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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old December 5th, 2009, 01:03 AM   #1
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Less Expensive Shoulder Mount Alternative

There are several threads on different sites discussing various camera supports, everything from DIY, RedRock Micro, to Zacuto, After looking at all of these I decided I couldn't/wouldn't spend more for the support than I did for the camera. I also knew I was not going to build one myself from scratch.

So I went in search of alternatives which I have shared in the several posts.

I decided to take pictures of my setup so people could see what it is and how it works. What I discovered is that I'm not very good at photographing products but here it is nonetheless.

www.frameyourart.net -- I don't know how to embed the image into this post?

This is a shoulder mount system which includes an accessories box, an adjustable back support, a counter wait (not shown), two hand grips, a telescopic support arm (not attached in picture), a CAVISION LCD swing away viewfinder, 15mm Carbon fiber support rods with quick release, and a 4x5 Matte box.

I have placed the accessories box under the camera to give it some additional height but it can also be attached on the back shoulder pad. The camera support can be adjusted to accommodate a larger camera like the EX1, the handles can be adjusted with the push of a button and the telescopic support arm is spring loaded and can be adjusted to rest comfortably on your stomach or waist. As an alternative to that you can attach the counter weight to the back pad and the 7D requires very little support.

Not only is there a substantial price difference between this setup and a Zacuto for example, but there's probably a bit of an ideological difference too. The aforementioned products are more configurable in the way a photographer might want to use it, this set up is probably what videographers are more accustomed to.

So I don't think choosing the right camera support is simply about price, although this setup is less then half the cost of a comparable set up from from Zacuto or RedRock, but about how you want to work. Clearly the 7D would benefit from either type of solution, and as you can tell I've approached it from more of a digital cinema perspective, which I'm not sure is the right approach. It works incredibly well in a production environment but it "hinders" the "gorilla" aspect of shooting with the 7D. I find myself detaching the camera from the support, removing the matte box (if I don't need filters) and holding the camera by the support rods. People don't pay attention to that and think I'm taking stills.

Since I've chosen this route the next thing is a follow focus, but I'm not going to pay $1200...

Anyway for others who are experimenting and looking for ideas I hope this helps.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 01:57 AM   #2
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Great but what brand is it?
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Old December 5th, 2009, 02:17 AM   #3
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Here's the info:

The shoulder mount is from Shape and there are several models to choose from:
Shape WLB - Camera supports
I have the Spider II, which has an adjustable camera platform. This is important for me because I also use this support with the EX1. If you don't need that then you save even more.

The LCD viewfinder is here:
LCD Viewfinder System for Sony HDR-TG1

The swing away support for the viewfinder is here:
LCD Viewfinder Plate Connection Piece with Swing Away Function

The Rod Support and Quick Release is here:
Cavision Rods Support System for Mini-DV with Quick Release - Reversed Version

The Matte Box is here:
http://cgi.ebay.com/PROAIM-Matte-box...ht_4258wt_1027
OK, this one requires a little explanation. I got this off of eBay, its a knockoff from India and it was so cheap, $240 that I thought I would take a chance on it. Out of everything that I ordered, it arrived first, the build quality is surprisingly good and it bolted up to everything else perfectly.

I think everything totaled around $900. Still a bit pricey, but so far I'm happy with everything I purchased and this would have costs significantly more elsewhere.

I'm not trying to talk anyone in or out of anything, just trying to provide some choice.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 07:44 AM   #4
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We've talked about the Shape products here in the past. They seem like nice stuff and I considered one. But it had one BIG showstopper of a problem for me when I was looking for a shoulder support. And that is, it's not possible to go from shoulder mount to tripod without dismantling the unit. That requirement pushed me to the Red Rock Micro. If not for that, these units would have been a major consideration.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #5
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That depends,

I can mount the entire unit directly on a tripod
If I want to mount just the camera I use the CAVISION Quick Relaese
And If I want to mount the camera and matte box, I can mount the Rod Support to the accessories box via the same Bogen quick release. I can do that with the Spider II because the height of the camera is adjustable.

I have the same tripod plate on the Spider II, my tripod and monopod.

There's no doubt each of these systems has their strengths and weaknesses but they all seem to be adjustable enough that you can figure out a way to do just about what every you need done. For the price difference if I have to get something machined to make this work I'm OK with that, to a point, but I found that CAVISION has enough different kinds of adapters and such that I could make this work the way I needed.

