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Gadget Bag: Steady Shooting
Zacuto DSLR Z-Cage
Whether shooting for the ultimate sharpness in stills or looking to capture video that’s as smooth as possible, there never has been a better time for photographers to be looking at tools for image stabilization.
The explosion in video-capable still cameras has created an incredible demand for stabilization gear that works for both still images and motion pictures, and now that high-definition video is another option for photographers who are using video-capable DSLRs, tripod manufacturers and video companies are offering still photographers many of the same possibilities that high-end video-support systems have given video professionals.
These stabilization kits and rigs provide filmmaking tools at the same time that they act as extremely portable balancing systems for DSLRs. They’re efficient, compact, lightweight alternatives to tripods, too, and many are modular, as well, offering options and features that give them a leg up over traditional tripods with a variety of accessories that can turn your DSLR into a versatile filmmaking machine.
Available in Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony mounts, the BushHawk 320D keeps your camera steady with a rifle-like shoulder support, particularly helpful with large telephoto lenses. The included shutter-release cord triggers the camera so you can hold the system comfortably in both hands through the double-handed grip. The BushHawk 320D kit also offers a window pod for shooting from cars, a sling strap and a black nylon bag. List Price: $299 (Deluxe Kit); $399 (Professional Kit with quick-release system).
The Camtrol Prime utilizes a cage-free design, making it an ideal choice for cameras and camcorders with swiveling LCD screens. The ergonomic “true-feel grip” handle is built for low shooting and versatile handholding, leaving the other hand free for camera operation. There are also locking ball joints, QPRL quad pod retractable legs and a vertical stabilizer bar for positioning the camera on the ground or framing from above or even around corners. The Camtrol folds down to 10 inches in length, and a receiver post for a remote and accessories keeps wires out of the way, including the optional Camtroller remote for controlling camera functions in LANC-enabled camcorders and DSLRs. List Price: $399 (Camtrol Prime); $99 (Camtroller).
Cinevate Simplis Solo
Cinevate offers a wide range of DSLR-steadying rigs, from the basic DSLR Camera Grip all the way up to the DSLR Deluxe Package that includes everything you’ll likely need to make a full film production. The Simplis Solo is offered as a more barebones “run ‘n gun” setup, with a Simplis Quick Release plate, a swiveling ¼-20″ hand grip that attaches to the camera via the tripod mount, a shoulder stock and three lengths of shoulder stock rods. The unique Cyclops DSLR Viewfinder fits to the Simplis, too, for magnifying the LCD screen to check focus and to block sunlight from washing out the screen. List Price: $399 (Simplis Solo); $689 (Simplis and Cyclops DSLR Viewfinder).
iDC Quick-Release U-Boat
iDC‘s Quick Release U-Boat provides an accessory cage for HD DSLRs and smaller camcorders under 5×6 inches in height and width. The baseplate can be mounted to standard 3⁄8″-16 or 1⁄4″-20 tripods, and when secured to a tripod, the add-on, adjustable-length shoulder brace also doubles as a panhandle for panning and tilting. The system is compatible with the iDC SYSTEM ZERO Follow-Focus unit that’s compatible with lenses from Canon and others. For the Canon EOS 7D and 5D Mark II, iDC also offers the Direct Mount U-Boat Video Rig that isn’t quick release. List Price: $399 (Quick Release U-Boat); $349 (Direct Mount U-Boat).
ikan SUPER FLY
Compatible with smaller video-capable DSLRs and weighing only 1.25 pounds, the ikan SUPER FLY Super Kit is part of ikan’s Elements series, which means it can be customized with moviemaking tools like the F3 Friction Follow Focus unit for extremely precise and much more comfortable focusing. Available in 18 or 24 inches, the Gunstock Kit also can be added for steadying the camera against the crook of your arm. The SUPER FLY features two cheese plates and two six-inch 15mm rods for adding other mounts, grips, handles and accessories like flashes, large monitors and even microphones if recording sound. The system is designed for smaller video-capable DSLRs, and a SUPER FLY Spacer Kit adds space for larger models like the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV or camera bodies that have a battery grip attached for longer shooting times. List Price: Begins at $449.
Novoflex MMR BLUEBIRD
Available separately, the Novoflex MMR uFLYand MMR BLUEBIRD can be combined into a full stabilization kit that’s balanced on a variable friction ball-joint attachment with a quick-release platform. The three-sided support arm of the MMR uFLY allows you to hold the camera below or above, with long, Arca-compatible camera plates (and longer ones available) for sliding the camera into the best position for framing and for balance. The MMR BLUEBIRD adds more options, with a chest support and neck strap for more comfort and stability during long video takes and twin handgrips that work in tandem with the adjustable friction MagicBall joint for aligning the camera and accessories horizontally, vertically or anything in between. Estimated Street Price: $1,040 (MMR uFLY); $1,399 (MMR BLUEBIRD).
Redrock Micro DSLR Field Cinema Deluxe Bundle V2
Universal Bundles for DSLR cameras from Redrock Micro provide flexible kits that can be configured into multiple rigs. Currently available are seven different bundles, and the series culminates in the Complete Universal Bundle that includes every piece of gear needed for converting the kit into every HD DSLR rig configuration that Redrock Micro offers presently. List Price: Begins at $1,276.
The Zacuto DSLR Z-Cage is light and extensively modular. The DSLR handles are ergonomically designed for gripping with your fingers, and the system is quick-release and tripod-mountable. The Z-Cage is compatible with any video-capable DSLR currently on the market with or without battery grip, and the camera plate includes multiple threads for expanding the form factor from DSLR rig to shoulder-mounted support with optional accessories, which Zacuto offers in spades, including the Z-Focus follow-focus unit, and the optional Switronix HDSLR V-Mount Battery Pack for six times the standard run time of Canon OEM batteries and the Switronix FLEX DSLR Remote Trigger for the Canon EOS 7D and 5D Mark II. List Price: $827 (DSLR Z-Cage); $155 (Switronix FLEX DSLR Remote Trigger).
iDC Photo Video
Novoflex (HP Marketing Corp.)