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April 18, 2016
Thanks for uploading your demo videos! I learned some details about products that are hard to find anywhere else.
I know this is long, but I don’t know how else to explain it:
I am putting together a video DSLR setup with a Canon 80D. I plan on adding an audio recorder, microphone, EVF, follow focus and matte box. I have been doing a lot of research and have a pretty good idea about what components to get. I am having a more difficult time figuring out which baseplate/cage/rig to buy. Without having the parts in front of me, I am not sure if certain items will actually work together.
Everything will be based on a 15mm rod system. I think I need a cage to mount items like the EVF and audio recorder. Many tripod heads have 1 or 2 threads to mount equipment on. From a functional standpoint, what is the difference between mounting on a cage vs directly to the head?
I am leaning towards a cage because if any expansion is needed, it will provide it. I have been looking a lot at SmallRig. I have also been looking at some second hand Zacuto items: the mini DSLR baseplate and a half cage that mounts to the rods instead of from the bottom.
Is the Zacuto baseplate a more solid option for the foundation of the system? Or will the SmallRig cage and baseplate be essentially the same? I have read some comments that the Zacuto rods are “better”, but how?
I liked the idea of the 4 sided SmallRig cage that could have one of its sides removed if needed. I also thought the hot shoe connecting to the top plate of the cage would give it more stability. I just don’t know if the SmallRig cage will work with the Zacuto mini DSLR baseplate. Would the cage mount to the gorilla plate? Could the SmallRig cage be mounted to what is under the gorilla plate, and the plate could go on top of the cage? Will a follow focus work with these setups?
That’s when I saw the half cage from Zacuto. It mounts to the rods which seems to eliminate the problems above. Is rod mounting instead of baseplate mounting somehow less stable for the equipment placed on it? Can I functionally afford to only have half of a cage? The mounting options on the Zacuto half cage are a little different with a top rail and side only threads. For some reason, the design of the Small Rig seems to be more flexible, but I don’t know.
The baseplate-cage compatibility with regards to follow focus and matte box placement is my (current) problem.
Any guidance anyone has to offer would be appreciated,
January 31, 2013
Sorry for the late reply. I never got a notification you posted.
I went through a long “rig hunt” where I first built a shoulder rig with eBay parts, then bought several cages. (CPM, Kamerar Tank) Minimal is usually best, especially when hand-holding. I think cages are better than trying to mount too much and stressing the hot shoe. I played around with a range from “stuff from China” to Zacuto gear. If you can afford it, Zacuto does make exceptional gear. SmallRig is a great budget alternative. I wouldn’t mess with other rigs on eBay. I did get burned when something broke, I paid to ship it back, and never got a refund.
Zacuto is the best because when you tighten it all up it stays tightened. The other end of this, the cheap stuff from China, I had to use a wrench to fully tighten things, and sometimes they’d snap off. As I said SmallRig is the best of that bunch.
A concern with a follow focus is how to prevent twist. The torque on the lens will move your camera. So any kind of anti-twist plate to hold the camera -or- a 15mm rod lens riser to secure the other end is important.
DSLRfilmnoob did a review of the SmallRig cage for the a7s with one side removed. () Looked good to me, and they probably have that for a Canon. And ya, the more stuff you stack up under the camera, the further from the rails your lens will be, so I’d consider a follow focus that mounts to one rail only and perhaps is height adjustable. That said, do I use my follow focus much on one-man-jobs? Not really. Seems more for a crew, someone dedicated to focus pulling. Is it easier than turning the lens? For sure.
And one thing you didn’t mention. Cable locks. You really should have a cage or camera plate that has an attached HDMI lock, so your port doesn’t get ruined via a cable yank. I did a whole big thread on this.
Another good thing to look for in a cage is two mounting threads underneath. The Kamerar Tank was great until I mounted it on a tripod and it’s single 1/4 20 twisted like crazy. You can use two 1/4 20 mounts in one tripod release plate for a more secure system.
Not sure about a similar Zacuto half cage, but that type of system where you can easily access controls and still have plenty of mount space does look ideal. Good luck, let me know how you netted out.
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