Again, maybe not for everybody.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 09:38 PM   #6
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Hi Chuck:

I live right over the grade from you in Camarillo. I have been very happy with my cheap Bushhawk setup. I have since upgraded to the Z-Finder 2.0 since when I tool this image in the spring. The Bushhawk is pretty cool and was cheap although it too suffers from a custom sized mounting plate that is not compatible with my Bogen or Sachtler tripods. But other than that limitation, it is very nice.

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/picture.ph...pictureid=1142

Dan
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Old December 5th, 2009, 10:48 PM   #7
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LOVE the bushhawk.. or Bushwacker as my wife calls it.. what did you put over the part that meets your shoulder? We've been contemplating a solution for that.. also, we attached a standard bogen 577 quick release to the hawk so it has the same conneciton as our tripods, gorilla pod, slider and steadicam..

How large is the eye piece for your hood loupe? looks bigger than I thought the z finder was supposed to be.. also your looks silver, I thought they were black...?
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Old December 6th, 2009, 03:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
Hi Chuck:

I live right over the grade from you in Camarillo. I have been very happy with my cheap Bushhawk setup. I have since upgraded to the Z-Finder 2.0 since when I tool this image in the spring. The Bushhawk is pretty cool and was cheap although it too suffers from a custom sized mounting plate that is not compatible with my Bogen or Sachtler tripods. But other than that limitation, it is very nice.

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/picture.ph...pictureid=1142

Dan
I have an airplane at Camarillo airport, I'm there quite often. I like shooting at the airport there's generally a lot going on there. What lens is that?
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Old December 6th, 2009, 09:21 AM   #9
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Chuck,

What do you think of the Cavision viewfinder? I know it has 6x magnification. Can you view the entire LCD comfortably while using it?

Thanks,
Chad
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Old December 6th, 2009, 12:38 PM   #10
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I have not used anything else to compare it too.

It takes a bit of adjusting and to be able to see all of the screen it partially covers the buttons on the left of the LCD. It does swing out of the way, but I do like having unobstructed access to those buttons. I don't know why I just do. I would imagine that any viewfinder would have this problem if it covers the entire LCD.

It also doesn't snug up to the camera as tightly as I'd like. In certain circumstances it leaks light from around the edges. This has not been a problem and I think I can resolve this with some shims but I haven't had the time to correct this yet.

The build quality is good, the 6x is plenty, I still use the focus assist and I don't find focusing to be that difficult.

I wear glasses so I wish it had a diopter so I could use it without my glasses, but I wasn't willing to pay $400 for the Z-Finder.

Overall it works well.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 01:16 PM   #11
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Zacuto Z-Finder

Since we're discussing loupes, I just used the Z-Finder handheld continuously for about 3 hours, the first time I've really had a chance to try it out in a real-world situation. I had the Canon 17-55mm on it most of the time, fully manual mode, f/2.8. I found the combination of the body, lens and Z-Finder to be nearly ideal in this situation.

You can use the Z-Finder to kind of stablize the hole thing against your cheek. The only problem was occasional fogging of the Z-Finder. I found the framing and focusing to be ideal with this unit. I missed an articulating LCD a lot for low angle shots, I had to get on my knees a lot or even sometimes get on the ground.

Though the Z-Finder is ridiculously expensive, like I think it should be at least $100 less than it is, however I think it is the best viewfinder for the 7D. There's no light leakage, the eyecup is generously big (much better than the others), it's very high quality and it's easy to remove if you need to.

Regarding getting the 7D or other camcorders off your rods system, or other systems, I've found using the Manfrotto quick release receptacles to be a very good and versatile deal. I've used both the sliding plate quick-release, and the fixed plate "RC2" style Manfrotto plates. Those are good for smaller systems, but I've even used them on my EX1. Here's and example:

Amazon.com: Manfrotto 323 RC2 Rapid Connect Adapter with 200PL-14 Quick Release Plate - Replaces 3299 (Black): Camera & Photo

You can mount these plates to your rig, but there is a part that sticks down, so you need to put some washers in between it and your rig so the lever on the device clears. I use some 1.5" aluminum shims I made up with 1/4" holes in them for spacers. This makes things a bit higher than the other sliding plates, but sometimes is worth it. You'll also need a longer than standard 1/4" or 3/8" screw to mount the RC plate to your rig.

