The "Zamboni": A HipShot Shooting Belt

The "Zamboni" belt as of April 2017. Featuring the HipShot and Newswear lens pouches.

The "Zamboni" belt as of April 2017. Featuring the HipShot and Newswear lens pouches.

By Spencer Chumbley (Twitter | Instagram)

I've fielded a few emails from other shooters about my HipShot belt after they catch a glimpse of it in action. Utility belts can be the butt of many jokes (where is Batman to back you up when you need him?) but they are important pieces of kit of news and documentary shooters.

We operate outside the studio environment and often times cannot just pop back to our vehicle to grab an extra battery or a different lenses. You need to bring everything you might need with you and be able to access it quickly to catch those moments as they unfold. There is no take two.

I had been using pouches on a standard belt since I first began shooting but it wasn't until I saw what Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown director of photography Zach Zamboni was using in an online lecture that I started to re-think my own approach.

Zamboni proudly whips out his "shooting platform" at a Rule Boston Camera Pub Night (TC 39:05-41:40, video below) and explains in detail why he "loves it" and why it helps him when he is shooting.

After watching Zamboni describe the build of his belt I started to build a version of my own. Its been two years since first assembled mine and I now cannot shoot with out it. It has saved my body from struggling to hand-hold hundreds of table-level interviews and its the perfect for those situations where you need to shoot surreptitiously from the hip.

To save you all a bit of time in assembling your own I've assembled a list of links where to purchase the core parts of the what I am calling the "Zamboni Belt". 

HipShot (HipShot.tv) - $315.00 USD

  • Specialty product invented by Andrea Cranach, a ENG/Reality TV cameramen in 2002.
  • If you call or email them directly prior to placing the order you can order the HipShot with out the belt they provide and save some money off the purchase price.

VTAC Brokos Belt (VikingTactics.com) - $119.00 USD

  • The sizing depends on if you want a 3 or 6 inch gap in the front.
  • I bought an XL belt (I wear a 33 pant size) giving me 3 inch gap in front and giving me closer to 360 degrees of real estate to mount pouches and accessories and places the HipShot in the directly on my right hip

Dive Belt (Amazon.com) - $25.00 USD

  • Gives you a quick release in and out of your gear belt and ability to tighten it around different clothing (winter jackets, etc) without having to adjust traditional buckle.

Newswear Pouches (Newswear.com) - Approx. $25.00 USD each

  • I have one Large Press Pouch (for a Canon 70-200mm) and one Regular Press Pouch (Canon 24-105mm, or fits a full V-Mount/Gold Mount battery) and was given an iPhone pouch last time I placed an order for free which I keep my phone and lens paper in.
  • You can use other pouches but Newswear's fold flat and I find they are better for traveling as I can pack my belt inside my tripod/grip case.
  • I also have a Tiffen Filter Pouch (B&HPhoto.com)to hold filters, lens caps, lav mics, etc,


First shoot using the "Zamboni" HipShot belt in India for VICE News. (April 2015).

First shoot using the "Zamboni" HipShot belt in India for VICE News. (April 2015).

This first post in what I hope will be many of what the Discourse is calling it's Field Tested blog where we write about gear that has been put through its paces in the news and documentary film world. Come back and visit us soon.