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Old November 11th, 2009, 09:10 AM   #1
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Okay, need some education

Alright,

I am about to venture into the unfamiliar world of rails and shoulder mounts and I need some education.

For several upcoming projects I have decided that I need to have a way of holding the camera for longer periods of time and still being mobile. The shoulder mount was the natural choice. So I borrowed a friend's RedRock put my EX1 on it, and did some tests. Seemed to work well enough for my needs.

So here is where I need some education.

1. I looked at this unit, the Cavision unit, the Zacuto (out of my budget range), and have seen with Birns and Sawyer. I think I want to go with the rails setup so I can build out later with a 35mm adapter perhaps, but certainly a Mattebox, follow focus, and a battery module. I need the supplier to be in the US for this purchase. Is there any other unit I should be looking at? I looked at the Letus site but it looked just like the Red Rock for more money.

2. Stability. I took the unit on a walking tour in my building. Obviously, it was just a first time deal, but I walked the halls, elevator, stairs, etc. Seemed to handle fine, but I had some trouble keeping the horizon steady. Are there tricks to this or is it simply a matter of practice? Do you guys use a level of some kind? Not even sure how you'd see it if you're framing and working the camera.

3. Balance. I moved the camera back as far as I could. The viewfinder on the EX1 sits high and left so it made it hard to push the camera back too far and still see the viewfinder without craning the neck up. I know that if I get a mattebox I am going to have a unit that is rather front heavy. Am I destined to have an external monitor for the rig?


Anything else I should know? Order goes in Friday, so I need to get this right.

Thanks.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #2
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I have gone down the same road with my Ex3 and after trying out a plethora of shoulder mounts designed to accomplish what the manufacturer (Sony) should have facilitated right out of the box, I chose the least expensive route, that being, the solution offered by Cavision. In summary, it worked (rails, shoulder mount and hand grips) but even with this affair attached, aside from the significant weight increase afforded by the combination, the camera still tended to be very front heavy. I've also tried the VFGadgets extended mount... uncomfortable for my physique but the base plate did add, aside from weight, good support. I know that there are a host of other offerings, some with counterweights designed to offset the inherent imbalance of the camera itself but they all add a significant amount of carry weight. So, in the end, the best way to answer your question would be to try out various approaches, what works for one may not be comfortable for another.

As for stability, the unit from Shape, the Spider II Pro, has a Manfrotto rod that supports the camera against one's lower body parts and appears to address the issue but don't try to tie your shoelaces with it attached.

As for myself, after spending a significant amount of money searching for a comfortable answer to the Ex3 issue, the final and most logical solution was to replace the camera with something that did not require a system of rails, hand grips and specialized shoulder mount just to make it only barely usable when off sticks and that's without an M Box and filters hanging off the front which adds a more difficult to resolve set of variables to the equation.

So, Ex's? Great cameras for tripod use but unless you have Herculean strength and hands of Godzilla not a good choice for handheld videography... color me gone!
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Old November 11th, 2009, 11:39 AM   #3
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LOL, thanks for that viewpoint...

Well, my EX1 is not going away any time soon. So I am stuck with that. Fortunately for me, I am a rather large, somewhat strong person with large powerful hands. So I'm good there. I think without counterbalance, I am probably good for 30-45 minutes with the rig as it's set up now. Adding some counterbalance would probably do the trick. I just wondered if there was a rail set out there that would do better for me. I might try a different shoulder pad later like the one on the Birns and Sawyer or the Cavision, but I don't have access to the Cavision to try out.

I guess trying to find a wider shoulder platform would make things more stable as far as horizon stability is concerned. Not quite sure how I am going to accomplish that though without some custom work.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 11:48 AM   #4
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The Spider II Pro looks promising, given your requirements, but if you use a Sony quick release plate there may be an issue. However, take a look at their web site, they show the unit with what appears to be a generous shoulder support, lower body support and counterweight system. As for the Cavision, I believe that B&H carries it. You can order it and if doesn't suite your needs, return it. I would have offered you mine but it went with the camera. Before surrendering and moving away from Sony, I had spoken to the Canadian firm that sells the Spider, they were very helpful and said that their unit was returnable as well, if you don't mind customs fees, etc.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #5
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I'll go poke around and look at that webpage. Thanks. I have some constraints on purchasing since this is through my office, which is a government entity. Doing purchases and returns can be a pain, and buying out of country can be nearly impossible.
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Old November 11th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #6
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Understood. Well, the least expensive route is clearly the Cavision but my experience has taught me that there is no perfect solution. But, that said, you could add the lower body support to the Cavision system. The "Shape" people would be willing to sell the modified Manfrotto device (lower body support) and rod connector creating a system considerably less costly than their own.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 01:57 PM   #7
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For a number of reasons, I'm going with the RedRock. Not the least of which is the quality, and the ability to mount a tripod plate right on the unit so I don't have to take off the shoulder pad to go to tripod use.

Price is fair and the other things on offer are terrific too.

Thank you for the help.

-P
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Old November 16th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #8
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Check out the Sock-Loupe. This turns the LCD Screen on the PMW-EX1 into a viewfinder. This really aid in getting the balance better and pushing the cam further backover your shoulder.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 02:03 PM   #9
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Interesting.. ugly, but interesting.

I'd be interested in seeing photos of it in use with an EX1 on a shoulder mount.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 06:25 AM   #10
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Ugly but effective. Phil Bloom wrote about it on his blog. Check it out here How to make EX1 LCD BETTER than the EX3 Viewfinder. He posted a couple of images with one on his EX1.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 09:06 AM   #11
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You probably already knew this, but redrock has counter balance weights you can add to the back of the shoulder mount just like the zacuto system.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 10:01 AM   #12
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Yes, I saw that, but the rail set that ships is too short to use it. So I don't know how I am going to deal with that yet. Get a set of 24" rods, or use a piggy-back riser.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #13
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Which shoulder mount are you looking at in their webstore?

It looks like the best buy would be to get:

- The microshouldermount deluxe bundle
- Microbalance counterweight starter kit
- 24" iris rods

With this package it looks like you would be buying the 19" carbon fiber rods for an extra $25 opposed to what they sell them for ($99). They would be good to keep for back up or if you are trying to go a little lighter weight in certain situations.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:58 AM   #14
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I got the microshoulder mount deluxe bundle:

Redrock microShoulderMount Deluxe Bundle

I see they have the counterbalance starter kit for $60, but that's not in the budget for the moment.

If I need to go there later, I will and add some longer rods.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #15
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Take a look at the new DvRig Pro Extreme (shown on main page of website)
dvtec, dvrigpro, dvrig, dvrig junior, engrg, support

Details are not up yet, but I used to use the DVRig Pro, before I went to the DVMulti Rig and loved it. DVTecs stuff is very well built and thought out and Danny gives incredible customer service.

Contact them for info on the DVRig Pro EXtreme. It might suit your needs perfectly.
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