When I put my big, heavy Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS onto the same rig, it was a bit too heavy to handhold for very long, my arms got tired quickly. In this situation I'd need some more support. I'm considering the Zacuto tactical shooter but I may also just try something cheaper.

Last edited by Keith Moreau; December 6th, 2009 at 01:17 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old December 6th, 2009, 01:57 PM   #12
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"When I put my big, heavy Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS onto the same rig, it was a bit too heavy to handhold for very long, my arms got tired quickly. In this situation I'd need some more support. I'm considering the Zacuto tactical shooter but I may also just try something cheaper."

Hi Keith, I'd suggest checking out the Shape Spider II. If your a videographer this is probably a little more of what your accustom to, if your a photographer it probably appears to be pretty large and take a bit more to get used to it.

However, as I mentioned, with the counter balance weight attached I can almost completely let go of the rig and it will stay balanced on my shoulder [thats with the setup you see in the pictures with the stock lens].

I know it might sound like I'm trying to talk people into this rig, I'm not. I had never heard of them until I purchase the Spider II, in fact I think it was someone on DvInfo in the EX CineAlta forum that tuened me on to it. But I do believe that this is a quality less expensive alternative to the others.

Anyway good luck with your choice.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #13
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Chuck,

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out, however, I do actually have something like the rig you mentioned already, it's the DVRig Pro HD, and it's quite a nice unit, and a very nice and helpful company to work with, you can see a link to them here:

DvRigPro./ DvRigPro HD

in that it also has a shock absorbing pod that you can use onto a supplied waist belt. It's almost like a steadycam. However, it's kind of a 'commitment' similar to the Shape rig you mentioned, and really lets people know that you are seriously there to get something. I use it on very, very long shoots where I know I'd going shoulder-mount the entire time. I use it with my rods and Mattebox rig, and you can mount all kinds of extra stuff to it with their modular system, like monitors (if you want to take images from behind without walking backwards, huge battery packs, etc.

Thanks for the recommendation though. Another unit that is really a bargain that I have have and use on occasion is the "Tiffen Steady Stick." I have yet to try my 7D rig with this. It's actually pretty well made and also had the waist pod concept and is amazingly less than $75.

Amazon.com: Davis & Sanford SS3C SteadyStick Compact Stabilizer with Handle: Electronics

On this I have the Manfrotto quick release plate that I've mentioned above.

-Keith
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Old December 6th, 2009, 04:32 PM   #14
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matte box and ff

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding View Post
Here's the info:

The shoulder mount is from Shape and there are several models to choose from:
Shape WLB - Camera supports
I have the Spider II, which has an adjustable camera platform. This is important for me because I also use this support with the EX1. If you don't need that then you save even more.

The LCD viewfinder is here:
LCD Viewfinder System for Sony HDR-TG1

The swing away support for the viewfinder is here:
LCD Viewfinder Plate Connection Piece with Swing Away Function

The Rod Support and Quick Release is here:
Cavision Rods Support System for Mini-DV with Quick Release - Reversed Version

The Matte Box is here:
PROAIM? Matte box For 15mm rails DOF Wide angle lenses - eBay (item 120500298984 end time Dec-05-09 20:40:40 PST)
OK, this one requires a little explanation. I got this off of eBay, its a knockoff from India and it was so cheap, $240 that I thought I would take a chance on it. Out of everything that I ordered, it arrived first, the build quality is surprisingly good and it bolted up to everything else perfectly.

I think everything totaled around $900. Still a bit pricey, but so far I'm happy with everything I purchased and this would have costs significantly more elsewhere.

I'm not trying to talk anyone in or out of anything, just trying to provide some choice.

I saw that the same company from India is also offering the matte box with rail and ff. Any ideas on that?? I have the 7D, GH-1 ,and EX-1 and it seems that it will work with all of them? Do you think is worth the risk of getting the set they have for sale?
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #15
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The only reason I initially purchased the matte box off of eBay was because it was so cheap I figured if it wasn't any good I wasn't out that much.

After I received it I was surprised how well it was built and it bolted up to all of the more expensive components just fine.

There seem to be various models to choose from, and although I like the matte box I'm not sure I'd take the chance in purchasing the entire setup. Just because I'm so skeptical, if its too cheap its too good to me true, if its too expensive it can't be that good.

It all depends on how much you can afford to lose. Its not like you'll actually loose the money but it might not be what you want so you don't use it. I guess if you don't like it you can always sell it again on eBay.
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