News Shooter: Zhiyun-Tech Crane 2 – 3-axis handheld stabilizer with integrated follow focus review

http://www.newsshooter.com/2017/11/13/zhiyun-tech-crane-2-3-axis-handheld-stabilizer-with-integrated-follow-focus/

“The Zhiyun-Tech Crane 2 is a 3-axis handheld stabilizer with integrated follow focus that will support any DSLR or mirrorless camera on the market…. Usually the sequel is not as good as the original, but in the case of the Zhiyun-Tech Crane, Version 2 is a vastly improved product….”

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  • Zhiyun-Tech Crane-2 3-Axis StabilizerB&H

Vary-i Cage Combination and Solo Loupe Released for Panasonic GH5, with Grip to Come Soon

Vary-i has released its Vary-i Solo for GH5 and Vary-i Cage Combination for GH5 to fit the ever-popular Panasonic Lumix GH5 Super 16/APS-C camera and reports that its righthand grip for the Combination Cage will be appearing soon. 

I first encountered Vary-i products online in a photograph of Lumix product ambassador Nick Driftwood shot during an educational event in Europe.

The Vary-i in both its forms, Solo or Combination, may help solve a persistent problem when shooting video or stills outdoors in bright sunlight or cloudy days when the whole sky turns into a glare-emitting lightbox.

The Vary-i appeared at a time when I was researching ways of shielding GH5 and GH4 cameras’ fully-articulated monitors whether by means of a hood attached via velcro, or a loupe attached directly to the monitor.

As neither solution seemed ideal, Vary-i’s approach stood out for the possibility of multiple viewing angles, relieving stress on the monitor’s hinges and increased stability by having one’s eye as an extra point of contact.

The grip, which I am told is being worked on right now and is coming soon, may well increase that stability further.

Vary-i Solo or Combination Cage products for GH5 or GH4

I will add photographs of the grip when it is released.

I asked the maker of Vary-i whether there was a substantial difference between the construction of the Combination Cages for GH5 and GH4 and he explained that the cage is identical in each but the nylon inserts are different, and that the inserts can be changed.

That sounds like a good solution if one is using GH5 and GH4 cameras, or if one currently has a GH4 and is planning to upgrade to a GH5 in future.

On the other hand, the Vary-i Solo for GH5 and GH4 are different and can only be used on the cameras for which they are designed.

Links

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Vary-I products are not stocked by B&H Photo Video, but here are some other loupes and cages that also fit the Panasonic Lumix GH5.

  • Cambo CS-28 Loupe Set for 3.2″ ScreenB&H
  • Cambo CS-29 Loupe Set for 3.2″ ScreenB&H
  • Hoodman HoodLoupe Outdoor LCD Viewfinder for 3.2″ ScreensB&H
  • Hoodman HoodLoupe Teardrop EyecupB&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam GH5 Cage Kit with Twist Handle and Riser RailB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H
  • Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x for 3.2″ ScreensB&H

LockCircle Robot GH5, the Key to All-Round Top End Feature Film Camera Cages and Rigging for the Panasonic Lumix GH5?

Italian movie production hardware maker LockCircle produces the Robot Skin GH5 cinematic system, perhaps the ultimate answer to high-end, ultra-light, handheld hybrid movie camera caging and rigging aimed at users working in feature film and television series productions. 

Substantially composed of deep anodized CNC-machined billet aircraft grade aluminium with selected grade 5 titanium parts, integrated into the IMS Professional and Positive-Lock lens mounting systems for PL-Mount, Panavision, Leica-R, Canon EF and Nikon optics, with provision for Camera Assistant focal plane measuring, available in Noir Black, Blumix or Purple Rain for design-conscious Camera Operators and Directors of Photography, and a myriad of accessory options.

Designed by cinematographers for cinematographers, LockCircle’s Robot Skin GH5 has clearly been created to impress and to perform in the most demanding conditions.

