cameras and remote cameras mounted on the post.

It never made sense to many of us what the "safety issue" is that has prompted teams and schools to require rubber lens hoods, but it is an issue in many places. So to be on the safe side if you're traveling to a new or unfamiliar gym or arena, pack those little rubber ... lens hood that is.

Equipment Geek Robert Hanashiro says the "Cadillac of lens hoods" are the ones made by Mamiya and you can often find them on eBay cheap or some used camera stores have them sitting in a box somewhere, taken off of traded ins. Obviously the "cheapies" you find in any camera store will do.

While I don't necessarily use them, photographers wanting to support their backs (and butts) sit courtside in a variety of padded seats. The perfect "baseline seat" is something that not only offers good lower back support but is easily carried or stowed in your equipment case.

Camping chairs like those made by Crazy Creek are available at many sporting goods or outdoor stores like REI and Sports Chalet ( The nice thing about the camping chairs like the Crazy Creek brand, they can be rolled up and even used as extra padding around long glass or in your Lightware cases.

Photo by

CrazyCreek camping chair
The so-called "cool" basketball shooters sit in comfort in metal frame chairs by Versa-Flex that feature a thick padded seat. The newest model collapses easier and is made of a heavier duty fabric. For more info, contact Versa-Flex directly (

Photographers using strobes that are already installed in an arena, check to see if the aiming of the heads is right for basketball. They always seem to get bumped out of position. Also clean off the Lexan covers, they can accumulate a lot of dust during a season.

Make sure to replace the zip ties used to secure the Lexan to the reflector, they can get brittle and break. Lastly, replace any gaffers tape used to secure reflectors to the strobe head, the tape does dry out, and check all male plugs and female add-a-taps to prevent shorts in the hard lines.

The photographers that never refresh their batteries, this would be a good time to do that. Do not forget the extra roll of zip cord, gaffers tape, and a hand full of extra male plugs and female add-a-taps.

(In addition to sponsors Samy's Cameras, Roberts Distributors and Penn Camera several other cool places to find these items: Filmtools in Burbank, CA:; Studio Depot in Hollywood:; Barbizon with various stores across the country:

And remember: The most import thing is to have fun!

(Shawn Cullen is currently Sports Illustrated lighting technician. He can be reached through his member page:

Related Links:
Cullen's member page

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