When adding a Shoulder Pad to your Camera Rig, you'll often want this to be placed the best possible balanced position. But if you're also trying to add a QR plate to your rig so you can quickly throw it onto a Tripod, this also needs to be in the same placement as your shoulder pad. To solve this dilemma, Cool-Lux has designed a folding Shoulder Rig base called the Shift Baseplate.
At $975, it's a pretty expensive piece of kit, but if you're serious about getting good balance with your Rig both on the shoulder and while on a set of sticks, there's not a whole lot of other similar equipment options. The Cool-Lux Shift Baseplate is available now, check it out over at the Shift Baseplate product page (here).
Over at the Edelkrone booth, Kadir shows a line of products targeting compact camera systems. The new Pocket Series line of products transform from a 'battery-grip sized' block into common camera tools such as table top dolly, portable slider, stabilizing handles, shoulder stock with rails, and table stand. The design fits directly underneath DSLR camera bodies, or can be stacked together.
Edelkrone was also teasing us with a new concept in linear camera movement with it's prototype 'Wing'. A folding arm allows a camera to travel in a straight line, and depending on which direction the camera is facing you can use it for side to side tracking, push / pull, or vertical (jib-like) camera motion.
I purchased a few Vinyl covered Scuba Dive weights to be used as a DIY counterweight on a Gini Rig (seen here), and also ended up also using them for the DIY Crane (seen here). It's much more expensive than basic round Gym weights, but they are smaller and have a much better aesthetic appeal when mounted to a rig. I did of course have to drill through the Dive weight to mount a 15mm clamp, so there's a little DIY involved with that.
It comes with a solid metal bracket, has several through holes, a slotted center, and quite a few 1/4x20 threaded ports to make mounting the brick to your project much simpler. I'm not a fan of the spray painted logo, but it's easy to sand off for the complete flat black finish. I have two here that can be stacked together for one of my larger Jibs. (click here to find the Opteka Weight via eBay).
Express35 knocks $100 dollars off the Inline Shoulder Rig today. The inline rig gives you room to work with a monitor or EVF off to the side while keeping the majority of the weight closer to your shoulder instead of way out in front of you (which can wear out your arms). The 8" rods on this rig will give you room to work with a Follow Focus or Matte Box. I believe there may be some discounts available for the optional top handle and tripod mount if you're looking to build up a bit. [Thanks Chris] Find more information about Express35 products at http://express35.com.
Not sure how many of you remember this article I posted a while back about the RigX bundle from Express35. I asked Chris to put something like this together to work with the cheap shoulder support to offset rails. The offset has been revised since the 'prototype' version I received, to add more functionality.
It's been pretty quiet about the RigX since because that bundle has been moving so quickly, it can't seem to stay in inventory. Well here's your chance to get it in the next few weeks, but you have to get on the list. It's available for pre-orders, 'first order in first order out'. This is an offset design that moves the camera's LCD to line up any viewfinders you might be using.
Together with the inexpensive shoulder support, this combination gives you a solid shoulder rig for a budget price with everything you need as the foundation for future items like a Follow Focus, Matte Box, and other rail mounted accessories. You can find the pre-order webpage here: http://express35.com/rigs/rig-x/
What's up with Tilta? I've seen a few of their small DSLR rig parts before, but it looks like they are slowly expanding on gear. Bruce pointed out today about their Follow Focus kit which includes two different gears, a set of base rails to mount, a dslr stage with battery door access, and a unique 'quick dock' solution to remove the entire system from a tripod or rig. I don't see a way to reverse the gears or adjustments for lash and tension, but it does have it's simple appeal. Anyone got more insight on these Tilta DSLR Rigs? They've even got a full Shoulder rig with half cage and Matte Box as well, but a bit too pricey for my taste...
I've been pointed out to this TrusMT company for quite some time. I didn't bother attempting to decipher the language on the main website and just believed they were just retailers for Letus equipment. Turns out I was wrong, and they are stamping TrusMT brand logos over what 'looks like' a Letus Aluminum Hawk VF, and DSLR cage, and Shoulder Rigs. I don't think it's up to the same standards or build quality. I stand corrected as it's not a retailer selling the Letus Brand, and for the first time they've shown up on eBay with a low sticker price into the DSLR market. My guess is they won't be online for long because of the design resemblance, but we'll have to keep an eye out to see where this goes. They've actually been selling around the UK for some time under that brand, but maybe not this 'other' line of mocks. Can't go wrong with the Letus stuff, which can all be found here: http://LetusDSLR.com
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.