by Tim Fok | 2nd February 2017
Vocas has released a new set of accessories for the Sony FS7 II and Sony FS7. The announcement sees a new top plate with rail support, PL mount with top-lock security and new FS7 II / FS7 baseplate design including Vocas Sliding System support. It’s hard to keep up with announcements like these as every manufacturer has their own way of doing things, but Vocas has hit a few nails on the head here. Although it still needs a few tweaks in terms of ergonomics, the FS7 isn’t a badly designed camera, and is much closer to a finished solution than the likes of the tall EOS C100/300/500. This is, of course, a subjective opinion, but the FS7 is a longer body that sits on the shoulder better as well as being good for tripod work. The arc on the underside of the camera always needs attention. Sony put it here to account for the in-built shoulder pad, but without adjustment it is fairly useless. Vocas has responded well here, designing their baseplates to compliment the contour of the body, but with a larger adjustable shoulder pad. Quite a few manufacturers choose this contour method for the FS7 and FS7 II – it does a good job in getting a shoulder pad in there without adding too much bulk and height to the camera system. The Vocas FS7II/FS7 baseplate comes in three flavours. The standard older Vocas FS7 baseplate is a pretty basic 15mm, contouring shape design with fixed rosette support in the front. You can add a block on the back for 15mm rod application. The Mark II baseplate utilizes a further 3 screws underneath the original FS7 pad for security and has a built in 15mm rod support on the back. The third from Vocas is the USBP 15 MKII. This is a split design, straight baseplate with contouring wedge to sit on the camera side. The advantage here is the slide lock plate system between the wedge and flat baseplate. It’s compatible with all of the Vocas Sliding Systems, meaning it can quick-release onto any of their other supported products: Next onto their top plate. This is one of those products I can see becoming a must for all FS7 users, just like the Shape extension arm. The plate overhangs the existing top handle, maintaining native connection with the camera for the top buttons and hot shoe. It offers a cheeseplate array and straight-through 15mm rods for support at the front and rear. An intuitive feature of this product is the integration of the PL mount. E mount, like its EF counterpart, provides a pretty weak connection with the body. Add a PL mount and heavier PL lens and you can really feel play in the joint between the adaptor and the body. Sony addressed this with the FS7II and its locking E mount mechanism, but FS7 users still have the lens-wobble problem. Many manufactures solve this by adding an adaptor lock to their mount adaptors, usually fixing to your camera via 15mm rods and therefore forcing you to increase the size of your rig. The Vocas system locks from the top plate, meaning you can choose when to scale up your camera system and, more importantly, choose when to keep it small. Camera rigging is generally quite a subjective topic. Each configuration works best for individual needs, but I’m keen to hear what accessories you find indispensable for the FS7.Read more
by Fabian Chaundy | 24th October 2016
Rig accessory company SmallRig have a bundle of products specifically for the Sony FS5 at a very affordable price. Read on for my impressions of their SmallRig FS5 Kit. SmallRig is a company based in China that specialises in producing individual pieces to build camera rigs. Rods, clamps, adapters, grips… They have just about anything you may need for just about any type of camera. My first experience with SmallRig was just over a year ago, when building a shoulder rig for my Panasonic GH4. I knew I didn’t want to buy one of the many pre-made DSLR/M shoulder rigs available in the market, both because I had various parts already lying around and because I knew I had some very precise requirements. Ready-made products offered either too little functionality, or exceeded what I was looking in terms of features, size, weight and price. After designing my ideal rig, I went to the SmallRig website and was pleasantly surprised to find exactly the parts I needed. Building the perfect rig for my needs went exactly as planned and came in at a very affordable price. I worked with the rig regularly for about a year, until I upgraded from the GH4 to a Sony FS5. Needless to say, I was curious to see what SmallRig would design for it. One of the nice things about SmallRig is that they are open to co-designing products with their costumers, with free samples for contributors whose ideas that make it to the final product. One such product was the FS5 Baseplate, part of their SmallRig FS5 Accessory Kit 1861. SmallRig were kind enough to send us said Kit for review. The SmallRig FS5 Kit The SmallRig FS5 Kit comes with 4 accessories that try to solve some of the minor shortcomings of the Sony FS5. It is available from the SmallRig website for $186 and includes the following: The 1796 Top Plate(s) The SmallRig FS5 Kit includes two of these plates, which are actually two of the same product: being symmetrical, you can install them on either side of the handle. They use the 1/4” mounting threads at the top of the camera to provide you with a solid array of both 1/4” and 3/8” mounting options which run along the side, back and front of the plates to accommodate accessories at different angles. Although the FS5 has plenty of mounting points on the body, I found that trying to attach a magic arm to the top was a bit fiddly, as the screw collided with the side of the handle. This could also be true for any accessory that has a wide mounting base, leaving you only with the hot shoe as a mounting point, or whatever other solution you may have, such as rods. The SmallRig 1796 Top Plate conveniently shifts the mounting holes out a little bit, while staying within the footprint of the camera’s width and providing a solid connection to the body via 2 screws on each side. They are also light enough that you will barely feel the extra weight at all, and you can of course use either one or both sides as needed. One quick note: in order to mount the plate on the grip side of the camera, you first must remove the clamp for the LCD cable, as well as the sensor marker peg. The top plate has small screw holes so you can easily reposition them there instead, as in the image above. The 1835 Male-to-Male FS5 LANC Cable Nothing too revolutionary here, just a spare curly LANC cable for