Its attention to detail is astounding, the design effort apparently aided and abetted by Sydney-based Director of Photography/Producer Clinton Harn ACS, and clearly aimed at those whose needs and budgets ensure that only the best will do.

I came across LockCircle’s Robot Skin GH5 while comparing and contrasting GH5 camera cages I have seen and tried in real life with the many available online, and no others came close to it in terms of design, functionality and manufacturing quality.

LockCircle’s International Resellers page, alas, does not list any Australian importers or retailers but the Robot Skin GH5 may eventually appear at B&H Photo in which case I will add links to the affiliate links list at the base of this page.

For those of us for whom LockCircle’s cage might be financial and mission overkill, it may be wise to compare these three Robot Skin GH5 bundles to other manufacturers’ versions.

So far the other GH5 cages that have impressed are those made by Movcam, Seercam and SmallRig, with 8Sinn’s GH5 cage showing promise that may be fulfilled if the Polish company issues a revision that allows access to the GH5’s remote port.

Links

Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

Note: 8Sinn and SmallRig products are not retailed at B&H Photo Video with which we have an affiliate relationship, but we use and recommend the following camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5. LockCircle products are retailed by B&H but the Robot Skin GH5 has yet to appear there. When it does, we will add those links below.

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

SmallRig: SmallRig Panasonic Lumix GH5 Cage 2049 – New Product Release

http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-panasonic-lumix-gh5-cage-2049.html

“… SmallRig Cage 2049 is designed specifically for Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Key Features:
1. It does not block any access to the SD card slot, battery compartment, and all camera controls.
2. At the bottom are an abundance of multiple 1/4’’ and 3/8’’ threaded holes for Manfrotto and Vinten QR plates or Quick Release Baseplate Kit 2035.
3. The cage is good for thermal dissipation of camera and prevents it from twisting.
4. It could attach Panasonic Lumix GH5 DMW-XLR1 Helmet Kit 2017 on the top for handheld shooting and protection of XLR….”

Gallery

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Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

Note: SmallRig products are not retailed at B&H Photo Video with which we have an affiliate relationship, but we use and recommend the following camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5.

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

With the Unique Manfrotto Fig Rig Long Dead, What Will Replace It? – UPDATE

NOTE: Since writing this article, I came across a comment from Mike Figgis about the Fig Rig Mark III that I have written about in this article:


The technology world is littered with unique, brilliant inventions that solved a common set of problems perfectly but that were badly marketed, poorly distributed, set at the wrong price point, or failed to find a manufacturer in the first place.

One such product failed by the system was the Fig Rig, invented by movie director Mike Figgis and manufactured in two versions with accessories by Manfrotto.

I wish I had been able to buy a Fig Rig when they were available for too brief a time.

With the Fig Rig now dead, is there anything that can take its place?

The Manfrotto Sympla version of the Fig Rig, adding bells, whistles, expense and the opposite of simple?

I suspect the answer is no, and the video industry is all the poorer for it. Although one could try the plastic pipe DIY option, there are alternatives to the Fig Rig, similar rigs in smaller circular or semi-circular shapes, but neither of the makers of HaloRig nor the Steadywheel have the financial might or global distribution partners of a holding company like Manfrotto’s owner, the Vitec Group plc.

Vitec’s press relations people have not responded to enquiries about the Fig Rig’s fate so we can only speculate and lament the truncated life of a product that had a purity of intention and design, loads of potential, needed to be downsized and updated for modern hybrid cameras, and deserved a marketing effort it that apparently failed to receive.

Manfrotto’s now discontinued Fig Rig video steadying device

The only images of the Fig Rig that I could find on the Web and in a PDF document are low resolution so I have tried to enlarge them a little here.

Mike Figgis made a short video showing off the Fig Rig in action during a walk through the streets of London. The director did his own camerawork.

What I love about the Fig Rig is that it is body-centred, gestural, in the way that my stills cameras are when I am in the middle of the action making documentary photographs and, in order to get the exact framing I want of people near and far, left and right of frame, bend my knees, lean and swivel. I want the same range of movements when shooting documentary video.

