The Opteka CXS-1 is a fairly inexpensive ready built video camera shoulder support rig. Besides the obvious mount for the camera, the stage has a few extra mounting points if you want to get creative and add some extra accessory brackets. The Opteka was designed for cameras up to 20lbs (so they say), but no matter how much or how little weight you place on the stage, the shoulder support is not a ‘complete hands free’ solution as stated on the box. I think the claim to be a ‘complete hands free solution’ is a bit misleading. There’s no possible way this thing will hang over the shoulder without using hands to support it. The shoulder pad only meets the top of your shoulder, and doesn’t go completely behind like the $24.00 dollar shoulder support.
As you can see though, with a counterweight added, the contour of the shoulder pad will eventually allow you to balance a Camera like the GH2 (as seen in the video). I’m using my DIY counterweight from my other rig just mounted to an already existing slot in the rear of the shoulder pad. The slot allows me to slide the weight left and right to level out the balance too.
Offset a bit more by using just two bolts
The build quality is pretty nice, especially for the price using all metal components with an anodized finish. If you’re a first time DSLR shooter with light accessories or have a lightweight camcorder, this type of stabilizer should suit you fine. It’s also one of the better looking ‘cheap’ shoulder supports out there. There is only so much horizontal offset and vertical height adjustments, so depending on your frame, you may not be able to get the camera to the ‘exact’ position you need. Quick release adapters, battery grips, or DSLR’s with variable LCD’s should help correct some of that lack of positioning. You can choose to use just two of the hex bolts instead of three if you want to get a bit more ‘inset’ or ‘offset’.
No padding on stage
The handle can be removed and inserted directly into a camera if you’re looking to shoot without the shoulder support. The stage is also not ‘padded’ so if you’re experiencing some slippage, you’ll need to DIY some type of cushion to the stage. Cork or a rubber pad should suffice. Being that the shoulder pad is an all metal build, it would be very easy to drill some new accessory mounts for your portable audio recorders or wireless receivers. There are a few large clamp knobs that should allow you to break it down into a few smaller pieces if you need to pack it up for traveling. Overall the Opteka is a great lightweight stabilizer for the price, and you’ll be hard pressed to find something that looks as polished in it’s price range.
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