the FS5 handle with some decent length to it (up to 110cm), which is perfect for mounting the grip to a tripod arm or perhaps a gimbal. In case you hadn’t noticed, the short LANC cable on the FS5’s grip is not hardwired, but attaches via 2.5mm plug at both the camera and the grip end. Here, the LANC port is hidden behind a small plastic cover, which could potentially break if you accidentally pulled the cable too hard. Along with the LANC cable, SmallRig provides a replacement cover made of metal for extra security. The 1831 LCD Screen Mounting Clamp Adapter This small accessory is essentially a mini 15mm rod that pivots around a 1/4” inch screw, allowing you to move the FS5’s LCD screen in almost every direction when attached to the handle. The SmallRig version serves as a replacement to the one included with the camera, and is made of solid aluminium instead of plastic like the Sony. The little rod is also slightly longer than the original, allowing you to move the LCD screen away from the camera body a bit more if needed. Since 90% of my work is News Gathering, I like to carry my FS5 in a backpack ready to go at a moments notice. In order to not have to remove the LCD and thus reduce setup time, I position the clamp at an angle that allows me to tuck the LCD between the handle and the lens, making it compact enough to allow me to quickly put it in my bag in one go. However, after seeing many reports online of the little plastic part just snapping in half, I was worried of the strain this was putting on the small plastic rod. With the SmallRig solution, I am confident I can continue using this method without worrying that it might break and leave me with a hanging LCD screen. The 1827 FS5 Baseplate This baseplate was co-designed by SmallRig and one of their customers specifically for the FS5, and was the piece I was looking forward to trying the most. It certainly has a solid feel to it, with some nice weight without being too heavy (390g). It features grooves for a pair of 15mm rods and a ratcheting clamp at the back. The front of the baseplate offers a few 1/4″ mounting points, as well as a full-sized ARRI rosette at each side, not the smaller version that SmallRig has implemented on some of their other products. The rosettes were the feature that interested me the most. I currently use a Lanparte Extension Arm, a very convenient accessory that allows you to reposition the control grip FS7-style, while maintaining the rotation feature of the FS5 grip. However, in order to use it, I need to rig up the camera with rods and a rod clamp with rosettes which of course adds bulk and weight. As you can see below, the baseplate works beautifully with this setup, even causing less tension on the LANC Cable, which helps avoid an accidental disconnect. This also leaves more room for a follow focus, lens support, or other accessories on the rods themselves should the need arise. Looking at the bottom of the baseplate, there are two included screws to attach it to the camera or quick release base and prevent twisting. However, when attaching a tripod plate to the bottom of the baseplate, I noticed that even though you have a couple of mounting points to choose from, they are all bunched close together at the back. This meant that no matter how I positioned my tripod plate, it was always too far back to keep the camera from tilting forward when set down on a flat surface. And even if not using a tripod plate at all, the rounded edges at the front of the baseplate meant the accidental front tilt was very frequent anyway. All in all, I think the SmallRig FS5 kit is a great starting point for building an FS5 rig. For not too much money, you can upgrade a couple of the camera’s physical shortcomings (such as those plastic parts) and increase functionality without adding too much bulk and weight at all. I do feel like the baseplate could perhaps be refined a bit more, maybe with an additional row of mounting points at the front. It’s worth noting that more FS5-related products are now available for preorder, such as a lateral cheese plate for the grip side of the body, so they are certainly still listening to ideas. What do you think of the SmallRig FS5 Kit? Are there any other products in the market that you think offer more, or at a lower price? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
by Tim Fok | 20th January 2016
Universal camera support continues with the Zacuto FS5 Recoil. Based around the VCT baseplate, the FS5 Recoil kit adds grip relocation, viewfinder stability as well as a loupe for the native screen for what Zacuto bill to be a perfectly balanced FS5 shoulder rig. The Ultimate FS5 Shoulder Rig It’s nice to see the FS5 Recoil officially announced, Zacuto has been teasing via social media for some time. Like all “recoiled” camera packages, Zacuto has addressed a handful of ergonomic challenges set by camera manufacture and refined them to add stability and universal support. There are a few package options for the FS5 Recoil (mostly surrounding your choice of monitoring). Here’s a list of the separate items. Zacuto VCT Universal Baseplate The heart of every Recoil system. As the name suggests it offers a VCT tripod plate mount on the bottom, as well as a soft shoulder pad and a short distance between camera mounting and rail support to ensure universal camera support. FS5 Top Plate Secures around the existing top handle, offering a few threads for mounting as well as a 15mm receiver on the front to mount the native FS5 monitor rod or Zacuto Axis Mini. FS5 Z-Finder Pro Usual Z-Finder feature list. Adjustable diopter, anti-fog coating, optics cap, however, this is slightly different to other Z-Finders in that it has an x2 magnification to account for the larger screen. It will flip up, and utilizes a very sturdy mount that attaches to the native FS5 rod or Zacuto Axis Mini. FS5 Grip Relocator This attaches to the baseplate via 15mm rod and relocates the native hand grip further down for perfect balance. Adjustment can be made to the length, as well as the twist of the rod—and full 360-degree rotation of the grip can be made via a ball joint. Sony FS5 Recoil Packages: Sony FS5 Z-Finder – $565.25 Free Top Plate ($125 value) Sony FS5 Recoil – $1282.50 Free VCT Tripod Plate ($300 Value) Includes VCT Baseplate, Grip Relocator, Top Plate, and Axis Mini. (Need to add Z-Finder or EVF like Gratical HD) Sony FS5 Z-Finder Recoil – $1425 Free VCT Tripod Plate ($300 Value) Includes VCT Baseplate, Grip Relocator, Top Plate, and Z-FinderRead more
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