View Full Version : Rail support for large lenses
April 18th, 2011, 03:50 PM
I have ordered a Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 lens, and also 500mm f4.5 prime, mainly to use with a Canon 7D DSLR. I would like also to use the lenses (mainly the 120-300 as I'm aware of the high magnification factor) with my XL-H1A and I know I will need to use a rail to support the camera and lens together to avoid stressing the lens mount. I can't seem to see any reference to this despite searching the threads. I would be grateful for recommendations of a rail system to use with the XL-H1.
April 20th, 2011, 12:37 AM
I support my 500 Sigma and XLH1 with a "TLS" rail system. That's "True Lens Support" based in Leicester. It works fine. I have a Manfrotto "plong" quick release plate attached to the rail so I can slide the rig up and down a bit on my tripod head. depending on whether cam is pointing up or down.
I had several goes at TLS before they got it right, problem was getting the right length of screw to go from rail to lens foot. Maybe they will remember.
Not particularly quick to attach or release and very vibration prone. I try to pause/record the cam via the little wireless remote that came with my HV 20. A very nice lens and far more manageable with an XLH1 than the Canon equivalent.
April 20th, 2011, 12:45 AM
I should have added that I nearly always have a ND filter, 4x or 8x attached to the 500, these 46mm internal so easy to come by and quick to attach. That's because I prefer to shoot 25f at 50fps and adjust the aperture accordingly, keeping as near as possible to 5.6/8.0. I had a look at the 120-300 Sigma before going for a 70-300L Canon (the new one) partly because I just do not need F2.8 and the Sigma takes massive, 105mm (?) filters.
April 20th, 2011, 08:33 AM
I've been looking for the same thing and Zacuto has a nice-looking set-up. I'd have it already if it weren't so expensive. I've hung lots of weight off the camera with no problems, but was warned that all this weight could be overstressing the lens mount, so I have stopped using the heavy lens until I too can find a solution. This equipment provides for lots of adjustability. I'm not sure but I think the collar around the lens does not line up with the camera's mount, so the Zacuto gear allows left to right as well as up/down adjustability on both the plate and the lens support.
Zacuto Zian Lens Support: $395.00, Zacuto Universal Baseplate: $560.00.
April 20th, 2011, 11:44 PM
The TLS rail system is cheaper than the Zacuto one. Components I suspect are more or less identical,
April 21st, 2011, 01:23 PM
Maybe Neil is busy, too much so to respond to replies to his posts.
April 21st, 2011, 11:47 PM
Thank you both for your very helpful responses. Ron, I had, just after posting here, come across True Lens Services via Mick Jenner's posts on another forum. I emailed a query, and received a response quoting between £650 and £850 to build a rail system 'plus any materials, anodising and carriage costs'. Colin from TLS was very helpful, but said they did not stock a support system and would have to custom build one for me. Despite the price this may be a good option especially if I refer to your rail, as the leg work has been done.
Mark, the Zacuto off the shelf rail also looks good, do you have any comments about stability using a big lens such as a 500mm prime ?
(Ron, I'm not sure of the necessity of your last post but it comes across that you are irritated that I didn't reply within a day or so to your and Mark's helpful replies. I have been busy, I work as a cardiologist and don't always have time to view this forum every day).
April 22nd, 2011, 03:53 AM
My TLS system cost about £2/300, mind you, that was 5 years ago. They actually advertised it specifically for the XL1/2 cameras, albeit mine needed a bit of tweaking. I guess XL series cams are now seen as old hat, hence your quote as a one off.
Try googling "Really Right Stuff" , a Yank outfit who do a nice quick release support system. Maybe cheaper than Zacuto but allow 25% for duty and VAT. Not too easy from their site to determine exactly what one needs to order to get an XLH1 kit. Maybe an e-mail would help.
ps keep up the good work!
April 22nd, 2011, 05:42 AM
I don't have any lenses that big. That 500mm is nearly 14 inches long and weighs over 6 Lbs. The rods on that Zacuto are 15mm diameter light weight aluminum. I'd hook the lens up to the camera and take note of the position of the tripod mount that came with the lens, to see how far from the camera's mounting hole it is and how far below/above the plane of the camera's base it is. The rods can't extend very far before they disengage from the aft end of the support block. Extensions can be added, but that might introduce excessive flex along the length of the rods.
Also, with the Zacuto rig, it might be over-kill in its design if you're never going to add a follow-focus or matte box, which the rails are well suited for. The next size up is 19mm rods. If you just have the two heavy lenses you want to hang off your camera, maybe take the whole works down to a local machine shop, along with some reference photos from the web (google images for camera support) and see what it'd cost to have a support custom made. Others have done it.
April 23rd, 2011, 06:48 AM
I think the rods and the slider lens support(s), I use two, are the easy bits. My rods are 22mm.
The difficulty with an XLH1 is the camera mount. This needs to be offset to reflect the fact that on an XLH1 the tripod mount is off centre. Surprised TLS don't have any ready made and in stock. They've done very well if they've sold every last one.
April 25th, 2011, 06:58 AM
I bought the Zacuto system shown in this thread. Their stuff is expensive, but it does the job for me.
I can change out lens pretty fast and using my 100-400 EF, the rig is solid.
April 25th, 2011, 07:04 AM
Glad to hear it worked out. Post a pic for us.
April 25th, 2011, 07:41 AM
I would like to add a couple of thoughts - at least that went into my decision making process.
First, Zacuto has a lifetime warranty (yeah, big deal, but -) and their stuff is known for being high quality and desirable.
What the latter means is if I decide to sell my 15mm system, I know I will immediately have several people in line to purchase it. If I keep it pristine, which I try my best to do, it will sell for a very very good price.
The stuff looks awesome and many pro find that perception is very important. You could put your rig on a 2x4 and make it work, but you'd look like a joke (Yes, I hate that perception matters its the results that matter to me).
The base plate allowed my camera to get to the right height. At first it may appear that any rails will do the job, but sometimes being able to make adjustments equals 'just made it and it works' versus "Dang!". I don't yet have a matte-box or follow focus for my H1, but I am confident that my rig can accommodate it. I do have a Nebtek 7" SDI monitor and the zacuto arm and monitor holder work so well that every time I use it I am glad I went with Zacuto. Set up is fast and easy.