Hitch Hiker Optical Mount
Lightweight Balanced Motion Tripod Head

The Hitch Hiker Is a Dynamic Tripod Head

The Hitch Hiker is a lightweight, balanced-motion tripod head designed for people on the move -- perfect for photography; birding; Nature-watching; video; and small-scope and binocular astronomy. The nimble Hitch Hiker is light enough to replace standard tripod heads but enables precisely controlled, all-around rotations that normal tripod heads do poorly.

High megapixel digital cameras demand steady support for maximum resolution. But the Hitch Hiker doesn't just provide support. It also provides control. Compose photos rapidly, accurately, and easily. Deftly glide along arching paths while shooting video. Follow action wherever it goes with positive control. Let go and aim is maintained on-target -- no clamping needed. Stay ready for the next shot.

Spotting scopes, large binoculars, and small telescopes also benefit from the Hitch Hiker's smooth, balanced rotations and steady support. The CNC machined guide-handle with knurled grip is great for steering these instruments -- and an optional finder bracket makes pointing to astronomical objects much easier.

The Hitch Hiker was developed with hiking in mind. Since it can be comfortably carried up a rocky, steep mountain trail it can be carried just about anywhere with ease. A perfect match for lightweight carbon-fiber tripods, put them in/on your pack or carry them over your shoulder.

Why use the Hitch Hiker with short lenses that have vibration reduction?

In general, vibration reduction systems don't eliminate vibration. They only reduce it. That's why they're called "vibration reduction systems." Typically, they are limited to reducing image blur by providing the approximate effect of increasing the shutter speed by about two f/stops. So, if shooting at 1/60th of a second, you would see about the same image (in terms of blur) as you would at 1/250th of a second -- which is extremely helpful. But shooting at 1/250th of a second does not eliminate blur from vibration. It only reduces it.

With quality lenses fitted to high-megapixel cameras, the effect of camera shake can often be seen. Of course, the degree to which the blur is visible depends upon how much you crop the frame and/or enlarge the image. And the better the lens you are using, the more easily you'll be able to see the blurring.

Putting your camera and lens on a tripod can all but eliminate the blur from camera shake. What is different about the Hitch Hiker is that it is a very lightweight tripod-head capable of coping with highly dynamic subjects -- especially moving subjects -- or subjects that appear suddenly in a location that is not fully predictable -- or when shifting rapidly between multiple subjects.

The Hitch Hiker allows the user to frame and shoot very quickly and with precision that can't be matched by hand-held photography. When holding a camera by hand, there is ALWAYS some movement of the camera -- over and above what would be called "vibration." This movement creates uncertainty in aiming -- and a hand-held camera will migrate (randomly) while shooting a burst. Moreover, the photographer's attention must be divided between the tasks of aiming and holding the camera steadily. Certainly, practice improves this skill -- but there remains two independent tasks that must be controlled simultaneously.

Using the Hitch Hiker virtually eliminates the task of steadying the camera -- while allowing the photographer to concentrate on composition. And the precision of rapid aiming afforded by the Hitch Hiker's smooth, balanced motions allows the photographer to quickly perfect a photo's composition.

So -- while eliminating vibration is a strong reason for using the Hitch Hiker, a more compelling reason to employ the Hitch Hiker is to take advantage of the control it affords in rapidly composing photos.

Get more from your spotting scope with the Hitch Hiker.

  • Smooth, balanced motions to easily follow moving subjects.
  • Rapidly switch from one subject to another without hesitation.
  • Stay on target without clamping the axes. Use both hands for focusing and zooming simultaneously -- then immediately adjust the aim with one hand with no need to undo a clamp.
  • Share the view with a companion without having to lock the mount.
  • Scan with a binocular then return to the scope just as you left it.
  • Always ready to follow the action.
  • Neatly attach your smart-phone to the Hitch Hiker to display birding/Nature guides and GPS coordinates.
  • Move your attention from scope to smart-phone display without locking the mount.
  • Eyepiece moves through smaller arc than on a conventional tripod. Results in much less need to change tripod height.
  • Retractable, angle-adjustable guide-handle improves ability to aim precisely or follow moving subjects.
  • Lever-controls for axis resistance easily allow "feel" for both axes to be balanced according to personal preference.
  • Enjoy steady views.
  • Lever-operated quick-plate clamp provides for fast attachment of scope with no need for alignment. Scope can't twist free. Clamp is extremely secure.
  • Optional locking pin for lever-operated quick-plate clamp makes accidental disengagement impossible. Carry your scope over your shoulder with complete confidence.

Follow the Action With the Hitch Hiker

While the following photo of a heron taken during testing of the Hitch Hiker is not a showpiece because of the extreme distance, it does unquestionably indicate the precision and control of the Hitch Hiker by showing its ability to quickly center the bird in the frame before it could land after a chance spotting of the heron in flight. The telephoto lens was zoomed to 300 mm on a DX format Nikon D7200. Single-point auto-focusing was being used with the focus point fixed at the center of the frame. So, the heron had to be very precisely centered for the exposure to work -- and the precision of the centering is clearly evident in the full frame. And the photo was snapped in single-shot mode, as well -- no "shotgun" exposure burst. Also, the heron was flying right-to-left while the camera was being panned left-to-right -- so the direction of the pan had to be quickly reversed. And the heron was descending rapidly, which added to the complexity of centering the bird. But centering and snapping the photo was accomplished in about a second despite all of these complications. Only a tiny section of the frame is included in the inset. For this high total zoom factor, the Hitch Hiker had to be following the heron smoothly.