#Zacuto have updated their popular VCT #camera plates to make them easier to adjust, without having to dig into the unit with a screwdriver. Following customer feedback rear rod mounts are no longer screw-in and the gel shoulder pad is now one piece. The VCT Pro is going to be available in June for $725 US.
by Nino Leitner (website) | 14th April 2016 The #Sony#FS7 is a very popular #camera which comes in a shoulder-mount shape and form, straight out of the box, which often isn’t the case with #cameras that didn’t get the third party rigging treatment.
However, the built-in shoulder pad and handle aren’t perfect. The shoulder pad can’t be moved much to adjust for different balance points depending on the type of #lens you use – a movable baseplate with built-in shoulder rig is required. Many manufacturers, including Shape, have come up with great solutions. My current baseplate of choice is the #Zacuto Recoil baseplate for the FS7.
The handle is another story – while the shape of the #grip is actually perfect for #larger hands like mine, the handle itself has always felt like something that was built before the design was perfected. The two big issues: a thumbscrew to attach the angle of the handle is cumbersome to operate while you have the camera on your shoulder, and having to use a screwdriver for the adjustment of the length of the handle is a downright usability nightmare.
Canadian camera accessory maker Shape discovered this problem early on (and yes, this product has already been on the market for a while, but I just found it too good not to cover!). They made a replacement part for the upper part of the handle that gives you a push-button adjustment of the handle angle plus a thumbscrew for the length adjustment. And just like that, it becomes something you don’t want to miss from your FS7 ever again.
Check out the Zacuto Gratical’s firmware update! Based on customer suggestions, the updated user interface has more information and intuitive design! Whether you use our fully featured Gratical HD EVF or created your own software with our Gratical X EVF, you can upload any firmware update.
Sony listened to users and developed something completely new with the FS7, an ergonomic camera.
Yet despite their efforts there’s always going to be points for improvements, this article looks at how which manufactures offer what, to make the FS7 a more shooter friendly camera.
The Sony has hit the ground running with the FS7, elaborating on the popular and affordable high framerate Sony FS700, adding 4K internal recording, a much stronger XAVC codec and perhaps most surprisingly for Sony, far better ergonomics.
A specification list seemingly always comes first with a Sony large sensor camera; the FS700 and FS100 are…. a challenge to operate. The FS7 is a different beast, a shorter body, removable viewfinder and handle make it far easier to operate out of the box; Sony really listened to users with the need for ergonomics.
However, there’s always room for improvement (at least that’s what every retailer I’m about to talk about will tell you). The shoulder pad was a great idea, but sits quite far back and lacks adjustment therefore is not ideal in many situations. The solution? Well there are a few, loads in fact considering the camera was only announced in September.
Here we’ll take a look at what’s currently on offer.
Price range $585 – $1200
We’ve talked a lot about Zacutos Next Generation Recoil Rigs in the recent past. Fresh out of the factory and boasting capability with pretty much every camera setup there is; the FS7 is no exception.
A Zacuto Recoil Rig is built on a simple philosophy, balance. Find the centre point your rig and sit it on your shoulder; Zacuto state this is nearly always where the lens meets the body.
The only problem with a perfectly balanced (with no counter balance weight) system is quite often the camera sits back on your shoulder, meaning you have to reach back to make settings changes. With the supplied FS7 handle, this is less of a problem. Simply mount a rosette to the baseplate and you’re ready to go.
The FS7 Quick Base offers two 15mm rods up front, and can accommodate another two on the rear for further mounting (more on that shortly).
The baseplate adheres to the Arri dovetail plate meaning compatibility with existing shoulder rigs etc. is quick and easy; I love how much fore and aft adjustment you get with this setup.
Lastly the Pro system from Wooden Camera takes advantage of two rear facing 15mm rod connectors on the baseplate, offering a battery plate to attach V-lock sized batteries.
Price range $399 – $2285
The Shape Rig returns to a shoulder rig orientated design. Offering a baseplate with a nice shoulder pad, 15mm rods to the front and rear as well as a dropped down handle for the left hand side. The right side makes way for Sonys existing handle, offering a rosette to accommodate this.
As you can see from the pictures, due to the placement of the camera and shoulder pad, this rig will easily become front heavy, so best compatible with users adopting a v-lock battery system or the raw recorder to counter balance.
Shape has also developed a lightweight baseplate solution for the FS7. Supplied with dual 8? long 15mm rods, rosettes on both sides and a delta plate on the bottom for use with VCT style plates minus the rear-locating pin.
Price range $990 – $7000
Movcam has become increasingly popular with their bespoke camera accessories. Notably their fantastic Sony A7S cage, which I myself own.
The Movcam FS7 rig benefits from a half cage style design, running up the back of the dumb side of the camera, offering a host of threads as it goes and protecting the EVF cable connection.
The baseplate is split into two parts, the bottom offering a standard VCT connection & dual 15mm rods, and the top a more compact Arca-Swiss dovetail mount. The connection between the two offers moderate fore and aft adjustment of the camera setup; the slim dovetail mount means you can add a shoulder pad for shoulder setups.
Arri rosettes can be found on both sides of the baseplate to accommodate the Sony FS7 handle. The half cage also providing one on the dumb side to enable a rear mounted handle setup.
On the top, a 15mm rod connection point and rod adds some adjustment to the current FS7 viewfinder. There’s also an option to remove the existing handle with a threaded-out Movcam equivalent that stretches the length of the setup.
Lastly to mention is the neat little adjustable lens mount support. Between Sony E and Canon EF there’s often a tiny amount of play (a popular lens solution for FS7 users), and this support just firms that connection up.
Price range $745 – $1900
The Vocas FS7 has similarities to both Wooden Camera and Movcam solutions. Primarily designed for tripod use, but by using existing common plates it’s compatible with a host of other setups including shoulder pads and rigs.
The baseplate takes the curved shape of the underside of the FS7. Like many here it offers dual 15mm rods up front and a rosette on either side for use with the FS7 handle and popular Vocas wooden ergonomic handles. In order to keep the profile of the plate thin, rods do not pass through and instead a separate small module is used to connect 15mm rods at the rear.
The Tilta rig for FS7 is the most cage-like setup I’ve discussed so far. Expanding up from a baseplate across the front of the camera, serving as a front armour and offering many threads for mounting accessories.
A top half cheeseplate does as many others in this list do, but rather than stretch the entire surface area of the top of the camera, the Tilta plate resides only around the sides meaning the top handle stays put.
A back top plate piggy backs existing mounting threads and hangs a battery plate down the back on the camera for V-Lock solutions.
The baseplate also equipped with dual 15mm rods and rosettes houses a curved shoulder pad.
The pad sits pretty far back on the rig however, so like the Shape rig would be recommended for use with a V-lock battery or two (or a lot of rear counter balance).
Like the Movcam, the Tilta rig also has an adjustable lens mount support, and also has the option to upgrade the system to accommodate larger 19mm rods.
Whilst the philosophy of each of these rigs is very much the same, each design is fairly different from the next. Due to the modular nature of the Sony FS7, manufacturers have chosen which parts to improve and which parts to leave alone. Only the user can decide which works best in any situation. In many, a combination of any of the above can often be the best solution.
It’s quite likely I’ve missed an FS7 solution, or in a day/week/month another comes out that is equally as useful. Please do share any rigs and setups you’ve seen that make the FS7 an ergonomically better camera.
Steve Weiss shows off the new Zacuto Gratical HD Micro-OLED EVF’s durability in this car test. The screen and the magnesium alloy body of the case remain perfectly intact after the car runs over the EVF, proving it’s indestructible!