Shoulder rigs don’t do it for me though they certainly have their uses, likewise steadicams, stabilizers, gimbals and all their many and various variations.

Of all the images in the gallery above, for me the key is the one at left on the second line down, showing how the Fig Rig allows an operator to pitch, roll and yaw the camera in the same way that an aeroplane does.

And what happened to Manfrotto’s other great white hope, the Lino Apparel Collection?

The Manfrotto Lino Pro range of photographers’ clothing for women and men appears to have suffered the same fate as the Fig Rig. Again, I did not have the pleasure of seeing any of the items in a camera store so have no idea of their design and manufacturing quality and fit but judging by two videos and the tiny photographs below, they look like a brilliant solution to a common problem.

It seems that the Lino Pro range was initially made for only men but a women’s line was added later, according to Manfrotto’s press release at PR Newswire.

I gave up being fashionable long ago; in fact I never have been given photography and moviemaking have played such a large role in my life from teenagerdom onwards. I have pursued style and functionality though, and that has not easy here at any time.

Finding functional, stylish clothing has become less difficult lately with the arrival of UniQlo in Australia, enabling me to wear a basic black layered core all year round by relying on the company’s Airism and Heattech undergarment ranges.

Now all I need is a set of functional, stylish overgarments I can pop on when going out or shooting in my home studio, and that support the special needs of photographers and moviemakers. Manfrotto’s Lino Apparel Collection would have been the bee’s knees had they not been killed off almost as soon as they were born, or so it seems.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Seercam Previews XLR Audio Extension Kit for Its Innovative Cube GH5 Camera Cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5

Camera cage and accessories maker Seercam is about to release its extension kit for the company’s Cube GH5 camera cage and has kindly shared a set of photographs of the kit in situ on the cage and as part of a big Cube GH5-based rig. To all those moviemakers asking which accessories makers are building cages that can be safely stacked high with monitors, recorders, microphones, handles and more, Seercam’s Extension Kit for Cube GH5 is the answer to your prayers. 

Seercam’s Cube GH5 camera cage for the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds camera with Extension Kit for Cube GH5 attached.

Seercam’s Extension Kit for Cube GH5

The extension kit is primarily for use with Panasonic’s DMW-XLR1 XLR Professional Microphone Adaptor with 2 XLR Terminals, raising the Cube GH5’s Classic Plus Handle high enough and forward enough to accommodate the audio adapter.

The extension kit contains a rod holder to accomodate rods of various lengths for mounting extra gear and even a camera left side handle.

The folks at Seercam tell me that they are currently working on their own custom external battery pack, similar to the one depicted in some of these product shots. Unlike Motion9’s CubePower battery pack that “could not be sold overseas”, the new Seercam battery pack will be designed and manufactured to enable it to be sold overseas. More details will be forthcoming as development proceeds.

This is great news for those of us shooting long takes or through long days with the GH5, which apparently eats up battery power faster than its younger sibling, the GH4. Although I am partial to camera-mounted battery grips like Panasonic’s DMW-BGGH5, Seercam’s custom battery solution looks like a smarter and more versatile alternative.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image created in Affinity Photo then finished in Macphun Luminar.

Cam Tech: First Look, SmallRig Cage for Panasonic GX8 1844

I love using custom camera cages when making movies with small, mirrorless Super 16/Micro Four Thirds or Super 35mm/APS-C hybrid cameras. One such cage saved my only camera at the time and thus saved my career, not so long ago. 

The recent arrival of a custom cage for my Panasonic Lumix GX8 camera means I feel a whole lot safer toting it around in public while shooting video.

And, it got me thinking about the current state of the art of cages and rigging for any camera, whether my GX8, my GH4 or Fujifilm’s X-T2, which has so much currently unfulfilled potential as a movie camera and which could be the best affordable Super 35 video camera if Fujifilm adds some crucial features to its firmware.