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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.

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Old January 16th, 2009, 06:58 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Malvern UK
Posts: 1,931
VF Gadgets Tripod plate

Recently VF Gadgets were kind enough to send me one of their EX3 Heavy Duty Base Plates to look at. As some of you know I was not impressed at the price of the plate when I last discussed it on these forums.

VF Gadgets have now lowered the purchase price of the plate to what I would consider a much more reasonable level, so I can now evaluate the product based upon those new prices.

The product arrived neatly packaged. They sent me the full system including the full support kit with 15mm rod support as well as a 15mm lens mount and their VCT-14 toe plate. My first impressions were that it was machined very well. It is certainly heavy duty and my initial concerns over how solid the join between the main base plate and the back plate would be proved unfounded. You could probably set off a bomb next to it and it wouldn't break.

The system fits quickly and easily to the EX3. You will not be able to use the EX3's standard shoulder brace with hit, however with the back plate attached you have a semi-shoulder mount built in. With a large V-lock or Anton Bauer battery on the back the balance should be made much nicer. I am still waiting for my AB AR-EX3 to arrive so that I can test how the balance is affected.

Once fitted the plate is extremely solid. Removing it is also easy because unlike the screws that are on the camera by default VF supply hex screws to mount the plate with. The plate does obviously makes the camera heavier. If you fit a matte box then I would suggest that counter balancing with large batteries is a must.

Now one of my initial criticisms was that the VCT-14 mounting did not include the rear clip that you get on shoulder mount camera bodies. I would still prefer that this was there, however I was surprised at how totally solid the camera was when it was fitted to the VCT-14. In fact I would go so far as to say that it felt like a totally different camera on the tripod.

I have had a couple of people say to me that this plate system might be overkill. However most of the other VCT-14 adaptors out there for DV cameras still only use the single screw mounting with the little metal notch to stop rotation. This method would still allow some play, whereas on the other side of the fence the VF Gadgets plate is totally solid.

Now, the big question, is it worth the price? Well VF Gadgets have now reduced the price of the whole system to $684. That's around $200 less give or take from its original price. You can get the base plate on its own now for $265. So on this basis I would have to say yes, it is worth it. Even if you were to just get the base plate and VCT-14 toe it would transform the way the EX3 feels on the tripod and give you more confidence in its stability.

I'm hoping that my QR-EX3 comes soon so that I can test it all out from the shoulder with some real batteries on the camera. I'll put photos and review up on my website when I do.
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